- The Washington Times - Friday, July 26, 2002

Pre-World War II Buicks were well-known for their powerful straight-eight-cylinder engines. Although they definitely were not quick off the line, once they were rolling the big Buicks were hard to catch.
As nice as these vintage Buicks are, they possess virtually nothing of interest to those who are attracted to muscle cars.
Regardless, there is still that certain spark that kindles the fire in the heart of automobile enthusiasts.
Eric Hein thoroughly enjoys his powerful sports car as well as his motorcycle. In May 2001 he and his wife, Debi, were spending a few days in Virginia Beach. The day they were to leave for home Mr. Hein was glancing through the local newspaper when he spotted an ad offering for sale a 1940 Buick Special four-door sedan.
It's probably nothing that would entice them, he told his wife. They could stop by and look the car over as they were leaving town.
She agreed. It would be a lark.
Mr. Hein remembers watching the owner back the beautiful black Buick out of the garage on its 121-inch wheelbase into the brilliant spring sunshine.
With the sunlight sparkling off the graceful curves of the 61-year-old car, Mr. Hein thought, "I'm in trouble if the price is right."
After a thorough inspection and a test drive, Mr. Hein found himself lusting after the entry-level Buick of 1940.
The price wasn't outrageous for a freshly restored and repainted antique automobile and, after a bit of negotiating, it became more attractive.
The deal was consummated as Mr. Hein left a deposit and went home, leaving his 3,660-pound Buick to be picked up by a trucking service, which delivered it to his Germantown home a few days later.
When new the car carried a $996 base price.
The well-appointed, bottom-of-the-line Buick was popular since 68,816 of the models were sold.
Each one came with a powerful 248-cubic-inch, valve-in-head, straight-eight-cylinder engine developing 107 horsepower under the two-piece engine hood, which still opened from either side.
When his Buick rolled off the delivery truck on wide white sidewall 6.50x16-inch Allstate tires Mr. Hein thought, "I've bought a car for my father."
His father must have good taste.
The fully restored Buick has turn signals with both rear flashers near the center of the trunk lid.
From a distance the turn signal appears to be a flashing light in the enter of the car.
With 60 years of hindsight such an arrangement doesn't seem smart, but at the time it was better than anything that had gone before.
Besides, even as an entry-level Buick it came equipped with a locking gas cap door, a heater and fog lamps as well as a clock in the glove compartment door.
The driver can see a 110 mph speedometer through a three-spoke banjo steering wheel. The odometer has registered just 50,240 miles. Atop the dashboard at the base of the two-piece windshield is the plastic knob controlling the vacuum wipers.
At the rear of the Buick is a splash pan between the bumper and body of the bar. Inside the trunk is a full-width wooden shelf above the horizontal spare tire.
The gasoline tank has a 17-gallon capacity while 14 quarts of coolant keeps the engine temperature under control and seven quarts of oil keep the engine well lubricated.
The car was covered under the 1940 manufacturer's warranty, which covers almost everything for 90 days or 4,000 miles.
Even though the Buick is slightly out of warranty Mr. Hein, a National Mailing Systems salesman, occasionally, on sunshiny days, drives his antique Buick to work in McLean to keep it exercised.
The cowl ventilator just forward of the windshield might not be better than an air conditioner, but it keeps him cool in a cool car.

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