1938 Buick Series Forty Special Convertible Coupe






Signature Models

scale 1:18

Model number: 18131


Review of the model:

Buick is only second to Cadillac when we are talking about General Motors car line. In the 1:18 scale world will the Signature Model of the marvelous 1938 Buick Special Convertible Coupe stand high above all the other brand of manufactures in the die-cast world? It is hard to tell in one word, but let’s us dive deep into the meaning of quality and a bargain buy. There is no doubt that there is a hierarchy in the producers of 1:18 scale model cars.

Signature Models can still be seen on European web-shops although they become rare as the days go by, remember some of the models is now over 20+ years old. The price on ebay are in some cases double or tri-double compared to the retail price just a few years ago. I will say the Sun Star Platinum series are better and Yatming Lucky die-cast are a bit more sparse in details, but the best make I can compare Signature Models to is the higher priced Yatming Road Signature models that come with the "gold coin"

And again how much money are we willing to spend on each individual car and how much realism can we expect per Euro or Dollars spent.

Let’s we take a closer look at the model here: One of the first things I look after when a model is un-packed at my desk is the quality of the prep and paint work. I must say that Signature models do not let you down, the paint work is flawless although some models have not a very gloss paint, and some will say that is a more realistic presentation of the real car (I will mostly give them right in the statement) But here on the 1938 Buick Special the black paint sparkle like a Steinway piano!. Remember gloss black is one of the most challenge tasks of paint work on a model as well as on a real car! So, top remarks to Signature Models for the fine job here.

As said before some of the Signature Models are becoming old now, and I most come here with a warning regarding the moulds and quality of the Zink they used on some of the models in this period – they have poor quality in the pureness of the Zink; therefore some model collectors can tell horror stories, about first some models have small blemish under the paint, and start to integrate with distortion in shape and later go to pieces (I have seen this on some models and also from other makers such as Anson) If the process is starting, your only hope is to prey!  There is nothing you can do. However my advice is to store you models in dry environment as high humidity will speed the process up – I think and hope the newer made models do not have this problem as they use better Zink-alloy nowadays.

Some model car makers do not make many opening parts on the models. It a bit shame as many collectors can display the model in multiply scenes. I’m glad for this when my model is photographed in realistic scenery. Signature Models 1938 Buick is very large and comes with all doors, hood and the funny “Mother in law” jump seat back. Here I will also thanks the maker for the fine fit, as the parts leaves no harsh gabs as seen on other entry level models. Cars from this time period have some intricate opening mechanism around the motor and all here is as real as it get in scale 1:18 …And do not miss to take a closer look at the motor in this car – very well done Signature Models!

The next items I notice are the chrome parts and they are well made with high reflection and look realistic. Some of you will know I’m a fan of model cars with a solid roof, but there are a lot of fine convertibles too. And here I will give Signature Models credit for give us collectors the choice of have the soft top open or folded back in form of 2 plastic part you can chance at you choice.

If we” take the top down” and look at the interior the first we notice the soft red seats and a rather fine instrument panel – we are not up to standards as Sun Star platinum model, but remember the price tag is only half when these models where introduced. This particular model have not any carpet, this comes as a surprise for me, as many other models from this maker has carpet laid.

A models lamps and lights are sometimes a good indicator how well and how much effort a maker had laid into it realism. Here the lenses are well made with high level of details, but unfortunately this is only the case of the front lights. The rear lights are made of chrome parts that have the red lenses painted. The last part I will highlight from this model is the wheels, tire and hubcaps – they came as good as it gets!

Could this model car have more details? Yes of curse it could, but again at what level of increase of purchase price, it is hard to answer however I’m very glad of this model and it fills gab in the history of General Motors 1930’ period. I can recommend this model to all Us-car collectors.


I will give this model 4 out of 6 stars  ******

Below here are pictures of the model, historical description, old brochures, technical data and a little movie clip for the real car. So please enjoy!






Hoax Car brochure frontpage



A rather smart sports car of it time

  Even cool looking with the top up  
A nice profile
Signature Models have a realistic stand and good proportions
Detail richness in lamps and lenses
Very nice wheels and hubcaps
Well made interior but the carpet is missing
The rear lights are only painted red instead of red plastic parts
Impeccable paintwork
Signature models give you a choice between top down or up!
A fine model car
A well made instrument panel but the color should have been dark wood grain
Out in the open with a merged Fashion model of it time
Forced perspective tabletop shot
Out in the nature the model looks very realistic

1938 Century of Greatness – 1938 Buick Century


By Tim Howley

Back in the year when Errol Flynn immortalized Robin Hood, when Walt Disney dazzled the world with Snow White, when Glenn Miller music was coming into full swing, and Bingo was becoming the latest rage, the 1938 Buick Century was just about the most exciting thing this side of Lana Turner’s sweater closet!

