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1955 Buick and 1955 Chev. 2-door hardtops


alsfarms

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I am curious, how similar or different are the two above listed cars?  Does anyone have good information to be able to tell me if any parts are shared between then that would assist with a restoration of the other?  Also consider the Pontiac of the same vintage for comparison purposes.

Al

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Oh, friend, where to begin...  

 

Differences between Chevy and Buick?  Everything except a few electrical terminals and the ballast resistor.

 

Small Buicks shared some stuff with Olds, larger Buicks with Cady.  They sold half a million Buicks that year, so had no need to economize that much.  It is amazing how the different divisions went their own way in that era.

 

Buicks are bigger, a nicer ride, and a lot more flash.  You won't likely have another parked next to you in a car show.  Try riding in the back seat of a Buick, even a smaller Special or Century, and then try a Chevy.  

 

Buicks take a little more creativity and time in finding parts, but I have always found what I need.

 

Regardless, buy what suits you, your budget and the skills of you and the mechanics in your life.

 

FWIW, I love my '54 Buicks, and have been driving them since 1985.

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7 hours ago, Fr. Buick said:

FWIW, I love my '54 Buicks, and have been driving them since 1985.

 

When I was growing up in the 50's priests and doctors drove Buicks, usually black. Upscale enough to befit their status without being ostentatious ................Bob

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I had thought that Buick, Pontiac and Chev. had the same basic size platform onto which the bodies were built.  Same door with and etc.  I had an Uncle that drove a 1957 Buick 4 door hardtop for years.  He mentioned that he thought the basic car was very similar to the equivalent Pont. or Chev. version.  I do not have very much idea on the Olds version.

Al

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8 hours ago, Fr. Buick said:

Oh, friend, where to begin...  

 

Differences between Chevy and Buick?  Everything except a few electrical terminals and the ballast resistor.

 

Small Buicks shared some stuff with Olds, larger Buicks with Cady.  They sold half a million Buicks that year, so had no need to economize that much.  It is amazing how the different divisions went their own way in that era.

 

Buicks are bigger, a nicer ride, and a lot more flash.  You won't likely have another parked next to you in a car show.  Try riding in the back seat of a Buick, even a smaller Special or Century, and then try a Chevy.  

 

Buicks take a little more creativity and time in finding parts, but I have always found what I need.

 

Regardless, buy what suits you, your budget and the skills of you and the mechanics in your life.

 

FWIW, I love my '54 Buicks, and have been driving them since 1985.

 

X2 , No sheet metal , body parts  chassis parts , engines ,trans, rear , all different .

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Studied this issue fairly extensively. Wanted to install trim strips for the headliner. Took the side garnish above side widows on my 55 Cent 2dr ht to the stainless polishing guy who specializes in 55 Chev interior trim. layed my trim on his bench and the stainless side garnish from the 55 Belair 2 dr ht lay on it with a perfect match. He sold me both sides, freshly polished. I bought the repopped top chromed steel bows as well, but other than checking them by holding against my headliner to see if close cant verify yet if also good fit. In general Pont and Chev have a fair amount of interchange. Generally Buick Olds, Cadd have interchange. However, Buick had two widths from 54-56. Olds used same width 88&98. No blanket interchange, different part #s different divisions even if same part. It ain't easy to be sure other than side by side comparison. Interchange books(small,pricey) give obscure small parts inchange, SUCK! HOLLANDER gives lots of accurate interchange, but not regards small trim, mostly major parts. But very valuble imho.

 

 

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16 hours ago, alsfarms said:

I am curious, how similar or different are the two above listed cars?  Does anyone have good information to be able to tell me if any parts are shared between then that would assist with a restoration of the other?  Also consider the Pontiac of the same vintage for comparison purposes.

Al

 

Both are not similar at all.  Do not share parts that I'm aware of.  Maybe the headlight switch as a guess?   Both, however, have good parts support as well as forum support by members just like us! :)    

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Between 55 Chevy and 55 Buick, the inside and outside door handles may interchange.  But given the different door skin contours the outside is a crap shoot.  Can't think of anything else that's common.

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Agreed, Chevy and Pontiac were closer than Chevy and Buick.  But the differences abound in each comparison.

