When auto buffs look back at the early postwar years, one car they often mention is the 1949 Buick. With a new pillarless hardtop coupe and signature "portholes" on the front fenders -- four holes for the top-of-the-line Roadmasters and three for lower-priced models -- Buick's first postwar design evoked muted luxury. The clean, simple styling appealed to the upper middle class; it was a car for those who didn't want to seem too ostentatious. One oddity was the turn-signal lever, which was on the right side of the steering column instead of the left. Buick sold more than 8,000 Roadmaster convertibles and 21,000 lower-priced Super convertibles. Standard equipment on the Roadmaster convertibles included power windows, seats and top as well as Buick's new Dynaflow automatic transmission, introduced the previous year. Unlike Cadillac and Oldsmobile, Buick had a straight-eight engine rather than a V-8.
Engine 320.2-cubic-inch straight eight
Horsepower 150 at 3,600 rpm
Wheelbase 126 inches
Overall length 2141/8 inches
President Harry S. Truman
Median family income $3,170
Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 200.10
Academy Award movie "All the King's Men"
Milestone Silly Putty introduced