Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1941 Buicks with the Brunn Touch

"Best Buick Yet" was the tagline for Buick in 1941, and it was more than a slogan. The 1941 models were a high point for Buick in many ways, including their presence in the ultra luxury market. Not only did Buick continue the 90 series Limited Series in 1941, but they partnered with Brunn Coachbuilders to offer an impressive catalog of factory customs available through your local Buick dealer. 

It was surprising that it even happened at all, considering Cadillac's near monopoly of the luxury market, but Buick had a fine car in the Limited and an aggressive General Manager in Harlow Curtice, so the partnership moved forward. Brunn prepared four renderings for a very special Limited-only brochure. 

The models depicted were the Custom Landau, with folding rear roof section, the Custom Brougham, a formal open front Town Car, the Custom Phaeton, which was a four door convertible, and the Custom Town Car which had a different roof treatment that the Custom Brougham. 

The brochure showed renderings of all four models plus three pages dedicated to all of the special fittings that could be done by Brunn. It was in every way a most impressive piece. Too impressive, perhaps, because soon the stuffed shirts at Cadillac were complaining bitterly to GM leadership about the ambitious Buick-Brunn program, and it was quietly shelved. And so a fascinating chapter in Buick history was closed. 

But not so fast. Brunn did manage to complete two of the special Limiteds before the program was discontinued- and quite special cars they were. The Mc Cormick family of Chicago ordered a Custom Landau in a deep grey which was used at their summer home in Lake Geneva, WI for many years, until it disappeared in the 1960s. Hopefully it will resurface one day.

And the car at the top of the article, a pearl grey and black Custom Brougham, was completed for a Colonel Le Roy Berdeau and delivered to him at his winter residence in Palm Beach, Florida in February of 1941. Colonel Berdeau's car spent summers in Chicago and winters in Florida and fortunately made its way into collector hands where it was restored in the early 1990s. For many years owned by Detroit Buick dealer Marv Tamaroff, it was photographed at the 1993 Eyes on the Classics and is shown at the bottom of the article. Although the color was changed to a deep green, the restoration is of high quality and pays tribute to a moment where a fine custom car was only a visit to your local Buick dealer away. 

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