Jump to content

1955 Buick Special 4 door - Lots of questions


Recommended Posts

Hi all. I feel like crying now because I just wrote out this entire post, and then it disappeared on me. So, lets try this again. So I have loved classic cars all my life (my whole 22 years). It has been my dream to buy one and fix it up. For a while now I have been searching for a car to fix up and restore. Since I am a rookie to this, I have plenty of questions and could use all the comments, suggestions, replies, and help you all might have for me. I take criticism very well, so do not worry about hurting my feelings. Please feel free to reply as I will gladly accept whatever you have for me.

<O:p</O:p

A few days ago I found a 55 buick special 4 door for sale. It has a V8 and automatic tranny. I went out tonight to visit it and view it in person. I was so surprised to what I found because of its great shape. The man bought this car from an estate sale. The owner before this kept it garaged and really took care of it until he got too old. Then it just sat in the barn for some 30 or 40 years. That is why I believe it is in such good shape. The guy is asking $2200 for it.

<O:p</O:p

He bought the car a week or two ago after this estate sale. They were simply just going to take it to the crusher, so he rescued it in hopes a man like me would find it, and I did.

<O:p</O:p

To begin, I guess I should start by telling what I want to do with this car if I buy it. I would love to restore this car to where I could drive it around, not as a daily driver, but as a Sunday driver. Something along those lines. These classic cars are beautiful to me and I would love to bring some history back and put it on the road. I am not looking to just restore and sell it. If I do buy it, its gonna stay with me for a long time. I do not care that it is a 4 door. Granted, it would be cool if it was a 2 door, it does not phase me.

<O:p</O:p

I guess I will start with the engine. Now this guy told me that everything was original on this car. Now in a perfect world, I would believe him, but since this world isn’t, I will have to check the VIN on the car and the engine. Hopefully it is. I showed up at his house and he had not been expecting for a few days. When we went to turn the car on, it started on the second try. It was an interesting setup to start the engine. He put the key to the ON position and then pushed the gas pedal in. It started right up. I have never heard of anything like this before. Has anyone heard of this ever?

Once the car was running, I noticed a knocking type of sound coming from it. I asked and the man told me it was an exhaust leak. He put his hand over the leak and the sound went away. The engine looked its age, but ran fine. I did not see any rust on the engine. It has 69k miles on it. No other abnormal sounds were coming from it. I could not see what color the exhaust smoke was because it was way too dark out. It is something that I will have to check next time. <O:p</O:p

post-81144-143138745452_thumb.jpg

post-81144-143138745455_thumb.jpg

post-81144-143138745456_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Next, the body. The body was in surprisingly good shape. There was rust on the roof and a few spots here and there on the hood. Other than that, there was not much rust at all. I do not know how deep the rust is on the roof. Is there a way to check? I looked in the trunk and was shocked to see no rust at all. It still had the cardboard in the trunk. It seemed extremely solid. The floor pans has a new carpet over them from years ago, so I did not get a chance to check the out. The quarter panels looked solid and I felt no rust when I reached up under and felt. On the bumpers there is a thin layer of chrome. I believe I will have to rechrome them. If I missed or overlooked something please tell me.

<O:p</O:p

The interior of the car was fantastic. I honestly could not believe how good of shape it was in. It truly blew my mind. The headliner looks brand new. There is no sags or holes anywhere. It’s a beaut. The front bench seat and rear bench seats look amazing. There are no holes or tears anywhere, and the seats look as if they have barely been used at all. The man pointed out that someone must have redone the front bench seat because it was of different material. It looked the same, but was somehow fuzzier than the back seat if that makes any sense.

<O:p</O:p

The Dashboard and console looked in pretty damn good shape. There was nothing missing on the dash except for the glove compartment lock. There is no key for the car and what he thinks happened was someone took the lock out to make a key, but never happened. Other than the MIA lock, the dash looks to be complete. If I just polished it up, it would look brand spanking new.

<O:p</O:p

The interior door panels are in good shape too. The only thing missing is the front two door’s door handles. They are gone and someone took the window levers and put them where the door handles should go. But, the fabric or leather (not sure of material) on the door panels have no holes or tears at all.

<O:p</O:p

I did not get a chance to look at the frame. I figured I would do it when it was light out so I could see it better. Plus, it gives me another chance to drool over it.

<O:p</O:p

The glass looks to be good mostly. I know that the driver and front passenger’s side will need replaced, but the front and rear windshields looks great. Not sure how to check the glass to see if it needs replaced. The only reason I know those two need replaced is due to the holes.

