Thursday, February 2, 2012

1952 Buick Special 4-Door Tourback Sedan

"When better automobiles are built BUICK will build them. Sure is true for '52."

Sixty years ago, this Buick Special 4-Door Tourback Sedan, model 41D, rolled from an assembly line in Flint, Michigan. And sixty years later, despite looking quite battered, it's still in a pretty original condition: six decades of daily driving without pampering didn't do much harm to the massive grace of this elegant automobile.

There's a reason why Buicks of the early 50s have a reputation of being almost indestructible cars. Of all GM divisions, especially Buick managed to excel not just with bold styling, but also with an impeccable build quality. And in a time, when the decade's styling-craze just began to kick-off, the inner values of a car still played a much more important role for the buyer's decision. Optimized and lightweight construction for better fuel efficiency or higher profits? No, seƱor! Instead, massive and durable metalwork and a "Fireball" V-8 engine so big that it probably never came even close to deploying its full potential. Engineered this way, cars like the Buick Special could survive for more than half a century without regular manufacturer maintenance. Sure, flashier Buicks can be found in Cuba, but we like this particular Buick Special from Sancti Spiritus for its original patina and for the fact that, until now, its embellishment is almost complete and didn't get lost over the years.

In 1952, the Buick Special was the "smallest" and leanest car in Buick's portfolio. The design was largely carried over from 1951, and just sported subtle alterations, like a different chrome trim for the new model year. Small chrome "fins" were now added atop the rear fenders, but it certainly wasn't a year of major changes. Change wasn't necessary anyway, as Buicks were constantly selling good. Despite being pricey offers, the output was good for a fourth place in the annual production statistics, closely trailing the budget brands Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth. However, Buick's production for 1952 was only limited by government restrictions due to the korean war, but this was a problem which every major american carmaker had to face in 1952.

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