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Importance of paint color matching Vin Plate


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I am doing a body-off restoration of a 1954 Buick Riviera Special 2dr. hard top. I am debating about the body color, which previously was medium metallic gray with black top and black under the front fender and door side trim. Painting the bottom lower part (below side trim) of a '54 Buick black (or any other color) was not a correct option in 1954., although is often done, as it looks good.

In spite of being the incorrect color combination, I have never ever received so many compliments on a car. We have a car museum at work, and even though this car was the lowest cost in the group, it is most everyone's favorite. It looked so good that I was hoping to stay with the same color combo. However the Vin plate shows car was originally all black and I have a picture of the car when it was black, which is attached and which I do not like. I am not at all a fan of black paint, and is also so hard to maintain, but now that we are going so far, am thinking that to match the Vin Plate (all black) we should consider going that route. We can handle the necessary block sanding and buffing for a black car, but I still do not like black. Several pictures of the car in the previous gray/black combination are attached for comparison purposes.

My preference would be to paint the car a metallic gray close to the original gull gray (which no one locally can match so far) and a black top, with no black below the side trim. so as to be close to an optional original color combination in 1954. Even though this black/gray would not match the Vin plate, it could have been ordered that way in 1954. Is this normally acceptable, or does it drastically lower the value of the car? While I seldom have time for serious judging, does a paint that does not match the Vin Plate result in lost points vs. the exact original paint color?

So I guess I am trying to figure out is if the car is painted in a black/gray combination that I really prefer and that was an optional color combination from Buick in 1954 (gray with black top) does this lower the value over going with a color that I do not like (all black)?

I sure could us some input on this color issue, as we will be starting the painting process in about a week. See pictures of this restoration at Facebook - Enter TP Tools \ facebook. Body is off and frame ready for paint - many pictures on Facebook in addition to the attached.

Thank you for your ideas and comments,

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For LCOC judging, any paint color that was offered for that year is fine.

Interestingly, the Continental Mark II was available in any color the customer wanted, even custom colors, so that is left wide open.

For some collectors a non-matching color might detract from value, but not much, IMO.

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AACA also says that any color available from the factory is fine, as long as you paint it in an available combination. The next club we should hear from is the Buick club.

Nice car. I love the all black with red interior, but I also love the way in which you two-toned it. It'd be a tough decision for me not to go back to the way in which you originally two-toned it. The lower part is really not that big of a deal to repaint, if you ever decide that the value is hurt because of it.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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The BCA will not deduct points for an original combination that was available that year, even if it's not what's on the body tag. For instance, my '41 was originally black with a gray top, but I will mostly likely repaint it blue with a gray top, which was also available. So while the body tag will say that it's supposed to be black, I can provide documentation that says the blue is correct for a 1941 Century. There are no points deducted in that case.

That said, I don't think that the color pattern matters in terms of value for cars such as these. If you're doing points judging, then yes, stick with the gray with a black top and leave the area below the trim body color. But if it's just for your enjoyment, I think it looks dynamite with the black below the trim as well, and I think any future buyer will buy based on the eyeball appeal of the car as much as technical correctness. It certainly LOOKS authentic, the colors are correct Buick colors, and few would know that the pattern is incorrect beyond Buick experts and judges. It's not a super-high-dollar car, so I don't think you're hurting your investment by using correct 1954 Buick colors in a common, yet not factory correct, pattern.

Bottom line? Paint it the way that makes you happiest and let the future value chips fall where they may. Personally, I think it won't make any difference at all at resale time if you do it the way it is in the photos--it looks great!

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Thanks for all of the interesting input.

My plan (if I stay with the black/gray combination) would be to paint the top black and the body metallic gray, including gray below the side trim. If it looks good with black top and gray bottom, that will be close to the what was an original option in 1954 so should be a good compromise. If it doesn't look as good as before we started, or needs some help, the area below the side trim can be painted black to match the posted pictures, even though not an option in 1954. We have a full-time restoration shop at work and can easily make this change in one day - not a big deal.

