Sign in to follow this  
kansheib

1957 Buick Special Convertible

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone. I just purchased a 1957 Buick Special Convertible along with a 57 Special 4 door parts car. I am wondering what everyone thinks about whether we should do a frame off resto on this one or is it appropriate to rod?

With 8505 of these convertibles made I am not sure if it is rare enough to restore.

It is in pretty good condition. I am looking for a stock radio for the 57 though. Any ideas?

Your opinions on the rarity of the car are appreciated.

post-69724-14313828677_thumb.jpg

post-69724-143138286773_thumb.jpg

post-69724-143138286784_thumb.jpg

post-69724-143138286793_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot to ask everyone for ideas on where to locate parts and who you all have dealt with successfully in the past.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a Buick guy But I think it would be a sin to rod a car like this. It looks in reasonablygood shape and you have a parts car to fill in most of the weak spots. There is a large Buick presence on these forums as well as the BCA. I doubt you'll get much encouragement to go the other way from AACA members.We are dedicated to preservation not perversion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave;

I certainly am leaning towards a restoration. I get the preservation aspect and completely agree. Plenty of people are rodding and I have seen a number of really nice 57 Buicks that are just about completely origional and simply have mags or are lowered. Attached is one I fell in love with for you to see.

My question should have likely centered around asking how difficult it may be to source parts for this car as I believe they were only made that particular year and it may be difficult to locate parts.

I appreciate the comments though and will be picking up the car next week. I will have a better idea of exactly what I am up against at that time.

It is a project for my son and I and hopefully he will enjoy it. We plan to fully document the project from pickup to completion.

post-69724-143138286806_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest BJM

Parts are very plentiful. If original or total original is not your thing that is your right to hot rod it but you are on a foum that caters to original cars and their preservation.

Pans are reproduced as are rockers. Engines are plentiful. Interiro fabric can be redone. Chrome pieces are plentiful.

That production number seems high but convertibles are rare at almost any number of production and bring top dollar in original condition

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the AACA Forum. That one's worth restoring. Have fun with your son. How old is he?

Please report back here as you progress. If you scroll down on the main page, there is a restoration forum that is very popular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fully restored the value of that car is listed North of $75,000. After being butchered into a street rod you'd be lucky to get $15,000 for it. Of course this is just my opinion.....................Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've beat this Restore/Modify question around before, but usually with cars a lot older than this 57 Buick. Lets look for advantages of the choices.

1. Does the car need performance enhancements? I doubt it, because the 1957 Buick is still capable of driving in todays traffic. Strong engine and transmission, good brakes, good ride, fast and safe.

2. Is the body style lacking in beauty or class? NO, it's still a gorgeous style after all these years.

3. Are you looking for an individual car? I'm sure you won't find another like in in the parking lots you'll be showing it in. With so few made and even fewer survivors, it's unique as it is. Also a red convertible is the #1 requirement for

success with the girls (important to your son).

Most car people will admire a finely restored car. A modified one becomes a personal statement of the builder's likes and dislikes. When it comes time to sell it, the restored car will have a larger field of potential buyers than the modified one. Kind like the biker chick with the name BUBBA tattooed on her breasts, not always appealing to guys named Wayne, West or Steve after Bubba is gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be terrible to make that solid car into a street rod. 8500 cars sounds like a lot but it is not, and the survival rate of 1950s convertibles means this is NOW a rare car. It should be saved--if you really want a street rod then let someone else save this convertible and get a hardtop or something. Note Paul's advice above too.

Secondly, I notice you specifically mention a frame off restoration. If you have never done one before be advised that you are entering into a big commitment of time, money, tools, facility, or all of the above. It can be done and by a first timer, but it can't be done in six months or on the cheap. Know your situation and plan accordingly. The forum here is a big help and has lots of Buick support especially. Good luck, Todd C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I give. LOL. I have decided that based on your comments and some parts research (late into the night) that we are going to restore this car. Your comments are appreciated and exactly what I was looking for after finding this group and deciding to join.

