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1948 Buick Streamliner – The Ultimate American Hot Rod

Mechanical engineer Norman E. Timbs created this breathtaking Streamliner in the 1940s. He designed the project himself which included a custom aluminum body and steel chassis. It took him over two years to finish and the resulting chic roadster was good enough for cover of Motor Trend as well as features in Mechanix Illustrated, Popular Mechanics and Motor Life.

1948 Buick Streamliner

Unlike the Grand Prix cars, the Mr Timbs’ Streamliner was built for the road. It used a 1948 Buick V8 to power the 2200 lbs car to 120 mph. The engine was mounted in a custom chassis that placed it behind the driver. The main chassis is built up from four-inch steel tubes which kick up over the rear axle.

The body was nod to the German GP cars which at the time mimicked aeronautical practice. Norm’s design was free of the over indulgences such as huge chrome bumpers and large tail fins that eventually dominated American design. In keeping with the aerofoil shape, no doors were are cut out of the body. A large one-piece rear panel opens hydraulically to reveal the entire rear end of the chassis.

1948 Buick Streamliner

Road & Track reported that it took Mr Timbs 2 1/2 years to create the car at a cost of $10,000 USD. The body was created entirely in aluminum by Emil Diedt for $8,000 alone. The shape was formed by hand over a traditional wooden buck.

At first the Streamliner was only used on the show circuit until Jim Davis of California bought it in 1952. He used it in and around Manhattan Beach, California and let Motor Life photograph it for a feature article. The car was discovered in the desert pretty much intact in 2002. It was bought at auction and restored by Dave Crouse at Custom Auto, Inc. in Loveland, Colorado for owners Gary & Diane Cerveny of Malibu, California. After its “complete and exacting” restoration, it debuted at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in a class reserved for Motor Trend Cover Cars.

Not only is it unlikely you’ll ever see this beauty on the road, it’s likely that you’ll never see it on the auction block. A car like this is far too rare, too beautiful that any owner could ever want to sell it up, no matter the price.

1948 Buick Streamliner

1948 Buick Streamliner

1948 Buick Streamliner

1948 Buick Streamliner

1948 Buick Streamliner

1948 Buick Streamliner – The Ultimate American Hot Rod was last modified: May 20th, 2014 by Arsa


  1. I read somewhere that it was all full of Bondo patches and “weld-it” glue, that true?

  2. Norm Timbs, Jr. says: August 5, 2010 at 20:24 The title of this car is incorrect; 1948 Timbs Special is correct.
    It is NOT a Buick!

    Norm Timbs jr, What or Who built this vehicle if this is not a Buick ?

  3. Where have all the designers gone today? This 1948 Buick says it all.

  4. Cool car. One of the best designs I’ve ever seen and it was made in ’48!

  5. just perfect

    • You are correct, straight 8 was the engine. Buick actually put a v8 in the 53 model, I owned a 1950 olds 88 with a rocket v-8 engine, not sure when olds first introduced it. The Rocket v-8 was a real performer, was OH valve design. Chev’s first v-8 was in 55 as stated earlier. Those years were the fun years for cars with hot rods being built with all the above engines.

  6. I may be mistaken, but in 1948 Buick did NOT have a V-8 engine, only the Straight-8 flathead engine coupled to it’s later ‘Dyna-Flo’ continuous torque convertor auto transmission which was introduced in ca 1953.At that time the only V-8s were the Ford flat-head V8 begun in 1932, and the Cadillac, which apeared pre-war in the ’30s.The Lincoln, manufactured by Ford, had a V-8 as well, which I think was the beefed-up Ford flathead at first.

    Chrysler introduced its massive 312 ci V-8 in 1952, which became the base model for many years. Buick’s first V-8 was introduced in 1955, at the same time as the Chevrolet. Today the same Buick V-8 block is still used in some Eurocars.

    • Robert J Cahill :

      The 1953 “nail head” V8 was Buick’s first entry. It was in the Super and Roadmaster series. The Special continued with the “straight eight” until 1954 when it too was upgraded to the new V8.

  7. wow this is a very beautiful car!

  8. richard watanabe :

    Thanks to Norm Timbs, Jr, for clearing up the lineage. It certainly doesn’t look like anything GM would come up with.

  9. tim looker :

    Norm, Yes, I could see the straight-8 in the photo with two carbs. Very interesting mid engine two seater. My Grandfather had a 52 buick I remember riding in as a kid. Tim

  10. Norm Timbs, Jr. :

    The title of this car is incorrect; 1948 Timbs Special is correct.
    It is NOT a Buick!
    The only thing “Buick” about the car is that it used a Buick straight-8 crate engine.

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