Poppy's 55

New Classic Buick Owner

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My name is Paul although my grandsons call me Poppy. I am retired and after years of waiting I have my first classic car, a 1955 Buick Century. This is my first classic car although I've been working on and racing cars for decades. It will certainly be refreshing to work on a car where there aren't any electronics to speak of and room in the engine bay to move around a bit :)

 

My purchase came about while my wife and I were RVing with our grandsons to Grants Pass, Oregon, to take them white water rafting and jet boat riding. I was pulling our 5th wheel up hwy 199 and saw this gorgeous car in a lot and for the next 3 days it was all I could think about. Finally, the night before we were leaving I drove to the place to discover it was an auction house. I was given the opportunity to check the car over and even take it for a short drive. I was in love.

 

After a few days of negotiating by phone as we were traveling, I was able to buy the car before it went to auction. It is now being picked up by a transport company for delivery to my home in Carlsbad, CA.

 

The car seems in pretty good shape overall. Unfortunately there is zero documentation on what has been done but I will sort it all out soon enough. According to the auction house, the car was restored 4 years ago. The owner replaced the motor with a 401 Nailhead out of a 1964 Buick Wildcat along with it's 3 speed dynaflow. I have no real history with either of these so any info will be appreciated going forward. 

 

I am here to obviously learn from others and get information that I doubt I will be able to find anywhere else such as an explanation of the VIN number, help finding parts and hopefully a service manual, etc.

 

Here's one of my favorite views!

20180606_174026.jpg

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Congratulations on your purchase.  Nice looking car and it sounds as if you're going to enjoy it.  If the engine and transmission came from a 64 Wildcat, then the transmission is probably Buick's version of the TH400. Buick called it the ST400. ST for Super Turbine.  Let us no more about your car as you figure it out.  

 

It takes a lot of work to convert an early model car, such as yours, that had a closed drive shaft to an open drive shaft like you'd find in a 64. 

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Welcome, Paul. Love to see additional pictures. Guessing you actually have a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission (assuming so as you indicated it has three speeds and a Dynaflow would be low and drive only) which generally would require that the torque tube set up originally in the car be scrapped and an open driveshaft and extensive mounting of the rear axle be modified. (Just saw that Ed beat me to this...). In any event the car will be a lot of fun for you - enjoy!

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Wow, thanks for the welcomes and info already! I'm so anxious to get the car home and in my garage to check it out better. As I said, I only got a short time to look it over so while I took a look underneath, I was mostly looking for rust, I never paid specific attention to the drive train. 

 

BTW, is there a place to go to interpret the VIN number?

20180606_173953.jpg

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Congratulations on the new purchase, it sure is beautiful! More pictures please when you get the chance!

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5 minutes ago, Poppy's 55 said:

20180606_173953.jpg

DROOOL...  Love that 55 grill and bumper.   No decode on the VIN really, but under the hood on the right side there should be a body ID tag on the cowl that gives some good info.

 

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I love what he did using the steel wheels, beauty ring and cap but I don't think I like the wheels in white. I'm thinking red to match the car or black. What do you guys think?

20180606_173911.jpg

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Wheels?...red would work for me.  They also appear to not be original wheels for a 55 and the front tire and/or wheel is smaller...car may be lowered also.  Even without documentation you can hopefully  'reverse engineer it'.

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5 minutes ago, old-tank said:

Even without documentation you can hopefully  'reverse engineer it'.

 

That's what I'm thinking and hopefully I will get some help here.

 

I'm active on many forums for other vehicles so I hope this one is just as helpful although I don't know how active it is. I guess I have gotten quite a few responses here already so that certainly is encouraging.

 

And there's one vote for red which is my preference I think!

20180606_173850.jpg

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I just noticed a later era tilt wheel in the one picture.  Looks like what I would call a resto-mod.  Restored and modernized. I'm betting you'll love it.  Classic looks with an updated drivetrain.  You be driving the wheels off of it.

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If you put a photo of the cowl data plate Sean1999 can decode was it was when first made.

Obviously now, with replaced engine, transmission, rear end, steering wheel and who know what else that data will not mean much. Does it now have front disk brakes?

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19 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

It looks like the "Banker's"  hot rod.  Bet she is with the 401 lurking under the hood.  Nice car. Enjoy!  

 

I've not heard that one yet. What is a "Banker's" hot rod?

 

15 hours ago, RivNut said:

I just noticed a later era tilt wheel in the one picture.  Looks like what I would call a resto-mod.  Restored and modernized. I'm betting you'll love it.  Classic looks with an updated drivetrain.  You be driving the wheels off of it.

