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My 1951 Model 52 Buick Super


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Engine is in the machine shop, they are going to see if the block or head are cracked, and then I have to make a decision if I'm gonna spend the money to machine it or not. Initial estimations for full rebuild were around 4500$. Yikers! I've got a few questions for you guys. If buying a used but running straight 8, what are the chances it breaks or needs expensive repairs done to it? The previously mentioned 53 buick also presents me with a dillema: It runs and drives, but I think the condition of the car it is in is better than my car right now, unless its frame or something is shot, so it seems counterproductive to take a good engine out of a good car to put in my beat up buick. What do you guys think?

 

I have also been thinking about swapping some sort of v8 in, although I really would prefer to have the straight 8. I know unless its a nailhead it basically needs a full new driveline for a v8, cmpared to the costs of straight 8 work, how much is it to buy a donor car and put a new driveline in?

 

Thoughts and advice are appreciated!

 

-Edwin

Edited by Edwin The Kid (see edit history)
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1 minute ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

Cheapest engine wise is to repair yours, assuming it can be repaired.   Do you know if the transmission works?   What else is bad with yours?

 

  You may be at a crossroad.

 

  Ben

cylinders need to be honed and probably bored, head needs some work, a lot of new parts to buy. No idea if the trans works, any idea how to find out? I dont have a running engine to test it on.

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Edwin,

You've displayed great work and tenacity so far in this exercise.......,but

First Born nailed the issue here.

 

Your personal motivations to be in the old car hobby with THIS car require some thought and decisions at this point.

 

If your objective is to resurrect THIS car as your personal challenge....then the $4500 for a rebuild will pale in comparison

to the money required to replace the brakes, wiring, glass work, interior, trans, sUspension parts, radiator, body parts, etc. etc.

Many of us have taken fugitives from boneyards and restored them.......Great personal satisfaction, but the word “underwater”

comes to mind in reviewing the realities of economics and the car’s value.

If this is your intention, then this group will help you get it done, but,  be advised........many thousands will need to be spent

just to make this car move under it’s own power down the highway.

 

If, however, you specifically want a 1951 Super 4 door to enjoy , and work on ,  and go to shows and cruises with......

then you will be better served by finding one that is running and in fairly good cosmetic condition for WAY less than the cost of

rebuilding your engine and trans.  

Please, don’t take offense, but, in this scenario the car you have is a parts car at best.

 Guessing you could find a presentable,

mechanically sound 4 door Super for well under $10,0000.

 

Repowering it with a modern drive train will still require all the above restoration costs.  

 

My advice is to pause, reflect, and choose a path before pulling the trigger on the engine work.     

 

We’ll be rooting for you whichever direction you take!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've done some thinking and I will continue to think through my options but here's what I'm thinking right now and I could use your knowledge.

Right now I've got a few options I'm considering:

 

1. rob a bank or something creative to get the money to rebuild my engine and make the car roadworthy

2. Buy a different Buick, possibly the 53 special mentioned before, it seems to be in good condition and won't be as hard/expensive to get on the road.

3. Keep my Buick and put a v8 in it. Either find a nailhead with a dynaflow that will go in relatively easy and won't require rebuilding of the engine or the rear suspension, or put a newer engine, maybe a buick 350 that needs minimal work, and put new rear suspension and rear end, and an open driveshaft in. I haven't been able to find much info on the cost/difficulty on this however

4.Sell my 51 for parts and start over, with a newer Buick or maybe a truck. How much could I expect to get from selling my buick? the frame seems to be pretty solid and I think there is a decent amount of useable parts.

 

Your thoughts and advice is always appreciated

 

-Edwin

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The 53 Special sounds like the easiest alternative. Then sell what you can from your Super.  

 

Or continue to look for a running straight 8 from someone who is hot rodding a different Buick.  

 

Is the Special a 2 dr car?  

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3 minutes ago, The 55er said:

Are you suggesting that this light green 4-door sedan pictured is a 1953 Buick Special? I don't think so.........looks like a 1952 Super to me. 

 

Its possible its a 52 super, seller says its a 53 but he is unable to open to hood at the moment, as apparently  he is on one leg

I think I see the remainders of a super badge so if it really is a straight 8 under the hood then it would be a 52

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2 hours ago, Edwin The Kid said:

Its possible its a 52 super,

 

It is definitely not a 1953. I have to say 51 or 52, and would defer to others but it is the same model you have.  So you would just need to figure out which one is easier to title and register in your State, and then combine the two for one decent vehicle.

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2 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

It is definitely not a 1953. I have to say 51 or 52, and would defer to others but it is the same model you have.  So you would just need to figure out which one is easier to title and register in your State, and then combine the two for one decent vehicle.

I'm pretty confident its a 52, judging by the side trim

Is it harder to register a vehicle that doesn't have a title from out of state? In Iowa at least all you need is a bill of sale and then theres some paperwork you fill out and send in and they send the title and plates in the mail

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14 minutes ago, Edwin The Kid said:

Is it harder to register a vehicle that doesn't have a title from out of state? In Iowa at least all you need is a bill of sale and then theres some paperwork you fill out and send in and they send the title and plates in the mail

I do not know what it is like in Iowa.  It seems every State has it's own set of rules.  But generally;  if it is a car that had a Title, then you need the Title endorsed in some manner by the owner of record, in order to get a new title in your own name.  Obviously there are ways to address the situation when the titled owner is no longer able to endorse the last title document.  But that also varies State by State.  Does the running '52 come with a Title?  Did your '52 come with a Title?  If not, then you should immediately contact your State's Motor Vehicle Department to learn what you will need to do, and do that now.  There is no point throwing money at fixing a car that you can never legally own. 

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@JohnD1956 Neither my 51 nor the 52 for sale has a title. My friend has experience in getting a car titled and registered that did not previously have a title. I have a dot application for registration and a bonded title that I have to fill out and mail in, along with a bill of sale for the car. As long as the car wasn't stolen they get me a title. I had all the paperwork mostly ready for my 51 but havent sent it in because why get a title for a car that can't drive yet? I'm pretty sure all I will need is a bill of sale from the owner of the 52

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2 hours ago, Edwin The Kid said:

 

Its possible its a 52 super, seller says its a 53 but he is unable to open to hood at the moment, as apparently  he is on one leg

I think I see the remainders of a super badge so if it really is a straight 8 under the hood then it would be a 52

 

 Oh, that is a 1952 Super, for sure. NO doubt. Probably a Model 52 Riviera Sedan.  The wheel covers were '52 Super and Roadmaster only, I believe.        THERE is your answer, if that engine is free. Most parts off the '51 will fit.  

  Lets see some more pictures of that one. 

 

  Ben

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On 6/9/2019 at 10:14 AM, Edwin The Kid said:

 

What part of the rebuild was the most expensive for you?

 

The machine work was (by far) the most expensive piece of the puzzle. The parts were ~ $1,500, all in.

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23 hours ago, Roadmaster75 said:

Edwin,

You've displayed great work and tenacity so far in this exercise.......,but

First Born nailed the issue here.

 

Your personal motivations to be in the old car hobby with THIS car require some thought and decisions at this point.

 

If your objective is to resurrect THIS car as your personal challenge....then the $4500 for a rebuild will pale in comparison

to the money required to replace the brakes, wiring, glass work, interior, trans, sUspension parts, radiator, body parts, etc. etc.

Many of us have taken fugitives from boneyards and restored them.......Great personal satisfaction, but the word “underwater”

comes to mind in reviewing the realities of economics and the car’s value.

If this is your intention, then this group will help you get it done, but,  be advised........many thousands will need to be spent

just to make this car move under it’s own power down the highway.

 

If, however, you specifically want a 1951 Super 4 door to enjoy , and work on ,  and go to shows and cruises with......

then you will be better served by finding one that is running and in fairly good cosmetic condition for WAY less than the cost of

rebuilding your engine and trans.  

Please, don’t take offense, but, in this scenario the car you have is a parts car at best.

 Guessing you could find a presentable,

mechanically sound 4 door Super for well under $10,0000.

 

Repowering it with a modern drive train will still require all the above restoration costs.  

 

My advice is to pause, reflect, and choose a path before pulling the trigger on the engine work.     

 

We’ll be rooting for you whichever direction you take!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edwin, 

 

What's being said above is 100% correct. I've been doing a frame-off restoration on a 51' Super Riv sedan for several years now and can tell you, the costs get crazy. When mine is finished I will have $30-40k invested in a car that'll probably be worth ~$25k. Rebuilding the straight 8 is a chore because there's a lot of machine work involved, they're heavy(!), and replacement blocks / heads are difficult to source. It took me a long time to find a machine shop willing to take mine on. Your $4,500 estimate isn't outrageous, in my experience. 

 

I considered swapping the LQ9 (a GM truck motor) into mine before deciding to rebuild my straight 8. Doing a V8 swap presents several issues, perhaps already mentioned here. The real problem is that the rear end and torque tube work together to provide stability in the back. Have a look at my rebuild thread "Saving Grace" for visuals. You'll notice that the rear end is only connected to the frame by two springs and a hollow stabilizer bar. The torque tube attaches to the differential at 3 points to provide the rigidity. If you want to go with a driveshaft, you'll need to make significant modifications under the car. Rebuilding your straight 8 will be much cheaper than doing this conversion. 

 

I like the idea of this other car, but keep in mind that most any original straight 8 you find is probably going to need a rebuild. These engines are tough, but they don't go 100k miles with regular oil changes like modern engines. With these, ~60-70k miles is about what you should expect between rebuilds. If you could find a decent, running straight 8 with lower miles you could simply drop it in and go. This might take some time, but they do pop up every now and again. You'd likely get the best deal buying from someone who's modding their Buick. 

 

It would be cheaper to buy a nicer Buick ($8,000 - 10,000) and part with yours, given it's current condition. That being said, if you're attached to this particular car (and willing to spend the money), putting it back on the road is certainly possible and would be very rewarding. Regardless of what you decide to do,  you'll have plenty of resources and support from all of us here. 🙂

 

 

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I've got a few more questions for the very helpful people on these forums. 

 

How much is my 51 buick worth in its current state? The 52 super is a good deal for what it is, but still probably will end up out of my price range in the end, not to mention the 8 hour drive makes getting it a bit of an issue. As much as I really love these 50s buicks the cost of fixing and maintaining them is sadly too much for my minimum wage summer job. I've been browsing the local craigslist for some more modern buicks, and I found a 61 skylark roller for 350$, and a 69 skylark roller for 1000$ that both would probably make cheaper projects. 

 

The last few days I've been going back and forth in my head between my options and if you guys could lend your knowledge and experience into what might be the better path would be I would be very grateful. 

Edited by Edwin The Kid (see edit history)
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Well, I guess I'd start by asking the following: 

 

- What's your budget?

- What's the extent of your mechanical abilities?

- What's your timeline?

 

Assuming that your car isn't eat up with rust, it can be restored. Yes, it will be expensive, but you certainly don't have to do a complete frame-off restoration. The big ticket items will be the usual suspects (engine, transmission, suspension tires, etc.), like on any other car.  Parts for these cars are relatively cheap and easy to find. I owned a 60's Mercedes a few years back that's upkeep would make a multi-millionaire wince! Maintaining these Buicks is quite cheap, compared to many other classic cars.

 

At the end of the day, it really comes down to you and what you want. If this is the car that you want to save, then I say have at it. You can always stop working when funds run dry and pick it up again later. That's what I've been doing on my project. If you read through my thread, you'll see that I was very ambitious about the timeline in the beginning. That was 2014 and the cab still isn't back on the frame. 🙃

 

Value is tough to peg because some buyers see treasure where others see a pile of junk. As an example, I paid $4,200 for my 1951 in 2014. It ran, but not well. It didn't drive because the brakes weren't working. Fuel was leaking everywhere from a busted line. The car had a nice newer (early 90s?) interior but was otherwise original. The floor pans were rusted out. The tires were junk. I still saw a $4,000 car. I knew that I was going to be tearing it down, so I wasn't concerned about those little things. If I had been looking for a good driver, I wouldn't have bought this particular car; I would have paid ~twice as much for one in better shape. 

 

When it comes to these Buicks, it's a buyer's market. The only way you'll know the value is to list the car and see if anyone bites. I'd start at $1,200 and work my way down. The car is worth more as parts than it is whole. I'd give you $100 for a decent 51' hood ornament right now! 😛

 

My $0.02: Bringing any car back from this point is a labor of love. If you're not in love with this car, it's probably best to let it go. 

 

 

 

Edited by WhipperSnapper (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok So I've thought for a while and I have decided to sell my buick. I wish I didn't have to but Its going to be too expensive for me at this time to get on the road. I'm going to make a post over in the buy sell forum area and will be parting out the car or selling whole if anyone wants it. If I could make enough back on parts I'll keep the car around until I'm older and then rebuild it if I can.

 

I'd like to thank all you nice and helpful people for willing to take the time to explain and advise me on this project, and I'd like you to know that I've been converted to the buick side, and I'm looking for a cheap one from the muscle car area, as I really love the look and they are a little more affordable than these straight 8s(all though the I8s are way cooler)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Its me again! I have listed the car on craigslist and haven't had much luck selling it, and I'm still going over my options and thinking through all this more, and if a straight 8 ever pops up I'll probably go for it.

Anyways we are getting a cement floor in our big shed! No more working in the dirt or not being able to work after it rains cause the floor is mud! This is exciting but also there is a bit of a problem. I have to move the Buick out of the shed. The problem here is that the engine and trans are out of the car, and I need to keep the rear axle from moving. Can this be achieved by tying it to the frame with a ratchet strap and some rope? 

