SLICK BUICK

1948 Buick Road­mas­ter Con­vert­ible Why clas­sic con­vert­ibles are the real keep­ers

Top Gear (Philippines) - - The Garage - WoRDs BY MATTHEW GALANG PHoToGRAPHY BY JAMA RAMOS

Dur­ing World War II, Amer­i­can au­to­mo­bile pro­duc­tion was se­verely re­stricted due to lim­ited re­sources. New cars were avail­able only to those in oc­cu­pa­tions deemed es­sen­tial to the war ef­fort, while mass-mar­ket pro­duc­tion stopped en­tirely, only to be re­sumed in 1945 when the war ended.

The buy­ing frenzy that en­sued boosted sales for all kinds of au­to­mo­biles. One such car that en­joyed suc­cess dur­ing the post­war era was the Buick Road­mas­ter. Buick’s fastest and big­gest car, it was also the brand’s top-of-the-line of­fer­ing and flag­ship ve­hi­cle.

The ex­am­ple you see here is a 1948 con­vert­ible owned by Al­fred Perez. When it was brand­new, it had sweet fea­tures for its time, like a 150hp 5.2-liter in-line-eight en­gine, a power soft-top, and a Road­mas­ter se­ries script on the front fend­ers. But the most in­no­va­tive fea­ture was the op­tional Dy­naflow au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, which was the first torque-con­verter trans­mis­sion in a pas­sen­ger car. It was so pop­u­lar that by the fol­low­ing year, it was stan­dard equip­ment on the Road­mas­ter.

Al­fred ac­quired this unit from an Aus­tralian col­lec­tor in Pam­panga. He came across the car in quite a sorry state: None of the afore­men­tioned fea­tures worked, and 70% to 80% of the body was rot­ten and rusted. In or­der to bring it back from the dead, he found an­other beat-up Road­mas­ter to use as a donor car. All the de­cent

‘This car has won ev­ery sin­gle car show it has en­tered’

parts from it were trans­planted into the first one. As for the parts that he couldn’t source from the donor car, Al­fred scoured sites like eBay or fab­ri­cated his own. He pulled out all the stops for this project, uti­liz­ing all of his car­restora­tion know-how and re­sources to even­tu­ally reach his goal. Af­ter two years of work, the Buick was up and run­ning again, all its bells and whis­tles com­pletely func­tional.

In the flesh, this Road­mas­ter is the text­book defini­tion of a lov­ingly re­stored clas­sic. The yel­low paint is time­less and eye-catch­ing. The chrome hub­caps and other trim pieces are shined to a mir­ror fin­ish. The pe­riod-cor­rect (though ever-so-slow) power soft-top works with­out a hitch; the leather seats are as plush as can be. Most im­por­tant, the al­most-im­prac­ti­cally-long straight-eight en­gine starts at the first turn of the key.

Al­fred tells us this car has won in ev­ery sin­gle car show to which it was en­tered. This isn’t hard to be­lieve. Hav­ing been given a ride in it, we can at­test that it made us feel like we’d gone back to a time when roads were wide and clear enough to ac­com­mo­date such big cars. Car-show ex­ploits aside, prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant thing about the restora­tion work Al­fred has done on his Buick is how he turned a car-shaped hunk of metal into a piece of his­tory that will be en­joyed and ad­mired for gen­er­a­tions to come.

The soft top folds down with a push of a but­ton

Cabin safety? Who needed it when all the chrome looked great

When com­put­ers didn’t ex­ist yet, cars were way sex­ier

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