‘Rain Man’ 1949 Buick Roadmaster Hits Scottsdale Auction

If you want to ‘become an excellent driver’ or just love the movie and the curvaceous Buick convertible that co-starred in it, now’s your chance.

  • Movie cars headed to auction are not rare, but this particular example, a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible seen in the 1988 movie Rain Man, has never been available for sale since actor Dustin Hoffman acquired it after the movie wrapped and kept it.
  • Bonhams, presenting it at its Scottsdale auction on January 27, expects the Buick to bring in somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000.
  • Other delightful classics up for sale that day include a 1958 AC Ace roadster, a 1989 Lamborghini Countach, and a 1965 Jaguar E-type coupe.

If the Academy Awards ever handed out a prize for Best Supporting Car, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible seen in the 1988 movie Rain Man should at least be a contender. Hagerty said as much in a profile of this famous car a few years ago, noting that it was a sort of third character in the film. The movie also raised awareness for autism at a time when that wasn’t a common topic of discussion. Whether or not you’re interested in the car for its movie connection, you’ll have a chance to buy it when the Bonhams auction firm’s Scottsdale auction starts taking bids later this month.

The 2022 edition of the Bonhams Scottsdale auction will feature way more classic cars along with the Roadmaster, including a 1958 AC Ace roadster (expected to go for $325,000 to $375,000), a 1989 Lamborghini Countach (up to $350,000), and a 1965 Jaguar E-type Series I 4.2 coupe (up to $275,000).

But it’s the “I’m an excellent driver” Roadmaster that attracted our attention. Bonhams expects the Buick to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000 when the bids are all said and done. Not bad for a vehicle that sold for $3150 when it was new (around $34,045 in today’s money), especially considering that similar Roadmasters, ones that were not once the conveyance of actors Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, usually go for around $80,000.

The 1949 Buick Roadmaster has a 320-cubic-inch inline-eight-cylinder engine. It produces 150 horsepower that goes through a two-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission to the wheels. The car features an independent front suspension and four hydraulic drum brakes.

The vehicle that will be sold at the Bonhams Scottsdale auction on January 27 is one of two that were used in the filming of Rain Man. Hoffman, who played the character Raymond Babbitt in the film, acquired the car after shooting wrapped. Bonhams said it has “remained in Hoffman’s ownership” but has been restored by Larry Payne of Glendora, California. Since the car hasn’t been seen much in the decades since Hoffman got it—it was shown at a 1989 Buick Car Club event—it looks pristine. It’s time to let someone else drive it anywhere they want, as slow as they want.

Rain Man was awarded Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989. Hoffman also won for Best Actor.

“The Buick’s been in storage too long,” Hoffman said in a statement. “It should be driven, enjoyed, and cherished.”

The auction will be January 27 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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