1948 Buick Roadmaster Convertible
Combine the dramatic styling with one of the most powerful engines of the period and a gorgeous color combination and you have one of the most desirable post-war convertibles anywhere.
The big news at Buick in 1948 was the arrival of the Dynaflow transmission. It was optional on only the Roadmaster models like this convertible coupe, and proved to be so popular that production facilities were doubled, tripled, and then quadrupled to keep up with demand for the smooth, shiftless transmission. Within two years, more than 85% of all Buicks would be equipped with Dynaflow, cementing its place in automotive history as an unqualified success.
This handsome model 76-C Roadmaster convertible features a lovely restoration in fantastic colors, code 31 Carlsbad black with a red leather interior and black canvas top. Few combinations work better on the long, low, sleek Roadmaster, giving it an imposing look on the road and a very upscale demeanor that suits it just fine. Fit and finish are quite good, as this was a very solid car before the restoration started and the goal was to create an outstanding driver that would be reliable and comfortable under all conditions. Note the crisp details and excellent panel alignment, which is critical on these cars in particular, given the way the fenders blend into the doors. The big hood still opens from either side and fits well without the usual bumps and bruises around the friction points, suggesting that the work on this car was done well and not too long ago. The paint has an appropriate gloss, not the hard shine of modern two-stage urethanes, but rather single stage paint for a deep finish that is easy to maintain, and you can see how nice it is by the undistorted reflections in its surface. There’s lots of chrome on the 1948 Buicks, with a lot of it being carryover from 1947, and it was obviously refinished with the rest of the car and needs little more than a quick polish to brighten up. Correct emblems, Roadmaster script, and DynaFlow badges on the deck lid identify it without question, and the famous Buick “bombsight” hood ornament proudly leads the way.
In your big, black Buick, the right interior choice is red leather. Duplicating the original pleats on the power bench seat and button-tufted door panels, it captures the late-40s styling perfectly. The leather looks quite fresh and hardly used, with only the most minor signs of stretching on the driver’s side. Matching carpets with red bindings give the floors and very luxurious feel and a finished look, while the dash and upper door panels were painted to match the body instead of woodgrained as in closed cars. The instrument panel features big, round gauges, a centrally-mounted speedometer with secondary instruments just below. Lights, heater, defroster, and other controls flank the radio speaker in the middle of the dash, with the Sonomatic AM radio just above. That wide brake pedal was surely an odd sight for long-time Buick owners in 1948, but they were surely able to adapt to the Dynaflow’s easy operation, which is just like any automatic of the period. Perhaps the interior’s biggest demerit is the horn button, which appears to be original and slightly pitted, but it only shows up in comparison to the rest of the interior, which is excellent. Power windows, front seat, and top are all hydraulically actuated and in fully operational condition, with the black canvas top stowing itself in a few seconds behind the back seat. The trunk is fully upholstered, and a glance underneath reveals original sheetmetal, not patches, suggesting that this has always been a very solid car from a warm climate.
Buick’s big 320 cubic inch straight-8 was still among the most powerful engines in production in 1948, and its smooth torque is perhaps best showcased in a Roadmaster with Dynaflow. Rated at 150 horsepower when linked to the Dynaflow, it inhales through a single Stromberg 2-barrel carburetor, with Compound Carburetion disappearing after the war. Finished in proper Buick Turquoise paint, the engine bay is nicely detailed, and includes a correct air cleaner, reproduction decals on the rocker cover, and an accessory oil filter canister. New wiring throughout replicates the original cloth-covered factory equipment and a generator still makes the electricity. Stand on the accelerator pedal and the engine spins to life easily in traditional Buick fashion, idling with a muscular hum from the single exhaust.
Unlike the conventional Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, the Dynaflow was torque-converter based, meaning there are no shifting gears, just a smooth flow of power. Your first experience with it might feel a little unusual, as if the transmission isn’t shifting properly, but when you find yourself cruising at 65 MPH and the engine is just loafing along, you’ll quickly realize that all is working as intended. The Dynaflow cars also received special rear gears to help with acceleration, but it’s still best described as “stately,” although once it gets a head of steam going, few cars can keep up with this Roadmaster. The chassis is solid and clean, although no longer detailed for show, but that only means that this car can be driven without worries. 15-inch steel wheels were painted Dante Red to add a little flash to the black bodywork, and are fitted with polished trim rings, hubcaps, and correctly-sized 8.20-15 Firestone wide whitewall tires.
You already know that I’m a Buick fan, and this pretty convertible is the nicest post-war Buick we’ve featured. Combine the dramatic styling with one of the most powerful engines of the period and a gorgeous color combination and you have one of the most desirable post-war convertibles anywhere. This is a really nice car at a very good price.