Hershey | Lot 247

1940 Buick Super Estate Wagon

$175,000 - $225,000 USD | Not Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

6 October 2017

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  • One of 495 U.S. models in the first year of Buick Estate Wagons
  • 5,000-hour restoration by Doug Seybold
  • Extensive list of prestigious awards

Buick came late to the station wagon business. Not until 1940 did such a style appear in their catalogue, but the GM division made up for lost time with a series of elegant wood-bodied cars right through to 1953. In fact, Buick was the last major manufacturer to offer real structural wood bodies in passenger car lines.

It happened in a roundabout way. As told by historians Terry Dunham and Lawrence Gustin in The Buick: A Complete History, Evelyn “Bunny” McLeod, a Hollywood socialite and wife of director Norman Z. McLeod, gave a party at her Beverly Hills home. In attendance were GM’s Harley Earl and Buick president Harlowe Curtice. Mrs. McLeod happened to mention that she did not own a Buick because the marque did not offer a station wagon. Upon return to Detroit, Earl set out to design one and Curtice placed an order for 501 bodies, 495 for U.S. sales and six for export.

Construction of the bodies was entrusted to Biehl’s Auto Body Works in West Reading, Pennsylvania. Mrs. McLeod was presented with the prototype car in a well-publicized ceremony at the Coconut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Built on the 121-in. wheelbase Super chassis, it was designated the Model 59 Estate Wagon in accordance with Buick nomenclature and was powered by the 107-bhp, 248-cu. in. valve-in-head straight eight used by the rest of the Super line.

Buoyed by the celebrity publicity, the Model 59 quickly sold out. Buick followed up this success by ordering 1941 Estate Wagon bodies from Hercules Body Company in Evansville, Indiana, which had the capacity to deliver greater volume. After World War II, Ionia Manufacturing Company in Ionia, Michigan, became the principal supplier for Buick and other GM wagons.

This handsome 1940 Buick Super Estate Wagon received a 5,000-hour restoration at Doug Seybold Restorations in Westlake, Ohio. The body is framed in northern ash, with African mahogany panels. All hardware is polished stainless steel, as is the exhaust system. Its list of awards is long: AACA First Junior, First Senior, Grand National, Senior Grand National, and an AACA National award for the “Best of the Best.” Buick Club of America awards include BCA Senior, BCA Gold, and a BCA award for the highest-scoring car at a national meet. At the Glenmoor Gathering it was the best woodie of 21 shown. At Stan Hywet in Akron, Ohio, it won First in Class, Spectators’ Choice, and Judges’ Choice. It was the Top Pre-war car at the Arthritis Foundation show in Columbus, and also Best at Charlotte Autofair in North Carolina.

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