• Beautifully restored example of rare two-door Super Eight
• Mileage believed genuine
• South African import now in UK
Produced from 1940 to 1958, the Buick Super Eight was a perfect example of legendary stylist Harley Earl’s influence of General Motors’ designs.
Its sweeping art deco curves and monstrous grille give it a presence like no other car on the road, but then the Super Eight was something pretty special during the USA post-WW2 boom years.
Cheaper than a Cadillac, but much more upmarket than a Chevrolet or Pontiac, the brand was considered a symbol of wealth and success. Not uber-luxurious, but it was certainly the BMW or Audi of its era.
As well as its dramatic styling, the Super Eight was luxurious and well-trimmed, with leather trim and thick carpets and other more outdated options, such as ‘his-n-hers’ ashtrays in the front.
This example has two things about it that make it ultra-rare. First, it’s a ‘Sedanette’ – essentially a giant two-door coupé. Second, it’s a right-hand-drive car, built for the South African market when new. Genuine RHD models are few and far between, making this one perfect for the UK enthusiast.
It has just arrived in Norfolk from Cape Town, and will be supplied with a UK MOT and all import duties and papers sorted.
Built in 1948, this is one of the later variants of the Super Eight, powered by the brand’s unique Fireball straight eight that ran from 1931 to 1953.
It was restored in South Africa a few years ago and has been enjoyed as part of a private collection. The vendor sources unique or interesting vehicles from South Africa to sell in the UK and decided that the right-hand-drive Buick would present a unique opportunity for someone.
The Buick is supplied with full UK MOT, a South African registration document and evidence of all import duties being paid, as well as the DVLA NOVA form for brand new imports.
All the new owner will need to do is apply for first registration, which is a simple and straightforward process that the vendor is happy to help with – he hasn’t done it himself as to do so would add an extra owner to the logbook as well as make it harder to export the car if the ultimate buyer lives overseas.
The first thing you notice about this car (it’s impossible not to) is its size. It is, quite frankly, vast. At around 21 feet long and as wide as most HGVs, it’s not a car for the shy or retiring, especially given the ‘Terrace Green’ paint scheme, which is actually more of a pale blueish turquoise colour and is very definitely of its era.
Then there’s the styling. From its ‘coffin nose’ to its ‘beetleback’ rear, the Buick is the very definition of the excesses of US car styling in the immediate post-war era.
While European manufacturers were slowly rebuilding their economies by reviving pre-war designs, the Americans were pressing ahead into a new era where size and imposition were more important. As a result, the Buick is a truly incredible thing to look at. You can only truly appreciate it by standing next to it.
It was restored a few years ago and the paint is still excellent, with only a couple of minor blemishes. Likewise the chrome, of which there’s a fair amount, which is originally and very slightly tarnished in places, but is equally lovely as it is.
Whitewall tyres and period yellow fog lamps complete the bold look.
Much like the exterior, the interior of the Buick is pretty bold.
The centrepiece is its central control panel – a precursor of today’s modern cars perhaps? – with its twin ashtrays, heater controls, integrated radio speaker and buttons for the lights, demister and cigarette lighter.
The dials are integrated into the metal fascia – a clock on the passenger side and a speedometer/odometer, fuel and oil pressure gauge and ammeter.
The seats were retrimmed during the car’s restoration in ‘Saddle Tan’, while it was also given smart original-spec burgundy carpets and a retrimmed headlining.
The 7.0-litre straight eight is a work of art that’s almost as excessive as the car’s exterior. Rather than just an engine block, you lift the side-hinged bonnet to reveal a blue engine with a black rocker cover, emblazoned with the engine’s features.
If ‘Buick Fireball’ doesn’t sound cool enough, how about ‘Valve-in-Head Dynaflash Eight’. In the USA, they don’t hold back – and they didn’t in 1948, either.
The only deviation from standard is the addition of a starter button in the dash – originally, it would have been operated by a foot starter activated by pumping the throttle, but they were never reliable and most have been converted this way.
Otherwise, it runs beautifully and makes a fabulous noise – smooth, but not quiet!
This is a fabulous piece of Americana from an era when the US car industry was on the cusp of becoming the most glamorous and adventurous in the entire world.
It looks incredible, is absolutely massive and it sounds terrific. Plus, it’s right-hand-drive, which makes it more usable than most big yank tanks in the UK. It’s a glorious thing and a real standout model from GM’s golden years.
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