1949 Buick Special Model 46S
8-cyl. 248cid/110hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
When World War II ended, the automotive manufacturer’s dream of “pent-up demand” was realized. Buick was in a particularly good position since it had redesigned much of its line for 1942, and these cars were lightly face-lifted and re-trimmed for the post-war boom.
Gone were the prewar Century and Limited lines, but the 121-inch wheelbase, entry-level Special returned with a two-door sedanet and a four-door sedan. The only available engine was the 248-cid straight-eight motor that delivered 110 hp and was mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Prices were right around $1,550, making the Special approximately $500 cheaper than the Buick Super. Even so, with only two body styles, a smaller size, and minimal features, fewer than 3,000 buyers opted for the base Special.
Demand for new cars was still strong and little was changed for the next three model years, except for a more handsome grille. The rest of the Buick lineup was restyled for the 1949 model year, but the Special retained its earlier design. The only significant change was the introduction of the Dynaflow automatic transmission, which appeared on the Roadmaster the previous year.
Post-war Buicks remain a practical and handsome example of curvaceous 1940s styling. They are spacious and comfortable, albeit with a rather soft ride. Many parts were shared across the line, making ownership relatively straightforward. The only Achilles heel is the Dynaflow transmission, which is reliable but inclined to leak at the rear seal. Since the rear axle is a torque-tube arrangement, it must be unbolted to repair the transmission, which makes it labor intensive. Due to the involved nature of the work, many owners opt to replace the rear shaft bushing at the same time to head trouble off. All the same, even though the Super isn’t the first postwar Buick to spring to mind for most enthusiasts, the sedans and sedanets are particularly affordable and representative of 1940s American motoring, and a fine choice for anyone interested in the era.