1956 Buick Super – most likely manufactured in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, July 30, 2011.
We had one of these at the ARCO Service Station I worked at in 1973 , used to run Customers home in , very raggedy and only ran on 7 cylinders but it did run…
So did you have to cover up one of the VentiPorts? 😛
” So did you have to cover up one of the VentiPorts? 😛 ”
No , didn’t bother .
The ‘ Starterator ‘ still worked a treat but the driver’s door latch was funky ~ after pulling the handle , you had to push the door _closed_ a bit before it’d release , many times we loaned it out to a Customer who yanked on the handle a while then got in the passenger’s side , cranked it up and drove away only to have the driver’s door open in a right turn….
Interesting times those were .
what f/shop and shutter speeds do you use to get this effect?
My Canon was actually on auto-focus when I spotted this Buick. The trick to a good panning shot is a smooth torso rotation as you follow the moving car.
(I forgot to add: shutter speed for both shots was 1/30 – top shot had an aperture of f/4.5, bottom shot had f/4.0.)
Great find, Buicks of this era were notorious rusters. When I was a kid there was a junkyard in my town that was almost entirely 50s Buicks. Most of them were not there due to wrecks, they were just rusted out. This was in the early 60s. My parents had a 56 Special. By the time they traded it in on a new 61 Chevy Wagon, the rocker panels and lower fender areas had gaping rust holes. We took the Chevy in for some service a few weeks after we bought it, the dealer asked us if we wanted see our old car. Led us back to the service area where they had just pulled the Buick out of the paint booth, it looked great. Today I can’t imagine a dealership investing the time and expense to repair and repaint a 5 year old rusted out pedestrian car.
Back in the 70s, I recall seeing an old rusty 56 Buick 4 door hardtop. I remember the way the tops of the front side windows overlapped the tops of the rear side windows by about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch on both sides of the car. That may be the most swaybacked old 4 door hardtop I ever saw.
I have always found it interesting how during the 50s, Buick so boldly flaunted its rear wheels with those big, round openings in an era when almost nobody else in the US did. Then, in 1958, walked completely away from that look. Oldsmobile then took up the look in 1965 and never looked back.
My older brother, had a couple of 55’s and 56’s. As I recall you pushed the gas pedal to the floor to activate the starter.
I’m thinking circa 1965 ??. and one of my brothers, old Buicks was rusted so bad, the Cops ordered it off the road. I also remember my dad being very comfortable with the cops decision. My brother…..???? ..not so much
You don’t even have to push it to the floor to start it. About an eighth of an inch of travel is all it takes to engage the starter.
On my ’53, I usually tap the gas once to set the choke, turn the key to on, then touch the gas to start it. When it’s hot (because of percolation) I push it to the floor until it starts (which is usually a couple of seconds with a hot engine).
My Grandmother’s 1950 Buick required the gas pedal to go all the way to the floor to engage the starter. I think though that it would engage just short of all the way down and that pushing harder to really push it all the way down would help clear the choke if it was flooded. At this point in time all of this is very fuzzy to me though, although I know that the pedal did go all the way down before the starter would engage.
I’ve always liked the 1956 Buick.
Early ’50s Buicks looked good from the side, but had that sad-catfish-face grille. By ’56 they were handsome from every angle.
Buick’s production capacity in the mid-50’s was about 400,000 according to my Buick history book. Production for 1955 was over 700,000 and nearly 600,000 for 1956. The built about 500,000 more cars than they could put together right over that two year period.
Sales number of sedan/coupe nowadays sounds like a misery. Even in the late ’90s, slow selling Tbird could move around 100,000 a year. Any companies wouldn’t cancel a car moving at that number now. 700,000 Buick sounds unimaginable nowadays if excluding sales in China.
The point is that Buick’s quality was extremely poor. Sales dropped off far worse than Edsel’s second year.
I recall reading that, in 1955, Buicks were selling so fast that some workers were building up engines off the assembly line to help keep up with demand.
Wow, a completely stock 2 door. Those whitewalls really set it off with the black and white scheme.
I remember John Muir, the guy who wrote the VW Idiot Book, saying that rust was the worst enemy of the car enthusiast. He said that every single mechanical part could be cheaply and easily replaced (this was 1967) but if you just let it set there it would rust full of holes and there was nothing more you could do for it.
Of course that is still partially true for vintage cars, but parts prices have gone up considerably.
The worst enemy of today’s car owner (I doubt there are many enthusiasts left as far as new cars go) is the EPA, DOT, NHTSA, and IIHS.
For some reason (probably to sell more new cars) car manufacturers did not do anything to prevent them from from rusting. If they had, we would still have many old restorable cars. But even today’s new mobile computers still rust through in 3-4 years, and the clearcoat paint burns off in less time than that.
really? i though corrosion resistance was one of the few areas that had improved in modern cars. it’s rare to see anything under ten years old with rust even here where they salt the roads. when i was a kid, the rust started about three years out of the showroom and most cars were junk by 100k miles.
rust resistance is so much better in south part of rust belt or some further areas, like in Maryland, New York or Virginia. Cars don’t show rust on the body panels even after 20 years in most cases ( especially helped by the plastic rocker panels doing marvelous job of covering up ) and that’s enough for most people.
But deep in Michigan, where they put salt as if the salt truck tips over ( around Flint, Detroit ) or excessively cold ( Northern Michigan where 20 below zero is common, thus everything keeps freezing including salt on cars ) It’s common to see cars locally made ( with extensive undercoating and thick paint on lower bodies ) showing rust after 7 or 8 years, foreign cars made where salt isn’t an issue showing rust after 4 years ( Ford Transit Connect made in either Turkey or Romania, and Mazda 3 ) Cheap leasing cars are even in worse shape as users generally don’t bother spending 4 bucks washing it even once ( as the white salt still stays deep in late April until mud replaces that ) W-Body Impala even shows rust on roof after 3 or 4 years in that case.
Keep the good ones out of the salt is the way, even the most advanced rust resistance still shows its limit after a while.
We have two ’06 cars in my household that never leave the road salt belt. One is even a Mazda3. There isn’t a spot of rust anywhere on either of them. No way that could have been said about nine-year-old cars made before 1990 or so.
Even though Mazda 3 is rust-prone, it would do fine in states like Ohio, where salt truck has more mercy ( not pouring out all that much ) and winter isn’t that long. Frequent wash helps in slightly warm areas too ( warm enough to stay above 0 )
But this one is beyond help, I’m afraid. Bright rust is a sight of how fast it’s rusting too.
The best-looking ’50s Buicks.
+1 for “sad-catfish-face grille”
My dad bought a ’56, brand new. It was pink and white. It was 10 years old when my dad was waiting for the light to go green, a teenager smashed into the back of it. Pushed the rear bumper 18″ into the trunk. But it still ran and he drove it 2 miles home. It was a Saturday night, we were watching the movie “Elephant Walk” on the tube. Weird how you associate and remember things.
It’s too bad they didn’t keep the headquarter in Flint, and I still think Flint has the most market share of Buick nationwide. Every time driving on I-75, it’s not uncommon to see Riviera, Roadmaster, Century, Park Avenue and LeSabre at the same time, even though many of them were not produced in Flint.
It’s a good retro styling to bring back the VentiPorts on Park Avenue, but I think it wears better on Lucerne and LaCrosse. Two ports each side on current Regal, sigh*.
Photo is taken last year in Southfield, Mi. Somehow there happened to be quite handful of Buicks that day that time.
That reminds me when I went to Flint in 2003 for the Buick Centennial. That was quite exciting. I went there with my 1967 Riviera and there were 1960’s Buicks everywhere!
This picture was taken in the hotel’s garage but I wish I had a camera on my phone to take pictures on the street as 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Buicks were everywhere!
From the newer tab tight on newer license plate, I believe it’s his fairly recent acquisition.
Yes, typical Flint summer. If in winter, all the older ones would turn to LeSabre, Century or Regal.
They have a fair amount of Lincoln too, namely the bustle-back Continentals. I spotted two Fox-body Lincolns around that area on interstate, sedan and coupe each, in summer though.
I spotted a very young man driving a pristine late ’80s early ’90s Riviera cruising at 90+ near Flint last summer. He is one of the youngest drivers in a similar cars like that I saw.
I also wish that Buick would have remained in Flint – being home of Buick’s World Headquarters was something that defined our city of Flint for decades. I was just home two weekends ago, and I also agree with your observation about this part of Michigan being very concentrated with Buicks and GM cars in general. It’s immediately apparent that there’s still much GM brand loyalty in Genesee County, Michigan – where, literally, nine cars out of ten you pass on I-69, US23, I-75 or I-475 are U.S.-branded cars, very many of them being GM cars. I toured Buick City for the last time as a teenager during the summer of 1991. It would have seemed unfathomable at that time that the entire complex would have completely vaporized in 20 years.
Tight connection between a city and a brand has both positive and negative effect. I think the negative one shows the best in Lansing when Oldsmobile is discontinued, also the discontinuing of Pontiac in Canada.
Around Genesee County, the market share of U.S.-branded cars is kind of high indeed. Buick has quite high concentration too, as the traditional sedan is not that common anymore in most part of the country, let alone full size sedan at reasonable price. In northern-Michigan where senior community concentrates, full size sedan still dominates the street, including many those belonging to snow birds traveling from Arizona or Florida. ( that’s a good source for rust free cars )
Beautiful car, and I love how they chose to portion the two-tone treatment. Nice photos too!
I toured the Buick plant back in 1981 with my high school shop class. Interesting trip.
Great photos of a very nice car. Nearly alone on the Chicago Loop, no less. Excellent.
What a gorgeous greenhouse on this car. The windshield, side, and rear windows all have unique shapes, but they harmonize perfectly.
Really nice photographs, too.
When I was very young, our neighbors had a black and white 56 Buick hardtop like this one but I seem to remember it as having a different black and white treatment. Also, wouldn’t a top level model Buick carry 4 ventiports per side and be called Roadmaster or Riviera? I don’t know Buicks…just asking.
These are so sweet, especially considering what would follow in the 58 model year.
Before 1963, “Riviera” in Buick-speak meant a hardtop body style.
I thought that the 4 portholes was a Roadmaster thing as well. But a look at the 56 Buick brochure showed 4 holes on the Super and Century too. The Special was the only 3 holer that year. Porthole inflation?
I remember reading that Buick began putting four portholes on some “lesser” models during this period, and it resulted in complaints from Roadmaster owners.
They wanted everyone to know that they had bought the most expensive Buick (which carried considerable prestige in those days). Putting four portholes on the Century and Super diluted the effect.
I recall Roadmasters and Supers always had 4 portholes and the Century has 3 or 4 depending on the year. Specials always had three.
The senior Buicks (Roadmaster and Super) had considerable prestige in the 50’s. Popular with doctors and other professionals that didn’t want the flash of a Cadillac.
Consulting the old cars brochure website shows that through 1954 only the Roadmaster got 4 holes. Beginning with 1955 models the Century (new in 1954 I think) and Super also got 4 holes. They should have upgraded the Roadmaster to 5.
I always thought that the Quick Super from the Spirou comic book was a great spoof on that generation of Buick. The styling cues are all there, even the name. It has the Buick spear, but not the rear wheel cut-out. There are a great many good renderings of cars in those series.
In 55 it was 3 ventiports per side for Special (B-body) and Super (C-body), and 4 ventiports per side for Century (B) and Roadmaster (C). So yes, the higher the model, the more ventiports. Apparently in 56 the Super also went to 4 per side. In those days, Riviera was the name for the hardtop bodystyle. So the feature car here is a Super Riviera 2-door hardtop. All four models offered the choice of a Riviera bodystyle, in either 2 or 4 doors.
The ’55 Super had four portholes per side, as did the Roadmaster and Century. Check out the old car brochure site. Also, the Super ranked higher than the Century in size, price and prestige, second only to the Roadmaster.
Had a ’55 Super convertible (two decades later). The ’56 is a facelifted ’55 (but you knew that).
The weird thing is that at least in that period, Buicks and Oldsmobiles used two different basic bodies, although they obviously had some dimension points in common as the dashboards and other bits were the same in each. The larger body (Super and Roadmaster) was shared with Cadillac. Completely different greenhouses and actually the whole body. The dropped fender line as seen in this photo was not used on the Special/Century, which had the fender line right at the bottom of the windows and a scallop thing carved into the bump up at the rear side window. With the lower fender, the front end was mostly different too.
Replace the pink with black on the photo in emjayay’s comments and you get an idea of what my childhood neighbor’s 56 looked like.
How strange (?) to offer the same black and white 2-tone colors….but in 2 different configurations. (Perhaps 1 trim level it came with black in the middle and a different trim level white was the middle color?)
By coincidence I was walking through my neighbourhood on the same day and saw this. Too easy for a CC Clue.
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