A lot of years have passed since 1940 Buicks transported families over our highways and byways, and Humphrey Bogart across a movie screen in Casablanca. Yet, as Mound resident Richard Bury knows, that's no reason to avoid driving them today. Bury is a devoted Buick and GM fan. "Dad drove Buicks and I've driven Buicks all my life," he says.

And we're not just talking Sunday trips to the lake in June. Bury has complete faith in his collector cars, driving them all over the contiguous United States and beyond. Now that he's retired, he and his wife, Shirley, take "CARavans" with the Classic Car Club of America. They have two 1940 Buicks that make perfect long-distance tourers. Between his green, six-passenger limousine and black four-door convertible, they've traveled 25,000 miles by classic Buick.

Bury, a collector for 55 years, likes original, unrestored cars and is especially fond of pre-war vehicles. The 1940 Buicks were the last with side-mount fenders and running boards. They work well for touring because of their sealed-beam headlights and self-canceling turn signals. Bury says his straight-8 (inline eight) powered cars are "very powerful, very dependable. They run well and provide a good ride."

He knows that first-hand, having piloted them on more than 20 caravans, including a cross-country trip from Rhode Island to San Francisco in 1995. He has also toured Alaska in a 1940 Buick. He trailered the car to Seattle, drove to Bellingham, Wash., parked it aboard a car ferry to Alaska, and then he and Shirley drove through the Yukon territory and all over the state. Then the couple returned the trusty green limo to the car ferry at Anchorage for the trip back to the lower 48. The caravans are a great way to enjoy classic cars and meet new friends with the same interests.

Bury's 1940 Convertible Limited rides just as nicely as the limousine and has abundant style and charm, which is probably why Casablanca's makers chose that model for the film. Bury's car is the same year, make and model. It's a very rare car too. Buick made only 230 of them, of which only about 17 are known to remain.

Finding nice, original cars is always a thrill and Bury's good at the hunt. He reads Hemmings regularly and is a member of many car clubs, including the Buick Club of America (he has served as the club's national director), the Classic Car Club of America (since 1960), the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Vintage Chevrolet Club. When these connections bring cars he wants within reach, he doesn't wait. He found his 1940 limousine at an estate sale in New York with only 19,000 original miles.

Another collector owned the convertible, but Bury really wanted it. After four or five years of encouragement, he convinced the owner to sell. He has put 4,000 miles on that car, including 1,200 this year touring Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in Montana.

The 1940 cars are among his dearest because of the long trips, but Bury has a number of other Buicks, including a 1926 wood-bodied depot hack - a design once used to transport passengers and baggage to and from railroad stations. He has other GM products, too, such asclassic Chevy trucks and a 1946 Cadillac convertible. As a civil engineer, he spent 27 years working with motor vehicles in road construction and he can undertake repairs when necessary. Mostly, though, he likes to wash, polish and tinker with the cars, leaving major repairs to a mechanic.

Bury buys fine runners rather than rough cars, though the drop-top '46 Caddy was once in dire straits - in a swamp in Canada with a tree growing through it. A high school friend, nephew of the original owner, worked on it for 25 years, building the now immaculate car out of the original '46 plus a donor '47 Sedanette.

Some collectors hold cars for life and Bury has a few, like the two 1940 cars, he won't let go easily. Yet "I turn some of them," he says, "when the glow goes off the rose." And that frees floor space for something else that catches his eye - usually a Buick.