Motor City

25 July 2015

The Richard & Linda Kughn Collection

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Lot 109

1950 Buick Roadmaster Limousine

  • Chassis no. 16340056
  • Engine no. 56639356

Sold for $44,000

Est. 200 bhp, 320.2 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine with four-barrel carburetor and special camshaft, two-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130.25 in.

  • Offered from the collection of Richard and Linda Kughn
  • A one-off car believed to have been built for GM Vice-President Harlow Curtice
  • Formerly owned by Joe Bortz and Nicola Bulgari
  • One of the most important Buicks of its decade

Few men hold a more important place in Buick’s history than Harlow Curtice. Curtice came to GM from Champion Spark Plugs in 1933 and, through his engineering talent, eventually assumed the positions of GM Executive Vice-President (1948) and President and C.E.O. (1953). As the tale is told, Mr. Curtice remained true to Flint’s finest, even as he rose through the GM hierarchy. Offered a new Cadillac limousine for his use in 1950, he requested instead a similarly modified Buick Roadmaster built by the same shops where Harley Earl’s GM Motorama “dream cars” were built. This is that car.

The Roadmaster began as a stock sedan on the 130.25-inch wheelbase “72R” chassis; “88” is found stamped on certain portions of the body inside the doors, indicating perhaps a special GM build number. GM technicians installed a custom roofline with a sloping rear profile, with rear-door windows and their frames custom-modified to fit. All exterior windows were power-operated, including the hydraulic vent windows, a GM first, and the custom division window fitted between Mr. Curtice and his chauffeur. The window switches and panels, as well as the inside door handles, are similar to those used on Cadillac show cars of the early 1950s.

The interior was finished off with a chauffeur’s compartment upholstered in very dark blue leather and a rear seat upholstered in light blue broadcloth, surrounded by woodgrain trim with a distinctive green tint. Floor-ducted heating was provided to warm the passengers’ feet on the way to the office.

The car apparently remained in Mr. Curtice’s use for at least two years, during which time it is believed to have been updated in both 1951 and 1952 with that year’s styling cues. Accordingly, today it has the appearance of a 1952 model, an illusion that extends under the hood, where the 1950 engine is fitted with the four-barrel carburetion standard on 1952 Roadmasters, as well as an 8:1 compression ratio and a special camshaft, delivering around 200 horsepower.

Following its time in service in Detroit, the Buick is believed to have been sold by General Motors to Lynch Buick, of Chicago, where it was displayed in the showroom until 1988. It was acquired by Joe Bortz, who was just beginning to build his world-famous collection of Motorama dream cars, approximately a year later. The custom Roadmaster remained part of the Bortz Collection until 2005 and eventually made its way into the equally well-known Buick collection of international jeweler and car connoisseur Nicola Bulgari before being acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Kughn.

Several years ago, the Buick was stripped to bare metal and refinished in its present shade of dark cobalt blue, with fresh chrome, polished stainless steel trim, and new period-correct wide whitewall tires. The padded top covering remains original, as does all of the interior, which is in beautiful, softly patinated condition.

This one-of-a-kind piece of automotive history is perhaps one of the most important and historically significant postwar Buicks, offered here for what may be the last time in many years.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more