1941 Buick Staff Car



Staff cars are essentially civilian passenger cars used by the military for carrying high ranking officers, messengers and performing administrative functions. During World War II, civilian automobiles were taken from the production line and painted to suit the particular service. The Army typically painted the vehicle olive drab and stenciled on white identification numbers and a white star. Some vehicles were used with the original paint such as Cadillac sedans (black) and two tone gray for some Buick Specials used by the Navy. Early in World War II, expensive vehicles such as Buicks, Cadillacs and Packards were used since they were readily available at the time. Toward the middle of the war, Chevrolets, Fords and Plymouths were used with the addition of blackout lights. Overall, very little modification was performed to these vehicles when entering the military.


The image above shows the 1941 Buick Series 60 sedan in Army OD paint. The vehicle number usually appeared on the right and left sides of the hood and the trunk. A white star was sometimes placed on the right and left door. It was not unusual to have WAC ( Women's Army Corps) drivers who were expected to perform, not only the driving, but also maintenance such as checking the oil, changing tires and checking tire pressure. The 1941 Buick was equipped with a straight eight engine, 320 cubic inch displacement, and 165 horsepower. This model had dual carburetors, standard on the 60 Series Buick Century. The front carburetor, manufactured by Carter, provided fuel distribution for the engine at low power requirements. The rear carburetor manufactured by Stromberg, operates at high power requirements, giving more power than the single carburetor but less gas mileage. The straight 8 was connected to a three speed manual transmission and rigid torque tube drive shaft connected to the rear axle. The gear ratio was quite high on this vehicle, allowing it to travel at a high rate of speed.


General McArthur had several staff cars, one of which was identical to the 1941 Buick shown above with air-conditioning. General George S. Patton, Jr. used a 1938 Cadillac in Europe in which he was involved in an accident, ultimately resulting in his death in 1945. General Dwight D. Eisenhower used a Packard Clipper for a staff car. Toward the end of the war, the German army would often commandeer civilian cars in Europe and convert them to military usage by cutting away the rear of the body and fabricating a pickup truck like box on the back. It was not unusual to see 1939 Buicks, Packards and Chevrolets in German camouflage paint in convoys throughout Europe. This conversion by the Germans was called a U-Wagon. After the war, many of the staff cars were sent to salvage in favor of newer models. As a result, few original WWII vintage staff cars remain. Buick Century, serial number 1415244 (shown above), was restored as a staff car and participates in World War II reenactments, parades and other WWII festivities.
                        ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL DATA

                       Length............17 ft. 9 in.
                       Width..............6 ft. 1 in.
                       Height.............5 ft. 4 in.
                       Ground Clearance.........7 in.
                       Maximum Speed..........120 mph

Copyright 1995 Charles C. Roberts, Jr