Curbside Classic: 1955 Buick Special Sedan–Battleship

Since it’s 2022 now, you would think it would be much harder to find authentic Curbside Classics from the 40s-60s “in the wild” (i.e. not at car shows), but they still keep popping up on street corners, in parking lots, behind gas stations, in the woods, etc.–cars you’ve never seen before.  That’s why you need this website–because you’re probably not going to see a Buick like this at a car show.

The scene as I approached it . . .


So there’s this parking lot near me, and as I’m driving ’round the bend, what do I see?

1955 Buick Special–3 portholes. (“Ventiports” if you really want to be correct).


According to the paint charts, this is a 1955 Buick Special 4-door sedan, Dover White over Temple Gray.  The Special was the lowest priced car in the Buick hierarchy, followed by Century, Super, and Roadmaster.  Incidentally, my favorite years of Buick are 1955, 1958, and 1959.

Since the car was wedged against a juniper bush, I couldn’t get any rear shots, so I decided to focus on fascinating little details which are often overlooked . . .

Last inspected in 1972 (expiring in ’73).


Those “Dagmars” are BIG (but not as big as Cadillac’s)!


Standard-equipment plain hubcaps (not the fancy optional wheelcovers). You rarely see these anymore.


Take a look inside. Love the horn ring–rocket fins!


Yup, it’s a MANUAL! No newfangled Dynaflow for this customer!


I started fantasizing about what it would be like to pilot this big, imposing gray battleship of a Buick down the road.  No power steering or brakes, manual “3-on-the-tree” transmission;  that broken round hood ornament leading the way.  Buicks at this time had their own personality and unique characteristics–the foot pedal starter, torque-tube drive, gentle coil springs at all four wheels, “Nailhead” V-8;  that intangible sense of solidity and Buick prestige.

My conception of the original owner.  They don’t make Buicks like this anymore, and they don’t make men like this anymore either.


Or maybe someone like this?


Yes, what kind of person would order a car like this back in 1955?  The cheapest Buick sedan in gray (thankfully enhanced by the white two-tone), and no options except radio and heater.  Thus it was possible to drive a Buick while just paying slightly more than deluxe models of the “low-priced three” (Chevrolet, Ford, Plymouth).  It may be a no-frills “stripper”, but it’s still a Buick! 

I’ll let Mrs. Sherwood here explain (in that elegant voice) why this Buick Special is such a great bargain.   (This is actually 1953, but you’ll get the idea):

Our featured car is a true “out-of-place” artifact:  an unlikely survivor that appeared suddenly and unexpectedly, and Here It Is.  Seeing this somewhat dull-looking gray Buick from a lost era actually brightens our day!