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Lot 468: Buick 40-C Convertible Phaeton

Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, Bonhams (3 June 2012)

Among Buick aficionados '37 and '38 are magic years, there is even a club dedicated to just these years, much of that magic is their beautiful styling by Harley Earl and GM Art and Color. Earl's mammoth contributions to General Motors' looks began with the LaSalle then the glorious post-1928 Cadillacs. He was on a roll when he began work on the new Buick line up, under the command of one of its most dynamic leaders, Harlow "Red" Curtice. Curtice saw that Buick's slide was induced by complacency and their styling was looking old-fashioned, also he was keen to revamp the cars in an effort to purge unnecessary weight and to improve their performance.

Curtice introduced a new smaller Buick, the Series 40, and what this Buick lacked in size it more than made up for in style. It was beautifully designed with all the Art Deco hallmarks that would define the '37-'38 series. The split grille was a masterpiece complimented by the teardrop lamps. The fenders were finally correctly proportioned to the now smaller wheels and the body scaled to compliment both. It all made for a look that was very stylish and cohesive. Many cars up to '36-'37 were modified 32-34 era bodies with smaller wheels and skirted fenders - they often look too big for their lower halves.

The '37-'38 Buicks have pleasing unified design of something done from the ground up without compromise, and this styling was not limited to the exterior. The interior received a wonderfully stylish dashboard frequently equipped with a striking speaker grille in the center. The banjo steering wheel with horn ring is another small masterpiece.

Among this breed, it would be hard to find a more original example and the reason that it has survived so well is that it has had such an uncomplicated 77 year lifespan. When new it was purchased by Mrs Frances Crocker Sloane, the widow of William Sloane, the President of the well-known W & J Sloane Furniture Company. As supplied it was finished in 'Coronary' Green to match their delivery trucks and trimmed in matching leather, as confirmed by a copy of the original bill of sale which is on file.

Mrs. Sloane kept the car at their family home in nearby Mount Kisco, New York and tended to drive the car in the Summer months only. In 1953 both she and the Buick were retired from driving, by which time the car had accrued only 17,582 miles. It was subsequently consigned to long term storage. On Mrs. Sloane's death it passed to her daughter and then in turn to her son-in-law. Through 1990 the car remained untouched, at which point it was removed from its hibernation and returned to the road. Shortly after this, the car was featured in an article in The Torque Tube, charting its interesting and unusual history, when it was noted that the original top had never even been put down as it would have disturbed Mrs. Sloane's hair!

The present family owner has freshened the car slightly to enable him to exercise the car properly, this included replacement of the original top (although the original was kept) and the well worn front seat fabric, but aside from this it remains intrinsically original and has never been painted. Accompanying the car also is the original US Royal spare tire, and the original hand tools and jack, as well as some spares including an additional rare Marvel intake manifold and extra very rare Marvel Carburetors.

In the course of the last 20 years since its return to the road, the Buick has still seen only moderate use. This has included presentation at Buick Club of America and A.A.C.A. events, where it received a 'Historical Preservation - Original features' award.

Quite possibly the lowest mileage example to survive of this attractive model, it is offered for sale for the first time since it was delivered new.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Greenwich, Connecticut
Lot Number468
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$24500
Hammer Price (inc premium)$28665
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number3154981
Engine number43333954
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors4