CC Capsule: 1961 Buick Special and 1974 Oldsmobile Omega – Caution Required, Neglect Ahead

(first posted 5/2/2017)    It seems my most recent CC captures involve my first born, somehow. I either capture them on dash-cam whilst hauling him along to/from the nursery, or on my way taking him to see my Mom and Sister & family (well, more so that they will see him; don’t tell them, but I think he doesn’t mind them at this eight-months-old point).

When I drive him to the nursery, at the main street I always spot two classic shapes on the way, one must be a 1970s compact GM, and the other is an… early 1960s compact Buick? Have to stop there sometime and check it out. But the cars vanished some time ago. Oh well, maybe they’re close by.


They were. Yesterday I finally had the chance and went on foot to pick Ben up from the nursery. On a small alley, rested the suspects, or should I say victims- of neglect. You’ve seen the opening photo, now just look at this:

That was my first view of things. And it’s bleak, to say the least, with the dust, sand and grass growing freely under the cars. Think I’ll start off with the Omega, even though it’s further away from us, and save the best for last.

First look is somewhat encouraging; yes, the paint has had way too much over-sprays (if that’s the original paint at all) and yes, those strips have nothing to do with it (as expected, they look horrid) and yes, some good souls have keyed the car already. But on the whole it looks complete, with all its trim and wheel covers intact. Note it even has a 1980s alarm relic, in the shape of the key hole under the front indicator.

But diving in deeper you start seeing the rust, the under-acceptable paint preparation (if there ever was one), etc. Look closely at the boot’s edges, for example. BTW, that wire at the back of the Omega is not tide to it – it just looks like it in the photo.

License plates tell many things to those who know how to read them, and this one tells me this is (you guessed it- or read the post’s headline) a 1974 Oldsmobile Omega, imported to Israel way back then (as opposed to new classic imports), and had its MOT turned into a “collectible vehicle” status sometime ago. Note how sad the Olds’ emblem looks, broken in two, the right part dangling down. I must cite this page for helping me determine its DOB best.

But the main event is obviously this:

Look, I don’t know how rare these are in their original homeland, the USA, but trust me when I say there is a chance of nearly none of another Special like that in Israel (and I write “nearly” just for the slight chance there actually might be one). I could write all about how this was the first compact Buick and the manifestation of its V6, but I’d be best served if I lead you to J.P. Cavanaugh’s excellent post about it. After you’ll read it, you’ll understand how important this car was.

But just look at it now. Never mind the deflated tires- see the unavoidable rust at the doors and windshield base. Up close it was even worse. Neglecting a classic like that has to be treated as a deadly sin. Ok, I’ll admit that early 1960s Detroit iron isn’t really my cup of tea- but I simply love the styling of this car; staring from the pointy sides of the front, the lovely creases at the sides, all the way to the back:

Yes, the back, where you’ll find a sloping tail, rear-lights inserted neatly and a bumper so in-line with the rest of the body-style, I can only point back up to the Omega to see the exact opposite. And all this is just rotting away in some alley. Oh, and the rust has also taken place at the base of the rear window, of course.

I was all the more disappointed when I saw the license plate. This is another original import, and has a five digit number as all cars in Israel were, starting from 1949. But- most crucially- the country started using six digit plates in 1961, the same year this car was made. So how, you may ask, did I decide this Special is a 1961 model? shouldn’t it have a six digit plate?

Well, researching the licensing system in Israel throughout its early years, I found Israel started issuing six digit plates no earlier than September 1961 (it was actually on the 26th, and the first car to receive a six digit plate was a new… Beetle, no less). Therefore, this Buick is one of the last cars still around to have five digit plates. Which part of the year it got here, I couldn’t tell you- the plate doesn’t give away that much. So it has its own value as well as a “national” value (if you can call it that, in terms of the license plate).

You might understand by now, this post is written more out of frustration than the usual wish-to-share CCs with you. I should hope most classics I meet will never be treated like this, just left somewhere to rot, the owner unable or refuses to do anything with them, and won’t sell, for whatever reason.