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1957 Buick Special Convertible

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Just a word of encouragement. We have a fellow in our club here on the West Coast of Florida who drives his red 57 Buick Convertible (3 port holes) on all our tours. He bought it new in 1957 and has kept it a family driver all these years. While not a show piece, the fact that it's a running driving survivor indicates old Buicks are tough and capable of regular use in their original stock configuration.

Keep us updated.

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A. Nobody looks at head numbers, those are part numbers. The engine number is on the block.

B. You need a brace (either welded or bolted) to maintain the door opening. If you are doing any floor or rocker repairs, you should do that before removing the body from the frame.

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Hello Kanshieb, glad to hear you got the car and are progressing.

Your head question regards "numbers matching" which is a term you hear a lot. Every GM casting has two important numbers, a casting number and a date code. Your two 1957 Buicks should have heads with the same casting number. To be "numbers matching" these date codes should be close enough to correspond with the build date of the car. Usually it is assumed a date code of 4-6 weeks before the car's build date is acceptable, but certainly not AFTER. So if you deduce that your car was built in late Feb 1957 and you have a head that is coded A317 (A= January, 31st day, 7=1957) then you are OK. This is all nitpicky stuff that will never be an issue at an AACA show or any local show, and is more of interest to a picky buyer.

Regarding the body disassembly, I hope you bought service manuals and Fisher Body manuals to help, you do not need to damage any more trim.

Removing the body from the frame does require bracing, take a look at this link:

Accessible Systems - a manufacturer of an auto rotisserie and accessory tools for vehicle restoration

This is a family company in Tennessee that makes these handy devices. They work and are big time savers. Keep posting and good luck, Todd C

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Hey guys and gals.

Yes I have ordered the body and service manuals. The issue with the chrome was that the top pieces were bent as well as rusted on and got more damage as they came off. I have the pieces available on the parts car and will be extremely cautious as we take them off.

I assumed that bracing was required and will order the braces. Does anyone have universal door braces that they no longer use and want to sell? I will post on the parts page as well. I will make sure that they are installed prior to proceeding with the body removal. Thanks for the input from everyone.

I have tried to upload pictures but I am not having any luck as an error warning keeps coming up. I will keep trying.

The convertible top hardware and most of the engine is now out of the car so I will run out of things to take off soon until the door braces are purchased.

I will keep everyone posted as much as I can.

Thanks for all of the assistance so far.

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The issue with the chrome was that the top pieces were bent as well as rusted on and got more damage as they came off. I have the pieces available on the parts car and will be extremely cautious as we take them off.

Just FYI, you probably know already that any parts unique to a convertible such as the top frame, windshield trim, and the snap rail around the back of the top opening are the scarcest, most valuable parts of the car. They are sometimes almost impossible to replace, so be VERY careful. Convertible hydraulic parts like the motor and cylinders are no problem, replacements are probably easy to find, but stampings and trim pieces are to be protected at all costs.

On the engine number, Buick people should chime in, assuming that number is stamped (not cast) does it match your VIN? On a Pontiac the VIN number was stamped (not cast) on the right front of the engine, but Buick may have a different system. Good luck, enjoyed seeing the photos, Todd

PS--how is your son enjoying things so far?

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Thanks for the info. My son is almost nine years old and is enjoying the work so far. He is not into sports but loves dance, piano, and gymnastics. I started this project to find a way to "get his hands dirty". I am pleasantly surprised at his interest level as well as his understanding of how things work.

I believe this is an excellent way to spend time together as well as to create interest in something from the past. He has spent about 20 hours so far in 4 weeks. So pretty good attention for a young boy.

The numbers on the engine that I located are raised and located on the front of the block. No letters though, just numbers.

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If the number is raised it is the casting number of the block. I have a list of these but not on me right now. A similar looking style of number should be on the heads, manifolds and all other cast iron pieces.

The date code I mentioned earlier is also usually raised but is smaller and sometimes is on a little oval surface and has what looks like a little screw head nearby. These read as follows:

FIRST DIGIT Month of the year



C=March, etc through M for December (I-is not used)


Day of the month




This report on your son's interest sounds great. We as a society have lost something by not encouraging kids to have mechanical and historical pursuits and this project can open the door to both, good for you guys! Todd C

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Hello all. Question time.

We have confirmed that the engine is definately seized. I have decided that we will not mess with it at all from this point on. It will go straight to a shop for inspection and hopefully rebuild.

My question is what if the block is cracked and unusable? How badly does this affect the car and its value? I have a second engine and transmission in the parts car that is good and not seized. But how important is matching numbers to value and future sale?

