The Buick Motor Company formed the cornerstone of General Motors in 1908, and rapidly grew to become one of America’s most popular cars, with a reputation for quality, refinement, and value. At the end of 1930, Buick made a dramatic move by replacing its six-cylinder cars with a lineup that used eight-cylinder engines exclusively. All of these straight-eights boasted of the company’s proven “Valve-in-Head” overhead-valve design. Buick’s advanced engines and robust chassis lent themselves well to European tastes, and many Buicks were sold overseas. GM established divisions in Europe to meet demands, resulting in some fascinating variants of otherwise familiar models.
By late 1933, Buick was in trouble. The product line was dominated by the Series 50, 60, 80, and 90, which were increasingly large, straight-eight powered cars priced above the means of many consumers who felt the squeeze of the Great Depression. Incoming Buick boss Harlow Curtice saw a real need for a lighter and smaller addition to the product line that was already in the pipeline for the 1934 model year. Under Curtice’s direction, every effort was made to expedite the new smaller Buick, while the big Series 80 was discontinued after 1933.
The inline eight‑cylinder engine chosen to power the Series 40 displaced 233 cubic inches and generated 30.63 horsepower. With a wheelbase of 117 inches, the new “small” Buick was lighter and less expensive than any other recent models from the Flint automaker. Available in five factory body styles, prices started at $865, which was $120 less than the least expensive 1933 Buick. Considering that the Series 40 arrived halfway through the model year, partial year sales of 26,195 units, surely helped to earn the car a spot in the 1935 model range. In addition to those cataloged models, the Series 40 was available in chassis form, for those owners wanting a special body or a little more style. The Series 40’s smaller size made it a good fit for overseas buyers, and the model was widely admired in Europe for its quality and eight-cylinder prestige.
Instead of coming from Buick’s Flint plant, the chassis for this 1935 Buick Series 40 was produced by General Motors France, as displayed on the cowl tag. The rolling chassis was sent to Carrosserie Janer of Paris to receive its coachwork. This little-known firm was a subsidiary of the prestigious Kellner Frères coachbuilders in France. With a name contracted from “JAcques kellNER. Janer bodies were built for higher-production chassis from companies including Ford, Buick, and Renault, while the parent company’s coachwork graced chassis from exclusive automakers including Delage, Hispano-Suiza, Duesenberg, Rolls-Royce, Panhard, and Mercedes. Despite their middle-class status, Janer bodies boasted outstanding style and quality.
This handsome and rare 3-position drophead coupe by Janer is fitted to Buick’s capable straight-8 Series 40 chassis. It spent much of its early life in France, and reportedly winning a concours d’elegance in 1936. It was sold by a French dealer to a collector in Spain in the 1970s, and has remained in honest, well-maintained condition through the years. It runs and drives very well, and needs little to enjoy on the road from a mechanical standpoint. The engine bay is tidy and shows signs of regular maintenance. Inside, the tan upholstery is in very good order, with sound beige carpeting and a canvas soft top. Cosmetically the appealing Buick is in good condition, with a careworn character that makes it an ideal candidate for touring or for embarking on a straightforward restoration.
A rare combination of a mid-priced American chassis with lovely European coachwork, this charming and unusual coachbuilt Buick is sure to delight its next custodian.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7486
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