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Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man Buick Brings Road Drama to Bonhams

By: Bonhams | Photos Courtesy of: Bonhams

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The ‘third character’ from the 1988 multi-award-winning road drama motion picture Rain Man, a distinctive 1949 Buick Rain Man Roadmaster Convertible, will be in the spotlight at the Bonhams Scottsdale Auction on January 27, offered direct from the ownership of Dustin Hoffman, who acquired the car after filming wrapped. It has an estimate of $150,000 – 250,000.

The Rain Man Buick shared the silver screen with Hoffman and co-star Tom Cruise, in the story of the cross-country life-changing road trip embarked on by their characters, Charlie Babbitt (Cruise), who had inherited the car from his father, and his autistic savant brother Raymond, a role which earned Hoffman an Academy Award® for Best Actor.

DustinHoffman's 1949 Buick 'RAIN MAN' Roadmaster Convertible at Bonhams Scottsdale Auction
1949 Buick ‘Rain Man’ Roadmaster Convertible, estimate $150,000 – 250,000

One of only two Roadmasters used in the movie, the Buick was described in the film by Raymond: “It‘s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster straight eight, fireball eight. Only 8095 production models.”

Restyled for 1949, the Roadmaster had been Buick’s flagship model since the 1930s, synonymous with power, style and elegance. Its power was upped to 150bhp with the new model, capable of a top speed of 110mph, and new visual cues included the ‘observation deck’ curved windshield, sweepspear side moldings and four ‘Ventiports’ on the front fenders.

DustinHoffman's 1949 Buick 'RAIN MAN' Roadmaster Convertible at Bonhams Scottsdale Auction
1949 Buick ‘Rain Man’ Roadmaster Convertible, estimate $150,000 – 250,000

“This Roadmaster presents an extraordinary, truly once in a lifetime opportunity to own the third character from the classic Rain Man movie. We are honoured to have been entrusted with this special motorcar and are sure that it will be a hit with Buick enthusiasts and fans of Mr. Hoffman and Rain Man alike.” – Jakob Greisen,Bonhams Vice President – Head of US Motoring

DustinHoffman's 1949 Buick 'RAIN MAN' Roadmaster Convertible at Bonhams Scottsdale Auction
1949 Buick ‘Rain Man’ Roadmaster Convertible, estimate $150,000 – 250,000

When filming wrapped, the car offered was acquired by Hoffman. Its pair was bought by Levinson – surely testament to the stature of the car in the movie. Restored by Larry Payne of California and shown at a 1989 Buick Car Club event, Hoffman’s Rain Man Buick has remained in the actor’s ownership. For the past 34 years the car has rarely been seen publicly. “The Buick’s been in storage too long,” says Hoffman, “It should be driven, enjoyed, and cherished.”

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