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Considering a 1957 Buick Century


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I have owned a few old Buicks; a '39 special; a '40 Super, A '48 super and a '58 Special.  The '57 I am considering is from the mid west and I am in the southwest so that makes this potential purchase that much more dicey!


It is a '57 Century with the V8 and the dyna-flow transmission.  It does not have AC! I have validated the Data plate and does match what is on the car.  The seller indicates he's owned it for 20 plus years and done nothing to it besides replacing the fuel sender, adding rear seat belts and changing the battery.  These old cars need maintenance and it sounds as though this one sat in the garage and was barely driven or maintained.  Also it has 'helper' springs coiled around all the shocks.  The radio, speedo and clock don't work.  Besides surface rust on the undercarriage I cannot see in the pictures there's any 'rust through' areas.  The trunk floor and door jambs look real good.  The seller states it's pretty original with one respray 20 plus years ago with no color change.


So my questions are as follows:


1)  How strong are the Dyna-Flow transmissions.  Can't say when the last fluid change was.  Do they go south with only spotty use?


2)  If I change the front and rear springs would I assume after all this time the ball joints (which are pricey) and control arm bushings are shot as well?


3)  Is drive train been known to have inherent issues.


4)  The speedometer is stuck at 100 mph when the car is parked.  Is that a speedo cable? Or the aux speedo gear drive off the tranny is shot? Or "take out the speedometer and send it out for repairs"?


5)  Any advise as to what to look for when before buying this car?


Any advise would be greatly appreciated!








Edited by deac (see edit history)
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My 2 cents:


The Dynaflow may have a higher tendency to become sluggish if seals dry out from decades of sitting.  However if it's been driven even a little every now and then it's probably fine.  They also like to leak out of the back, which can be fixed.


Ball joints and bushings, hard to say.  It's a function of mileage and how well they were greased more than of time.


Other than the Dynaflow quirks and possible failure of vacuum pump located in oil pan (which isn't a big deal if you don't plan to use your wipers) these are pretty dependable cars.


The speedometer almost certainly needs a repair to the drum, a common problem on these.  There was a campaign to replace with a better design, but many cars didn't receive it.


Look for rust in rear bumper ends and rear inner frame rails in front of rear wheels.

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Thank Lance! It looks to be a solid car. The chrome looks decent. I don't see cracks in the glass. The upholstery is not ripped or torn and it's original to the car. The engine compartment is a mess! I can fix a lot of things but since this car has sat it will be quite a project!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Awesome for another 57 on the road! 


I concur with Lance on his recommendations and comments. My only add ight be that unless the front and rear springs are really worn, check the road height. Coil over shocks don't necessarily mean you need new springs. You may not need to replace them. They are pretty sturdy items. Ball joints are way different and what most places say is sloppy, on a 57 they may be in tolerance. 


Get a Chassis Manual and a Body Manual. They are priceless when it comes to understanding and working on your 57. They are readily available on eBay or througj Hometown Buick on the internet. 


I agree with Lance on the speedo. They are very temperamental for sure. Rebuild costs about $300. Radio might be a fuse, but there are guys out there who rebuild and repair them. With the clock, if you read the chassis manual on that, it might be that it needs a wind and reset from the battery. There is a whole process on setting and disconnecting the clock in the manual.


Areas of concern: body: drivers floor; trunk floor; firewall; inner rockers; (at least with my 3 57's)


Definitely would like to see pictures for sure! Ask questions anytime. They guys on the forum are always willing to help. 

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