Project Car: Own This Piece of Hot Rodding History for Just $3,975

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It’s hard to believe, but this forlorn 1948 Buick Roadmaster was once a featured car in Rod & Custom, built buy craftsmen in Davenport, Iowa. It’s for sale now on Craigslist for just $3,975.

The 1948 Buick Roadmaster was, according to Kustomrama, “restyled by Dunshee’s Body Shop for Jack Crabbs of Bettendorf, Iowa. The car was known as the ‘Black Flame,’ and Jack’s intent was to build and market a low scale production custom car for wealthy people, like the Kurtis Cad and the Muntz of the same time. When he tried to obtain permission from GM he was told that no matter what he did the car was initially a Buick, and the permission was denied.”


The car was constructed between 1953 and 1956, with the lion’s share of the work coming from hot rod builders Eddie Bell and Bill Gartenier. It originally started life as a four-door Roadmaster and the car was eventually trimmed down to two doors. The front and rear wheels hide behind heavy shrouds. The body was sectioned — or had four inches removed horizontally. It was also channeled, or dropped down onto the frame by three inches, and the top was chopped four inches.

At the front, the top is eight inches wider than stock and the roof was made to be removable. The Black Flame’s entire nose tilts forward for service.

The Black Flame received national attention when it was featured in the May, 1957 issue of Rod & Custom magazine.



The car’s builder, Eddie Bell, purchased the car at some point before he passed away. In 2013, it turned up for sale, and in October of 2014, it was advertised on Craigslist in Worcester, Massachusetts for $8,000. 


The car is still located in Worcester, but its price is a lot more attractive now at $3,975. It’s for sale by the same guys who sold the Evel Knievel trailer that I wrote about a year ago on


Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at

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