Having decided that I am in need of a radio for the car as this seems to be the only item missing from the car. Please let me know if anyone has one for sale.

As for the frame off decision I know it is a huge project. I have not done major restoration work for some time but I spent 6 years as a heavy duty mechanic in the oil industry. As a commercial realtor for the past 5 years I have done little hard work but look forward to it. I am fortunate to have a third garage and plenty of space for the project.

My son is almost 9 years old now and the project is really for him. I hope to instill a love of old cars and a hobby that will allow him to have a passion for projects. I understand that it may take years to complete.

There are plenty of excellent companies in our area that work on restorations and autos. I also have a client base that includes mechanics, welders, and body shops and like most areas the barter system is alive and well.

Again, thank you for the comments and the enthusiasm you all seem to have. I will document the project from picking up the car to completion for those that wish to follow along and any advice will be appreciated.

My search for the radio is just the begining as I am now starting to replace toold and equipment that will be needed for the project. I was lucky enough to find a rotiserie yesterday for $250.

The budget for the restoration is about $50,000 hopefully this will be close to the mark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well that all sounds pretty good to me. Do not worry about finding a radio, that is the least of your problems right now, a radio will turn up no problem.

I have a 1957 Pontiac with frame up restoration nearing completion, see photo. Like yourself I have a white collar job but blue collar roots and find working on the car theraputic. And I got hands-on into old cars at about 13 when my dad got the bug at age 40 or so. They were probably our greatest bonding experience and will always be remembered fondly. As long as your son is into it could be a very positive experience.

Where are you located? The biggest old car show and swap meet in America is in Hershey PA Oct 8-11, see other postings for details. The swap meet covers about 80 acres and would be a perfect start for you. The show is Saturday the 11th and would be a good motivator to see some restored cars and that there is a higher calling in the hobby than local shows of amateur street rods. There will certainly be 1950s Buicks.

Good to see you have space and funding available, that is probably half the battle right there. The big thing right now is DON'T TAKE ANYTHING APART YET! Take photos of all areas of the car so you can refer to them for reassembly and information. Or when ordering parts from your desk at the office, not that I would know anything about that.

When you do begin to disassemble do not throw anything away yet either, you never know what piece of ratty upholstery or something may be needed to answer a question later. A HINT for disassembly, buy a portable hobby organizer with little pull out drawers that you can label. Put the fasteners in there and you will always know where they are and what they go to. Fasteners would be a good first lesson for your son too--coarse and fine thread, left to loosen, right to tighten and such. We look forward to hearing how everything goes, good luck, Todd C

post-31304-143138286927_thumb.jpg

Edited by poci1957 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Todd;

Beautiful car! Looks great. How long has it taken you so far?

I am located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I plan to start attending swap meets and car shows begining next spring. There are a few projects around the house that the wife needs completed, a hot tub installation and a deck to complete. Then the car project can begin and get the attention it requires.

I have just purchased a number of industrial shelves and bins for the storage of parts so the plan is to be dilligent in the storage and itemization of the parts as they come off.

I am forutnate to have a best firend of 30 years that is an auto mechanic and the project will get us together more often as his kids are mostly grown and my 9 year old is the last of 5 at home with me. He will likely be around a lot more with the project started.

My biggest concern is the condition of the body as I do not weld and have not seen the car except for the pictures that have been sent. The car is located about 7 hours away and we leave next Tuesday to pick up both cars.

The first stage will be to strip the 4 door parts car of all wanted parts and send the balance of the car for scrap as I do not have the room to store the parts car. Once that is done we can get the convertible into the garage and start.

Your advice to photograph the car completely is wise and we will do so. Having been out of the work for so long that is a real concern for me. So the camera will be relied on heavily.

I will post pics each week after next Tuesday to keep everyone updated.

Again, everyones comments are appreciated and helped me to decide to restore instead of rod the car. We may pick up another car or perhaps a pickup for a rod project later.

Thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again it sounds like you have a solid plan. Having your friend to help will probably help keep you moving, the problem with car projects like this is you first have to mow the yard, tend the house, go to the family get together and before you know it the car has sat untouched for another weekend. The photo of my Pontiac was taken after about 9 years of solo work and that was 5 years ago now (slow progress while we remodeled a house, ouch).

Too bad you cannot keep the parts car, it is likely your 4dr parts car has some original details that may have been altered over the years on the convertible. You should photograph it too and remove and store all the parts you can. Even items you think you won't need may help later. Also, google Buick parts places to order their catalogs and buy your 1957 Buick service manuals as soon as possible, a must.

The thing about 1950s cars being restored rather than street rodded is they are colorful and highly trimmed enough already. You will likely never see another restored red 1957 Buick convertible just like yours at a show and you will attract plenty of attention without having to do your own, ahem, "creativity".

Being in Edmonton will be rather remote from old car events in the States though, but you should still try to get to Hershey sometime. Enjoy, Todd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The convertible has never been altered in any way. It actually sat inside an old farmhouse for the last 20 years or so until the seller picked it up last year. It has since been inside his garage. The only rust on the car is a dime sized piece of the floor on the passenger side front. The rest is rust free although I am sure that there will be some other areas not visable until we dismantel the car. The parts car seems to have a set of mags on it and may have been played with over the years. But there simply isnt enough room to keep them both. I will strip the parts car of everything I can possibly use though. I just ordered a compatability book so everything that is interchangable will come off the parts car.

The plan is to send all the trim to get rechromed right away, take the body off, and have the frame blasted and ready for paint before christmass. It gets very cold here for winter so all work done after November will be inside only.

Alberta is quite far from most US events but I do go to the US for ral estate courses and to meet with clients quite often. I managed to see a show and shine in Miami in April and am going to Memphis in October.

I will plan to attend Hershey next year if at all possible.

What area are you in?

9 years sounds like a long time to get your dream car complete. But I bet it was worth it. That is why we are srtarting now, my youngest is now 9 and if it takes until he is 16 or 17 so be it. But I hope to finish within a 2 year period. That way I get to enjoy it until he is able to drive it away never to be dads again. LOL.

Thanks for the excellent advice and tips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi-I have a low mile original 56 Century which probably drives similar to your 57. If I were doing a total restoration, I would consider doing something to beef up the brakes-maybe front discs- and improve the handling which is quite mushy.

Mine is totally original but I don't drive it very much because of these 2 aspects.

I you will be looking for new chrome I have a NOS chrome upper grill bar for a 57 Special-Century which I bought by mistake thinking it was for my 56.

I'm currently restoring a 53 Skylark and found if you go online and search 57 Buick Parts you'll find a number of vendors specializing in Buick.

Having a 57 Buick parts # book will aid your search by part #.

Martin Lum

marty@oldercar.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:)Kansheib, congragulations on a beutiful find. Todd gave you ex. advice. Take pictures of everything and then take more pictures. Through NOTHING away. I spent ten years on a frame off of my Buick. I made lots of mistakes, I bought five parts cars,pulled a few needed parts and sent the rest to the bone yard,one at a time,only to find I needed something that was on the car I just sent to the yard. I finely learned (the hard way) and now I through nothing away. I still have the paper between the door panel and door I used for a patern to make new. Hey, you never know. As mentioned befor,many parts are still available for your Buick. Outhers will chime in, but I like a co. called Cars,or the Buick farm. They clame to be the largest for NOS and repops. They are fair.

