1940 Buick Model 81 Limited
$39,500 obo

Location: Ann Arbor, MI
VIN #:
Engine:320ci Straight 8
Transmission:3 Speed Manual
Wheelbase:140"
Mileage:5,662 showing

Buick is currently the oldest still-active American automotive make, and among the oldest automobile brands in the world. It originated as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899, an independent internal combustion engine and motor-car manufacturer, and was later incorporated as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, by Scottish born David Dunbar Buick in Detroit, Michigan. Later that year, the struggling company was taken over by James H. Whiting who moved it to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and brought in William C. Durant in 1904 to manage his new acquisition. Buick sold his stock for a small sum upon departure, and died in modest circumstances 25 years later. Durant was a natural promoter, and Buick soon became the largest car maker in America. Using the profits from this, Durant embarked on a series of corporate acquisitions, calling the new megacorporation General Motors. At first, the manufacturers comprising General Motors competed against each other, but Durant ended that. He wanted each General Motors division to target one class of buyer, and in his new scheme, Buick was near the top — only the Cadillac brand had more prestige. Buick occupies this position to this day in the General Motors lineup. The ideal Buick customer is comfortably well off, possibly not quite rich enough to afford a Cadillac, nor desiring the ostentation of one, but definitely in the market for a car above the norm.

The Buick Limited was a continuance of Buick's long wheelbase premium Series 90 automobile. In 1936, Buick released a new line of cars that were technically superior to their predecessors by offering such features as all-steel passenger compartment tops (GM's Turret Top design), improved front suspension, improved hydraulic safety-breaking system, alloy engine pistons and an improved engine cooling system. To celebrate the changes in its models, Buick renamed its vehicles by discarding the "Series" format of model names (adopted in 1929) and renamed its "Series 40" the Special, "Series 60" the Century, "Series 80" the Roadmaster and its premier model range, the Series 90 the Buick Limited.

Limiteds were the most expensive Buicks in production, riding on the company's longest wheelbase of 138 in and the best appointed cars that Buick built. The name Limited was truly appropriate to the cars themselves which were limited to touring sedans and limousines; its sales too were the smallest of Buick's entire model range: 1936-4,086; 1937- 3,697; 1938-1,491; 1939-1,451; 1940-1,739; 1941-3,006 1942, 636 (abbreviated model year September 1941 to January 1942).

In 1938, the wheel base was stretched to 140", and the Limited, along with Roadmaster, lost its wooden structural members for steel, making them the last Buick passenger cars to rely upon a wood components. In 1939 Buick products underwent a substantial redesign; however, the Limited's "limited" production merited it to continue using its 1938 body. Behind the scenes, Cadillac executives lobbied to get the Limited out of production because it infringed on their market. While it was priced in the lower end of its Fleetwood series price point, the Limited almost equaled Cadillac's factory built Imperial Sedan (Limousine), which cost almost four times as much as the Buick, in its appointments. Buick executives fired back that Limited production averaged only 1,561 vehicles per year for model years 1938 through 1940, a drop in the bucket compared to Cadillac's production of its senior cars. Production of the Limited continued until the eve of World War II. Following World War II, Buick dropped its extended wheelbase models, and dropped the Limited nameplate.


This beautiful example is finished in maroon over a gray cloth interior and was first used as a limousine for the governor of Nebraska, after which it was stored from 1942 through 1984. It was purchased by current owner’s father in October 2011. The car starts easily and runs beautifully. The ride is luxurious and elegant. This is a special car that has been extremely well taken care of.

Equipment includes front driving lights, dual side-mounted spare tires, rear coach doors, and a split rear window. Features include dual side-view mirrors, dual side-mounted spare tires and a split rear window. Body-color steel wheels wear polished dog-dish hubcaps with Buick script lettering and whitewall tires. The interior is trimmed in gray cloth and features matching lap belts for the front passengers. Woodgrain appliqués accent the dashboard, and equipment includes a Sonomatic AM radio, a column-mounted gear selector, an analog clock set into the locking glovebox door, armrest-mounted ashtrays for both rear-seat passengers, and a flip-down rear footrest. Instrumentation consists of a 110-mph speedometer and gauges for oil pressure, fuel level and coolant temperature.

This a very rare car, a model we feel is way underpriced in the marketplace, and represents a great opportunity to obtain one of GM's Best cars from the Era. A CCCA Approved Full Classic, this is the perfect car for CARavanning, and is eligible for a wide variety of Events
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