Buick's 1949 Sedanette was superbly proportioned, its fastback style enhanced by tapering chrome sidebars, spats over the rear wheels, and fighter-plane-style "ventiports." Among the first all-new postwar GM cars to be introduced was a new C-body line that included the Roadmaster and Super. Looking leaner and trimmer than before, the new models still had the characteristic Buick waterfall grille bars, set under an over-arching grille bar.
Parking lamps moved to the tops of the front fenders. Rear styling was simple and rounded with vertical taillamps set low in the fenders. The body sides were generally smooth with a horizontal beltline running the length of the car.
The familiar Buick body line running down from the front towards the rocker panel, then sweeping up over the rear wheel arch would disappear this year, but would return in 1950 in the form of chrome trim, beginning a run of several years in which the "sweep spear" would be highlighted in chrome. Another styling feature that would become a Buick trademark began this year. The "porthole," or "Ventiport" as Buick would call it in later years, was for 1949 a round chrome trim piece mounted on the side of the front fenders. This unique styling touch gave the Buick a slightly customized look and quickly became a popular regular tri feature in various forms. Supers got three on each side, and Roadmasters were given four on each side.
The Roadmaster series was among the first GM cars to receive a 2-door hardtop model, and the only new model in the 1949 Buick line. The "Riviera" 2-Door Convertible Hardtop, as it was originally known, was essentially that-a Roadmaster Convertible with a steel hardtop welded into place. The styling was particularly nice on the 1949 Buick, with its already clean and uncluttered looks. For 1949, several manufacturers offered a first series 1949 model line and then a second series 1949 model as the new postwar designs became ready for production. In the GM house, the Buick Special was the only such car, but it did not take the first and second series route. Instead the "first-series" 1949 models were carry-overs from the 1948 model year, riding on smaller 6.50 x 15" wheels, and the "second series" cars would officially be known as the 1950 Buick Special. Introduced midway through the 1949 model year, they shared the look of the remainder of the Buick lineup, though it was not identical as the Special still utilized the GM B-body. However, the new Special sported the front grille and bumper styling that would appear on the entire 1950 Buick line.
Powertrain changes were few, with the Super adding Dynaflow to its optional features list midway through the 1948 selling season. Engines continued in the same configuration as prior years, with the Dynaflow equipped engines having slightly higher compression and horsepower. The only other significant chassis change was the switch to smaller 15 inch wheels on the Special series.