Your son is old enough to help with lots of jobs on the Buick. Mine is a AACA senior car, but the best part of all is the pride I feel when I tell someone I built it. I had every nut screw bolt and clip out of it and I BUILT IT. Your son will be just as proud. Good luck,dont be afraid to ask us for help

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

original is the way to go. 57 buick convert is beautiful. no ghetto wheels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with those urging you to go original. Parts are becoming difficult to find, but I have misc stuff for '57s that I collected over a twenty-five year period while restoring two '57s. The first a Caballero which took its maiden voyge to Sacramento in 1991 where it got a gold award. I believe that was the first year of the 400 point system. Now, I heard from its current owner that it was awarded another gold along with a senior. How special is that? But about your car. I can see it on the judging field with many Buick enthusiasts giving you praise for such a beautiful piece of GM history. My second restoration which is just now coming together is also a red '57 Buick convertible. The attached thumbnail I hope will help inspire you toward an original.

Dan '57-76C

'57-56R

post-54279-143138287156_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest BJM

That brings up an interesting note. You can keep this stock but change it to whatever color you want. The Kelsey Hayes wire wheels were not a factory authorized option in 1957 but look great on the car and were a factory authorized option from I think 1953 to 1955. (You see a lot of the reproductions on all 50's Buicks)

I just bought a 57 Roadmaster 2 door hardtop and my favorite 57 Color is a bronze metallic, so my car will be "factory correct" but painted my favorite color rather then the actual bopdy tag color. It's still factory correct circa 1957.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A number of responses today. All are appreciated. With everyones help the decision to restore has been made and sealed today with the purchase of an origional radio on ebay. So it is a full restoration project from here on out. I have always dreamed of a trip across the United States in a 57 Bel Air Convertible, but then saw the 57 Buick and fell in love, more unique and certainly as nice a car as the Chevy.

Dan, you 57 is a beauty and an inspiration. Just what I want mine to look like at the end.

I should have asked this question earlier, I paid $12,500 for the convertible and the parts car and I am wondering (late) if that is a decent price. I had found another 57 Buick Convertible here in Edmonton area for $8500 but it was on all fours and had sat for many many years in a yard of a local So Cal rod shop. It was very rough and the guy was firm on his price. So I thought that $12,500 was pretty fair for the rolling complete car. All parts are there except the radio and it has 4 new whitewall tires. I am sure the chrome has to be done but all in all its complete. The head is off the motor on the right side. Very little spot of rust on the passenger floor front and the top has been cut off due to its condition.

I am looking for a 1957 Airstream trailer 16-20 feet to restore at the same time. It would be great to tour to car shows with one in tow painted similar to the Buick. So if anyone knows of one please let me know.

One last question, I noted the advice to upgrade the brakes and suspension, can this be done with origional parts and still keep the restoration authentic? Any ideas?

I appreciate all of the advice and help. It seems to be an excellent group. People in an organization make this a fun experience and he knowledge is extremely helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your 57 came with drum brakes,probably 12x2&1half shoes. They are more than addaquit to lock all four wheels if they are properly adjusted and in good cond. If you swap them for disc. you open a whole nouther can of worms. If you plan to have the car judged at a AACA meet, ONE of the finest clubs in the world, you will take a hit on points. Your choice,but I realy dont see an advantage. BTW, PLEASE, PLEASE, stay away from those stupid looking (geto?) wheels.:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree on the brake issue. Disc brakes won't help much unless you also switch to radial tires, another point(s) deduction. You've got an old car. Drive and maintain it like it's an old car and you won't have any problems. Once you start upgrading, you're more apt to drive it like a new car, overstepping its engineered limits.

That's my opinion. I like everything to be just as it was when it left the dealership. I want the feel it was designed to have. If I want a car that drove like it had radial tires, disc brakes, air conditioning, AM/FM radio, etc., I'd buy a car from the period that it was offered (1966-67 comes to mind).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Price wise I think you are right there with a fair price to both buyer and seller. BTW I had the best steak dinner ever in Edmonton at a hotel named Chateau la Ronde. I wonder if it still exists...........Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest BJM

You ran into the "Convertibles" issue with pricing. Both of your sellers were probably "firm" on price as I found when looking a few months ago.

There is a huge line in the sand from the 50's to the 60's. 60's on convertibles are a relative bargain. But folks have nostalgia for the 50's - back convertibles and they are rarer.

$12,500 is about right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this