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Thread: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

  1. #1

    Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    We've made the decision to try to save Dad's Buick Roadmaster. Dad bought this car brand new in 1951, and still owns it! The car stopped being driven in 1966. Dad had given it to his Dad (my grandpa) to use and when Grandpa died in '66, the car sat parked in Grandma's garage. During this time an uncle kept tabs on the car, drove it occasionally, and we used to drive it occasionally when we would visit Grandma. After Grandma passed on in '77, Dad eventually wound up getting the car back. Having no place to put it, he rented space from a "car guy" with a huge garage. It sat there for several years until THAT guy moved, and the car got moved again, to a lesser quality building with a dirt floor. It sat here since sometime in the mid 80's until now. Dad, although a big Buick fan, who will tell you that this is the best car to EVER be on the road, is not a "car guy" He doesn't fix them, doesn't maintain them himself, etc. However, he's a big fan of waxing and polishing. The guy who had it in storage for us until now lost his home and outbuildings to foreclosure, his wife died, and he was diagnosed with cancer (this all in the last year) so he put the car in a friends garage until now, when it's been moved outside. The attached photo was taken where it was last stored in 2004. That's Dad, Me, and my Son. Dad is 84 now, doesn't drive, but still loves the car. My boy and I still are very attached to the car. heck, I used to get rides to church in it when I was a little kid, I used to sit in it and play driving in my Grandma's garage after it was parked after Grandpa passed. Anyway, we're making arrangements to get it moved about 200 miles from where it is, to where we live now. My son has turned into quite the mechanic, and we have garage space available. So, we're gonna see what we can do. We have no idea the status of the car. The photo you see is the last time we saw it, and that was 8 years ago. Having worked on a lot of old cars over the years we pretty much know what we're in for. We're going to get to have a closer look at it next weekend, then will be working on getting it moved up here. I've got a few slides of when it was new that Dad took in '51 that I'll scan and upload later. Quite amusing! My parents dated in this car, and took their honeymoon in this car!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member cobravii's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    That is a cool story!

    Mine is similar but without as much history. I am currently restoring a triple black 1964 Buick Electra convertible that my father bought new. Mine is not nearly as nice of condition as yours as it sat outside for many years before I got it.

    I am looking forward to watching this tread and seeing what you are starting with and the process of getting it where you want it.

    Cheers,
    Larry
    I am currently restoring a 1964 Buick Electra convertible with a 425 dual quad engine and bucket seats.
    My dad bought it new. http://rides.webshots.com/album/578933782esLUTV
    My other project car is a 1965 Shelby Cobra and as we all know, our projects are never done.;)
    http://rides.webshots.com/album/557996496OrYPsL

  3. #3

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Few slides of the car in it's glory days. Mom and Dad leaving on their honeymoon, the Buick parked at my Mom's family cabin (that's Mom on the right) and umm... yeah....Mom on the Buick!
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  4. #4
    Senior Member retirednow's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Great story!! Best of luck!! -Dave BCA#46470 1952 56C

  5. #5
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Good story, great pic's too. Have fun.

    Do you know anything about the Buick convert parked in the shed next to your car? Looks to be a 46-48 car, maybe.

    Dale in Indy

  6. #6
    Senior Member 1957buickjim's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    What a cool story! Hope you get it done so your dad can still run around with you and your son in it! Where abouts are you located?
    Jim
    1957 Buick Riviera Estate Wagon - 49D -WIP (work in process)
    1957 Buick Special - Model 48 2dr Sedan (BCA Gold Senior)
    1969 Pymouth Road Runner 2dr HT- 440 4 Speed
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    BCA #45059

  7. #7

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Quote Originally Posted by 1957buickjim View Post
    . . . . . Where about are you located? . . . . .


    See Post #3, Pic #1 . . . . .
    The cabin, lake, and license plates are a dead giveaway. They're all in MINNESOTA, LAND OF 10,000 LAKES, somewhere "up North" from me (Bovey, MN?). Note that Minnesotans call them cabins, not COTTAGES (like people from Michigan and other places call them).



    Al Mack
    BCA #8965
    "500 Miles West of Flint"
    Last edited by 1953mack; July 17th, 2012 at 10:40.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Centurion's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    timinbovey, great history and wonderful photos! Really enjoyed seeing this, and we'll be eager to hear your progress.
    Brian Laurance, BCA #5168

    1959 Buick Electra 4-door hardtop
    1971 Buick Centurion Formal Coupe
    1990 Buick LeSabre Limited Coupe
    1996 Buick Riviera Coupe
    2005 Buick LeSabre Custom Sedan

  9. #9
    Senior Member ewing's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    great looking car, and still looks to be in fine condition. Don't see a lot of rust, at least from the top side!
    And I see the same spotlight rear view mirror on the driver side now as in the picture from its glory days.

