Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Great Cars of 1949 -- the Buick Roadmaster Convertible

One of the best-looking cars of the late 1940s had to be the Buick Roadmaster convertible. The style was new in 1949, as the pre-war look was finally shed. Its wheelbase and overall length were reduced, but the car's weight was actually marginally increased. The biggest change was a much larger two-piece, curved glass windshield that the sales brochure described as like an “observation car.”

It was also in 1949 that Buick introduced VentiPorts." Four were displayed on each of the Roadmaster's front fenders, with three on the fenders of all other Buicks. It was said that VentiPorts helped ventilate the engine compartment, and possibly that was true in early 1949, but sometime during the model year they became plugged. The idea for VentiPorts grew out of a modification Buick styling chief Ned Nickles had added to his own 1948 Roadmaster. He had installed four amber lights on each side of his car’s hood wired to the distributor so as to flash on and off as each piston fired simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter airplane. Combined with the bomb sight hood ornament, VentiPorts put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. Upon seeing this, Buick chief Harlow Curtice was so delighted that he ordered that (non-lighting) VentiPorts be installed on all 1949 Buicks, with the number of VentiPorts (three or four) corresponding to the relative displacement of the engine installed. It was one example of many from the period that illustrated just how powerful aviation motifs were in terms of then contemporary automobile designs.


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