timinbovey

Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!

193 posts in this topic

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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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

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

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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

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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?

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Posted (edited)

. . . . . 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"

Edited by 1953mack (see edit history)

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

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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)

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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

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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!

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

timinbovey

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

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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...?

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Great piece of family history! Great photos of days gone by! Priceless!

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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

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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...

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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?

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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

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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

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Dang y'all,

The title of this thread IS Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster back!

:)

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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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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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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.

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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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