1924 Buick Model 24-48 4-passenger coupe
On the road, it accelerates smoothly without much effort, happily cruises at 45-50 MPH, and has a wonderful bubbly idle that sounds muscular.
Always known for being on the forefront of technology, Buick redesigned their entire line in 1924, giving them a modern, clean look that was also quite stylish for the day. Combined with their famous “valve-in-head” engines that made more power than the competition and new 4-wheel brakes, Buick was ideally positioned to take on all comers in the Roaring Twenties.
This handsome 1924 Buick model 24-48 Opera Coupe was Buick’s best seller on the largest 128-inch chassis. Carrying a 255 cubic inch inline-six rated at 70 horsepower, it was both stylish and a formidable performer, and variations of this engine would power the top-of-the-line Master Sixes for the remainder of the decade. Restored in the early 2000s, this big Buick still shows quite well wearing correct Cobalt Blue paint, black fenders, and wonderful white pinstripes to highlight the car’s many curves and moldings. The car is extremely clean and must have been an excellent example prior to the restoration, as there is no trace of rust or pitting on the undercarriage and the bodywork shows no evidence of patching or repairs. Even the visible wood framing in the doors and around the trunk opening is original and in outstanding condition. The paint shows a nice gloss, but as is typical of modern urethanes, there’s a bit of “orange peel” that could be easily remedied to take this car to the next level. Both doors fit well and the trunk lid on the “turtle deck” closes snugly using the large skeleton key that accompanies the car.
While most of the brightwork was originally nickel plated, it now shows a combination of chrome, nickel, and brass that works quite well with the car’s overall patina, particularly the bright headlight trim rings whose design echoes the shape of the radiator shell (a feature that caused Packard quite a bit of displeasure). The ring-style door handles have a wonderful soft gloss, and with a single combination STOP and tail lamp out back, center in the spare tire carrier, it has a great 1920s look that’s quite pleasing. The top appears to have been freshly upholstered in correct long-grain leatherette that is in outstanding condition as well.
The interior features the popular “country club” seating arrangement which was often preferred by ladies who didn’t want a massive limousine but still wanted a driver and luxurious appointments. The driver has a comfortable fixed bucket seat, with a smaller folding jump seat for front seat passengers. IN back, there’s a wider bench that’s spacious for one and cozy for two, giving it an air of exclusivity and privacy, if not practicality. The upholstery is quite accurately done in mohair materials that look authentic and professionally installed. Our cameras have trouble accurately capturing the color, but depending on the light it goes from brown to gray to almost purple, but whatever the situation it complements the Cobalt Blue bodywork quite nicely. A massive wooden steering wheel feels fantastic in your hands and steering is actually quite light, even at low speeds. The instrument panel offers ornate gauges, although only the ammeter is currently functional. The primary controls are laid out in conventional fashion, although the shift pattern in early Buicks was the exact opposite of the majority of manufacturers although it’s easy to master with just a short drive. Both the hand throttle and spark controls on the steering wheel are functional, the horn works, and a discreet switch has been added on the dash to control the upgraded electric fuel pump. In addition to the carpeted trunk, there’s also an interior storage box behind the driver that will hold tools and spares.
Buick’s rugged overhead valve inline-six was enlarged to 255 cubic inches and 70 horsepower in 1924, making it competitive with its peers. Its conventional overhead valve design looks familiar, even today, and proves that Buick had the right idea. Newer engine enamel and gaskets suggest that the engine was rebuilt in the not-too-distant past, and it runs quite well thanks to a recent and extensive service of both the carburetor and ignition system. The original updraft carburetor was fully rebuilt and there are new points, condenser, cap, rotor, plugs, and wires in the ignition system, so it starts and runs beautifully. The big combination starter/generator works correctly, spinning itself gently prior to hitting the starter to help the gears mesh. New brushes on the generator side ensure a strong electrical system and there’s a new battery under the passenger’s feet. An auxiliary oil pressure gauge mounted on the block shows almost 30 PSI at idle, so we have no concerns about the internal mechanicals, and it has been nicely detailed in olive green engine enamel. Someone made the mistake of storing the Moto-Meter on its side and as a result the Mercury inside has not yet returned to the bulb, but the car nevertheless runs cool, even in traffic on a 90-degree day. On the road, it accelerates smoothly without much effort, happily cruises at 45-50 MPH, and has a wonderful bubbly idle that sounds muscular.
The chassis was reinforced in 1924, and this particular coupe exhibits almost no squeaks or rattles inside, a tribute to the quality of the design and the restoration. The frame itself is solid and shows no sign of previous accident damage, and the truly spotless undercarriage reveals that the restoration was quite thorough. The transmission is a 3-speed manual that requires double-clutching, and we’ve found that going slowly is better than trying to rush it—the big Buick doesn’t seem to mind and pulls cleanly in top gear from little more than a walking pace. The four-wheel external contracting brakes are reasonably effective and surely a big improvement over the previous year’s two-wheel setup, but as with all old cars, it’s best to plan your stops ahead of time. It is also not a leaker; there are a few moist points in the usual locations at the rear of the transmission and differential, but it does not leave puddles like many cars of this vintage. The original wood spoke wheels with demountable rims have been correctly painted and pinstriped to match the body and wear Lucas blackwall tires of indeterminate age.
This is a lot of car for less than the cost of a garden-variety Model A sedan. With a brawny six cylinder engine and an elegantly appointed body, it’s the ideal starter car for the hobbyist that wants something a little out of the ordinary, and would make a great addition to any Buick lover’s collection. It’s not perfect, but the basics are excellent and it could be easily taken to the next level without a major investment in time or money and without taking the car off the road.