Featured in this article is a great looking 1937 Buick Special. Production of the Buick Special ran from 1926-1958 and from 1961-1969. During it's years of production the Buick Special changed from a full size model to a compact model and then to a mid-size model.
The Buick Special was introduced in 1936 and was Buick’s full size entry level car. Some might say that the 1937 and 1938 Buick Specials were the best looking automobiles during those two years.
Big Innovations at Buick During the 1930's
Setting aside the fact that the 1930's are known for the Great Depression which placed millions of people out of work and caused car prices and production to decrease significantly, the were big changes on the design and mechanical departments. Prior to the 1930's, car design coach works were very angular. The 1930's saw an emphasis placed on streamlining and graceful curves.
Competition was obviously intense during the difficult 30's and innovation could help sell cars. The year 1933 was particularly disastrous and is often recognized as the worst of the Great Depression. As an example, Buick sold a bit over 250,000 vehicle in 1927. For the 1933 model year Buick sold just under 50,000 units. The Buick division was hurting but General Motors was determined to keep Buick afloat and the fact the Buick was a part of GM helped save the day.
The innovations brought into the market from Buick during the 1930's included the introduction of the famous 320 cubic inch, straight eight engine that was put into their big series cars. This occurred in 1936. This new designed engine would continue to be used through 1952. Also in 1936, Buick emploted hydraulic braking for the first time.
To mention a few more innovations brought out by Buick in the 1930's, these included a self shifting automatic transmission, aerobat carburetors, turbulator pistons and knee action independent front suspension.
The 1937 Buick Advantage
Buick promoted many advantages of their 1937 models. This included a powerful engine in it's OHV Straight Eight. Also, a Uni-Steel body by Fisher...Anolite pistons...a sealed chassis...hydraulic brakes...large trunk space...safety glass and more.
Buick also touted the fact that prices were some of the lowest in the automaker's history. The country of course was still caught up in the Great Depression which put some automakers into bankruptcy.
There were styling changes for the 1937 Buick Special. Most notable was the change in grilles. The 36 Special sported a single grille and vertical bars. The 37 model had horizontal bars and a vertical divider bar down the middle.
Fenders were altered to have squared off ends and the height was lowered almost two inches along with the floor. As a result the space in the passenger compartment remained the same.
The 1937 Buick Special was available in eight different styles. These included a convertible phaeton, sport coupe, business coupe, convertible coupe, a two and four door touring sedan with an optional trunk
1937 Buick Special Specifications
The 37 Buick Special was built with a Overhead Valve 248 Cubic Inch Straight 8. The engine delivered 100 HP.
Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drums.
Some of the options available on the 1937 Buick Special included a heater, dual side mounted tires, defroster, white side wall tires plus a grille guard. A buyer could also pay for a dash installed radio with a built-in speaker.
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The 1937 Buick Special Collector Car and Values
The kind of innovations that Buick introduced during the latter half of the 1930's make these automobiles highly desirable among antique auto enthusiasts.
The years of 1936, 1937 and 1938 and the innovations from Buick during those times represent the division’s return to being a real market leader. These were new designs and new engineering that were truly progressive. More innovation was seen in 1939 but those three years from 36 through 38 helped keep Buick popular for many years to come. As a result of the progress that Buick made during those years, the division in 1938 moved up to fourth place among American production cars with about 174,000 vehicles.
The 1936-38 Buicks are relatively rare. Values and asking prices for those for sale differ greatly due to overall condition and degree of originality and restoration. As of this date we see a 1937 Buick Special Model 49 with an asking price of $19,000. A 1937 Buick Special Restomod at $35,000 and a 1937 Buick Roadmaster at $27,500. All vehicles mentioned have been restored to varying degrees. Also a 37 Buick Coupe at $26,000.
(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)