I am builiding this for my wife, and neither of us likes a black car, but so many keep telling me that I should stay with the color on the Vin plate (all black). I have seen pictures of the same car in all black and it looks great, but when a black car gets dusty it doesn't look so hot, not to mention the difficulties in keeping it in showroom condition.

At work we have a small car museum (www.tpcarcollection.com) and many people visit. Of all cars on display, the gray/black 1954 Buick has always been most everyone's favorites as they love the color combination, even though that car was one of the lowest cost vehicles on display. That will change once the restoration is completed, as costs are soaring.

I really appeciate all of the comments on this and am looking forward to posting pictures of the car when completed.

Fred

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Well, looks like I may be too late, but here's MrE's 2 cent worth. Fred and I have already had most of this discussion but for what it is worth.....

My first loves are unrestored low mileage original cars. Next comes full and correctly restored cars. From that point I drop down to nicely done customs and hot rods. I have seen so many cars where it is evident the owner has spent much time and money only to get everything right but say maybe the upholstery material or the engine bay isn't detailed or an incorrect exterior color was used or etc, etc. For just a little more investment in time or cash they could have gotten it "right". Never understood it....:confused:

Fred, I understand that you don't plan to show the car, which to me is a shame. This beautifully restored example of the 1954 Buick Special line so deserves to be shown. I guess it's silly but I sorta consider my cars to have feelings and if it were mine that I'd feel like I was being disrespectful if I didn't dress this baby up in the right colors and enter her into the beauty pageant. Why not paint her black, win your Gold Senior and then paint the middle Gull Gray. If you don't have time to show her, git r dun, ship it to Charlotte in '12 and I'll show her for ya.:D

But honestly, she is your (spelled W I F E ' S) car so whatever makes y'all happy. And acturlly I too think the black,gray,black is an awesome color combination for the 54-55 Buicks. Too bad the GM color department didn't figure it out 'til 55.

Well, that's about it my friend (and Fred and I have become quite good friends ever since he acquired the 54) I'll just let ol Mick try and spell it out to ya.....:cool::):D

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Edited by MrEarl (see edit history)
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I prefer cars restored to the way they left the factory. BUT I think your concept of grey below and a black top is a great compromise, as it looks really sharp. Maybe you should see if you can find a new tag that is for a paint code 05A :) . Seriously it is your car and it should make you and your WIFE happy and I doubt it will hurt resale value.

I recently bought a 54 Century and the top color is white instead of gulf turquoise. Maybe when it comes time to repaint I will change it back to what it once was and should be, but it didn't affect the value in my eyes.

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Thank you Mr. Earl. I'm new to my 54, but now it looks like my color is off by a lot. I had assumed the Baffin green was a dark green. Mine is dark green with a white top similar to the one you have. The color code is 12S however. Guess I will have to come up with a screen name so I can get on the "Highway".

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Thank you Mr. Earl. I'm new to my 54, but now it looks like my color is off by a lot. I had assumed the Baffin green was a dark green. Mine is dark green with a white top similar to the one you have. The color code is 12S however. Guess I will have to come up with a screen name so I can get on the "Highway".

Baffin Green Roadmaster...

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My personal take on this seemingly never ending "correctness" issue is if you have no intention of the car ever being formally judged for year correctness paint the darn thing any color or color combination you like. After all, it is yours not anyone else's. Just don't paint it with paint that ends up with a luster looking like 2011 instead of 1954.

Will an incorrect color or color combination materially affect value later? Only if all the prospective buyers were into "correctness" judging, which is not likely. Most people buying a vintage car for the first time have no idea about what was correct and what wasn't and are buying on emotion and eye appeal more than anything else. We know this from all the "incorrect" cars that yield high dollar at auctions.

Jim

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Thank you Bob. That's what I thought Baffin green was and is the color of my car. Like I stated I'm new to 54's and admit Mr Earl had me a little concerned. Not that I'm going to repaint my car for years to come if ever.

Carl

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If this is about having the color and vin plate match, which I understand and can relate to, why not change the vin plate to match the available color you want? I don't mean to upset the legal department here, I'm just saying.

