- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003

“My dad always had Buicks,” Fred Trasport recalls. When he came of driving age his first car was a hand-me-down from his father, a 1953 Buick two-door sedan.

Although in later years Mr. Trasport strayed from the Buick brand, he remained loyal to General Motors.

About Christmastime in 1998, he and his wife, Janice, were motoring through Gordonsville, which is close to Charlottesville, when they saw a 1955 Chevrolet parked near the road, displaying a “for sale” sign.

“I’ve always liked old cars and wanted one,” Mr. Trasport says. They stopped for a closer look at the Chevrolet and Mr. Trasport noticed a sign saying there were more old cars in a nearby garage behind the house. The intrigued couple went to investigate and were astounded at what they found.

They had stumbled upon a broker in antique automobiles. In the garage, parked side by side, were two 1941 convertibles, a Buick and a Packard. Mr. Trasport was smitten.

He immediately forgot about the Chevrolet by the road and carefully examined both of the 1941 convertibles.

Which one to buy?

He couldn’t make up his mind so he and his wife left to think it over. “Sometimes,” he says, “no decision is the decision.”

After a week or two of anxious pondering, the Trasports returned for another look at the cars and discovered that the Packard had been sold, which meant the decision had been made for them.

Mr. Trasport bought the green Buick in January 1999. Another couple of weeks passed before they returned to take possession of their prize.

With the tan top in the raised position and the under-seat heater throwing out BTUs, Mr. Trasport drove the Buick 70 miles home to Woodbridge, secure in the knowledge that his safety net — Mrs. Trasport — was following in a modern car. Most of the trip was made at speeds between 45 and 60 mph.

The Buick performed flawlessly and the new owner smiled all the way home. “I don’t know if the smile has gone away yet,” a still-happy Mr. Trasport says.

Much of the car’s history is a mystery. He does know that his car was restored in the Midwest during the early 1980s.

About 4,300 of the 1941 Buick Special convertible coupes were manufactured in the last full year of production before World War II. Each one had a base price of $1,138 or $158 more than the sport coupe with a steel top, which proves that even 60 years ago when the top goes down, the price goes up.

The 3,780-pound convertible rides on a 118-inch wheelbase and is propelled by 115 horsepower delivered by the 248-cubic-inch straight-eight-cylinder engine.

Unlike modern-day Buicks with automatic transmissions, Mr. Trasport works through the gears, shifting manually while seated behind the three-spoke steering wheel whenever he takes his car out for some exercise.

“I’ve had it up to 75 mph as a test and I think there’s more,” he says.

Historical pictures of 1941 Buicks show some of them with rear fender skirts trimmed with chrome spears. He decided his Buick had to have skirts.

In 1941 the skirts would have been a $10 option. He found a pair of skirts offered on Ebay from New England. He bought them but had to search elsewhere for the chrome spears that add that extra pizzazz.

There is no shortage of bright work on the Buick. Each wheel has a beauty ring surrounding a hubcap that is stamped with B-U-I-C-K. Additionally, the parking lights above the headlights are encased in chrome.

When raised, the windows in the front doors are framed in chrome. As the window is lowered the frame, called a “flipper” recedes. As the glass submerges into the door, the frame settles into the open space in the windowsill. In addition, all the other window frames also are chrome-plated.

The AM radio receives signals through the vacuum-powered antenna on the left front fender. The five push buttons on the radio are labeled with big block letters spelling B-U-I-C-K. The power antenna and radio package was a $65 accessory. The dual defrosters cost an extra $7.50

At the curvaceous rear end of the Buick is the trunk. It contains an amazingly small amount of space. The spare tire is positioned horizontally beneath a shelf to provide a flat surface.

Mr. Trasport’s Buick abounds in unique features including the clock in the glove compartment door. The vacuum-operated windshield wipers are controlled by a dash-top knob on the other side of the glass from the cowl ventilator.

Of the 374,000 Buick built in 1941 Mr. Trasport is happy that he has his.

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