    What a great car, and would be nice to get it back on the road as an original survivor! ( the paint looks good enough with just a spot of wear/ thinning on the roof from what I see in the pictures)
    John, BCA #1271, ALPCA 688
    38 McLaughlin 4 Dr Special,Iron Man
    47 Roadmaster Conv.
    58 Pontiac Parisienne,Canadian version of the Bonneville
    67 Coronet 500

  10. #10
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Great story, and those vintage slides are awesome. Hopefully the car isn't too bad, in the photo it looks quite decent. Good luck and keep us posted!
    Keith

  11. #11

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    We did get a chance to look over the '51 this past weekend. Seems to be in much better shape than I was expecting. Seems mostly solid, and everything seems to be there, including Dad's accessories like the extra horn, spotlight, steering wheel knob, etc. Even found the owners manual. Now we've trying to find someone who can transport the car about 200 miles from where it is now, to where we live so we can work on it. Once we get it home I'll update as to the status. I didn't get a chance to find out if the engine is frozen, fan belt was broken and I had no way to attempt to turn the crank at all. Three of the 4 tires actually hold air, the last holds enough to get it on a trailer. Actually has 5 matching hubcaps, and even a carefully folded spare pair of pants in the trunk! Along with a set of old, used Champion J-11 sparkplugs. Hopefully my attemps to add updated pictures worked!

    timinboveyClick image for larger version. 

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  12. #12

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    I have no idea why some of those pictures are upside down! They were OK in my computer! Yeesh.

    timinbovey

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sweepspear's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    I see it was sold by Swanberg-Sheefe in Mpls. They are long gone now, but do remember them.
    Dale

    Current Buicks...None. :-(
    Past Buicks. '66 Riv / '70 Rivs (2) / '90 Riv / '72 Skylark / '72 LeSabre / '72 Electra / '96 LeSabre / '92 Park Ave. / '96 Riviera.

    "The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.". Sid Caesar

  14. #14
    Sr (grey-haired) Member Rob McDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Great old car and so precious to know the history from day one. Don't worry about the inverted photos - our Ozzy and Kiwi friends will appreciate them. Say, does your hot mom have a sister...?
    Rob McDonald
    1957 Buick Roadmaster model 73A, owned since February 1973
    1962 Valiant Signet
    1967 Valiant 100, daily driver

  15. #15

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Great piece of family history! Great photos of days gone by! Priceless!
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  16. #16
    Senior Member JZRIV's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Posts like this really brighten up a day. Thanks so much for sharing the story and great photos. It looks like you have an excellent car to start with. With all the sentimental value its definitely worth pursuing no question about that.

    Try posting in the Garages, Trailering and Towing section under Towing needed for someone to move the car. It'd be best if the tow person hade some experience with these cars.

    Best of Luck moving forward
    Jason Zerbini
    (Near)Pittsburgh PA
    ROA 775 / BCA 29707
    Board President, ROA
    Check out ROA right here http://www.rivowners.org/

    "Buy Once - Cry Once" "The Quality remains long after the price is forgotten"

  17. #17
    XP-715 BadgerRivFan's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Quote Originally Posted by avgwarhawk View Post
    Great piece of family history! Great photos of days gone by! Priceless!
    x2. Really appreciate you sharing the photos. It is a great story. Hope you are able to return a great car back to the road...
    Al Schmidt
    ROA #10113
    BCA #42316

    '63, '64 KX, '65 GS, '70, '84 Convert, '85 Turbo Convert, '92 x2 Riviera's
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    "Adventure, is a car called Riviera..."

  18. #18
    Senior Member ewing's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    your 52 has an interesting side sweep-spear. At the back door it curves back to the fron of the car like a 52, and, also has a horizontal extension that runs out over the rear wheel well... like a 51.
    Question for the 51/52 experts, is this an early 52 using the 51 side sweep spear trim?
    John, BCA #1271, ALPCA 688
    38 McLaughlin 4 Dr Special,Iron Man
    47 Roadmaster Conv.
    58 Pontiac Parisienne,Canadian version of the Bonneville
    67 Coronet 500

  19. #19

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Quote Originally Posted by ewing View Post
    your 52 has an interesting side sweep-spear. At the back door it curves back to the fron of the car like a 52, and, also has a horizontal extension that runs out over the rear wheel well... like a 51.
    Question for the 51/52 experts, is this an early 52 using the 51 side sweep spear trim?
    Maybe because this IS a '51?
    timinbovey

  20. #20
    Ben Bruce BCA# 44599 First Born's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    It does have some interesting conundrums. The trunk handle is on the bottom of the trunk lid as was '51. The '52 is mounted near the top of the trunk lid. The front bumper guards are '51. The '52s wrap around the bumper a little more. It has the '52 fins on the back fenders. Back fenders changed at sometime?? A look at the data plate on the cowl will answer any questions. An absolutly beautiful machine. I am envious.