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Edwin,

Check out the Buy/Sell forum and look for a thread about parting out a 49 Hardtop.  The seller has other Buicks that he's parting out as well. One car is described as being driven to where it's parked now.  Most are listed as being Dynaflow equipped cars.

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17 minutes ago, RivNut said:

Edwin,

Check out the Buy/Sell forum and look for a thread about parting out a 49 Hardtop.  The seller has other Buicks that he's parting out as well. One car is described as being driven to where it's parked now.  Most are listed as being Dynaflow equipped cars.

I looked past this post at first as at the top it said no motor, but thanks for leading me to this. I'm also located not too far from cedar rapids so getting the engine wouldn't be too much of a drive.

From what I see on wikipedia at least, pre 1950 cars either had the 320 or a 248. Would using one of these different size engines be a problem? 

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31 minutes ago, Edwin The Kid said:

I looked past this post at first as at the top it said no motor, but thanks for leading me to this. I'm also located not too far from cedar rapids so getting the engine wouldn't be too much of a drive.

From what I see on wikipedia at least, pre 1950 cars either had the 320 or a 248. Would using one of these different size engines be a problem? 

No problem if they'll fit.  That would be a question you'd need to ask on the same thread that you've started.  If you were to ask me about 64 - 65 Rivieras, I could answer any question you posed.  I just happened to read some unread threads as I drank my morning coffee and put yours and the 49 Parts car together.  I imagine that it would bolt to the transmission, but I would think that motor mounts might be different.  Is there a complete car in that ad that would be of interest to you?  Might be an option.    Specials are smaller all around than Supers and Roadmasters.  Probably not much if any interchange.  That's why the 53 Special still had a straight 8 and the 53 Super and Roadmaster had the new V8.  You might be able to transplant an engine, just ask the guys who deal with these cars.  My dad had a  '38 Special back in the late 50's. It needed an engine rebuild.  He was looking for an engine out of a '53 Special because in that year Buick did away with the babbits  and went to bearings in the mains and the rods.  Look for one of those if you decide on a new engine.  (he never found one but didn't look to hard either. Sold an otherwise really nice car for a song.)  Good luck in your search

 

Ed 

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3 hours ago, Edwin The Kid said:

Its me again! I have listed the car on craigslist and haven't had much luck selling it, and I'm still going over my options and thinking through all this more, and if a straight 8 ever pops up I'll probably go for it.

Anyways we are getting a cement floor in our big shed! No more working in the dirt or not being able to work after it rains cause the floor is mud! This is exciting but also there is a bit of a problem. I have to move the Buick out of the shed. The problem here is that the engine and trans are out of the car, and I need to keep the rear axle from moving. Can this be achieved by tying it to the frame with a ratchet strap and some rope? 

 

  Yes

 

  Ben

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7 hours ago, Edwin The Kid said:

I looked past this post at first as at the top it said no motor, but thanks for leading me to this. I'm also located not too far from cedar rapids so getting the engine wouldn't be too much of a drive.

From what I see on wikipedia at least, pre 1950 cars either had the 320 or a 248. Would using one of these different size engines be a problem? 

Scott Farrington stated that these cars were left out in the woods 40 years ago. Do you really think one of those engines from Cedar Rapids is gonna be any better than the stuck rusty engine you have now?

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3 hours ago, The 55er said:

Scott Farrington stated that these cars were left out in the woods 40 years ago. Do you really think one of those engines from Cedar Rapids is gonna be any better than the stuck rusty engine you have now?

 

Good point, I'll probably keep looking for now

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  • 1 month later...

Not sure where you are at at this point, but just to throw it out there, we have what we believe to be a 1952 263 that we would like to sell. It has been in indoor storage for about 20 years. It was a running engine at that time. Engine is on Long Island. Please let me know if you have an interest.

Edited by Classic Buicks
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  • 8 months later...

Time to briefly revive this dead thread about my Buick! I still have it, and big things are happening over the summer. I will be moving all my progress over to the modified section of the forum soon. For now, here are the last pictures of my Buick in it's original form, and also featuring my friends 53 Chevy 210, which is in rather nice original condition.

 

 

IMG_4880.thumb.JPG.d111a983b638cbf3d2706288613f2a27.JPGIMG_4878.thumb.JPG.de1dd9fa94877973834eec6f520f5ed8.JPGIMG_4875.thumb.JPG.d3d11090ee53a4ce4e011abc1f6961ab.JPGIMG_4877.thumb.JPG.0304e8b2161c1c9039f90d7cb9f80e79.JPG

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