- 1957 Buick Super Series 56R
A couple of years ago I made my annual “pilgrimage” to Joe’s Golden Gasoline which is a large car yard that imports Classic American Cars on the outskirts of Adelaide in South Australia.
Sitting in the back corner was a sad, neglected ‘57 Buick Super Series Model 56R – very original with matching numbers. I walked around it a couple of times and thought ” What a bucket of ……”
It had obviously been spun out and went backwards into a tree. This area had been knocked out with a sledge hammer and bogged up with filler (inches thick!!). Four other panels had body filler and were now blistering – not knowing at this stage whether it was rust blisters or just lousy workmanship.
I talked to a few friends about the Buick who then went and had a look at it. Buicks in Australia are very rare, let alone a ‘57 2 door hardtop.
It didn’t take much convincing for me to buy the Buick. My other rod is a ‘34 Chev 3 Window Coupe (all steel) which when my 2 boys where small, along with my wife we all fitted in quite comfortably. Now the boys have grown we don’t even contemplate all going in the Coupe – I needed something bigger – much bigger.
A deal was done with Joe and I was the proud owner of a ‘stuffed’ ‘57 Buick. I was originally going to just get the boot area fixed and buff and brush touch the rest. The fan blade on the motor had an inch of play so I didn’t bother driving it in case the fan went through the grill.
Bob from Mueller Brothers Automotive ripped the motor out of the car and proceeded to pull it apart – what a mess. Nearly everything was useless. The Buick had apparently been stored since the ‘70s. The old owner had simply put petrol in it, a new battery and fired it up. The motor was full of sludge, the oil pump had seized from the sludge – some valves had also seized, some where bent and the crank shaft had nearly spat the bearings…etc.
A big block Chev motor and Ford 9 inch diff was contemplated but we decided to do up the original motor (phew! – Ed.) as it was matching numbers plus it should be worth more in the long run with original running gear.
Parts for the motor where sourced from Adrian at Uncle Sams Auto Parts in Adelaide. He had lots of Buick contacts in America as he is currently doing up a ‘59 Buick. The parts where very very dear as the Australian dollar had hit rock bottom against the US Dollar.
The car body was then trailed to Daves of DJ Resprays – a very talented panel beater and painter who thought nothing of rolling up a new boot skin for it. It didn’t take him long to convince me that a buff and brush touch was going to do the car any justice.It was a horrible looking brown with cream bottom. It was decided that the body was to come off the chassis and everything was to be stripped to bare metal..The blistering bog ended up being deep scrape marks which had had screws tapped into it to try and pull the dent out. These screw holes where then not welded up which when got damp caused the bog to blister.
Dave metal finished the areas that needed repairs including the boot lid. There is less than a tennis ball size of bog in the whole car now.
It was a bit scary putting bright orange in the spray gun – but with the off white and all the chrome/stainless I’m happy with the final look of the car. No modifications where made to the body as it is already a perfect shape.
While the body was at Dave’s the chassis was sand blasted and I painted it black. Stock Buicks seem to sit up high like a 4WD, so a friend of mine – Les, the President of Valley Hot Rodders which I am a member, replaced the original shockers/springs with air ride suspension. It now sits nice and low.
The upholstery which was faded, torn and had shiny springs showing in the drivers seat was taken to Steve at State Side Trim where he recovered the seats etc in black and off white tuck and roll vinyl. The carpet is black but the floor mats have off white piping around them.
The rear parcel shelf is made of aluminium and painted off white. Into this 194 louvres where punched. The louvres also help to let air into the boot where the air compressor for the air ride suspension is housed.
All the chrome work was replated while the stainless mouldings where straightened and polished by a friend – Chris. Pearl Craft pearled the steering wheel and Dale McShane of Classic Plastic took care of remoulding the lenses that need replacing.
The Buick made its first appearance at the Valley Hot Rodder’s “Cruise on 2003″ where we took home 3 trophies.
Thanks also to John and Dawn Nissen who own “Nissen’s Hot Road Garage” at Williams, California for their help. And yes – the Dynaflo still leaks oil.