Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
  • Modern Art Morrison chassis
  • 580-hp 6.2-L LSA V8
  • Custom body and paint
  • Redesigned interior
  • 1,000 miles since build completion

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1947 Buick Super 8 custom
Years Produced:1946–47
Number Produced:37,743 (convertible)
Original List Price:$2,333
SCM Valuation:$412,500 (this car)
Tune Up Cost:$200
Chassis Number Location:Upper right side of firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side of the engine below the pushrod cover (stock)
Alternatives:1947 Ford DeLuxe custom, 1947 Cadillac Series 62 custom, 1947 Mercury custom
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 735, sold for $412,500, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach, FL, auction, held April 11–13, 2019.

Buick spent much of the 1940s making airplane engines, armored tractors and tank destroyers.

The last pre-war passenger Buick left the factory in February 1942, and Buick wouldn’t go back to civilian cars until the end of the war in 1945.

It isn’t so easy to just switch over from radial engines to straight 8s, so American cars for 1946 were mildly redesigned 1942 models. Lucky for Buick, its 1942 models had been modern for their time, and it wasn’t hard for designer Ned Nickles, under the guidance of Harley Earl, to spice up the round-fendered ’42 design with a bigger grille, smoothed-out body lines, and the famous “gunsight” hood ornament.

It was the ’42, but lightly customized, which leads nicely into the hot-rodded ’47 Super we see here. Even if you’re a purist, you can’t claim there’s no historical precedent for souping up a Super.

Modern mods

In 1947, Buick advertised its cars as having a “bonnetful of Fireball power,” with 110 hp from the 248-ci straight-8 engine. What would those marketing folk say about the Chevy swap in our custom Super? “LS-swap all the things,” is what the Chevy missionaries say, and it’s hard to argue against it when you can bolt a fuel-injected, supercharged, LSA crate engine in just about any car and make nearly six bonnetfuls of Fireball power.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to try to move all that curvy steel on the stock skinny tires and softly sprung chassis and 12-inch drum brakes. Not a problem for the buyer of this car. The builder matched the underpinnings to the powerplant, choosing an Art Morrison GT chassis with power steering and adjustable suspension. Stopping is no problem thanks to Wilwood 6-piston brakes on 14-inch rotors.

The rest of the build is also upgraded to the best of the modern aftermarket. The LS is backed by an automatic 4L85E transmission leading back to a Strange 9-inch rear with 31-spline axles, and 3.70 rear gears, meaning not only will this Buick go and stop with ease, it’s also going to be a perfectly happy freeway flier.

No more Mohair

Instead of the felty bench seat you’d normally see in a car of this vintage, there’s a split bench covered in quilted camel-colored leather. Power windows, a full stereo system, a tilt wheel, and a push-button start add in conveniences Ned Nickles couldn’t even have imagined. For the most part, the modern touches are well integrated into the overall look of this custom.

You’re meant to notice that it isn’t stock, but also recognize the classic Buick lines and features. The gauge cluster is especially attractive, with an oxblood background and vintage lettering that stands out among the beachy blue-and-tan color combo.

One design mystery is the use of the Beechcraft airplane company’s “B” logo in the center of the steering wheel. Was the original customer a pilot? The auction listing doesn’t say. Maybe the buyer was, and that’s why he or she bid so vigorously to be the new owner.

Stay stock or not?

The doom-and-gloom crowd has been naysaying the value of customs at auction for years, but 2019 has seen a bit of a turning point in good builds and what they bring across the block. Prices have been up for customs, and this sale goes a little further, showing there’s an audience for ’40s resto-mods.

The final price, $412,500, must certainly be close to the build price, if not above it. We’ve seen modernized Buick customs built by the Los Angeles-based ICON 4×4 shop — arguably the most famous Buick hot-rodder since Tommy Ivo — listed for $300,000. If the original owner got 1,000 miles of driving enjoyment out of this build and made money, I’d say it was well sold.

Aaron Robinson, an automotive journalist and car collector, is the owner of a considerably more stock 1949 Buick Special. “Slamming a Chevy in it seems sacrilegious,” he said, when I asked him how he felt about the modifications here. “There’s something about driving the car with a straight 8 that appeals to me. It sounds more like a European luxury car than a hot rod. After all, Bugattis were straight 8s.”

After a little more discussion, Robinson granted that while he prefers ’em Buick-powered, he can’t argue with the sale result. “A decent one of these stock is $40,000 to $50,000, and this got $400,000, so I guess I’m happy that a ’42 to ’49 Buick can get that kind of money. People must like the styling.”

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

Comments are closed.