Lily and the dogs and I went to Seaside for her birthday yesterday, in spite of the clouds and rain. (The Pacific Coast is pretty great on a stormy day.) I’m walking down the street minding my own business when this hits me in the face. WTF?
I had to stop and get a few cellphone snaps. Sorry for the crummy quality, but I can’t go another minute without sharing them with you. We’ve all seen PT Cruisers with fake wood on the sides and “classic” grilles. But this Chevy HHR goes far beyond.
Its target is quite specific, the 1953 Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon. A grand and glorious finale to the wood-bodied luxury station wagon. At 208″ it’s nearly three feet longer than the HHR.
I got to wondering if that HHR’s Buicky grille was a one-off or off some bizarre shelf somewhere. Turns out it was neither.
California Customs, an outfit that’s no longer in business, sold these as kits or complete vehicles.
Yikes. Surely you all have some thoughts on this, I’m speechless.
“California Customs, an outfit that’s no longer in business”
Color me surprised. How could such a glorious undertaking fail?…
I especially appreciate the completely arbitrary arch in the back door trim piece, cut that way solely to mimic the functional shape from the Buick. Because, you know, having the shapes actually match the contours of the sheetmetal would lack authenticity.
That poorly-done, backdoor trim piece faux pas, along with not being able to count the correct number of portholes, the too-thick grille ‘teeth’, and hood ornament ruin it. The side chrome ‘spear’ could have been done better, too (it’s too thin as it arcs downward).
Otherwise, it’s not so bad, certainly making the omnipresent HHR stand out. I especially like the rear fenderskirts.
They didn’t even get the number of portholes right.
I was also thinking there should be 4 right on top of the hood for an I4, rather than the 3 or 4 per side for a V6 or 8.
I actually had an HHR as a rental for a week a few years ago. I had low expectations for a GM car and was pleasantly surprised.
In the last photo “Theme Kits,” I like how the hood ornament points downward because of the slope of the HHR’s hood (the same as when people mount those “deer whistles” on sloping parts of the front bumper).
The hood ornament on this car had evidently come unglued. Or some bystander came unglued at the sight of it.
When I had my HHR I had a hood ornament from a 90’s Caprice installed. It looked completely appropriate and stood up straight. Many people that noticed it liked it and wondered why GM didn’t do it at the factory.
No longer in business no shit Ive never seen a HHR but if its anything like the awful PT Im glad of that. the original Buick is beautiful but this thing is terrible.
As someone who has owned both an HHR and a PT, I can tell you that the HHR (at least the 2LT models) is much nicer than one might think. Down the road I might seriously consider getting another one. The styling isn’t for everyone, but it was roomy, comfortable, very fuel efficient (once drove from Tennessee to Pennsylvania on one tank) and VERY easy for me to get in and out of.
The PT…not a bad car in design and execution, but the HHR is the better car all around.
Well… um at least you won’t pull up next to one like it at a stoplight. 😛
And people badmouth the looks of my cube. I may have nightmares tonight.
Spotted at the local bowling alley:
If only he had ordered the full kit, California Customs would have covered their tooling costs and moved on to further abominations.
I’m still waiting for my Nissan Armada-to-Rambler Wagon homage kit.
And BTW, Seaside? I went there many times as a child. I even have some fairly vivid memories of taking the ferry over from the Washington side of the water, before the Astoria bridge was built… I must have been about four at the time. We used to really load up on the salt-water taffy.
Phillips Candy Kitchen is right across the street from my photos. They don’t have the taffy pulling machine in the front window like they did, but they’re still there.
I can feel my teeth begin to decay at the mere thought of that habit-forming taffy…
I’d buy one in a minute.
I can take the fake-wood side treatments ok, but what really kills the whole look are those wheels. Fugly! And whats with the googly-eyed lookin headlight covers. Makes the front end look like a fish hauled out of the bayou. An interesting idea horribly executed. Was this a Chinese run company by chance? lol
I have seen a black HHR “panel truck” with half-moon hubcaps–that actually looked pretty cool. But this is just sad.
Okay, I’m marching to the beat of a different drum here, but I love this Buirolet HHRoadmaster! It could use a tad more rear overhang, and a slightly revised rear wheel cover, but other than that, this thing is seriously cool.