<O:p</O:p

I looked at the VIN number under the hood and now realize that I think I missed the important numbers. I will just have to get it at another time. But, this is what I got from it tonight.

Model No: 55-53, Style No: 55-4519 or 4579. I had a hard time telling whether it was a 7 or 1. Body No: BW 53, Trim – 455, Paint – BDD.

Now I have no clue what any of it means except for the paint. I know that it was white on top, and the bluish grey on the bottom two parts. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. I would like to know more about this buick and what it type it is.

<O:p</O:p

Also, I saw that there were four portholes on each side. I thought they only had three, so I did some research and somewhere it said that four portholes signify a “senior” model. No clue except that maybe it is a pricier car???

<O:p</O:p

That is all I can really think of right now. If I can , I will post the pictures from the CL ad. It was too dark to take pictures tonight. If I go back, hopefully loaded with knowledge and questions to ask from you guys, I will take pictures and post them.

Thank you guys that read this and reply. Like I said, any comments, suggestions, ideas, or replies will be greatly appreciated. I want nothing more than to find my piece of heaven. I will check these posts regularly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

First welcome to the hobby. I enjoyed reading your posts and enjoy your enthusiasm. IMO 1955 Buicks are good cars although I don't own one, I have a 1954. Buick had the starter under the accelerator for a lot of years and many non Buick owners are a little surprised. I can't offer much information about your car, but.... My understanding trim # 455 means the car originally would have had a black pattern nylon- light grey cordaveen interior the paint would have been Dover white and Windsor grey. I'm sure others will respond and fill in blanks.

Normally the best advice I give people is to buy the best car you can for the money you can spend. It sounds like a pretty good car for the money from what you have said.

My suggestion would be to look the car over very carefully for rust damage and perhaps have a mechanically inclined friend listen to the knock.

Get some sleep and I'm sure when you check the website in the morning there will be more responses. Good luck. Carl

Link to post
Share on other sites

there is a buick section on the forum down lower where the buick guys hang out,tons of knowledge in these pages.i cant help with those questions but have done body work for 40 years. and thats a solid looking car.if those pics are it than you should have no problems making it right.

Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all the car is not a "Special" it is a "Super." Body style is 4519. The 455 Trim code indicates the interior was done in a combination of black and gray cloth and vinyl. The BD paint code indicates Dover White over Windsor Gray.

If it runs reasonably well the knocking noise you heard is probably one or more lifter not fully pumping up. Fresh oil and filter might well get rid of that problem.

Now a word of advise, before tearing into even a poorly running engine I would give all the bushings associated with the steering and suspension a look. You'll probably find they'll all need replacing along with the shocks. Next on the list would be having the transmission serviced.

However the first thing on your list of things to do is jump on ebay and buy every manual for '55 Buicks you find. The cheap way will be on CD but the actual factory shop manual books are better in the sense of being more easily read and followed.

Great find, and good luck. You're going to have a ball working on that guy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice car! You should have a great time working on it should you decide to buy it. I was in your shoes in April of this year. I purchased my first restoration project, a 1952 Buick Special Deluxe. I think the price on yours is very reasonable. Mine was in roughly the same shape as this one as far as running condition and interior. Quite a bit more surface rust on it than this one and the only rust through was in the floorboard(easily patched for temporary use). I paid around that amount for mine so I think that is more than a fair price. Take the advice given on here about posting this on the Buick Clubs section of this forum though. I found this forum back when I bought my car and have found this place to be an invaluable source of information and friendly advice. I've even had guys donate impossible to find parts to my restoration efforts!! Let's just say my big ole' Buick would be yard art if not for this forum! Also take the advice about purchasing the service manual for your car. That should be your first purchase after buying this car. You can find them on EBAY and trust me, you do not want to go at this without one! 50's technology is like nothing I've ever seen and you will want a guide at hand to walk you through the correct steps. Anyway, look forward to hearing from you in the Buick section!! Good luck with your purchase!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

If someone answered the question, I missed it. So if I am repeating what others said, I apologize. Yes, the starter button under the gas pedal was how it was done back in the day with Buicks. Some cars had a starter button on the dash, instead of on the floor.

Sounds like a pretty good find!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck on your search Bigsho. This could be the car, and I agree with general consensus that $2,200 is not a bad starting price. Couple of thoughts for you:

First, join the National and local AACA region - we are very enthusiastic about younger members and you will be greeted with open arms. Hint here - try to reach out to someone in your local region first, the national club gives us an annual allotment of free memberships to the national - a $35 value for new members. If you are a student, I think the rate is very low, like $12 to join the national. the BIG advantage for you is access to a lot of knowledge and potential help when you need it. Whether you acquire this car or another, this is the best next step you can make.