How this pace-setting car for the era came about is a fascinating story. It emerged from an ugly car and bad times. Buick’s troubles began with the pregnant Buick of 1929, the ill-fated Marquette, and the stock market crash. Without any real answers to Buick’s dilemma, General Motors created B.O.P., the consolidation of sales and much manufacturing of Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. “Bo-Peep,” as it came to be known, was anathema to dealers of all three makes. In 1927, Buick had 2,600 dealers. By the spring of 1934, only 67 dealers remained that sold Buicks exclusively.

Buick was proud of its 320.2-cu.in. valve-in-head-designed straight-eight and advertised it prominently in red on the rocker arm cover.

But let’s back up a bit. It was in the autumn of a very bleak year, 1933, that William S. Knudsen, Executive Vice President of General Motors, visited the AC Spark Plug Division in Flint, Michigan, to have a soul-searching talk with Harlow “Red” Curtice, president of AC, and truly a spark plug himself. Curtice immediately accepted the presidency of Buick, soon followed by the remaking of the car and the Buick Division, as well as the gradual liquidation of B.O.P.

Curtice was an impressive man, 43 years of age, an imposing figure and persuasive talker, tall, slight of build, graceful in his manner and an impeccable dresser. His nickname came from his reddish-blond hair that was his crowning glory. He might have made a marvelous politician or actor, with a princely charm and a subtle sense of humor, but years earlier he had chosen a career in the automobile industry.

Almost from the day that Curtice took the helm of Buick, the grand old lady embarked on a new course out of troubled waters. In 1933, Buick production accounted for only 2.9 percent of the industry; by 1938, Buick’s share was up to 8.8 percent.

Curtice’s first move at Buick was to turn out a new car in about the time it took President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish a new bureau, although that new car was pretty well finalized before Curtice took over. It was a lighter, cheaper Buick utilizing a Chevrolet body, and was introduced in May 1934. Sales increased immediately, from 43,274 units in 1933, to 63,067 in 1934. But this was only the beginning.

Buick’s real upward march began with the introduction of the smart-looking and powerful 1936 model, which was Harlow Curtice’s baby. Shortly after Curtice took over the Buick presidency, he called upon the tall, dashing Harley Earl, General Motors’ vice president of styling, and already a shaker and doer in the GM hierarchy, for help.

Curtice pointedly asked, “What kind of a car do your drive, Harley?”

Earl’s answer was, “Why a Cadillac, of course.”

Then how about designing me a Buick that you would like to own yourself?” Curtice straightforwardly asked.

It was more of an order than a question–an order to scrap all of Buick’s styling clichés and create an all-new Buick that would be as dashing as Clark Gable in Mutiny on the Bounty.

The 1936 Buick, does not look like much now, but its impact at the time was awesome–its production reached 160,000, or about 5 percent of industry sales. Up until 1936, Buicks had lackluster names–the Series 40, 50, 60 and 90. Curtice gave the numbers names, and life. The Series 40 became the low-priced Special. The Series 50 was scratched. The 60 became the Century, implying 100 mph, or the 20th Century Limited passenger train. The Series 80 was given the glamorous name Roadmaster and the 90 became the Limited, again implying the premier passenger train of the day, or limited production. The idea of putting the big Roadmaster engine in the Chevrolet-bodied Special (creating the Century) was Curtice’s, and it was brilliant. It was the same big-engine-in-a-small-car philosophy that launched the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 into the sales stratosphere, but Buick applied it 11 years earlier.

The big, new Buick overhead-valve, straight-eight engine was 320.2 cubic inches and developed 120hp. It had a shorter stroke than the previous Buick eight-cylinder, reducing piston speeds and crankpin loads. This engine was so good that it was offered for 18 years without a displacement increase, although horsepower rose to 170 by 1952, the engine’s last year. Anolite aluminum alloy pistons in 1936 were one of its main features. Anolite pistons wore as well as cast iron, but weighed considerably less. Even the smaller Buick engine for 1936 used Anolite, as did the Oldsmobile and La Salle engines. Other features of this new Buick straight-eight were a hollow rocker arm shaft with a water-cooled gauze filter. The engine also featured a five-main-bearing crankshaft with eight integrally forged counterweights; in fact, Buick’s smaller eight-cylinder engine had this same feature. Other features shared by both engines were full-length water-jacketing and chain-drive for the camshaft.

Another shrewd move for 1936, not entirely Curtice’s doing, was reducing the number of bodies offered from 25 to seven. The Century and Special used GM’s A-body. The Roadmaster and Limited shared the Cadillac body which, in 1937, became known as the B-body. The A-body was not a completely steel body; it still had much wood framing. It was called the Turret Top because it had an insert-less steel roof. The B-body was mostly steel, but it still incorporated some wood components. Ultimately, 1938 was the last year that Buick used wood in their bodies. The Century’s body was shared with the Special. The two models had similar frames, only the 1936 Century had a 122-inch wheelbase as opposed to the Special’s shorter 118 inches. The suspension was somewhat revised and only the Century had 15-inch wheels; all other models had taller 16-inch wheels.

