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55 Century Convertible project


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I finally got around to starting on this project. I purchased it about a year ago on ebay. It should be an interesting project. The mileage showing is 43,000. I started it up just to see if it would run. I stuck a known running carb on it and it started right up. It ran very smoothly and shifted into drive and reverse. No brakes, so I checked it up in the air first just to see if the wheels spun. When I put it back on the ground, I stuck it in drive with a 4 x 6 in front of each wheel. I swear, it tried to jump over the chocks! There are no drips from the engine or transmission which really surprised me when it ran so strong and jumped right into gear.

The floors were done (poorly) at some time in the past. I was lucky enough to get a full floor pan from Rich (Special55) so I will be breaking out the welder. Other than that, it is a very solid (relatively complete) car.

This should only take me.....months and cost me.......dollars!

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Here is a great example of the quality of factory paint jobs. This car has no undercoating at all except on the cowl vents.

It also has the blue-est apple green engine paint I have seen on ANY nailhead.

Forgive the picture quality, some of these pics are taken with a phone since my technical deficiency was apparent when using (and losing) several camera pics. I promise that will get better, too.

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The car was originally Cadet Blue with a white top. The red leather interior probably set it off nicely. I am currently veering toward either Condor yellow or Gulf turquoise with Dover white and a white interior. I have thought about Black with red interior, but think it is overdone. Red and White looks great, too, but I (ummmm) don't want to follow Willie and Bob THAT closely. (Yes, I know Bob's car isn't two-tone, just trying to make a point).

The other interesting thing about the car is that it has manual steering and brakes, but a two way power seat. I thought all Century convertibles came standard with the power steering.

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Boy that looks familiar. Good luck with it. I think PS & pb were options. Standard on a Centuty Convert would be leather, power windows & seat. Mine had no P. brakes, I added them, but they still are fairly poor. I imagine power steering units are faily common and I would definately install it in your car. The sterring column from the big bodied 55's are about 2" longer than small bodies. If you can only find a big body unit you can cut and section the column but you would have to be confident of your welding to be safe........Bob

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Hey Mike,

Good to see you making progress. It's about time you put that bike away and started playing with something that has an engine :D

I'll put my vote in now for yellow with white interior. Just don't see that many of them.

Good luck,

Rich

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Thanks Rich,

Working on a (Buick) Century sure is taking it easy compared to riding a century (100 mile bike ride).

Bob,

I am probably going to add power steering, but I like (or at least am used to) the manual brakes. I have the HCC magazine spread on my workbench as inspiration along with buickrestorer.com . (my heroes ;) )

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Why read buickrestorer.com when you can listen live? :D:rolleyes: Or even pay? Or....

Good luck with the project Mike. You are already making more progress than I am on the '29...time to change that methinks now that we have some snow on the ground.

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Bob,

I am probably going to add power steering, but I like (or at least am used to) the manual brakes.

Truth be told I saw very little difference between manual and power when I switched over. The PS, on the other hand, is very effective............bob

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Look forward to following the project. Pretty good timing, Woodrow should be 'bout the right age to turn some wrenches. You'd be surprised at the places those little hands can get to with a wrench.

I'm with Bob re the power steering and brakes. Power brakes, especially 54 brakes are a pain to get right even when they came on the car originally. Not worth the trouble to convert over IMO. Power steering on the other hand, definitely worth the effort. My BlueBird is down right now and I'm planning on converting it to PS before I put her all back together. I may can help you with a PS set up.

Condor Yellow or Gulf Turquoise. Both were carried over from 54 with Gulf Turquoise being a spring color and I've got one of each. I think Gulf Turquoise would fit a convertible better. Given any thought to Victoria Blue, I think it's a gorgeous color.

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Right now it is 46 degrees in my garage, so I figured I'd do some more tearout. As I was pulling the trunk material out, I found a 1956 wheat penny. I also found a Shell Oil door service tag from:

xxxETRICH'S

xxxxLINDA SHELL

xxxne 254-5264

xxxinda Way

xxxCalif.

It says oil change on 6/10/70 with a mileage of 48667.

The mileage currently showing is 48667.

Back to the demo, I want to get the top mechanism off tonight. Pics and scratch awls are going to be my friend

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It says oil change on 6/10/70 with a mileage of 48667.

The mileage currently showing is 48667.

uhmmm, I take it that it needed a little more than an oil change then, eh?

Not a Century but, here's an example of Gulf Turquoise

again, have you considered Victoria Blue. A little bit more manlier of a color....

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I'll think about it Lamar, I'm plenty manly, though ;) .

I believe I have a good amount of time until I will be spraying color. I got the top mechanism off last night, and boy that sucker is heavy. Just trying to prove manliness to myself, I guess. I got a lot of pics last night, but I'm posting from my phone right now.

Stay tuned...

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was expecting the rust in the rockers and under the the sill plates.

I was very bummed to find rust through under the back seat.

The rust repairs that were done before were even worse than I initially thought. I believe the car may have been taken out of service due to electrical problems. This could explain why the car seems to be very solid mechanically, but taken out of service in the early 70's. I removed the two wiring harnesses from inside the car today. The main harness that goes from the fuse box to the taillights, and the power window harness. My buddy Rich sent me his old main wiring harness, but I was hoping the window wires would be good to go... NOPE! There were splits, splices, and burn marks all over. Shucks. Oh well, it looks pretty straight forward to fabricate. I am not sure where to start as far as the floor repair goes. Clearly, I am going to need all of this spare floor pan.