 

Chevy's, by nature, had to be easy to assemble and build.  Pontiacs and higher-level cars, which cost more, had more little things they did that cost a little more but made for a nicer car.  One difference in the Chevy and Pontiacs, which could be upgraded to the Chevy, was that '55 Chevy rear shocks had their upper mounts in the rear floorpan, so you heard "shock noise" on rough roads.  Pontiac had a bolt-in crossmember where their upper shock mounts were, which kept that shock noise in the frame rather than the floorpan.  A bolt-in deal that many got from the salvage yards for their '55 Chevies, with the appropriate shocks, probably.

 

Fisher Body items, as door handles, latches, radio antennas, dome lights, sun visors, etc. would have a common "General Motors Look" to them, but might have a small difference in the shape of where they attached to the body, but otherwise looked identical.  ALL of these things would have the common tactile look/operation so you knew you were in a GM car and not something else.  Just as the reliable operation of a Delco radio or Harrison hvac components would be common among the carlines.

 

There might be some crossover in rubber items, door bumpers, body mount pads, deck lid weatherstrips, etc.  There will be many similar items, but the issue would be in the length or total size dimension with the upper carlines being larger than a Chevy's similar item, although they'd operate the same.

 

Fisher Body allegedly "fought the battle" for more interchangeable parts between the particular platforms in the different carlines.  Therefore, many high-volume items might be more common than not, I suspect.  A basic metal stamping might be the same, but have different attaching flanges, or it would be bigger on the Buick, but cut-down on the Chevy,.  I'd suspect there might be more commonality between a Chevy BelAir and a Buick Special than a BelAir and a Roadmaster.  Station wagons could share roofs, as convertible tops might be shared on the Special/Century with the BelAir.

 

Back then, the GM divisions were about showing how much they were different than alike, by observation. Each had their own Chief Engineers who had different ways of doing things.  Some thjings, like lower control arms, would have had a shock mount provision for a stud mount, where as another division would have used a similar control arm (possibly with a few extra curves, but attaching points in the exact same place) that used a round lower shock bushing, with the flattened stud going through it with slots on the end for it to mount to the lower control arm with two bolts.  A better and more consistent mounting orientation and one with consistent noise insulation throughout it's life.  The basic shock would cost the same, but the way it's attached would be where the added expense would be (in the higher carline divisions).

 

The Chevies had to be less expensive to build and build quickly with a good degree of workmanship.  Less expensive in components, unless it was a "Fisher Body item" that was used on other carlines too.  Switches with a different mounting bracket, for example, that were otherwise identical in operation and design, or a fan switch with an extra speed on a Buick of Olds than on the Chevy.  Some of the ways Chevy did things looked "crude by comparison", but worked reliably fine, had good durability, and cost less, by observation.  For example, Wayne Meadlin (who'd previously been involved in the tri-5 Chevies) noted that where Chevrolet might use a coarse thread bolt, Buick would use a fine thread bolt in many locations (with the fine thread bolt having a more gradual torque application when it was installed, rather than "Wham.  There.  NEXT!"

 

I will agree that there are probably a few more things than can be used on a '55 Buick, but as everybody always figured they were different, nobody ever really looked, back then  (as the comment about the metal headliner top bows proves).  And it's that way even into the '60s.  The convertible top on my '68 LeSabre is shared with the Impala, Bonneville, and Delta 88, with the C-body Buick, Olds, and Cadillac having the other size of top.  The body mounts that LeSabre had "Chevrolet-series" part numbers cast into them.  But ask a repro vendor if their '68 Impala body mounts will fit a Buick and the answer will be "No".  Just have to look AND know the way the GM part numbers were apportioned out to the various car divisions.  Once you know that, it can be easy to know where to look.  Each carline had their own "deal" back then.  Parts, part numbers, parts warehouses, etc.

 

Many things to consider, but unless you ask or compare, you'll never know.  Don't expect parts vendors to know this stuff, either, although some might.  According to them, if our catalog doesn't say it fits, it doesn't . . . which is the "default mode" for them.  And if they don't appear interested, sharing more information with them might be problematic to them!  You're not "the expert" they normally give credibility too, so trying to educate them usually doesn't work.  Know what you're looking for, phone pictures and notes help, so you can compare the Chevy item with the Buick item.

 

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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  • 4 years later...

Hi Everyone,

I was at small car show today, looking for a 54 Century trunk lid.

One owner told me, that the 54 trunk lids were identical to Chvey trunk lids.

Anyone out there to answer the question or has one ?

 

Thank you.

 

Ralf

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