 

I agree. I've been struggling with how to describe it. I found this:

  • Restoration essentially refers to taking a great classic car and bringing it back to life with all (or most) of the original factory parts. The process involves repair of the visible parts (e.g., body trim, interior, etc.), as well as the parts not easily seen (e.g., electrical, suspension, brakes, etc.). The result is a beautifully preserved automobile in factory-new condition with authentic parts – just like it came off the showroom floor decades ago.
  • Restomod (restoration + modern parts/technology) draws from all the amazing advancements in automobile technology over the past 40+ years to enhance the performance, comfort and safety of the classic car. A restomod car has the timeless appearance of the original, but the outdated guts of the car have been replaced with the more modern, high-performance parts of today. You achieve the same great look, but your vintage car will be revved up with all the latest bells and whistles to create a much better ride for the owner. Learn why we prefer restomodding over auto restoration

 

12 hours ago, 1939_Buick said:

If you put a photo of the cowl data plate Sean1999 can decode was it was when first made.

Obviously now, with replaced engine, transmission, rear end, steering wheel and who know what else that data will not mean much. Does it now have front disk brakes?

 

As soon as I get the car I will do this, thanks!

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5 hours ago, Trulyvintage said:

There are a LOT of nice cars scattered across Oregon ....

 

That is Beautiful !

 

 

Jim

 

I just noticed you are an auto transporter? Wish I'd known that sooner. My wife googled auto transporters on our way home to start arranging transport and now we're getting dozens of emails and text messages from all these "brokers". It's driving me crazy :) I was lucky in that my nephew is the Executive Director of Hot August Nights in Reno and he hooked me up HAN's auction group who hooked me up with my transporter. Once I get the car here to do some clean up and fix a couple things, we will trailer it to Reno for Hot August Nights. Not to show it but just to cruise and hang out. It's a great event but I suspect most folks here know about it already.

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1 hour ago, Poppy's 55 said:

 

I've not heard that one yet. What is a "Banker's" hot rod?

 

 

 

 

Back in the day these Buicks with the nailheads were affectionately called "The Banker's hot rod" as they were fast for the time.   

In the 1950s and 1960s, Buick was known for its combination of tasteful styling and high performance. Its buyers were doctors, lawyers, local bank presidents and other professionals who weren’t earning quite enough money to buy Cadillacs.

Back then, Buick was called “the banker’s hot rod” for its deceptive power under the hood. 

 

Now that yours has a 401 it should cook the pavement at the rear tires. :)  

 

http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2011/09/rick_haglund_buick_isnt_just_f.html

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, avgwarhawk said:

 

Back in the day these Buicks with the nailheads were affectionately called "The Banker's hot rod" as they were fast for the time.   

In the 1950s and 1960s, Buick was known for its combination of tasteful styling and high performance. Its buyers were doctors, lawyers, local bank presidents and other professionals who weren’t earning quite enough money to buy Cadillacs.

Back then, Buick was called “the banker’s hot rod” for its deceptive power under the hood. 

 

Now that yours has a 401 it should cook the pavement at the rear tires. :)  

 

http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2011/09/rick_haglund_buick_isnt_just_f.html

 

Thanks so much for the reference! That's awesome stuff. 

 

1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

Trailer it to hot august nights?

 

I'm not sure what you question is?

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1 hour ago, Poppy's 55 said:

 

I'm not sure what you question is?

 I think he's implying you should drive it!  🙂

 

 

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1 hour ago, Poppy's 55 said:

 

I'm not sure what you question is?

 

Well, some (myself included) think Buicks were built to be driven.  So I was surprised to think one would be trailered to Hot August nights.

 

IMG_8844.JPG.72bfc8b0b291f9455651e7401ad79878.JPG

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46 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

Well, some (myself included) think Buicks were built to be driven.  So I was surprised to think one would be trailered to Hot August nights.

 

I think Buicks and every other car were built and meant to be driven. I don't even have this car yet so it will take some time to sort it out. I have no idea if it can handle a drive around town let alone a 1,100 mile round trip road trip! To say nothing for the A/C comfort of my Denali on a long trip.

 

But, to each their own!

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4 hours ago, Poppy's 55 said:

 

I think Buicks and every other car were built and meant to be driven. I don't even have this car yet so it will take some time to sort it out. I have no idea if it can handle a drive around town let alone a 1,100 mile round trip road trip! To say nothing for the A/C comfort of my Denali on a long trip.

 

But, to each their own!

 I apologize if I offended you.  I was trying to be light hearted about it, but appear to have failed.  I understand your reasoning, and it make sense.  I wish you good luck with your beautiful Buick.

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