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Edited by buick5563
added pics successfully this time (see edit history)
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Hi Chris,

Yes it did. I got it shipped here on one of the nicest tractor trailer rigs I have ever seen. Since it couldn't start or stop, I had to pay extra for shipping. Plus I had to get a bunch of friends to help me push it uphill into my garage.

What do you know about it?

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I think we bought our cars of the same guy, Dean Jachetta, when I bought mine he told me he had sold a 55 convertable to a guy in Austin just a few weeks earlier. Small world huh? He told me had purchased our cars from an estate sale a year or so earlier. I was very pleased with my car when it eventually arrived as it had less rust than he told me!! Mine will be road legal soon so maybe I could take a drive over to you and we could compare notes. P.M. me with your contact details if your interested.

Chris

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  • 3 months later...

So...

I got sick of running around trying to borrow a trailer or worse, rent one and lie to U Haul saying I was hauling a '77 Toyota Corolla. (55 Buicks are TOO heavy apparently).

I looked at the floor for weeks and was completely overwhelmed by the neverending rust. I took it to the guys who painted my 63 Wildcat a few years ago. They utilized ALL of the floorpan that I took them. While they were at it, they repaired the rockers. That was all of the cancerous rust they found. Yes, it cost me more than doing it myself (which I'm sure I could have done) but I am so busy at work right now I just couldn't tax my brain any further. They totally kicked booty on the floor. They also braced the body so I could remove it from the frame and pull the doors. I need to walk around the car now and figure out what's next.

More soon so I can catch up to Adam's Limited :D

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So...

I got sick of running around trying to borrow a trailer or worse, rent one and lie to U Haul saying I was hauling a '77 Toyota Corolla. (55 Buicks are TOO heavy apparently).

Funny, so are '56 Specials :rolleyes:

I was going to comment about how it was too shiny to be a real car guy's trailer, but since it is new, I'll let that slide :D;)

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Nice trailer!! You'll never regret that purchase. Your wife may, but you won't. Very wise choice too of farming out the floors, granted you could have done it but not in near the short time it took the pros. Glad to see your progress. :)

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Nice!!

I guess I better get back to work on mine, then....

Cool. I'm guessing I will need until at least the National after Danvers!

Your chrome bill will be higher :eek:

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Have you decided what color you will paint it? I think the original combination is impressive. I look at the pictures of it old and tired and can visualize it brand new in the showroom. Great car!

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Thanks Rick.

Still haven't decided on the color yet. So many options, I am trying to think about what I would have ordered in 1955. I'm still diggin' the Miami Beach pastel color scheme. Also trying to find out different interior options. I think I have only seen red or blue leather color on these cars. I really want to see pics of what it would look like with white dash/ steering wheel with White or turquoise seats. Does anybody have any interior pics of CORRECT interiors in a small series 55 that isn't red? Y'all DO know I'm gonna end up with red, don't you?

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blue with red leather interior... classic Buick colors of the post war era.

my 47 Roadmaster convert was factory light blue with red leather seat tops and bolsters and red leather accent door panels, looking red leather interior from passers by, ( but with tan bedford cord seat panels you see when you get inside).

I know I don't get a vote, but I'd stick with the factory colors on this car, light blue with red leather interior. Nothing better. I get a lot of oohs and aaws from people looking at my blue with red interior 47.

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Was that photo taken staging for the Cruze-In Downtown a couple years ago? That looks like my Century in the background, but I've never parked it there...it was at that show when the MCAAC was the feature club...we had the '47 and my '41 parked together, but I didn't do the parade.

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you are correct, that was the staging area for the DT cruz. and it is your future 54 Century. I had a good look at it then and talked to the owner some.

And you are right it is the year we had the our MCAAC ( club) as feature club.

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Thanks Cardinal.

John, I hear ya in regards to the blue with red interior. I'm still mulling it over.

Last night I was doing a bit of spot welding and paint grinding. I think I have a couple more spots to fill, but I still am amazed at the straight body panels. I also noticed that when they use the hardtop floor, they missed installing two body mount bolts that are used exclusively on the convertible. No Biggie. Sorry, no pics today.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I got around to pulling the windshield. No other progress. Little League, helping with school, work, etc.

I'm feeling Adam's pain re: money for the project, but I can't get motorvated to work on the car with all of the other things in my life going on right now.

I'm not complaining, just letting y'all know why the pics aren't coming fast and furious...

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and maybe if it's held in Atlanta, I'll join ya's with DoraB the 76R. Won't have the money to travel any further than that though.:o:D

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  • 1 month later...

So do any of you guys under 40 know who was on the half-dollar before Kennedy? I am 42. In other words, I never thought of the fact that there WAS a pre-Kennedy...

I found this in one of the defroster vents when I was disassembling the dash:

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I picked up a bunch of parts from Willie last weekend and was going to try to start restoring them, but my cheap-a$$ (but expensive) compressor had a blown reed, so no blasting. I also picked up a gallon of epoxy primer yesterday so I can prime once I blast the body.

UPDATE:

I am about to be a stay at home dad, so I will have much more time, but much less money to work on this project. So, most likely you guys will be seeing good project pics, that don't cost anything soon!!!

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Good luck Mike...I tried the Mr. Mom thing, but the children were young then and I had difficulty with the lack of adult conversation. I hope it goes well with you.

So, who is that on the coin? I don't know the images of the presidents well enough to be able to make it out.

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