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'53 Buick Special Hood Fit Ideas? (Repair and Outcome)


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I've owned my '53 Special for 15 years, and the hood has never fit right.  I've tried about every adjustment I can make, but I think the hood's out of shape.  You can see from the pictures that it's high on the back edges where it meets the fenders, and it's also wide where it meets the doors.  In the center of the hood at the cowl, it's low.  The 1952 shop manual mentions reshaping the hood with turnbuckles if it's wide, but Buick changed the hood to the alligator style in '53, so I don't know if that's an option or if it's something I should even attempt on a painted car.


In retrospect, I should have dealt with it when I had the car painted after a driveway incident 10 years ago, but sometimes I'm a little daydreamy and will miss the obvious, to my later chagrin.  

Anyway, I've lived with this for 15 years, and it's not that important, but if anyone with advanced bodywork experience has any ideas, I'm just thinking about possible options aside from trying to find another hood and painting it.  

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Try replacing all tubber that touches the hood first.  Then see if bringing down the winges a bit helps.  

 

These things never had great fitment at the factory like we are used to today.

 

FYI, there is a decent hood at Desert Valley Salvage in Casa Grande, Arizona. 

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I can't really help except to add that my '51's hood tends to overlap and stick out where it joins both front doors and mine never has been hit. Looks kinda sloppy but it's factory correct I believe.

I like your paint combo !!

 

 

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And it looks like you are missing a hood brace under hood at center rear - more of an anti-rattle than a brace, with a piece that bolts to the cowl and another on the hood.  That might help with height at the center rear.  Desert Valley should have that as well.

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46 minutes ago, Fr. Buick said:

And it looks like you are missing a hood brace under hood at center rear - more of an anti-rattle than a brace, with a piece that bolts to the cowl and another on the hood.  That might help with height at the center rear.  Desert Valley should have that as well.

 

 

Good catch Doug.  I would think the center hood support would lift the rear middle of the hood thus pulling the edges of the hood by the front doors making them a bit more snug.     

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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Thanks for all the replies (I like your colors too, Kestrel).  I tried the center support once but as I recall, it pushed the hood farther up in the back, which made the edges even worse.  In reply to Chris, I've never actually looked at the edges to see if there has been major bodywork done there; the hood looks pretty normal underneath, but anything's possible over 67 years.  The Super and Roadmaster (I believe) had adjustable fender tops to line up with the hood, but the Special doesn't have that.  I've shimmed them up as much as possible but it's obviously not nearly enough.  I'll try to find that support and see if I can make it help, but I've been messing with it so long that I've forgotten everything I've tried.  I know I've tried everything with hinge adjustment.

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I just remembered - I had a similar problem on the back of my '54 trunk lid, no accident damage but variances from the factory, I suppose.  I was able to lift it up a bit by using various thicknesses of wood dowels about two inches long and tapered at the ends with a body file and covered in a big of shop rag to distribute the force.  I put the dowels into the drip rail in various places and closed the lid down on them, in effect lifting the lid relative to the rear deck.  It took a while, but now much improved.  Maybe this might work on the hood?  Remember, you have to go a little over-board to move it enough and then settle down to where it wants to be.    The cowl will be sturdy enough but you will have to find a strong point under the rear of the hood for where to apply bending-force.

 

Is there a good attaching point at the back corners of the hood - maybe at the hinge mounts, or use the hinge arms themselves right under the bolts - to attach a sort of turn buckle and cables?  Perhaps use all four hinge points to distribute the force better.  That would at least draw it in enough to give you a visual of where you need to go.  Then go farther and farther gradually, while applying helper-force at the hood center, until the spring-back is where you want it to be. 

 

Last resort, remove the hood at the four hinge arms, place it upside down under padded saw horses on the left and right sides, and apply downward pressure with your hands in the center area of the rear.  Measure width and height as you go, so you have an idea of progress before trial-fitting.

 

Maybe the middle has just sagged downward due to age and heat and use?  That and wear in the hinges.  

 

Keep us posted!

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These are all good ideas, Doug.  It's like you're reading my mind with the turnbuckles; my thought was to remove two of the rearmost bolts, but they have that weird bolt head on them - they're shaped kind of like a baked potato.  It might be better to use hooks attached to the rear hinge itself and just give it a gentle pull to suck the sides in.

 

First, I'll probably try your dowel idea, but I'm having a hard time picturing what you did - did you close the hood over the short dowels and then use pressure on the edges to crown the hood a little?  

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Aaron: 

 

Does your Special have the longer hood guide pin and upgraded latch?

I changed out the originals on mine to the “upgraded” ones outlined in the Buick Service Bulletin book, and there was a noticeable fit and alignment improvement afterward. 
 

(and slathering the hinges with lithium grease helped too)

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8 hours ago, JBP said:

Aaron: 

 

Does your Special have the longer hood guide pin and upgraded latch?

I changed out the originals on mine to the “upgraded” ones outlined in the Buick Service Bulletin book, and there was a noticeable fit and alignment improvement afterward. 
 

(and slathering the hinges with lithium grease helped too)

Yes, it does.  I think mine was built pretty late in the model year, like July or August 1953.  

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I found the hood support I got from a salvage yard here in Michigan (actually, the guy who painted the car did).  It's pretty rough.  I assume the "roller" is supposed to roll...mine is frozen pretty solid (and it's not quite round anymore).  I'll keep soaking it.

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  • 2 months later...

I wanted to update this thread in case anyone in the future has similar problems/questions.  In short, my hood hinges were shot - I sent them out to Wilson's in Virginia to be rebuilt, and the difference is amazing, as you can see.  They also made me a new set of shoulder bolts, because they were worn as well.  The hood fit is certainly not perfect, but it's a ton better, and as others have mentioned, they probably weren't perfect to begin with.  Good enough for me!  

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Edited by Aaron65 (see edit history)
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  • Aaron65 changed the title to '53 Buick Special Hood Fit Ideas? (Repair and Outcome)

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