1949 Buick Series 70 320CID 8 cyl Roadmaster Estate Woody Wagon

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Type: Used
Year: 1949
Make: Buick
Model: Series 70 320CID 8 cyl Roadmaster Estate Woody Wagon
Engine Size: 320/150 HP 8 cyl
Trans: Automatic
Mileage: 6687
VIN: 15306063
Stock: 6063
Ext Color: Burgundy/Maroon
Int Color: Burgundy/Maroon


West Coast Classics are proud to present this extraordinary example of a 1949 Buick Roadmaster 320CID 8 cylinder Estate Wagon.

For the 1949 model year, the Roadmaster received its first postwar restyling which was highlighted by the introduction of ventiports along the front fender; three ports for small-displacement cars and four ports for larger-engine models such as the Roadmaster. 1949 Buick's also gained a curved front windshield along with modernized and taught body lines that brought the brand into the modern age.

This 1949 Roadmaster is an example of arguably the most desirable body style of this generation, the Estate Wagon. Wood-bodied construction was nearing the end of its popularity, and this generation of Buick woody wagons showed how well integrated the wood could be with more modern styling. Its older restoration shows very well, with a lovely finish on its wood surfaces including the veneered door panels and interior trim. A cherished member of renown classic car collector Richard Donner, this Buick is sure to be a welcome addition at the home of its next steward.

The Rare Model 79 Estate Wagon

  • 1 of 653 produced, less then 2% of total Buick production in 1949
  • The most expensive and rarest body style offered in 1949
  • Built at the Ionia assembly plant
  • One-year-only styling
  • 320 CI Straight Eight engine
  • Dynaflow automatic transmission
  • Fender skirts, stone guards
  • Full-size wheel covers
  • Wide whitewall tires
  • First year for Ventiports
  • Royal Maroon Paint

This was the last year for the Roadmaster Estate, and it was one of the the last wood-bodied station wagon mass-produced in the United States. Its body was a product of Ionia Manufacturing that built all Buick station wagon bodies between 1946 and 1964. 

This 1949 Buick Model 79 Roadmaster Estate Wagon was a center piece of Richard Donner's prized collection. Some of the most beautiful American cars in the post-World War II era were Buicks, perhaps most notably the magnificent 1949 Roadmaster Estate. The rarest body style offered in 1949, it was as short-lived as it was exclusive, a one-year-only design with a total of just 653 produced. While the wagon bodies built in Ionia, Michigan, had less wood than in previous years, the 1949 Estate Wagon still qualified as a woody, employing elegant mahogany veneers outside and within, where they were complemented with fine leather upholstery, Foamtex seat cushions, a flexible spoke steering wheel, anti-glare rearview mirror, an electric in-dash clock, rear cabin light and luxurious interior carpeting. The torquey Fireball 320 CI Straight Eight and innovative Dynaflow automatic transmission were standard equipment, as were back-up lights, turn signals, windshield washers, stone guards, fender skirts and wide whitewall tires matched with full-size chromed wheel covers. Two new features would come to symbolize the brand: sweepspear chromed body-side moldings and VentiPorts, the latter the brainchild of self-taught designer Ned Nickles, who was also responsible for the bombsight hood ornament. Nickles had installed amber lights in four holes along each side of the hood of his company Buick, each fitted with a light connected to the distributor and activated by a cylinder firing. When Buick President Harlow Curtice first saw Nickles trick setup, he immediately ordered it minus the lights, as it was too costly for production: three on the Special, four on the Roadmaster!

For fans of genuine wood-bodied wagons, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster is the absolute pinnacle of desirability.

If youre under 30 years old, you may not understand why cars like this 1949 Buick Roadmaster estate wagon speak to collectors here in the 21st century. Everyone else, however, remembers spending awesome summer vacations in cars very much like this, travelling the country and seeing why America is great. And if family travelling by highway was your thing, the Buick Roadmaster woody represented first class accommodations that were unmatched by just about everything else. In short, the Roadmaster was the finest, most luxurious wagon built in America and everyone knew it. Only 653 were built in 1949 and today reportedly fewer than 20 are known to exist.