On a previous post several weeks ago there was discussion over how illegal it is to touch a vin tag so I don't want to hit any nerves here. I don't know about a 54 Buick but the tags I see color codes on are cowl tags.

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Thanks Checker and Steve earlier, who also mentioned changing the cowl tag to match the paint selection - You are both correct. And I am incorrect in my heading of my post, mentioning Vin Plate (should have said cowl tag or cowl plate).

On the '54 Buick the Vin # is on the frame (I found it yesterday) and is stamped on a small tag attached to the driver's side door jamb (towards front of car). The cowl tag is attached to the passenger side of the cowl up high on the curved part of the firewall.

If I end up painting the car a combination of black top over gull gray (which I believe to be a correct and available color combination for a 1954 Buick), I will probably want to have the cowl tag corrected to suit.

Does anyone know who I can contact to have this done? Attached is a picture of my existing cowl tag (not the Vin # tag). Maybe someone can clear up what the numbers and letters mean.

Thanks, Fred

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I saw South Paw beat me to it, but here's another take on it...

In judging, some marque clubs make an effort to see that paint & trim match what's on the data plate. In LCOC, our '56 Lincoln's data plate (on the driver's door jam, which also includes the VIN) had an incorrect trim number from its previous resto (using a '57 trim number), although the paint number was correct. A new, data plate was ordered from AG Back East, in CO, to correct that issue; the old plate was dented and scratched, too. We would have been gigged for the incorrect '57 trim number.

As Matt H. said above, the BCA doesn't take off points for matching data plates to paint (it is likely in the Judging Manual), but their judges would surely know that black/grey/black would be incorrect for '54. Your plan for black/grey is correct for '54, and remember that many, many cars were tu-toned at the dealer's paint shop, on request of the customer.

If it's important enough to you to have the two paint #'s on the cowl plate, contact AG Back East to see if they do the GM plates. They can be found in a quick Google search.

As others have said, it's your car, paint it the way you like it.

Great car, BTW!

TG

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)
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Thanks again for the assistance - everyone has been a big help. My plan (as of now, but subject to last-minute change) is to paint the car a factory combination of gull gray on entire bottom of the car and black roof. The Black/Gray/Black was on the car when purchased and I have not had anyone not like that combination, but in spite of preferring that choice, am leaving the black off under the side trim, as was not a choice in 1954 (was a choice in 1955).

After driving it awhile and possibly showing it, could always add the black below the trim in one day in our shop, but probably won't miss the black once car is completed.

I plan to order a new plate on Monday, but can someone give me a little guidance on what numbers mean on my plate at present and what numbers should be furnished (unless Trim Tags already knows).

Fred

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Let me get a crack at the plate...

1954 MOD 54-46R.................1954 Special Riviera (2dr Hard Top)

Style No 54-4437..................1954 Special Riviera (2dr Hard Top)

Body No BW .........................Built in Wilmington, #1423 that year

Trim No 22............................Black Nylon Surrey Cloth-Red Imitation Leather

Paint No ..............................Carlsbad Black top and bottom.

I like the reasoning of starting with a correct colour combo, moving away from that can be easily done if you so desire down the road. It would be nice to give your self the option of showing this beauty to the BCA and having it judged. Not so much for a trophy but the satisfaction gained from restoring another piece of history back to original state not to mention letting every one from the BCA see this "Beautiful Buy" in all its glory.

As for the plate, I personally would leave it there. It is the car's identity, switching it out to me seems like counterfeiting its true history and originality. BCA judging does not care, the average person has no clue and any buyer would easily forgive a minor paint change as far as correctness goes.

Just my opinion/thoughts on the plate issue

Edited by stealthbob (see edit history)
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Thanks for your thoughts Bob.

I appreciate your research on this and will consider this advice. Yesterday I stopped at work after the big Canfield car show and flea market (found not one thing for a '54 Buick and there were plenty of parts). I drove my 1947 Ford Convertible to and from the show onFriday and Saturday and drove back in the rain. A very big show this year - seemed almost as busy as Carlisle.

