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1941 Buick Special Sedanette

By Jeremy Wilson

At a recent cruise-in, a custom rolled in that seemed to catch everyone’s eye. One among hundreds of entries, it wasn’t just the high-quality workmanship and its unusual light-green color that had heads turning. You could see by the thoughtful looks people were wondering, “What kind of car is that?”

Or more aptly, “What kind of car was that?”

Fortunately, owner Mike Jeffries stationed himself by the car to field questions. “I bought it as a basket case,” said Jeffries. “The previous owner began the chopped top, which was sitting on the pillars but not yet welded. The motor was supposed to have been rebuilt, but wasn’t running.”

Jeffries’ car is difficult to identify because it isn’t a customized Ford or Chevy, but a pre-war Buick. Add the chopped top and the 1955 DeSoto grill and, for many, its year and make become a mystery.

In 1992 Mike was looking for a car and found this one. At the time he didn’t know what a 1941 Buick looked like.

“I went to the annual Portland Swap Meet and it rained both Saturday and Sunday,” said Jeffries. “I saw a trailer with a sign and all it said was:

1941 Buick Sedanette, chopped top started, 455 engine

“I was walking with my buddy Robert Stevenson and said, ‘Robert, come back here, what’s this?’ Neither one of us knew what a ‘41 Buick looked like so we went into one of the buildings and found a book with a picture. Then we went to the see the car. It was a complete basket case and Robert said, ‘Mike this is you!’ I wanted something different, and that’s why I bought it.

“There were no fenders on it--it was just a shell and everything was inside the car. Luckily, Robert is a good metal man. He helped me put it together.”

Restoring with a friend can turn into a battle of wills, but Mike let Robert take the lead and was glad he did.

“The biggest challenge was listening to my buddy say ‘Mike, just sit there and shut up!’” recalled Jeffries, laughing. “There were certain things I couldn’t visualize but when he finished I said ‘Robert, you’re right!’”

Mike had the car running in 2003 with just a coat of primer, but the “rebuilt” 455 engine had problems so he switched to a Chevy 350 with a 700R4 automatic transmission. The car rides on a Plymouth Volare torsion-bar subframe and a 12 bolt Chevy rear end with 3.73 gears. Now it’s a pleasure to drive. Although the car has been on the road for years, it looks brand new--the paint and upholstery are only a year old.

“It runs great! It all turned out beautifully and I can see out very well while driving,” said Jeffries. “I thought there would be a problem but the visibility is very good. In the summer of 2009, I had the paint and pin striping done by El Robbo Studios in Battle Ground, Washington, and the interior done by Northwest Auto Upholstery in Vancouver, Washington. My future plans are to just drive it and take care of a few little bugs.”

Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Terry B. Dunham, Lawrence R. Gustin
The Buick: A Complete History
Automobile Quarterly, Hardcover, 2005-08-21
This book is an authoritative, intimately fascinating story superbly told by two of the most respected automotive historians, each having devoted more than a decade to researching, interviewing, documenting, and recording one of the great sagas of our time. There are first-hand impressions of the men who were there when the first Buicks were built, and recollections of engineers, designers, and executives who have been there in all the years since, as the Buick moved from one era to the next. Accompanying the text are more than 1,000 historical photographs, drawn from historical societies, library archives, museums, and private collections throughout the world, many never before published.

John Gunnell
Standard Catalog of Buick 1903-2004
Krause Publications, Paperback, 2004-11-15

Celebrate 100 years of Buick history with this wonderful reference, including 20,000 model and price listings. Owners of all types of Buicks and anyone with an interest in the cars will enjoy this comprehensive listing of every Buick ever built, with all new information on models from 2001-2004 now included. Coverage spans all models, including Marquette, Special, Roadmaster, Century, LeSabre, Skylark, Grand National and more. Listings for each year of each model provide vehicle description, serial numbers, original price and weight, technical specifications, production data, engine details, historical facts,VIN information and more. Pricing information is available for all collector models from 1904-1996, in six condition grades.

Tad Burness
American Car Spotter's Bible 1940-1980
Krause Publications, Paperback, 2005-12-08
Spotting the best American-made cars is easy with this one-of-a-kind color guide! A follow-up to the Ultimate Car Spotter’s Guide, the American Car Spotter’s Bible 1940-1980 features vehicles from 250 different U.S. manufacturers in a familiar style, coupled with 8,000+ color illustrations.

Restorers and collectors searching for a specific make of car or a new project will appreciate the side, rear and interior views of each model. In addition to detailed illustrations, a quick glance gives car enthusiasts various technical specifications including weight, length, horsepower, distinguishing features and factory price. This indispensable reference gives collectors technical details they’ll refer to again and again.

Includes 8,000+ color photos and illustrations.

1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 BUICK Parts Book List Catalog
This is a Factory Authorized Reproduction of the 1929-41 Buick Parts List Catalog. It includes labeled blown up “exploded views” of the parts, showing what they look like and how they fit together with their adjacent parts. All models are covered--body and chassis. Approximately 800 pages.

1941 BUICK Full Line Service Shop Repair Manual Book
This Factory Authorized Reproduction provides information on diagnosis, service procedures, adjustments & specifications. There is none better. Loaded with diagrams and illustrations to help you disassemble, repair and reassemble various components. Approximately 300 pages. Includes Wiring diagrams.

Classic Car Wiring
1941-49 Buick Series 40 18X24 Full Color Laminated Wiring Diagram
This diagram covers the complete basic vehicle: interior and exterior lights, engine compartment, under dash, etc. Colors are the same as what is in your car. All text is crystal clear and easy to read. The diagram is laminated in rigid plastic for years of use.
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