1940 Buick Super Coupe – 500 hp, 490 lb-ft LS3
We have all noticed how Buicks always leaned towards style and comfort, combined with an understated touch of performance.
If you can remember the technology of the turbocharged V-6 of the late ’80s, the torque of a 455c.i., the styling of a Riviera with a 425c.i. Nailhead, and even the Fireball straight-8. That brand has always carried a bit more panache.
Aubrey King knows what makes a Buick a Buick, after deciding to build his ’40 Super coupe, he took that factory-built style and performance to an entirely new level.
He respected the overall form and lines of the vehicle but knew there was a more stylish street rod on the inside waiting to be uncovered.
It doesn’t get any better than this! Original steel panels were smoothed, finessed, and contoured, creating a smooth, clean flow across the rear of the body. LED tail lamps and a third brake light are molded in the bodywork and almost invisible.
He purchased the car from a friend of his that rescued it from nearly 20 years of storage.
It was almost complete, quite solid, and ideal for the foundation of Aubrey’s plan.
He turned to a couple of close friends, Dave Wright and Greg Davis, for most of the heavy lifting. Dave and Aubrey built and raced dirt track cars for years, and though one may not equate circle racers with the sleek and precision flare of a street rod, it takes a metal craftsman to do both. That is exactly the part where Dave shines.
The two took the decision that a C4 Corvette would provide an ideal update in handling performance and ride quality and they began the chassis transformation.
The suspension went through a few iterations over the course of the extended build, but was finalized with an air-supported system.
A set of Wilwood six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors were installed on the front with a four-piston, 13-inch rotor combination in the rear.
While the chassis fabrication was underway, Aubrey was wheeling and dealing used race engines and parts he had accumulated over the years on the track to help the build. This led to an LS1 and 4L60E for a driveline to fit the new Buick frame. As time marched on, the concern for more power to carry the weight of the Buick was raised. The solution was in the form of a 500 hp, 490 lb-ft LS3 built by Don Hardy Race Engines. Voila Problem solved.
When the chassis was wrapping up Dave and Greg set out to update and smooth some of the original Buick sheet metal.
The fender wells were reshaped in order to accommodate larger wheels and tires, Mercedes headlights were grafted into the fenders, and the grille opening was reduced, resulting in the need for a hand-made grille. The two-piece hood was formed as one, lengthened and crafted to hinge from the rear. Quite a tall order, but the team got it done.
The roofline and leaned-over B-pillar were left at their original height and placement. The windshield splitter was removed in favor of V-butted pieces of flush-mounted glass, and a very slight peak was added at the top of the windshield frame.
The custom dash would look right at home in the brand new model.
Greg Davis gets credit for forming and wiring the dash using a computerized Infinitybox system based around the touch screen in the console. It works in harmony with the Vintage Air, Auto Meter Gauges, and stereo/GPS unit.
As the modifications of the body were coming to an end Greg set about the inside cabin, where he crafted a complete dashboard, console, and side door panels.
All was wrapped in a soft leather, and, following the Buick theme, many trim pieces were finished in wood grain by Gemico in Florida.
Ending this masterpiece took 15 long years, just like in every long process there were detours, pauses, ups, and downs, but with the help of Greg, Dave, Chad, and Mike Hoover, an even more super Buick made it out of the garage and onto the streets.
It ’s time now to enjoy the car and rack up some miles.
Tell us what do you think of it?