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!
More: Curbside Classic: 1969 Buick Special DeLuxe Wagon – Not So Very Special in 1969
I have heard of Plato’s Closet, but never been inside though I hear they have a good selection.
A friend of mine, their parents moved to Vernonia in the 1990s to get a taste of that cheap rent and country living. A year or two later they grew tired of the lack of services for their child with Down Syndrome, the longer commute, and lack of services out there. So, they moved back to Forest Grove and bought another house then fretted when the one in Vernonia took too long to sell.
Glad you found this Buick again Paul and I just love reading its story as well as gazing at the pictures. I really like the looks of the 1968-1969 Buicks before they got too big in the 1970s.
Yeah, one Winter in Iowa will do that to you, if you are not used to it. Glad he has moved back to a place where he, his family, and his Buick can continue to thrive. That motor does look awfully shiny compared with the rest of the car. I don’t recall whether Buicks of that era had call-out insignia for engine sizes (we were Chevy and Pontiac folk), but having no external indications does make it nicely stealthy.
Not in love with this Buick, but I love the fact that you included your Xb in the final photo….
Nice car! I like the stealthy blacked out wheels look.
And a warmed over 455 would have some serious shove to it. Just don’t like that plastic fuel filter, if it cracks it’s game over. Please, use a metal one.
The Buick 455 was well known back in the day for having “gobs o’ torque”, even as it came from the factory. Buick developed at least two levels of upgrade for the 455; the Stage II package made the mid-size Buicks serious contenders on the street and on the strip.
I find the lack of full wheel covers or classic Buick chromed wheels totally undignified.
I love the updates! These A body wagons were never my faves, but this one has some good things going for it. The improved powertrain takes care of a lot of this car’s lack of appeal.
Love the wagon, even with a heart transplant! I chuckle at the plastic fuel filter – I am leery of those compared to metal ones. It’s rare for a metal one to leak (usually the hoses on either side go first, but with plastic – who knows? I stick to metal filters even though the plastic looks cool. It would be a shame for a $3 plastic filter to fail and cause an engine fire and wipe out this nice wagon!
My 1975 rabbit ran bad because of a metal gas filter located above the engine, which had a pinhole. It rubbed and holed. Sucked air and the fuel was starving. It did not dribble out for some reason. I never saw a plastic one break.
This looks like the right engine in the wrong car.
I am reminded of 1970s high school double dates, this is the right car for that.
Nice car. The Buick A-body station wagon has always been a rare bird compared to its Oldsmobile counterpart.
I also love the “W-shape” (when viewed from above) of these Buicks. That was a Buick styling feature on the full-size cars from 1965 through 1968, and the intermediates from 1966 through 1969.
And just when I thought I had found a car in my neighborhood to write up that was not yet featured here, Paul has already covered it! – and all the way back in 2013. ;o)
My find was April 7 of this year, and I even took a similar picture to the last one in his post…
My neighborhood mechanic works on all kinds of cars (including my own), and quite often has a few CC(s) in his parking lot. In this case, it was parked in the preschool’s lot where my wife used to teach. He uses this lot for overflow and cars that he has finished servicing (with permission, of course).
Here’s a rear 3/4 shot of its best side with my Civic photo-bombing the picture.
What a nice looking Buick!
My, oh my, what a different paint job does for the car. That looks nice.
I’ve got a real aversion to big flabby American metal of this era in the baby food tan and black wheels of this CC. Can’t quite explain it, it just evokes depressing midwinter cityscapes and grimy expressways choked with rich car exhaust.
As i Commented 6 years ago, this is exactly the same car my Dad bought from Paul Batt Buick here in Buffalo in 1969…even the same color. It replaced our 1967 Buick Wagon which had a V6. The 1969 was the first Buick our family had with a V-8 and power steering. We were a single car family and it transported my parents, me and my three siblings…Soon I would have another sibling join the family and my Dad would upgrade to a 1972 Estate Wagon, our first car with A/C, a third seat and the legendary 455 with a THM 400 trannie…
Almost a ringer for the gold, same vintage Buick Special Deluxe wagon that 80s cult band Wall of Voodoo appeared in for their music video for ‘Mexican Radio’. First appearance at 00:55.
Holy crap! Same car!
I kind of, sort of, almost admire these Buick wagons when I see them because they managed to survive. I mean, to me they are probably some of the ugliest post war wagons ever built in the US. Yet, the “updated” model of 70-72 is a great looking car.
If I had one of these come my way (for free, or nearly free) I think that the paint colors would be key to whether I kept it or just passed it on.
Good to see the ’69s get some love. I’m missing mine- will be back from surgery in a few weeks