I have no particular reason to suspect a cracked block but we know the following:

- Head was off the passenger side of the engine and has been for some time, corrosion etc.

- The intake manifold is gone as is the carborator. (I have the other one on the parts car)

- The bolts on the exhaust manifold on the drivers side were loosened as were some of the head bolts.

Valve covers and rockers were off both sides.

- Engine is dry of oil and the drain plug is gone.

My suspicion is that perhaps it threw a rod, repairs were atarted and abandoned for some reason. The head has no visable cracks but that too will get an inspection from the engine shop.

I am in the process of making the door brackets/supports for when I raise the body off the frame. I am making them out of 5/8 threaded rod and turnbuckles mounted to some angle iron. Much cheaper and quicker than ordering them and waiting for shipping.

Once the body is off I can pull the engine and trans for delivery to the shop.

Question 2: I am having a heck of a time with some screws that are rusted and stripped. Most are small and particularily the inner trim screws for the convertible top and floor screws. What have you guys used sucessfuly to get these out? I tried an impact driver, but to no avail. |First the area is soft and hitting the driver may bend the metal, and second the screws do not loosen.

Any replies would be appreciated.


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I will answer as best as I can. My earlier posts here were in a haze of post-surgical hydrocodone, so I realize they were confusing, but I couldn't "speaking the English good" :D

As far as the engine block number, meaning the serial number of that particular engine, it is stamped NOT CAST into the block. On a 55, it is on the head surface, drivers side, in the lower center. You can barely see it with the heads on, but it is visible. The head numbers do not get looked at for judging or (in my experience) selling. Also, as far as I know, frame numbers and body VIN numbers match, but engine numbers (in Buicks of this era) are in a range, thus suggesting to me at least that there can only be "numbers possibly matching". I have personally never cared about numbers matching cars, so I cant help with values. Dave Corbin on the BCA side can help you more with any number questions you might have, I suggest posting on the BCA general forum for answers on that.

As far as getting those small screws out, you need to spray them with penetrating oil, let sit, spray again, use a propane or mapp gas torch to heat them red hot, repeat as necessary.

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Matching #'s are of little importance for a 57 Buick. As for the rusted screws many just will not be "unscrewable". PB Blaster sometimes helps. If the situation is agreeable an oxy-acetylene torch and red heat almost always works. Sometimes grinding them off is the best answer. And sometimes just chiseling the SOB's out and worrying about it later is the best approach........Bob

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I agree with the above that having THE original engine block is not as important as having AN original engine block. If you restore the car and decide to sell it the value is not likely to be affected much.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a 57 special 2dr HT just bought it a month or so ago I have some spare parts that you may need and there are others that i am missing maybe we can help each other if you still have your parts car i have storage space i guess we live not too far apart i am 1 mile east of sherwood park

phone me Lorne 780 464-0204 also if anyone else has 57 buick special parts you can call too i have been collecting and restoring "old" cars for the past 40 years have others 32 packard 38 cadillac 48 olds 52 cadillac 86 cadillac call me

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  • 1 year later...

Hello all;

apologies for the lack of input into the forum lately.

had some issues and been very busy but thought I would add a small update.

Got waylaid with my son, after a year or so of working very sloooooowly on the 57 Special my boy decided that it was time to get a driver while we worked away on this one. So he decided that we needed a car to go to shows and trips. Then (he is 9 years old), he decided a 67 Camaro convertible was the car of choice......

So we found a 67 RS/SS convertible and went to Ontario to pick it up over Thanksgiving. The car is a nice driver and we have enjoyed it so far. I will try to post a picture here is I can.

We are still in love with the 57 Buick and plan to do the complete restoration. It will however be a long project, perhaps 5 or more years at the pace we go. So the driver will be nice in the meantime. (I know it isnt a Buick by Camaro is close).

I see a lot of activity on the site and will stay more updated whenever possible.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a safe New Years Eve.

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Bob Beck;

The hotel you had the steak dinner at was likely the Chatesu Lacombe perhaps? If so, it is still there. Was it in downtown Edmonton? There is also the Chateau Louis in the West end (now closed).

One thing we do know how to do is beef. Alberta beef is simply the best in the world. I travel to the USA quite a lot for real estate and notice the difference every time. You have the best and friendliest people I have ever met, we have the best beef. And our beer is better as well.

But I must say the American people are great. We did a week in Miami and a week in New Orleans for real estate recently in April. Had an excellent time when we were there and met some great friends.

I was amazed at New Orleans. Beautiful city, great food, and excellent times.

We just need to ship more beef done that way!