After leaving the show yesterday, I stopped at work to check out my two actual paint samples of '54 Buick Gull Gray. We had a local guy mix the 1st color sample, and it looked like Grainger steel shelving gray, so we were discouraged. However I had another 1 pint sample from Automotive Touchup.com (New Orleans) and it seemed to be quite different from the first sample and seemed to be very nice - appropriate for the car. I have a feeling that the first sample was made up "by eye" based on the original color chip and the second sample was made from the original formula - their invoice said, "GMC, ALL MODELS, 05-Gull Grey Met".

I am convinced that if we go with a gray/black combination, the gray must be an original '54 Buick color, even though undoubtedly their are other metallic grays that might look better. If we were doing a quick paint job, it may not have mattered as much, but with a body-off restoration it seems as if I have no choices, other than all black, which I do not like. In fact, had the car been even a perfect all-black color when I found the car, I would probably have not made the purchase. The gray/black combination was so striking that I bought the car on the spot. Not being familiar with the '54 Buick color combinations, thought that the color was correct, as it looked period correct, but later determined that it was not the correct gray color offered in 1954.

So here is my plan - Carlsbad Black top and Gull Gray entire bottom of car, which would be an original choice in 1954. Not sure of the cowl tag issue as yet, but will try to do some more research. Area below side trim will remain gray. After a year or two, if I still feel that the black in that area is necessary, this can be done in our shop in one or two days, as not necessary to dismantle the car as it is at present. Picture shown below is about what I should expect.

Fred

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Edited by Fred Zwicker (see edit history)
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Since I first got my 1931 Dodge Brothers coupe from my father years ago, I had always imagined that I would paint it maroon with black fenders. I was pretty much convinced that it was going to be those colors. I saw one in those colors and LOVED it, so...I was determined to stay with my plan. Then, a discovery changed my mind. Inside the body, there it was...written in chalk..."Marquette Blue DH BC". I researched the notes and found that the car was originally a dark blue with black fenders and belt molding and ivory pinstriping on the belt molding. I decided to keep it original and go with the blue. Trouble is....my other 1931 Dodge business coupe is the same color combination. Now, I may end up painting one maroon so that they won't be the same. Hmmmm.....what to do...what to do...

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Changing the body trim tag to match is, IMHO, fraud

Just paint it to what you want, your original tag is in excellent condition, no one will know what the numbers mean anyway.

Over the years MANY cars were painted different colors to suit the taste of the owner at that time OR, as in the case of a used car lot, taking a drab black or green or grey or tan or -insert your color choice of "drab" here- car and re-painting it "resale red" makes money for the dealer and gets someone excited about the car which may have sat unsold. Back in the days of cheap "Earl" style paint jobs that was done all the time by the resale lots and home based "flippers". Many had some rust damage and they would "fix" that anyway to sell the car so why not paint it resale red at the same time?

Changing a vital part (the trim tag) that identifies what this car WAS when it was born has no positive values, again IMHO.

That is ALMOST (a big stretch here for sure, but done for comparison sake) like going back and getting a new birth certificate with different info in it ...

The body tag is an ORIGINAL part of the history of THAT car. You can't go and change the VIN number because you don't like the sequence of numbers :)

I believe the state of Oklahoma has a law that basically makes changing the trim tag the same offense as tampering with the VIN number as way too many muscle car "restorers" have doctored the trim tags to make "plain jane" cars into more desirable models, again that word fraud.

Edited by Jim Rohn (see edit history)
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If I liked the color on the trim tag okay, I've used in in some restorations. If I wanted another specific original color to match a car I once owned or just because I liked it, then I restored it that way. Having to match the trim tag is simply foolishness. For one thing, we want to be able to see cars as they could have been painted, so as to be able to visualize them in all those different colors. During the 30s when people were often mentally depressed they often dressed in black and bought cars in black. Most of the survivors seem to end up being black. Historically, we should be able to see those cars in all of the different colors and trims that they could have been available in.

