Sunday, November 2, 2014

Show car Sunday returns with a super Buick Super

Early this summer I was on a wandering bike ride through various parts of Queens when I glanced this scene out of the corner of my eye on a side street:
This black beauty is a 1953 Buick Super Eight. This was the last year for styling that began in 1949 with that big toothy bulldog mouth. In 1954 the vertical grill bars were much thinner and more densely packed, and the windshields gained full wraparound glass rather than the mostly flat example here.
We can definitively identify this as '53 due to that fat horizontal grill bar with the hole in the center. The two larger chrome circles on either side were there in '52 and earlier, but the main grill was an even larger toothy grin.
Let's go ahead and forgive the incorrect spoke wheels on this otherwise original ride because they look the part and possibly came from a newer Buick. The genuine article spoke wheels available in '53 look incredible, but are phenomenally expensive these days and tough to maintain.
Both the Super and Roadmaster shared identical bodies in '53, but there are ways to differentiate the two. The three portholes on the front fender denote this as a Super rather than the top-of-the-line Roadmaster which had four. In addition, that horizontal chrome spear that starts on the back door and runs to the back of the car was only featured on the Super.
Here is a great detail making this a special Buick; that little chrome scoop mounted between the rear fender and the corner of the rear window means that this car is equipped with air conditioning from the factory! This is the first year for this very rare option. The unit itself was mounted in the trunk, and these scoops were the fresh air intake for it. Cool air would be blown out of vents on the back deck behind the rear seat passengers as well as vents along the sides of the ceiling thanks to ductwork hidden in the headliner. Buick was positioned just under Cadillac and above Oldsmobile in the overall GM hierarchy, and this is just the sort of classy option an upwardly mobile executive would order before a promotion would move him up to the Caddy pay rate.
For their huge dimensions these cars are pretty well proportioned and nicely aerodynamic. The postwar styling predates the Space Age but still has a touch of modernity. However, these are amongst the very last domestic automobiles where the fenders are somewhat separate from the body itself.
Buick had 8 cylinder engines for years at this point, but the V in the center of this emblem means that this has a V8 as opposed to the previous straight-8. Before the V8 was introduced the Roadmaster was actually longer than the Super, as the former had a straight-8 and the Super had a 6 cylinder. This was the first year where the Dynaflow automatic transmission was a standard feature.
Well there we have it; a rather dour and serious 61 year old Buick in relatively lovely condition. I had the impression that this classy old gent lives in one of the many garages on this street, only to come out when the weather is beautiful. It certainly looked like you could hop in an drive away at a moments notice. I've always been fond of the outrageous grills of this era Buick and feel that shiny black paint is the best way to show off all the chrome detail and rounded styling. Someone's got quite the nice ride on their hands, and for that I'll tip my cap.

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