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Nineteen forty-nine was a year of change for General Motors. The A-body cars (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile 76 and Olds88) were all new. Two C-body cars, Oldsmobile 98 and Cadillac, had been all new in 1948; in 1949, each received a new overhead-valve V8.
For 1949 the Super and Roadmaster shared the new C-body with Oldsmobile and Cadillac. The B-body Special was unchanged. During the year, GM introduced the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, and Buick Roadmaster Riviera pillarless hardtop coupes, a style which was to become so popular that within a few years it was offered by every manufacturer.
This was the first year for Buick’s “ventiports”. Supers had three per side; Roadmasters had four. Each used Buick’s “Dynaflash” overhead valve I8. Supers were 209.5” long on a 121” wheelbase with a 248 cid 115 hp I8 (120 hp with Dynaflow). Roadmasters were 214” long on a 126” wheelbase with a 320 cid 150 hp I8. Dynaflow was standard.
Dynaflow, introduced in 1948, was GM’s second automatic transmission. Hydramatic had been optional on Oldsmobiles since 1940 and on Cadillacs since 1941. Buicks used a rigid enclosed torque-tube drive shaft; other GM cars had the more flexible open drive shaft. Using the fluid coupling four-speed Hydramatic on Buicks would have meant harsh gear changes. In Drive, the Dynaflow torque converter did not shift at all. Low and Reverse could be manually selected, but frequent accelerating in Low shortened transmission life. Dynaflow was smooth but inefficient, with slow acceleration, poor gas mileage and little if any engine braking. Buick owners did not seem to mind.
Most 1949 Buicks (220,165 or 68%) were Supers. Of this total, 21,426 were Super convertibles. Starting at $2,583, the Super outsold all other GM convertibles except for the much cheaper Chevrolet. Buick produced 324,276 cars in 1949, placing them 4th behind Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth.
All Buicks, including the B-body Special, were restyled again in 1950. Ventiports appeared in various forms until 1958, then again during the 1970’s. They are still seen on current Buick Lucerne.
- First year for Buick’s trademark Venti-Ports, 3 for the Super, 4 for the Roadmaster.
- Buick made 324,276 1949 cars, 4th in the industry; 68% were Supers.
- There were 21,426 Super convertibles, more than any other 1949 GM convertible except Chevrolet. Price new: $2,583