For fans of genuine wood-bodied wagons, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster is the absolute pinnacle of desirability. One-year-only styling is arguably the most successful blend of the dramatic sweep-spear fender lines introduced in 1942 and modernization that would carry Buick into the 1950s. The cowl tag says it came from the factory with Royal Maroon paint, and thats what its wearing today. Its a lovely Maroon that glows in the sunlight and contrasts brilliantly with the restored woodwork that makes this wagon so dramatic. Buick wagons were still farmed out to the Ionia Body Company in Ionia, Michigan, but the integration of wagon bodywork with Fisher steel panels is seamless, creating a sleek profile that looks expensive from any angle. Of note, it appears that the woodwork is the product of an older restoration and mostly all original, with a soft golden hue that comes from some beautiful maturity, although every piece has a glowing layer of varnish to keep it looking its best for years to come. The doors fit well and close with authority (no swollen joints here) and the mammoth hood, which opens from both sides, sits neatly between the fenders. There are a few very minor signs of use, for example some touch-ups along the hood edges where its pretty much inevitable, but for casual shows and tours, this Roadmaster is show ready and a slam-dunk.

1949 is also notable for the introduction of Buicks famous portholes in the front fender, and this car proudly wears four of them, denoting the top-of-the-line Roadmaster. All of the chrome and stainless trim on the car has been recently and expensively restored, from the toothy grille to the massive bumpers to the lovely taillights out back. The stainless trim along the flanks has been fully polished and the bombsight hood ornament is crisply rendered. The tailgate hardware is virtually irreplaceable, but fortunately the hinges and handles are in excellent condition and you'll find ornate Roadmaster and Dynaflow script emblems on the front and rear fenders, respectively. This fully loaded Roadmaster also includes fog lights and a spotlight. 

For sheer eyeball appeal, its hard to beat the Royal Maroon over Red leather interior in a Roadmaster Woody wagon, and this cars passenger compartment is the pinnacle of late-40s style and elegance. The Roadmaster was the most expensive Buick by a whopping $500 in 1949, so stylists knew that the interior appointments had to justify its premium price. Beautiful mahogany door panels are topped by bright red window garnish moldings that match the dashboard, which was a one-year-only design as well. The leather upholstery remains in excellent condition with almost no signs of wear, even in the drivers seat, and the rear seat looks completely unused. Plush carpets are a luxurious touch that you dont usually find in utilitarian station wagons, but then again, this is no ordinary wagon; even the cargo bay is expensively finished in matching materials. The driver sits behind a massive steering wheel that makes guiding this big car effortless and gauges are arrayed in round pods, with the speedometer front and center and auxiliary dials on either side. Secondary controls are the chrome pull switches underneath and there's a Sonomatic AM radio up high in the center of the dash. 

Step on the gas pedal and the big 320 cubic inch OHV straight-8 springs to life quickly and easily, immediately settling into an easy idle that sounds muscular but muted. It drives superbly with big Buick torque available at any speed. It wears correct Buick Turquoise engine enamel and following the war, all large-series Buick's used single 2-barrel carburetors, which is what is on the car today. Even the original oil bath air cleaner is still in place.

Buicks Dynaflow automatic transmission is always a source of controversy, but we've found that if you know how it operates, its quite reliable. There are no shifts, which will feel strange to those of us accustomed to modern automatic transmissions, but one will also find themselves cruising at 60 MPH with no apparent effort, suggesting that the transmission is efficiently doing its thing. This was obviously a professional and no expense spared restoration some years ago, as the frame, suspension, torque tube, and other chassis components are in excellent condition and look quite fresh. The brakes have been serviced and the floors are beautiful originals that have never been rusty or patched. Correct painted steel wheels with unique 1949 hubcaps and 235/75/15 wide whitewall radials complete the look.

For many wagon enthusiasts, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster is the Holy Grail, a rare find and with this particular example boasting a quality restoration performed some years ago and enough driving to ensure that its now properly sorted and dialed in, this is an excellent example that's ready to use and enjoy today! These rarely come to market, so its a genuine honor to have it in our inventory, and we invite and encourage both inspections for principals or their agents to come see and drive it, because for sure that's the best way to appreciate this rare and collectible all American Classic.

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