Buick began using hydraulic brakes in 1936, which made a big improvement in its cars’ stopping performance. Also introduced that year was a lighter, sturdier frame and Buick’s first synchromesh transmission for the Century, Roadmaster and Limited. This lightweight transmission was soon offered by Cadillac and La Salle, and what a remarkable transmission it was! Its ratios were engineered to allow the Century to wind out close to 40 mph in low gear and over 60 mph in second.

The 1936-1938 Buicks, with their very sleek and rounded style, decorated with Harley Earl’s latest art-deco trim, were the last Buick models to feature a tall, upright grille. They truly were flashy cars by mid-1930s standards, not too far out in design, but just fresh enough that everybody knew Buick was on the move. The cars were quiet, quick and comfortable in the grandest style. Although Lincoln had a more modern car in the Zephyr, and Chrysler had brilliantly engineered cars in rather conservative bodies–the Airflow notwithstanding–Buick had cars to please everybody, and soaring sales proved it.

A big part of Buick’s success began back in 1936 with its advertising campaigns. Arthur Kudner of the Erwin Wasey Advertising Agency was the account executive for GM’s AC Division when Curtice was president there. When Curtice went to Buick he decided to hold an advertising agency review. Naturally, Campbell-Ewald quickly lost the account, and Kudner opened up his own advertising agency to handle Buick. Immediately, Buick came out with advertising that was as flashy as the new Buick automobile. There were headlines like “Dressed for a party–Powered for a Thrill” and “Just Look What You’re Missing, Mister!”

For 1937, the Buick Special’s wheelbase increased to 122 inches, and the Century’s wheelbase went to 126 inches. The entire Buick line was restyled by Frank Hershey who had recently come over from the Murphy Body Company in Pasadena. It is rare to see complete restyling after only one year, but Harlow Curtice was breaking all the rules. The 1937 Buick bodies were lower, wider and longer. They had more interior room and, unfortunately, a significant weight increase. This bigger, heavier car dictated a horsepower increase, up from 120 to 130 in the Century’s and Roadmaster’s big straight-eight–this was accomplished with a new carburetor and revised cam timing. The Special’s engine displacement grew to 248 cubic inches, which, in turn, increased its horsepower from 93 to an even 100. In the end, Buick production rose to 220,346 units for the 1937 model year, and the division moved from seventh to sixth place overall.

An argument could be made that the 1937 models were the best looking of the ’30s with their fine-line grilles, but most collectors today prefer the 1938 models. They feature the same body, but with slightly reshaped fenders and fewer, yet thicker, horizontal grille bars that gave them a much bolder look.

More important, though, were the hidden improvements that came about in 1938. New crown contour “Turbulator” pistons provided a higher compression ratio that resulted in a power increase to 141hp in the Roadmaster and Century Dynaflash engines. Only the Hudson straight-eights had a more favorable power-to-weight ratio. The frame center section went from an I-beam design to a sturdier X member, and coil springs replaced the former semi-elliptic springs in the rear, an industry first. Now Buick had coil springs at all four wheels. The shock absorbers were far larger than any other shock on the market, which, in combination with the coil springs all around, gave Buick its infamous mushy ride–but that’s what Buick buyers wanted in 1938.

Although 1938 was a down year for the economy, and for all auto makers, Buick produced 168,689 cars and moved up to fourth place in the industry. Buick remained fourth, right behind Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth through 1942. But 1938 is best remembered for the “Y-Job,” GM’s first show car of the future, and it was based on a Buick. This was a roadster that looked nothing like a 1938 Buick, but much like a 1942 model. It later became Harley Earl’s personal car.

Exterior styling changed dramatically for the 1939 model year as Buick received GM’s new wider bodies. All the models across the board featured a delicate split-prow grille with slim, vertical bars, and for the first time, the headlamps were integrated into the front fenders. This was also the first year for a column-mounted shifter on a Buick. As contemporary as it was, the 1939 model did not beat the 1938s for style and performance. In fact, no Buick did for many years to come.

These cars came standard with brown mohair upholstery, but for a few extra dollars a buyer could have ordered a rich broadcloth or leather. Although the beautiful ivory-colored Tenite banjo steering wheel was standard, the radio, heater, defroster and clock were optional.

