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Classic Used Oil Generators: 1941 Buick Super
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By Vern Parker

In 1941 Gene Muller was a salesman at the Kauffman Buick Company in Spokane, Washington. It was there that he sold a new 1941 Buick Series 50 Super four-door sedan.

Like all Buick Supers in those days, the one he sold was powered by a 248-cubic-inch straight eight cylinder engine that developed 125 horsepower. On the lengthy valve cover Buick painted the name that had been to the engine – FIREBALL 8.

Fuel rated at 72 to 74 octane for single carburetor engines was recommended. Available only on 1941 and 1942 Buicks was a compound carburetor arrangement. For this more powerful two carburetor setup 78 to 80 octane-rated fuel was preferred.

Where the Buick spent the next 60 years is a mystery but it resurfaced in 2004 fully restored.

Mike Murphy of Broad Run, Virginia, has long admired the stylish lines of the 1941 Buicks and had just learned of one for sale in Delaware. The night before he was to go see the car in Delaware he saw another 1941 Buick advertised for sale in an antique car magazine. Murphy telephoned the seller to verify that the Buick would be in New Jersey the next day.

There was a lot to be done the following day so Murphy got an early start.

The condition of the car in Delaware proved disappointing so Murphy pushed on to Atlantic City. It was there that he first saw the beautifully restored Buick that Gene Muller had sold as a new car in 1941.

The once-black Buick now sported an off white color and the upholstery appeared like new. Murphy paid for the car and made plans to return the next week to claim his 3,770-pound prize.

Once he got the Buick home he inspected the car in detail. The engine hood can be opened from either side or with both sides released the hood can easily be removed.

The carburetors needed to be overhauled so they were sent off to Ohio for rebuilding. The 18-gallon gasoline tank was cleaned and sealed in Maryland. While a new exhaust system was being installed Murphy received much unsolicited advice from antique car "experts” warning him about the oil pan that was certain to be clogged with sludge.

"I dropped the 'clogged' oil pan which wasn't clogged,” he reports.

With the oil pan back in place and eight quarts of oil flowing through the engine the Buick runs like a Buick should.

Murphy's car is equipped with the optional seven slot venetian blind by the rear window. An exterior sun visor shields the windshield.

The antenna to receive AM signals on the Sonomatic radio is based above the top of the windshield. When not in use a knob inside the car can be twisted to swing the antenna down to settle onto the division strip of metal between the two pieces of the windshield. The wipers on the windshield are vacuum operated.

At the base of the windshield is a cowl ventilator to admit fresh air into the cabin.

In cold weather the interior of the spacious car is kept comfortable with the 14.25 quarts of antifreeze in the cooling system flowing through the heater.

One of the initial things that caught Murphy's eye were the brown wheels. He did not care for the color of them. The wheels have now been sand blasted clean and powder coated in red which, Murphy says, vastly improves the appearance of his car.

The leading edge of both rear fenders is protected by a black rubber gravel guard.

Murphy does not hesitate to drive his reliable "Gertrude” anywhere at any time. He recently settled into the driver's seat behind the three-spoke steering wheel and drove more than 1,000 miles on a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Never once, he says, did the needle on the speedometer reach 120 mph.

The Buick has been named Gertrude in honor of Murphy's late cousin. She left him part of the money he paid for the car. He knows she would be proud.

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