Seeing provocative vehicles like this, and reading the different responses is one of the (many, many) reasons I love CC: people from all walks of life, with very different vehicular expriences and tastes, can all gather together in one place to expand and challenge each other’s thoughts and knowledge. Regardless of what you think of the Buirolet’s design, it’s great that things like that exist!
Well, I’ve always thought the HHR was not a bad idea, but it was one size too small, and trying to doll one up this way further demonstrates that.
I’m good with the wheels and “wood”.
That face? A double bagger for certain.
@Sean: I almost splurfed coffee all over the keyboard! Comment of the day!
Too bad they went under before their kit to convert a Ford Escort ZX2 into a replica of a Studebaker Golden Hawk hit the market. I understand that was quite something.
Crap that’s awful.
However-it IS the first time I’ve ever seen those Pep Boys, JC Whitney, stick-on, ventiports on straight. They’re crooked on just about every car I’ve ever seen them on.
By the way, I know it’s accepted that the name of the Buick portholes is ventiports… but does anybody ever remember them being called cruiserline ventiports? I read that once in MT or C/D that that was their official name.
The sides and back of the car are quite nice and very distinctive. The regular Chevy front end would have gone nicely. The custom front end is downright ugly. It really detracts from the rest of the car.
Kinda curious, how much would the conversion cost?
A neighbor had one of these. Some elements of it, like the wheels, were really well done. Seeing the car used to make me smile and I felt bad for the owner when I saw a for sale sign in the window eventually. Chances are the potential buyer pool was pretty small.
Yikes that is so awful in so many ways! I guess the old saying is wrong – someone did go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
I’m reminded of the many, many people who felt the need to Boughamify their (mostly) Lincoln-Mercury cars in the 80’s and 90’s with dealer-installed vinyl roofs, expanded c-pillars, etc. Some L-M dealer in the Detroit area (the Detroit equivalent of Bob Tasca) was making a mint off of satisfying the 70s nostalgia of their (mostly older) customers.
Not my cup of tea… Or absinthe…
This is more like it…
I kind of like it.
It just occurred to me, this car was parked in the same block where they have the Bumper Cars. Really.
There is a normal wood kit for the HHR that actually looks pretty decent it follows the contour of the fenders, but this thing is like a bad transvestite, its not fooling anyone.
The big round headlight covers remind me of the Superfly headlight covers from 70’s pimpmobiles like in Live and Let Die.
The HHR itself is a pretty decent little car that doesn’t get a fair shake sometimes, my friend bought one of the first ones to arrive at the dealer and 140K hard but trouble free miles later, he still loves it.
That poor little Piglet!!! (Yes, I call the HHR’s Piglets, because they are little porkers that handle quite well in the snow)
I saw one the other day that someone had turned into a pickup. If I ever get a chance I’ll have to get a pic of it.
In the mean time, here is a pic of the one I had, Wish I still had it.
Nice car! Great color and I like the wheels.
There’s that Ron Jon Surf Shop again – same as the stickers on the back of Jim’s ’69 Econoline last week. What’s up?
Well I can’t speak for the van, but I took the pic of my car next to the RonJon’s building in Cocoa Beach, FL almost exactly two years ago when I was there!
And if you are going to own an HHR, you have to go all the way and get the nice one like I did, it’s way nicer that anyone would expect!
The van was sighted in Indianapolis, way far away from any Ron Jon store. I have seen other stickers for the store on cars around here, so I would guess that these stickers are either souveneers from a trip to a store or are included with web orders for us inland folks.
On that day, my car got one of those stickers on the back. I only place things like that on the car once it’s been to a given place. Tacky? Perhaps, but it makes for interesting travel stories when chatting with fellow motorists when stopped at various places.
Thanks for the chuckle! Next challenge, can anyone find an MX-5 with a BMW Z3, Aston Martin or Mustang kit on it?
stop being so snotty the lot of you
In my area I sometimes see a PT Cruiser with a lot of aftermarket add-ons (fenderskirts, split rear window), which has all been done on a Betty Boop theme. I will have to try to get some snaps of it for the CC Cohort (cuz I sure have no intentions of writing about it). Known locally as The Boopmobile, it makes this “Buickized” HHR look pretty restrained and tasteful by comparison.
Hmmm no. Bad idea.
I want to know where the bumpers came from, cause I really want them so bad