If time is not really critical here, try to make contact with someone in AACA or Buick club, introduce yourself, tell them you are interested in the car and maybe someone a little more experienced will offer to check it out with you.

Exhaust leak, BTW will sound more like a tick than a knock; if the noise subsided when the leak was covered you may be OK there. If the engine is sound for the use you suggest a major tune up, dropping the pan to clean out any gunk and changing all fluids may be all that is needed in that department. Rest of a major service would involve freshening brakes, tires and as suggested above suspension and front end. This car does not look too far from being roadworthy. Do check frame and "cabmounts" which if as solid as above seems, may be OK, but a car that has been stored could have some deterioration in that area. Not fatal but a safety issue that will cost a bit to repair if necessary.

Now, just a couple thougths on finances - not sure but am guessing you are not independently wealthy, and are in the same boat a lot of 22 year olds are in. If you really want to get into this and enjoy getting behind the wheel rather than taking on a full blown restoration for your first antique, this certainly looks like a viable start (and the route I would suggest also) - I bet, if it came out of an estate sale, and was bound for the crusher, the current owner got it for less than $1,000 - think about that when negotiating. Just a suggestion but you may want to start low - this is a slow economy now and a buyer's market. Be polite, start low, maybe bring $1,500 in hundreds and start there, with whatever else you think you may want to go to in smaller bills in another pocket. Go into your reserve only if you have to. A decent deal at $2 grand, better for you at say $1,500. It is possible you can be on the road for around $3,500 and paint it a bit later. Learn what type of paperwork your state requires for registration and be sure you have that before you take the plunge.

A great example of a very affordable way to get into the hobby. You will find Buicks very popular cars especially throught the 50s. And your pals with their WRXs will be completely mystified at your car.

Keep us posted! :)

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho, this sure sounds like a good one to me. The price is certainly right and the car appears to be intact. Just to expand on a few (excellent) points from Steve above:

Your primary goal should be to get the car safe and usable with as little significant disassembly as possible. You need to drive and enjoy that car and not get bogged down in lengthy repairs like body and rust repair. As such, my first suggestion is also to inspect the frame and body mounts for rust, as well as the floors, rocker panels, and in the trunk. This is the stuff that is difficult and expensive to fix. And we are not talking a little surface rust from storage, we are talking rust holes.

Second, it is likely you will need to replace the exhaust but that is a standard expectation and you should have a local exhaust shop that can handle it--not a big issue. Brakes too, expect to rebuild the whole system ASAP and buy new tires. Any rubber seals and gaskets may need to be replaced and they are not likely available locally but they are available mail order at reasonable prices.

The engine very likely has sludge and a sticky lifter and removing the oil pan to clean gunk is a good idea and a good early winter project. Draining and replacing all fluids before driving is a must, but if possible try to verify the transmission is shifting OK. It is likely you do not have an experienced Dynaflow rebuilder locally so you do not need a bad transmission, but once again pan gaskets and such are no problem mail order.

The best thing here is the car seems complete and not missing any hard to find parts. Just a little brief history, a "four porthole" Buick was a major 1950s status symbol and you would have a rolling piece of Americana, with a cool dash and interior and that big chrome grille. That car was someone's 1955 American Dream. I would say if it is not rusty and the transmission seems OK then buy it, get the service manuals and begin. Keep us all posted and good luck, Todd C

Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit on automatic transmissions that have been sitting for a lengthy period of time. The clutches in them are glued segments/layers and with time just sitting the glue will deteriorate and delamination begins. Once that process starts the only solution is a new clutch pack. Somewhat cheap in terms of the parts but a whole lot better than getting stranded because of nothing happening because the clutches have become so much garbage. First clue to this condition is a moderate to violent shutter if one more or less hammers the accelerator after stopping at a traffic light or sign.

Link to post
Share on other sites

More good advice above... Given the right preventive maintenance and servicing, you could be pretty confident in the car come spring. Then, when the weather is better, and if you are ambitious, you can try your skill at body prep on the upper (white) areas & I bet you can find a local shop willing to shoot the paint for you - cleaning that up alone would improve the looks considerably, and when you get tires, be sure to spring a little extra for wide whitewalls - they look really at home on these cars! ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

when the weather is better, and if you are ambitious, you can try your skill at body prep on the upper (white) areas & I bet you can find a local shop willing to shoot the paint for you - cleaning that up alone would improve the looks considerably

and when you get tires, be sure to spring a little extra for wide whitewalls - they look really at home on these cars! ;)

I agree, and repainting that roof would be a fairly easy job for a bodyshop and cost should be reasonable. It would vastly improve the looks for a manageable cost.

