The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fastback Lust: 48 Buick Roadmaster Sedanet

When I was a young lad of 15 in 1955, I began to fantasize. About girls, of course. And cars. I had a learner's permit and had already learned to drive, so in my imagination I thought a lot about the kind of car I might be able to afford as a working teen. (Dad had already said he wouldn't be able to help any with the financing, that I would have to earn enough on my own to make a purchase.)

Since at that point I could only drive an automatic, my fantasies focused on the few 1940 cars then available with that kind of tranny. One of them, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster Sedanet (fastback) with Dynaflow soon took center stage.

Pontiac had hydra-matic fastbacks at that time, but they were still based on the more angular pre war design. While the 48 Buick Specials and Super had that same look, the 48 Buick Roadmaster had the more rounded and modern style that took the front fender line swooping right on back till it met the rear fender. That seems like a minor detail, but think about it for a minute. Once the front fenders met the back ones, there was no going back (unless you count the retro Plymouth Prowler from few years ago--let's not count that, okay?). So, from a styling perspective (historically speaking), this flow through fender thing was a very significant change.

The 48 Buick Special fastback above illustrates my point.

Also, those lesser 48 Buicks didn't have the Dynaflow, Buick's automatic at the time. 1948 Roadmaster Sedanets were/are beautiful cars and costly (even though 7 years old at the time), but seemed in the realm of possibility to my fevered imagination at 15. Everything, as I recall, was fevered in those days.

Why, you may ask, did I conjure up these memories of fastback lust at this time? Yesterday, walking to our Avalon in the hospital parking garage, I saw this.

Hondas are great cars and get positive reviews, but many of the car mags criticized this particular style. It's called the Honda Crosstour. I'm not sure about you, but I like the looks of it. It's that fastback lust again.

To not leave you hanging fire about the resolution of my fantasy, here's what happened. I learned to drive a straight shift and use the clutch like any red blooded American male should do. My choices were then increased tenfold. And technically, the first car I owned that I could actually drive, was one like this, a 48 Chevy Aero, straight shift.

It wasn't an automatic, but as you can see, I did get one thing from the earlier fantasy. A fastback. It had the pre war separate fender style, but it wasn't quite as angular looking as the Pontiac, and, best of all, it was a fastback. Oh yeah. Always liked them. Still do.

Since we had a breakdown in the grocery parking lot yesterday on the way home in our still under warranty Avalon (something electrical, had to be towed), that Crosstour is looking good to me right now.

Ahh. Fastback lust. What can a guy do?


  1. Did you ever notice how the old Dynaflow would keep the engine about the same RPM regardless of your speed. They were a very complex transmission to work on, and unlike any other GM trans at that time. Buick division was able to do their own thing back then. Sorry the Avalon let you down on such a cold day. No fun being stranded. The Honda Crosstour, comes standard with the same bullet proof V-6, we had in our '02 Accord. Neat car! Gotta watch out for that "Fastback lust", it can lead to "New car fever!"

  2. Damn Dan! We've got a few things in common mate! One of em being that I learned to drive in a "48" Buick "Dynaflow". In fact, had my first date in that car. My folks didn't have much money and even though it was 1961 we were still driving the Buick. That same year, through providence and good fortune, got my hands on a 57 Chevy convertable. **sigh** Wish I had that beauty today!

  3. P.S. Looked just like your 3rd photygraff!

  4. I like the looks of that Honda, too, but I like the ol' Buicks better. As you know, my first car was a '50 Buick two-door hardtop. That car was something of a laughing-stock among my more-monied gearhead friends but my girlfriend and I appreciated the car's... umm... roominess. Ya never forget your first one. I'm speaking of cars, of course. ;-)

  5. Hey "Buck", you'd ne correct on BOTH counts!

  6. My dream car was the Studebaker Avanti ('62/63). My friend, Tony Orlando, owned one (black exterior/tan interior) and the interior dash made me feel I was in the cockpit of a jet fighter aircraft. The exterior/interior design was undistilled sex. It replaced my former, wish I owned one car, the 2 door,'49 Ford.

  7. "Curious Gearge", was that THEE Tony Orlando of "Knock three time" fame?? And I agree about the pure "undistilled sex" design.

  8. Scooney, You'd better keep a close eye on me. The Avalon really did let us down at a bad time. What is it with Toyota these days?

    Cookie, I'll bet that old Buick was a beauty, but the 57 Chevy convertible puts you in some very select company. That was a great looking car and in good shape today could be a kind of retirement insurance. What color was it?

    Buck, I never doubted for once that you were speaking of cars! My 48 Chevy Aero was roomy enough as well and its small side and back window made for bad visibility but... much improved privacy.

    George, now that you mention it, that old 49 Ford was a sexy car with my generation up until the mid '50s when those great Chevys arrived. I like the looks of Avanti too, all the '50s Studebakers really; my maternal granddad had one of those '53 Starlight Coupes, considered by some to be the premier auto design of the 20th century. And I'm with Cookie, was that the singer/celebrity Tony Orlando?

  9. The fastbacks - these cars look like they just came out of a silent film if you see them today. What if it's vintage (and well-restored) and it can be... sexy? So what happened to this car that you got back then? Still with you?

  10. Kevyn,
    Thanks for the comment. That old '48 Fleetline served as my transportation during my last 4 months of High School back in '58. My family was moving to TX after graduation and I sold it to someone for $75. I wish I still had it. But that's true of almost all the cars I've ever owned, especially that '68 GTO.