Stepping into this car is like moving back into the days just before World War II. You are immediately struck by the narrowness of the driver’s compartment in the last years of running boards. Directly in front of the driver are a 120-mph speedometer and four other gauges. The instrument panel and all of the window moldings are richly wood grained in a dark walnut pattern. The instrumentation is very art deco, which is attractive, although the gauges are a little difficult to read. Still, the overall feeling behind the wheel is simply delightful–this was Harley Earl’s styling at its best.

This Century has Buick’s famous Knee-Action front suspension with coil springs, plus coil springs at the rear, along with anti-roll bars, front and rear, to help reduce body roll when cornering. The steering is not heavy, but ponderously slow and not very precise. Power steering was developed in the 1920s, and General Motors had all the patents on it in the 1930s, but it’s a shame they didn’t put it on their cars. The new four-wheel coil-sprung suspension of 1938 eliminated the annoying bounce-and-roll characteristic, allowing the car to float over the highway like a yacht on the high seas. In hard cornering, the whole car leans like Noah’s Ark, with all the animals inside leaning along with it. The hydraulic brakes do their job, but don’t perform nearly as well as a power-brake setup would.

The gearshift is still on the floor, which is neat, but was obsolete engineering in the late ’30s. The synchromesh shifting is a pleasure, and the speeds attained in first and second gears are pretty amazing. The car comfortably shifts from first to second in the low 30-mph range, and from second to high at around 40 mph. (The big cars of this era had relatively high-ratio first and second gears.) Third gear is the most incredible of all, permitting speeds of over 100 mph.

Buick claimed that its 1938 Century models were the fastest U.S. production-based cars on the road. In fact, at the GM Proving Grounds, one Century was clocked at a top speed of 103 mph. Its acceleration was so great that a 1938 Century sport coupe held the National Hot Rod Association class record for the next 25 years. Its performance ability was only 0-to-60 mph in 16-17 seconds, which is a joke by today’s standards, but in 1938, that was hot stuff. A 1938 Century could be driven in the 75- to 80-mph range, but not effortlessly, and you would want to add an overdrive (which Buick did not have) to do this all day long.

The Century coupe was the lightest and hottest Buick, but even the sedans with sidemounts were not quick. The fastback two-door sport sedan was eliminated for 1938 due to poor sales in 1937. There were 1,515 fastback four-door sport sedans built, 1,380 two-door touring sedans, and 12,364 four-door touring sedans. There were 1,991 sport coupes, 642 convertible coupes and 208 convertible phaetons. That made a total of 18,100 Buick Centurys for 1938.


Technical specification:

Base Price: $1,297
Options on dR car: Dual sidemounts, radio, heater, defroster, clock, broadcloth upholstery

Type: Overhead-valve straight-eight, cast-iron block and cylinder head
Displacement: 320.2 cubic inches
Bore x Stroke: 3.44 x 4.31 inches
Compression ratio: 6.35:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 141 @ 3,600
Torque @ rpm: 269 @ 2,000
Valvetrain: Solid
Main bearings: 5
Fuel system: Marvel CD-2 or Stromberg AAV-2 dual downdraft 1¼ -inch carburetor
Lubrication system: Pressure
Electrical system: 6 volts
Exhaust system: Single

Type: Three-speed manual, floor lever
Ratios 1st: 2.39:1
2nd: 1.53:1
3rd: 1.00:1
Reverse: 2.39:1

Type: Hypoid
Ratio: 3.90:1
Drive axles: Semi-floating

Type: Saginaw worm and roller
Ratio: 19:1
Turns, lock-to-lock: 4.5
Turning circle: 42 feet

Type: Hydraulic, 4-wheel internal, manual drum type
Front: 12-inch drums
Rear: 12-inch drums

Construction: Steel body on separate steel X-type girder frame
Body Style: Four-door trunk sedan
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive

Front: Independent 14-1/4-inch coil springs, double-acting extra-heavy-duty tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Rear: Solid axle, 19-inch coil springs, double-acting extra-heavy-duty tube shocks, anti-roll bar

Wheels: Pressed steel, drop-center frames
Tires: 4-ply
Front/rear: 7.00 x 15 inches

Wheelbase: 126 inches
Overall length: 203.56 inches
Overall width: 72.25 inches
Overall height: 68.93 inches
Front track: 58.31 inches
Rear track: 59.25 inches
Curb weight: 3,780 pounds
Min. road clearance: 7.25 inches

Crankcase: 10 quarts
Cooling system: 17 quarts
Fuel tank: 16 gallons

Bhp per c.i.d.: 0.44
Weight per bhp: 26.81 pounds
Weight per c.i.d.: 11.81 pounds

0-60 mph: 16-17 seconds
Top speed: 100-mph range
Fuel mileage: 12 mpg




Old brochures of the car




























































Video of the real car from YouTube





If you have any question or comment your are free to contact me at: aeronautic@stofanet.dk



Dealers are welcome to get their models reviewed too.






Aeronautic Dec. 2021


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