Ditto on the whitewall tires too, Todd C

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a 55 I "refurbished" several years ago - built it as a nice driver. Sadly I sold it - someone made me an offer I couldn't resist so I let them have it. I miss that car - was a fun car to drive

BOB

post-31606-143138746059_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim, SHHH....don't go there 'till he pulls the trigger!! :D

When I was around 22 I dove into a '56 Chevy - HAD to have a 2 door, of course, which mean't getting a lot less car for the money. I did a complete restoration on that car including pro engine rebuild and extensive pro rust repair & paint. It was a long road but I did a stock restoration and ended up with a nice #3 or better. Downside, the car needed a lot more work than this one, upside, parts were not an issue - I recall buying a rechromed front bumper for around $275. My strategy for this car would be to look for nice used trim as chrome today is a killer. If I told him how much mid-1980s dollars I put into that car he would run like heck!! :D

Seriously though, he needs to plan on at least a couple grand to properly update the mechanics so the car is safe and dependable. tire, brakes, exhaust, front end check & major tune up will eat that up pretty fast, I would rebuild fuel pump for sure, and maybe plan on carb and water pump as preventive maintenance next winter if she runs ok, although an accelerator pump in the carb would go in this season. yeah, it's a chunk of change but all necessary. If he ends up with a car that looks simillar to Bob's though, for a few grand, and picks away at the cosmetics there are plenty of worse ways to spend the money...

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't believe someone would have wanted to scrap this car. I agree, this could be a great car with little effort and expense. I say do it. Follow the advice given by the earlier replies and you'll have a unique and fun car.

Now do us all a favor and post some larger photos.:)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho60

To answer a couple of your questions. The door handles or window cranks. Most GM cars of the early and mid 50's used the same handles and cranks so they are not hard to find and several of the mail order guys have new reporductions. As for the glove box lock, watch ebay and you should find one pretty reasonably. Again this is a generic GM lock. When you get one pull the ignition lock, the service manual will have instructions, and take the locks to a lock smith and he can key them the same and make keys. I don't recall if mid 50's

Buick had two different keys or only one. That is ignition and glover box one key and doors and trunk a second key. If it's two you can pull the trunk lock to have keys made. A question on the Buick forum below will get the answer about the number of keys.

Do take the advise about pulling the oil pan and cleaning out the gunk and then replacing all of the engine and trans fluids. Then redo the brakes, front suspension and alignment, rear suspension, shocks, tires. I would say in that order. Fire her up and drive a bit. Then tackle the tune up with points, plugs and condenser, fuel pump, carb and water pump rebuild. Driver her some more. Then start on the cosmetics.

The car's serial number is on a tag attached to the driver's side door hinge pillar. I'm not sure where on the engine block the engine number is found but someone on the Buick forum can tell you. In 55 there were 4 series of Buick. Series 40 the Special, Series 50 the Super, 60 Series the Century and 70 Series the Roadmaster. The engine number is a 9 character consisting of 8 numbers and 1 letter. The first number is the Series, ie 4, 5, 6, or 7. Next is a letter indicating the model year A=1954, B=1955, C=1956, etc. Next is a number ranging from 1 thru 8 indicating the assembly plant. Again the Buick forum guys can tell which plant. And the last 6 numbers are the car serial number and if the engine is original to the car these 6 numbers will match those on the tag on the door pillar.

As the guys said above the seller probably paid $1000 or less at the estate sale. So, don't be too eager to go over $2000. I think the advise to start at $1500 is good as this should give the seller a good profit.

Edited by Bob Call (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho, nice car, and the starter is actuated by a switch on the carb that is then deactivated by vacuum when the engine starts. the whole process is started by having the ignition switch to the on position and then just depressing the gas pedal slightly. the 51 special i once owned had that system and i am not sure when the last year was that still had it.as far as your first car goes this is a real nice car, 55 4dr buicks do not have great value but the price you are paying is very good. every old car like that which sat a long time needs work such as brakes, cooling system, fuel system, tires, and more. as long as you can do the work and have a place to do it you will get plenty of help from this and other forums and other people in the hobby.i think that car needs a brake drum puller for the rear drums. i would bet the tranny will be fine with a fluid change. the 4 portholes means top of the line model. good luck. skyler

Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote=bigsho60;964052<O:p</O:p

A few days ago I found a 55 buick special 4 door for sale. It has a V8 and automatic tranny. . <O:p</O:p

Hi Bigsho60. That is a nice car you found. 55 Buicks are, well, one of the most prolific vehicles in the Buick Club of America ( BCA). You did find a Super, model 52 ( 4 Dr sedan). Even though there were 45K of these cars made in the model year, they are twice as rare as the 2 Door Hardotp, which had an 85K production run. Also it seems to me that as of the last three years or so, the thrust of Buick collecting has been finding the car that was not considered the "hot car on the block". So your 55 4 door is right up on par with the 2 door hardtops of the era.

