Buick’s flagship Roadmaster has long been synonymous with luxury and style. Since its inception in 1936, it served as the style and feature leader in the Buick line, and from 41-on, was Buick’s premier offering. It was a ready competitor for Cadillac in terms of performance and equipment, yet the Buick undercut its sibling by a significant price margin. In late 1941, for the upcoming 1942 model year, Buick had significantly redesigned its entire range and the Roadmaster would provide a showcase of Harley Earl’s vision for the 1940s; a modern machine that was lower, wider and longer than its predecessor, with beautifully integrated fenders and a signature toothy grille. Of course, the American involvement in World War II put an abrupt end to automobile production in 1942, so only a minute handful of cars were delivered before production shifted to military vehicles. Eager buyers would have to wait at least three years before they’d see another new car roll out of an American plant.
Few of those eager buyers waited longer for their new Buick Roadmaster than Erhardt H. Kraft of New Braunfels, Texas. As Mr. Kraft explained in a letter written to a subsequent owner of his Buick Roadmaster, he placed an order and a deposit with the Krueger Motor Company in 1941 for a new 1942 model, only to have the onset of World War II delay delivery, as the Buick production plant was rapidly converted to war production. Over four years had passed when, on Christmas Eve 1945, Mr. Kraft received a call from Krueger Motor Company informing him that his “new car had arrived at long last,” and that the unusually patient New Braunfels businessman had actually received interest on his deposit over that time! Mr. Kraft was no doubt surprised since, over the course of the war, he had completely forgotten that he ordered a new Buick in 1941!
The story continues with Erhardt Kraft explaining: “Mr. Krueger asked if he could keep the car on his showroom floor, because it was Christmas Eve of 1945 and my Buick was the first Roadmaster the company had received since the War ended. He wanted others to enjoy the car since there had not been any fine cars like this for the length of the War. I drove the car home on January 2, 1946, for the first time.”
How wonderful it is to imagine seeing this incredibly stylish, beautifully appointed 1946 Buick Sedanet right at the turn of the New Year for the first time, and after so many years of war. Mr. Kraft reportedly bought the car for his wife, but she never learned to drive, so it was only her husband who drove it on the occasional vacations and to church on Sundays. As such, it accrued very few miles and remained in outstanding condition. It was eventually acquired several decades later by Texas collector David Taylor, who is well-known among enthusiasts for collecting excellent original Buicks of this era. Subsequently, it was part of several well-known Southwestern collections, including the museum of Sterling McCall in Round Top, Texas. Thankfully, each subsequent owner appreciated this fine Buick’s originality and cared for it lovingly, and it shows a mere 4,734 miles believed from new.
Today, this stunningly low mileage example presents in wonderful condition. At some point in the cars history, the car was “modernized”, with a 1947 grille and hood emblem, a 1948 hood ornament, 1948 “Roadmaster” script to the front fenders, 1948 back up lights, and a 1947 steering wheel. While no longer 100% original, the car is still gorgeous, wearing an older repaint in its original Carlsblad black and having benefited from some replating of the chrome. The sumptuous Harley Earl-penned Roadmaster Sedanet is one of the most desirable body styles of the period. It masterfully combines luxurious, sweeping curves with an air of sportiness in the tapered tail and low roofline. Highly desirable aftermarket period accessories include a sun visor, dual outside mirrors, a spot light, and a light bar with twin fog lamps. On the road the car sits proudly as it should; riding on a set of wide whitewall tires with proper original hubcaps.
Incredibly, this Roadmaster retains its fine original Gray Bedford Heather upholstery, which presents in very good condition, as well as its original window glass, aforementioned accessories and even the factory exhaust system and muffler! The dashboard is particularly magnificent, with a warm and inviting patina to its finishes, outstanding original instruments, and finely detailed original knobs, and switches.
Beneath the signature side-hinged hood is the original 320 Cubic Inch “Fireball” valve-in-head inline eight-cylinder that produced 144hp in period. Given the fact that the 4,734 miles are strongly believed to be original, it likely she still makes fairly close to that figure. The engine also looks wonderful, presented in correct original Buick Blue with the bold “FIREBALL” graphics on the valve cover. Some hoses, clamps and fittings have been changed over the years in the interest of functionality, but the overall appearance is that of a well maintained and highly original example.
As the car has had some modifications from original, its not a show winner, but Mr. and Mrs. Kraft’s wonderful Roadmaster does boast a rich and entertaining history,and careful long-term maintenance in significant collections, and is as enjoyable to drive today as it was on the just the second day of 1946 in New Braunfels, Texas.
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