I'm glad AACA is, forever, always allowed the use of any color or trim combination that the car could have come from the factory in, without any regard to the firewall plate.

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I, too, would be inclined to leave the trim tag alone, rather than changing it to match what the car is today. Few, if any, clubs will deduct points for not matching exactly if it is done in authentic 1954 Buick colors. Your tag is in great shape and is part of the car's history. Imagine your disappointment upon buying a collector car and finding that the trim tag is a fake--you have no idea what it was when it was new, and its history was completely erased. In 50 years, someone will feel broken-hearted when they become the caretaker of your car. Don't erase the past, we're merely custodians of these cars because they outlive us all.

Also, I don't think the font used on most repro trim tags is quite right--they always look fake to me and I can always spot one that has been remade. Plus the original style rivets are impossible to find (I've heard it's illegal to sell them, but that may be a wives' tale), so it won't be correct there, either.

Note: I should admit that I am going to replace the trim tag on my '41 Century simply because the original has cracked and split in half. However, the new one will still show the original code 562 gray/black combination rather than whatever I end up painting it.

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OK Fred, Black over Gray it is. Not sure about Mick, but I can live with it.:D

Be reminded that the full name is Gull Gray Metallic. What you may have had mixed thus far may not have had any metal flake added?? Metalic paint always helps with colors such as gray to help brighten and reveal and show off any contours such as the arched fenders and the rear fender contour that follows the sweep spear on your Special. So it will be important to insure the paint has the correct size metal flake in it. Too big of a flake will definitely set it off as being incorrect though. I am attaching a scan of a large Gull Gray paint chip. If you need to borrow it let me know and I'll git r to ya. Also attaching a picture of a Gull Gray Metallic estate wagon.

And I too would encourage you to leave the original data plate with the car. There is no problem whatsoever with the original 01 code showing. And also,these colors are very hard to get just right. I have never heard of points being taken off when a paint is just a shade off of original,either dark or light.

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Edited by MrEarl (see edit history)
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I recently bought a 54 Century and the top color is white instead of gulf turquoise. Maybe when it comes time to repaint I will change it back to what it once was and should be, but it didn't affect the value in my eyes.
Thank you Bob. That's what I thought Baffin green was and is the color of my car. Like I stated I'm new to 54's and admit Mr Earl had me a little concerned. Not that I'm going to repaint my car for years to come if ever.

Carl

Carl, didn't mean to confuse you. I guess I was actually the one confused as at the time I replied to your comment, you hadn't reported that the bottom was any other color than the top and I just assumed it was Gulf Turquoise. Now, your report that the code is 12S really has my eyes wide open :eek: and as this still fits with the thread subject, I will continue. Fistly, are you sure the code is 12S and not 12B. I am very familiar with 12B as I have an Arctic White over Gulf Turquoise two door Roadmaster. However I have never ever before seen a 12S IE Gulf Turquoise over Baffin Green 54 Buick of any series. These numbers were sometimes not stamped very well and aren't always clear. The tags were installed after the paint so that would point to the possibility of an error in the stamping also. Please double check that number and get back with us. I am not saying that it couldn't have originally been Gulf Turquoise over Baffin Green, as there were some pretty wild color combinations back in the 50's, just that I have never seen it. :)

And Carl, please do cruise on over to the '54 Buick Highway and join us.

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Edited by MrEarl (see edit history)
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Good pick up Lamar...

I am deeply invested in this topic as I may like other colour combos other than the data plate. In the end I will likely go with Tunis Blue under Arctic White because it screams 54 and what it was like back then....not to mention the fact that that combo was how it left the line.

Your combo of Gull Grey under Arctic White would be one of my top choices but there are many more.....if anyone is interested you can use this special tool to see what the combos would look like:

1954 Buick Highway - Style your 1954 Buick Century Riviera

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OK Fred, Black over Gray it is. Not sure about Mick, but I can live with it.:D

Be reminded that the full name is Gull Gray Metallic. What you may have had mixed thus far may not have had any metal flake added?? Metalic paint always helps with colors such as gray to help brighten and reveal and show off any contours such as the arched fenders and the rear fender contour that follows the sweep spear on your Special. So it will be important to insure the paint has the correct size metal flake in it. Too big of a flake will definitely set it off as being incorrect though. I am attaching a scan of a large Gull Gray paint chip. If you need to borrow it let me know and I'll git r to ya. Also attaching a picture of a Gull Gray Metallic estate wagon.