There are some things that you should be aware of regarding this year and model car. Although I learned to drive on a 55 Special 4 dr sedan Stick shift, I am not a 55 Buick Expert. I have owned my 56 Super for 37 years now, but these two cars shared some design cues and not much else. Still, participating on the BCA Forums here I have some information you may want to know.

The starter switch is on the carb as has been reported. The switch is automatically blocked by two systems when the car starts. It is not uncommon for the switch to stick however, and when it does you have to turn the ignition switch to off or lock to stop the starter. The switch can be cleaned but not lubricated. I would not attempt to take it off the carb while the carb is on the engine. If it does stick you can get a simple push button ( like a aftermarket horn button) mount it on the dash and relocate the wires from the starter switch to the horn button. I used mine like that for several years.

The automatic is a Dynaflow. The dynaflow is practically a Constant Velocity transmission. While the trans does have clutches for Low and Reverse, it is literally the fluid in the torque converter that moves the car in drive. The design is simple but NEVER shift the car into reverse with the engine above an idle. There is a strut in the transmission that holds the reverse band in place. The jolt of dropping the trans into reverse while the engine speed is elevated will cause that rod to drop out of position and you're gonna find it hard to push that baby backwards if you have to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While I'm on the transmission area, you will find that the original transmission fluid cooler is a small unit attached to the bottom of the transmission. It wasn't till 56 that Buick moved the transmission cooler to the lower radiator tank. As a side note, this car has an auxiliary heater located under the drivers side of the front seat. Now I can practically guarantee that the transmission rear seal ( the torque Ball seal) will leak. In addition you may find antifreeze under the car from the heater and tranny cooler. These things are repairable but getting hard to find. Still it seems two fellows found New Old Stock ( NOS) ones recently. So the parts are out there.

Going a bit further back from the transmission you will find the Buicks used a Torque Tube rear axle till 1961. This is not anything to worry about, but it is different. Essentially the drive shaft is enclosed in a tube to the rear axle and there are no visible u joints. The rear axle is attached to the car in an unconventional mannor but it is extremely reliable. Buicks before 56 had Knee Action Shocks. 56 started Tube shocks like the 60- 80's cars.

The master cylinder is also located under the car on this model. Seems no one has had problems getting parts and rebuilding them so that's good.

Body wise there were 4 main Buick Models in 55. The special and Century were the small body. The Super and Roadmaster were the large body. Usually not much interchanges between these two body sizes. Side windows were just flat glass and should be easily replaceable. Front and rear windows are another story. Again, they are out there but be careful not to need em.

As the others have suggested you may want to post on the Buick Forums if you buy this car. The BCA would gladly welcome you and many of us would be very happy to help you diagnose problems and offer potential solutions.

Good luck with your decision.

ps: these are "one key fits all locks" cars. Without the key you'll find you have to remove the back seat from inside the car, and then crawl through to open the trunk with a pair of pliers. If you get to that let us know and I 'll send you a picture of what you're looking for. Without the glove box the only other place to convenienly get the key code will be on the trunk lock. I believe the Ignition switch has to be in the lock position to get it out and you can't get to Lock without the key.

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well first let me say thank you all. When I wrote this last night I honestly did not think that I would get such a response like I did. You guys are awesome. Everyone had something new for me and now my head is swimming, but that’s a good thing. I’d rather it be this way then having no clue at all. I am just going to start answering and responding to you guys and I might answer some questions that you asked in another. Its not a slight, just figure if I answer it once, no sense in doing it twice.

ffice:office" /><O:p></O:p>

The starter is not actually under the gas pedal. When it started up that way, I at first thought that is where it would be located until I actually thought about it and realized it could not be there. After reading some of your guy’s posts, I looked into the carburetor starter and I am almost positive that that is what it is. It is actually pretty ingenious. Like I said I have always liked cars and looked at a good many, but have never seen a starter like that before.

