20th Oct, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 224

1938 Buick Series 80 Roadmaster

Sold for £15,750

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: WSL 733
Chassis No: 13303651
MOT: Exempt

  • Understood to be an original RHD example and supplied new to South Africa
  • Offered with a collection of invoices
  • 98,139 recorded miles
  • Imported into the UK in 2001

The Series 80 Model 81, 6 passenger 4 door touring sedan-trunk back Roadmaster was an all-new model for 1936 that featured a 141 horsepower version of Buick’s Dynaflash straight eight-cylinder, hydraulic brakes and an all-steel turret top. Supplied new to the South African Market, this Series 80 was imported into the UK in 2001. 1938 was the model year that enthusiasts tout as the pre-war design pinnacle for Buick. Buick produced a number of RHD vehicles destined for export to RHD countries up until the early 1950s. 1999 produced for export and we believe that just 25% would have been right-hand drive.

Visually, the 1938 model simply widened the horizontal grille bars and altered the wheel covers. Less noticeable was the 2 inch increase in wheelbase and side-mounted spare wheels were no longer standard, but it was in the technical areas of the car that the elements so prized by collectors evolved. The power from the straight eight engine was boosted to 141 hp. This was not done with a change to the size of the combustion chamber, engineers achieved this with redesigned pistons. This improved crankcase ventilation and incorporated full pressure lubrication. This was called the new Dynaflash 8. The version in 1938 incorporated so as to maximise the benefits of increased power included rear coil spring suspension and this was a domestic industry first and made use of larger more capable shock absorbers. Roadmasters were also larger in 1938, mostly due to a new cross-braced frame that shaved weight from the previous chassis. Perhaps the most significant change was the long-awaited switch to an all steel body. Styling changes included the longer hood, now extending to a near vertical grill, taller bumper guards and the redesign to hubcaps. The ride was an industry first with new shock absorbers, double acting and some four times the size of any others on the market. The ''Turbulator'' pistons raised the compression ration from 5.9 to 6.5:1.

'WSL 733' is extremely rare, being a 1938 factory RHD Roadmaster optioned to include 2 integrated wheel covers in the front wings. A stunning car in any colour, in the export colour of dark maroon with a Light Brown leather interior. This car offered for sale like so many cars from this period has been subject to various levels of restoration work, spread over a number of years, at some point we believe the car had its 5.2 litre engine overhauled. In the mid-2000s much was spent on the Series 80 for mechanical work, including work on; the clutch, gearbox, steering suspension, sump, oil pump, fuel pump, suspension and a brake overhaul. It is also believed that the car was last painted in 2005.

The extensive history file for the car includes a copy of the certificate of registration from South Africa from where the car was exported to the UK in 2001. This is believed to be a matching numbers car benefiting from the dry climate in South Africa. These cars when set up to run well, have agility with a power and weight ratio, which defies their size. Originally designed to carry 3 adults in the front and 3 in the rear and does so with considerable comfort and ease. It is likely to be eligible for all manner of pre-war events and able to keep pace with any number of Bentley and other pre-war exotica, which presently can cost so much more. 'WSL 733' is offered with a large collection of invoices and details of some of the work carried out since the car was imported.

For more information, please contact:
James McWilliam
07943 584760


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 20th Oct, 2022

An auction of classic & collector motorcars


Tuesday 18th October 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 19th October 2022 from 9am
Additional viewing for lots 200-254 on Thursday 20th October 2022 from 9am

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