And I too would encourage you to leave the original data plate with the car. There is no problem whatsoever with the original 01 code showing. And also,these colors are very hard to get just right. I have never heard of points being taken off when a paint is just a shade off of original,either dark or light.

Agreed on all counts - I will be doubly sure to specify Gull Gray Metallic, although yesterday for the first time, I opened the one pint can from Automotive Touchup and did a test section (with small artist brush). I am sure it was metallic, but will probably do a spray test tomorrow to be doubly sure before ordering in a gallon. I have the can on my computer desk at home and the label says, "Basecoat GMC 05", which according to my research is correct. I will also be sure to specify that the metallic not be too big of a flake. I ran into this same issue when painting my '39 LaSalle convertible in Oxblood Maroon in 2007-2008, so know exactly what you are talking about. That car won a 1st place Senior at the CLC Grand Nationals and at Glenmoor in 2008, as well as Best of Show at the Cleveland Regioinal show in 2009, so must have been OK. For the Buick, the original data plate will be left on the car, as suggested, as well as saving about $250-$300 Buick Dollars (as you say.)

I know that you have been pushing for all black and appreciate the pictures that you sent separately. Having Mick Jagger singing his song almost pushed me over the edge, as the Rolling Stones are my favorite all-time group. However, even if Mick Jagger paid me a personal visit, he still couldn't convince me, as for previously stated reasons, I just don't like an all-black car - in fact had the car been all black when first found, doubt if I would have purchased it. When you see a Darney paint job with the gray and black top you will forget all about black - I promise. Also pictures will be sent to you as the job progresses. I guess the first step later this week will be to flip the car on our rotissierie and remove the undercoating and paint and spray the Gull Gray on the underside of the body and the fire wall. This will get things moving - we have a long way to go.

More pictures of this restoration can be seen at Tip Plus Corp. dba Tp Tools & Equipment | Facebook Arrow down to the pictures of the '54 Buick restoration.

Fred

Edited by Fred Zwicker (see edit history)
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For all of the non Buick guys reading this, the reason 54's weren't painted below the sweepspears and 55's were, is the difference in taillight housings. 54's didn't have a natural break at the back of the car which is why some people only paint the front portion (ahead of the rear wheel).

Tidbit of knowledge for the day.

Fred, I have seen pics of your car on the TP website while ordering parts... Didn't know it was yours. I love your Pontiac wagon!

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that is an awesome tool, fun to play with too ...

That is sooooo coooool! I wish they had that program for 1931 Dodge coupes!

Well we at 54B are quite fortunate to have as it's admin and site owner one hell of a talented guy. He on his own has developed this content from is enormous collection of material. He has offered for subscription access to scanned material ranging from a Shop Manual to the Buick Magazines from 1954.

El Diablo is is screen name...his friends call him Jan, without him there would be no 1954Buick.com. This guy thinks BIG and has many more ideas so keep tabs as the site will grow.

Thanks Jan!

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My 47 Town and Country Sedan has (IMO) the ugliest color that could have been selected in 1947. It is what I call Pea Green (actual color is Heather Green). I honestly do not like it at all. BUT it is the way the car came as originally ordered,and having resisted the pressure from outside influences, I repainted it in that God-awful color.

As a matter of fact, the previous owner even wrote a letter to a Chrysler T & C expert asking what the consequences would be (value/collectibility wise) if the car was painted a different color. The answer was that given what the car was, changing the color would not significantly decrease the value but might turn off future buyers.

It never crossed my mind to alter the originality of the car by changing the color. Maybe it is just me but I would rather live with an ugly color, which was original to the car, than to change what was produced back in 1947.

This theory I would follow regardless of the car in question.

Joe

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