<O:p></O:p>

I began looking online for manuals and surprisingly there are a decent amount out there. I thought they might be few and far between, but they are there. Once I decide to buy the car, then I will get these manuals. No sense in getting them and for some reason or another not getting the car. My dad had said something to me about a “Choltens” manual/book. The spelling is probably not right, but I have not had a chance to look into it. He was trying to tell me that it was a manual that tells you exactly how to take apart and reassemble everything on the car. Anyone ever hear of this??

<O:p></O:p>

I plan on having the frame and the engine looked at in depth by a friend who is a mechanic. He has fixed up two other cars before and does this in his spare time as a hobby. So he will check into that and look at everything else too. I trust his opinion so hopefully it will pass his investigation of it.

<O:p></O:p>

1937-44, as for the trim, I could not tell you really what color it was when I saw it. As it turns out, I am semi color blind, which is to say light or dark colors are really hard for me to see/define. When its dark out, it becomes even harder. But, the seats were a lighter color and then where your butt and back sat, it was definetly a darker color. I am willing to bet that is probably what it was. Yes, I am very excited about this prospect. I have always wanted to restore an older car or truck, so hopefully this works out.

<O:p></O:p>

Jim Edwards, thank you so much for pointing that one out. I could not figure out why when I would google 55 buick special, it just did not look like the same car. It was similar, but there were many differences. I was going to ask, but was unsure of how to even word it. I have a good friend of mine who works on cars like I am trying to do. He agreed to come with me next time I go see the car to look into the issues.

As for the transmission, would the leak be easily seen when looked at from underneath? Or is this something that I will find out on my own?

<O:p></O:p>

ShadeTree77, you were very right. Everyone on here is great. Like I said earlier, I’ve learned so much more than simply trying to figure it out searching around online. Is it possible to relocate this into another forum, or am I going to have to just copy and paste the article? I looked for a few seconds before writing this, and figure I will check after I am done and actually try and find a way. Wow, so there are cars out there that are in somewhat decent shape. It seemed like I was searching for a needle in the haystack till I found this one. Most of the other cars I found were rusted out or had been wrecked and well beyond any skills of mine to fix. (Not that they are real high to begin with ;) )

<O:p></O:p>

Steve Mack, I have not looked into joining the AACA yet, but plan on doing this maybe this weekend. Is it a number I would have to call, or is it online? I did not really look around yet for it, but will later when I have more time. I wish I was still a student, but no. I graduated this past May and am now working full time (YAY!!). Time is not really critical, so this is a possibility, but I still worry that another person may come along and swipe it up. Which, if it does happen, o well. There will be another project along somewhere.

Independently wealthy, now that is a funny line. I do like it and will have to use it at some point. No actually, (I’m even surprised I am) but I work full time and live on my own. Now, I always go back home to see the fam squad when I get a chance, but as for finances, I am on my own. I’ve been squirreling away money for a while now while paying school bills and rent, and have a little bit saved up. It would be enough to buy a car and have some money to put towards restoring it. I have no delusions that it will be a good chunk of change and a lot of man hours to restore this car, or any car at that. But, I think this one would be the best bang for my buck. I was planning on starting at about $1400 and walk there with the cash in hand when I would decide to buy it and keep another 400 or 500 on me and not go above that. Or is $1400 too low to start? Not sure how to haggle with cars like this. (Suggestions??)

As for paperwork, he sent away for the title. It was something about since the guy who owned it died, he needed to send away to have it put in his name since the man died. Does this sound like boloney or is that true? In my state, the great state of PA, I have no clue about the paper work. I will have to research this one.

As for the white walls, I already went online to the one website like Diamond backs or something along those lines, and was looking for the right tires. They are actually cheaper to buy than what my truck tires were. I was shocked. But I did have a question because when looking for a tire, it had a lot of information. I got the tire size off the tire and it was G78-15. Does this mean any thing to anyone?

You are right, there are many worse ways to blow a few grand, but I would rather have it this way when everyone sees one beautiful car and wishes they had it. No I understand that I am going to end up pouring money into this thing right away. It is what it is I guess. I have some money saved up, but most of this will just be done as I slowly chip away at this thing and get it all taken care of. The only cool thing is my buddy that is a mechanic can help me with most of this stuff so I will not have to send it away. And if I do, it just goes down to his garage a few blocks from my house ;) <O:p</O:p

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob, wow that was a nice picture. I really liked the paint on it. How much time did you put into it? It looks great.

Bleach, haha I will get right on that. I tried taking pictures last night, but it was too dark out. Saturday I am going to go pick my girlfriend up, who coincidentally lives close to where the car is. How great is that? So I will stop by and snap a few pictures, plus she wants to see it. I told the guy earlier that I wanted to get some pictures of it close up, so he told me to come by Saturday when he is free. Figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.