    Ben
    1995 Park Ave
    1950 Super Mod 52
    1950 Special Mod 41D Second owner

  21. #21
    Proud BCA Member buick5563's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Dang y'all,
    The title of this thread IS Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster back!
    Mike Middleton

    http://www.midtownrestorations.com
    Regional Co-Director South Central Region BCA
    Vice Director Alamo Chapter BCA
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  22. #22
    Grease Monkey shadetree77's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Hmmm...this is an interesting and beautiful car. In answer to John's (ewing) question above, after looking at some of my brochures, this is most likely a Roadmaster Riviera Model 72R (I'll include the brochure page). I didn't know this before now, but some of the Roadmaster models side trim DID sweep back toward the front like on a '52. Check it out near the bottom of the brochure page. BUT, to my knowledge no '51 ever had the fins on the fenders. Maybe they were added at some point like Ben said? You can see them in the old picture above (the one with Mom on the front fender). I don't know how possible that would be as far as parts fitting but I also don't see how '52 fins ended up on what is clearly a '51. Timinbovey, do you have any idea how those fins from a '52 made it onto your Dad's '51? Might be an interesting story here somewhere.
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    1952 Buick Special Deluxe 41D (Lucy)
    (My Dad And I Finally Have A Project Car)
    1953 Kaiser Manhattan (Linus)
    (Another One?! But I'm Not Even Done With The Buick Yet!!:p)
    1979 Thunderbird Town Landau
    (Highly Neglected Since I Got My Buick)
    1977 Thunderbird Town Landau
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  23. #23

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Hmm.... well I'm certainly NOT a Buick expert! Still waiting to find someone to transport the car from down by St. Paul to up here in northern MN. But ALL the documentation says it's '51 -- title, service receipts, notes on old slides, etc. I did find a photo of what's described as a '51 Roadmaster Convertible with those fins on it, and a limo too, that I'll try to add in here. Any chance a dealer would have added them? I'll ask Dad later today but I can't imagine him spending the dough to have that done, and he certainly wouldn't have done it himself. Hmmmm indeed!

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  24. #24
    Grease Monkey shadetree77's Avatar
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    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    There's no question that your car is a '51. That convertible in your post is also a '51. Not sure about the limo though, its got trim from a '52 on it. Anyway, I guess it's possible that dealers started slapping those fins on the leftover '51's near the end of the year to push the sales up. I would imagine they would be pretty easy to install. I've had mine off before and all you would have to do is mark and drill some holes. Maybe somebody will come along here shortly that's heard of this phenomenon before. I'm also interested to hear what your Dad says. I love discovering and learning about little quirks like this.
    ____________________
    Robert
    BCA #46402
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    1952 Buick Special Deluxe 41D (Lucy)
    (My Dad And I Finally Have A Project Car)
    1953 Kaiser Manhattan (Linus)
    (Another One?! But I'm Not Even Done With The Buick Yet!!:p)
    1979 Thunderbird Town Landau
    (Highly Neglected Since I Got My Buick)
    1977 Thunderbird Town Landau
    (My First Car Given To Me By My Uncle w/ 20,000 Original Miles & Wrecked In 2004(not my fault) w/ 70,000 Miles, R.I.P.)


  25. #25

    Re: Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

    Asked Dad about the car today. He says the only things he added after purchase were the extra horn and the steering knob. His Dad (my grandpa) added a home made "emergency kit" that's mounted in the trunk to the right of the spare with a gas can, etc. Dad let Grandpa and Grandma (his folks) use the car to drive to the New York Worlds Fair in 1964. Dad has a huge collection of family home movies, and it only took him about 3 minutes to find the reel with him driving the '51 into the driveway right after he bought it, and the chrome is there on the rear fenders in the movies. He bought it brand new, trading in his less than a year old Studebaker Champion, which he says was always breaking down and "didn't have enough to drive over a 2 by 4 on the garage floor". He says he "went into Schwanberg and Scheefe and told them the Studebaker was a pile of junk and he wanted them to sell him a REAL car". They showed him the Roadmaster and he said "I'll take it!" and that was that. Somewhere around here we have a black and white snapshot of the Studebaker broken down on the side or the road, hood up -- as I recall somewhere on the highway on a trip on South Dakota. Also, my Dad had the '51, and his twin brother and Grandpa had 1949 Buicks, and somewhere around here I have a slide of all three parked in a row in the front yard of my Grandparents house. I'll have to look around and see if I can find that. All these slides took on new meaning after we've decided to get the Buick back on the road.

    STILL trying to find someone to trailer it from St. Paul about 200 miles to here.

    AND, where are people buying tires? Gotta have the wide whites of course, but can't they be had for under $200 each? That's about the only price I'm finding no matter the brand/dealer.

    Tim in Bovey

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