Running into this car was like encountering some kids in the neighborhood for the first time in six years, and hearing all about what they’ve been up to, their education and travels, and to inevitably remark: “My how you’ve grown!”
I first shot and wrote up this Buick Special DeLuxe wagon some six years ago. This time, the owner, who has a vintage motorcycle parts business, came out of his shop. When I told him I have a blog about old cars I find on the street, he instantly said “Curbside Classic!” He’d found my post in his car some years back, and has passed it around. And he filled me in on the history of the Buick. It’s a regular driver, and it moved him and his wife and their business to Iowa for a year, where it quickly acquired some surface rust from one salty winter. And it’s experienced some serious growth under the hood, in the form of a warmed-over 455. There’s even a Ford 9″ rear end under its voluptuous hips.
Here’s how it looked back in the summer of 2013. And interestingly, it had a For Sale sign on it.
At the time, I said:
a certain Brian picked it up at an estate sale, with visions of doing a bit of “hot rodding” on it. For whatever reason (his wife?), that seems not to be in the cards now, and you can now relive my memories for yourself for a mere $2500 (or less, hints Brian). Of course, he might be happy if it didn’t sell either: honey, nobody wants the Buick; I guess I’m stuck with it…
That turned out to be prophetic. He didn’t sell it, and he did do a bit of hot rodding on it, although that was quite recent. And his wife seems to have made peace with it.
A couple of years ago, Brian decided to move his business to Iowa, where the rents were cheaper. One long, cold winter later, he decided there’s more to life than cheap rent. And the numerous little rusty dings on the lower flanks of the Buick that resulted from that one winter were another reason to head back to Curbsidelandia.
I’m glad they came back; seeing cars like this on the streets here is a real mood lifter on a gray late-fall day.
As I understand it, the Buick is used quite regularly, including hauling parts for his on-line business. The use is quite apparent from these two shots of its load compartment from 2013 and 2019. I like to see an old car still working hard, even if it has to show the effects.
The back seat is still well preserved.
The front seat has developed a split. Not bad, considering the age and use. I didn’t ask, but that appendage on the shifter undoubtedly has something to do with its swapped out transmission too. The old two-speed ST-300 has given way to a beefy THM-350.
Brian walked over with me to show me how this wagon has really grown, under the hood.
In the place of the former mild-mannered two-barrel 350 there is now a nicely-warmed 455, which he liberated from a big Buick sedan.
There’s a carburetor with four big barrels on top, a hotter cam, headers, higher compression, electronic ignition, and maybe some other goodies I’ve now forgotten about. “Roughly 500 horsepower”; I didn’t forget that. Brian says it’s a barrel (or four) of fun to apply pressure to the gas pedal. Do that often enough, and you’re looking at 7 mpg. Fun has its price.
My, you’re so…Special now!