>>

JohnD, well its good to know that I have found one of the cooler more desireable cars then. I did not even know that these were harder to find. I love these bits of information everyone is telling me. It’s making me want to get this thing more and more J.

Well thank you for the information on the transmission. I’m strong, but I don’t think I’m strong enough to push that beast of a car.

Its actually really funny that you mention about pulling the seats up to crawl through the trunk. The guy who has it now has already done that for me. Right now, he is using an old freightliner key that turns the ignition. It would not work for the trunk, which makes me wonder if the ignition may be stripped on the inside, but that’s how he got the car running. So if I take the trunk lock to a lock smith, they can make a key from it?

Well thank you everyone for your input. It all has been great. I was really surprised that so many people are so willing to help. Once I get a chance I will post larger and better pictures this weekend. You guys are awesome.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Glad too hear you are happy with responses. We try.

If you were to become a Buick owner I would suggest you think about joining the Buick Club of America. Great newsletter and a good group of people, might even be able to find a chapter close to you. Buick Club of America - BCA - Welcome

A Chilton's is a very good repair manual for all makes within a specific year span. It's a good book, but I believe year specific manuals are far superior. A Chilton's might have 800 pages covering all makes and models, where a 1955 Buick Shop Manual has about 450 pages all devoted to 1955 Buicks. Much more in depth information, and a lot more specific information. You can see one at Amazon. Just search for 1955 Buick Shop Manual, they can be worth there weight in gold, however you can possibly find them at a flea market or on Ebay for less.

The Buick club forum is sponsored by the AACA and is just below and you might have even better luck with more technical questions down their.

Good Luck and whether you buy this 1955 or something else we love having younger people join the old car hobby.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho

The Chilton's and Motors manuals are generic for most information and limited sections on specific brands of cars, transmissions, generators, etc. and cover at lest 10 model year periods. I have Chilton's 1940 - 1953 and 1954 - 1963. So gettng a Buick Shop/Service manual will give much more detail on every mechanical component. There is probably also a body manual that covers all of the sheet metal, windows and trim.

As someone said above there are two body sizes. The Special and Century, 3 portholes, are small body and share some components with Olds 88 and Pontiac. The Super and Roadmaster, 4 portholes, are the large body and share some components with Olds 98 and Cadillac. For this reason a Hollander Interchange book would be a good investment. You can find them on ebay. I have a 26th Edition which basically covers 46 thru 59 but includes some brands back to 41 or earlier.

The letter sized tires on the cars are from the 60's and diffently should be replaced as they are not safe. I believe the original tire on the large 55 Buick was 7.60 X 15. Here is a link to a tire size conversion chart where you can match modern radial sizes to the original tire size. http://clubs.hemmings.com/clubsites/chevylist/tech/tire_size_conversion.htm You can find other charts on the internet. Coker, Universal and Diamond Back have reproduction original tires.

Edited by Bob Call (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, since you're gotten so many good responses already, including quite a few from some of the guys that post on the Buick forums, I wouldn't worry about transferring it down there. You can just wait and post in the "Please Introduce Yourself" section of the Buick General forum when/if you end up buying the 55. I agree with the others about the Chilton manuals though. They can be kind of vague. I would spend a little more and buy the official Buick shop/service manual. Don't be tempted by the CD versions either. Trust me, you will want it on paper so you can have it next to you under the hood! Good luck with the bargaining process too. The guy I bought mine from started out at $2200 as well. I started out at $1500. He budged slightly down to $2000 and would not move from there. I REALLY wanted the car though so I went ahead and paid the man.:D In his defense though, after I couldn't find a tow truck he borrowed a trailer from a buddy nearby and hauled it home for me which was a round trip of about 120 miles. Anyway, keep us updated!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho, to learn more about the AACA click on the box at the very top LH corner of your screen, AACA Home.

Welcome to a great hobby and yes, a great use of whatever funds your budget allows for hobby spending. These guys make a good point that this is a mid 50s GM product, lots of parts interchange which is a nice advantage. As Bob suggests a parts interchange manual will be a good investment.

Seems like you are really going into this with the right attitude. I would say $1,400 is a good starting point. Be polite, but indicate you have limited funds, and your attitude of walking away if you have to is also good, this is a good find, but spend some time on this forum and you will see there are other fish in the sea. Having the cash on hand will be a good thing.