I just googled the Chateau Lacombe. Yup, that's the hotel with the great steak. BTW the LeRonde is the name of the hotel's top floor restaurant......................Bob

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a couple of years ago classic car magazine did articles on a guy restoring a 1955 buick convertible. it was much worse than yours but he had a donor car also. if you can get copies of them they would be very valuable to you. he did an amazing restoration and he was not a professional restorer. lots of photos and maybe you could even find out how to contact him. i have a copy but it is in my house in NY and i will not be there again until april. anyway, i vote to restore and not rod. skyler

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"I am not sure if it is rare enough to restore..."

Hmm... could all those restorers of '57 Bel Airs (720,000 made) and '65 and '66 Mustangs (1,000,000 made) be wrong? It's a BUICK, for pete's sake, and THE ROOF GOES DOWN. Of course it's a premium candidate for restoration!

"I paid $12,500 for the convertible... decent price[?]"

One cannot pay too much for a rust-free convertible. One could pay it a little earlier than the market dictates (you didn't) but the market will catch up and then some. You will never regret buying the best unrestored project car that you could afford. Pay it now or pay it later - you will laugh at the purchase price when you're all finished and total up the bills. Not to scare you off, mind you. As someone said, $75 big ones is not out of line for a nicely done Model 46C - IN TODAY'S DOLLARS! $50,000 as your budget is very reasonable and you might even be happily surprised.

Your self-introduction was over a year ago but I don't often get over to the AACA GENERAL DISCUSSION forum, so I just found your thread. It was Bhigdog's comment about Prime Alberta Beef at La Ronde that caught my attention - I live in Edmonton, too.

I guess you don't still need a radio but I've got three spare '57 Sonomatics. Sorry, the Wonder Bar's a keeper. You need a grille badge bar? No problem, I bought an extra grille before I learned that a junior series Buick is 3" narrower than mine. That's 76mm to us Nartheners. Need a restorable right rear bumper end? Got it. Extra parts manual? Ditto.

Let's not plan yet on being best friends but we really should meet. I'll send you a private message with my phone number.

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KEN, over on the Buick - Buy/Sell Forum, Pete Phillips has a new windshield for your car:

"fits 1957 2-dr. hardtop and convertible Special and Century only. $275 plus $50 to build a crate for it, plus shipping by truck freight. Located in Sherman, Texas"

I'm looking for a new windshield for my BimBox daily driver and would be thrilled to get one that cheap.

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Thanks Rob.

I actually have a suppliers here at Speedy Glass than can get the 57 windshield and glass.

I think the shipping would be a killer on that crate.

I will give you a call next weekend, likely Friday so we can meet up and take a look at the cars Saturday. I believe I will be going to Calgary to pick up a 1967 Camaro 350 engine for my other car. It took forever to find a near date correct 350 but I got lucky and picked one up so close to home. Now it is just a matter of the 6 or so hours to go and get it. Then it is off to the engine shop for a complete build.

I look forward to a coffee if it is daytime, or a "wobbly pop" if you drop by later in the day. I have some ideas for the 57 Buick and also want to pick your brain for a good chrome shop here in Edmonton.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's nice to see someone spreading the love of cars to their son. I don't want to be the only car guy around when I get older. A 1957 Buick is a great car, so why change it. You don't have to go 100% back to stock especially depending on the motor. Granted LSx motors are great, but a well built 455 or even later Nailhead would be so much more cool if you wanted to change up the motor some. The key is documentation as even with an original motor you don't know if it's ever been out of the car or not. You going to keep it red/red/white?

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My thoughts are with the majority, restore as you have said you are going to do. I live in Portland Oregon and there is a great shop here called old car parts 503 771 9416. Talk to Jason, Joe JR or Joe senior, the owner. They have alot of Buick parts and know about locations that many of us didn't know about. They have helped me with my 55 Buick special and my 62 Buick Skylark convertible.

I hope this provides you with another avenue for parts.

Take Care

Ron May

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  • 3 weeks later...

Kansheib - I've been following your thread for a while and felt I should chime in. I'm in the early stages of restoring a 1957 46C. I've owned the car for about 36 years and I'm finally getting around to restoring it (long story). I was fortunate to stumble upon the AACA forum about a year ago and I've since joined the AACA and the BCA - both great sources of info. I was curious to see how much progress you've made with your restoration and would welcome any advice you may have. Please feel free to contact me.


Steve Poulos

(Pittsburgh, PA)

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  • 4 months later...

Hello everyone. I just wanted to tell the person who owns the car pictured just how goegeous this car is. I love the colors. I tried to open the thumbnails but failed. I'm very new at this so bear with me. If you can send more photos that would be great. Am I allowed to post my E-mail here?

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