The Big White Buick

Gillam X100 2013 94

I can’t think what might have kept me from writing about this Buick in the two years since I saw it at Gillam Drive – perhaps there were just so many more things pressing – well before Gillam is upon us again at the end of the month, here is the Buick.

Whiteman 2014 10

Note – white is a notoriously difficult thing to depict in photos as it is so close to the point where the digital sensor blows out to a blank that you can sometimes miss valuable detail. There is a tendency to underplay it and sometimes you can end up with muddy tones or a false colour from the sky. Editing programs help, as does shooting on a RAW program, but there are still going to be compromises somewhere. Witness the more detailed information available from the pictures taken in the shade on an overcast day at Whiteman Park.

Gillam X100 2013 96

Well, anyway, the 1938 Buick is something of an epitome of Art Deco streamline style. It has all the characteristics of the period – flowing streamlined contours, speed lines, chrome trim, and wide whitewall tyres. It sits surprisingly high off the ground – as a post vintage car it has none of the lowered speed characteristics of the hot rod or custom cars and the driver can safely take country roads, railways crossings, and speed humps in the suburban streets with confidence. Nothing will be wrenched off.

Whiteman 2014 11

Buicks in North America were always seen as the middle-upper vehicle in the General Motors range – just below Cadillac in luxury but well above the Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. Bankers drove Buicks, as did factory managers and engineers. Ladies who entertained drove Buicks. Here in Australia it was probably much the same – possibly even a step up the ladder . If they were rural vehicles it would have been the rich graziers.

Gillam X100 2013 95

Their interior appointments were much in the North American streamline style – metal dashes with chrome trim – no teakwood for Buick. No old wooden wheels – that is modern acrylic moulding in pearl finish. The large speaker grill suggests a factory radio installation. Note the rear suicide door – though GM would have never countenanced calling it that. Tragic accident that we don’t talk about door, perhaps…

Altogether a most suitable vehicle for people of substance.




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