On tires, you will get differing opinions but I generally don't put radials on a car that was not deisgned for them - I don't see the advantage in handling myself, and they just don't have that original look - but that said, others swear by them. I just replaced my bias ply firestones with the same, through Universal in Hershey PA, (the ones on the car had virtually no miles but dry rot - replace yours even if the tread appears good.) nice but not cheap. Not sure if you can get them anymore, but you used to be able to get decent looking bias ply wide whites right from the Sears catalog - probably at half the cost of the tire guys that advertise in Hemmings. I put them on my '56 Chevy and they worked out just fine. Just a thought - Also, some parts can be found right at your local NAPA or Acme Auto - cheaper than the specialist suppliers, always look first as this can help save you money.

BTW I don't think anyone noted, what you have found here seems to be a true "barn find" - or original car no one has refurbished or restored yet. Is it a '32 Ford roadster or such, no but there is value in that which would make it more attractive to me than someone's project simply because no one has messed with it yet - sometimes people do things right, other times, shortcuts or well intentioned mistakes need to be corrected. So if you like the car, that is another factor to weigh. Also, if inclined it may not take you too much research to trace ownership. If you end up with the car it may be worth a little time to reach out to the estate if you can get that info, and just see if they have anything pertaining to the car hanging around. Again, if you pursue politely all people can say is "I can't help you" and you may be glad to have that info down the road.

Lastly, these are not terribly complex cars, if you have basic mechanical skills, and patience, you would be surprised at how much you can do yourself and at how much you will save that way - and by not diving into a full resto you won't get over your head. We have thrown a lot of info at you - Good Luck!

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigsho

You have really captured people`s imagination with this one. A wealth of good advice has already been posted, so for the moment, I would just add that a running car for that money that is so original is very hard to find...BUY IT!

I suggest that you get the car driveable before launching into restoration. You need to have FUN in it, not bury yourself in the shed.

Follow the advice written here about the engine etc. It sounds as though the knock is highly likely to be an exhaust blow on the manifold, but get your mechanic friend to look.

Now the important bit.. Please, please pay closest attention to the steering, brakes and suspension (and the tyres). Particularly the brakes. Rebuild the whole system, especially the master cylinder. There is no diagonal split system like a modern car. If the M/cyl fails you will have no brakes whatsoever, and a very heavy car out of control.

That said, these cars are much better to drive when fully overhauled, so renew the front suspension bushings, brakes and dampers and it will be great. I had a 1960 Electra for a number of years. They are great cars.

Adam..

Link to post
Share on other sites

bigsho60

Welcome to the AACA forum. It's great to see someone of your age so excited about old cars. I love your car, and your enthusiasm. Since you mentioned an interest in joining AACA, I've sent you a PM extending an invitation to check out our magazine and club. Good luck with your car. Hope we get a chance to meet some day at a show.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Still reading with interest Bigsho, looking forward to hearing what happens.

Regarding the price negotiations, attitude is key and we here have discussed the psychology of a car deal before. Sounds to me like the seller is not emotional and just fell into a deal on a car he is not really interested in. That is good for you, since he is likely rational and ready to make a deal, not parting with a family heirloom. Your attitude should play to this.

Your position is you are young and enthusiastic and like old cars, but this would be your first and you are just a little nervous about jumping in. You both know the car needs work and you would like to preserve a little cash to put towards those repairs, especially since you are unsure exactly how much will be needed. You both know this car is not a big collector car jackpot, you just want to reach a fair middle ground so you can fix it up and enjoy it. This kind of honest and open attitude should be good with a rational seller.

You do NOT want to be obviously over-eager and in love with the car, this is a business transaction, not a love fest. Worse, you do not want to take an attitude of pointing out every flaw--the position that the car is an obvious piece of junk and he is an idiot to keep it, but you will reluctantly take the thing off his hands for a few bucks and he should be grateful to be rid of it. THAT will not make you a new friend, at least not with me. Good luck, Todd C

Link to post
Share on other sites

Go to 55 buick .com just google it,lots of info.Your going to start by replacing alot of things that are rubber.Drain and change all fluids,brake,antifreeze/flush,oil/filter tranny etc.Get it running is most important,little things will pop up along the way,fuel pump,dirty carb,rust in gas tank,leaky wheel cylinders etc.The more i drove mine the better it ran!!! I put 4,000 miles on last summer and had a ball.Work one 'bug' at a time,do the cosmetics last,just spend time with her on your free time and dont get frustrated,you have the rest of your life to get it back.you may have an older restoration and it was a little neglected or not stored properly,which may indicate the basics are good shape.Have fun Ilove mine,my wife does too!! p.s. join the "BCCA" BUICK CAR CLUB OF AMERICA

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
×
×
  • Create New...