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Daily Drive 53 Special?


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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone, first post here, I appreciate everyone keeping these classics alive! So first things first, I'm a young kid, and interested in a 53 Buick Special 4 door with the 263 Straight 8 and the original Dynaflow. I've researched this car and other post-war Buicks quite a bit and know about the torque tube, converting suspension, all of the things that increase drivability but are out of my budget. My question is, to everyone that owns original post-war Buicks with Dynaflows, is the car worthy of being a daily driver? 

 

I'm talking about highway speeds of at least 65 to 70, for at least the half hour it takes for me to get to work. Also for road trips, I'd like to keep up with traffic, I just don't know if the engine will be strained too hard. Out of all the research I've done, I just can't seem to find a straight answer. Some say Buicks with the Dynaflow are junk and can't keep up with anything today, others say they can cruise 80 all day long without problems. 

 

I would just like some more info about it, and if I can keep it original. If the car can't go 60 without problems, then its not worth getting based on where I live (in the middle of nowhere, and where farmers do 90 down country roads)

 

I wouldn't like to be flamed for thinking I need to get everywhere fast, I would just like to know if the car is capable of keeping up with everyday traffic

 

Also, I'd maybe like to know the advantages of switching to 12 volt, since it still has the 6v system.

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Just_Some_Young_Kid (see edit history)
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I have a '53 Special, and the best way to describe the car is that it will easily go 75, but it doesn't really LIKE going 75.  I'm accustomed to driving old cars, and I've had my Special since I was 28 (16 years now, yikes!).  Every car has a natural cruising speed, and the '53 is happiest going 60-65 on the freeway, so that's how fast I drive.  It's probably my favorite car, but it's not the one I'd choose as a daily driver for high speed use.  One other thing...the gas mileage is pretty bad, if that matters.  I don't keep track very closely, but it's in the 10-14 MPG range.  Don't think I'm trying to tell you that these are bad cars - they're amazing - I love driving mine!  Times have changed since 1953 though, and if you're not used to driving old cars regularly, I don't want you to be disappointed in your purchase.  

Additionally, are you in a salty area?  A few winters will destroy an old car, just like they did when the cars were new.  If you're in a salt-free area and you want an old car as a daily driver for freeway use, you may want to consider something a little newer, even a few years.  Horsepower rating jumped rapidly in the 1950s, and even a '55 Buick would be better suited to the freeway.   

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@Just_Some_Young_Kid first of all, Thanks for doing your research.  The question you pose is exactly what people need to ask before just assuming an old car is awesome when it really may not fit their need.

 

To add to Aarons post above I would like to add,  the 53 Special may keep up with your local traffic but it will not handle well at that speed.  The steering and brakes are adequate when driven within the context of the cars era.  But if you really want to do 80 -90 MPH I believe you will find that car in a ditch within a short period of time. 

 

In my own opinion, I like to use my 56 Buick to experience what it was like in 1956.  Back then life was a little slower on the roads.  Not so many freeways and highways, and likely, not so far to go for basics.  Less people riding your back bumper at 65 mph, and getting mad at you because you left yourself a few car lengths to make sure your brakes worked if there was an emergency.   While the 56 is surely capable of todays traffic, I still don't appreciate it driving that fast.   But there is more to the specific car you are talking about.

 

In the 50-59 years there were so many changes to the Buick engineering that in many instances parts do not even interchange between years.   1953 was probably a watershed moment for the Buick line up.

 

The 53 Special uses a straight 8 while the other two Buicks used the new V8 that year.  I do not know if the V8 and Straight 8 used the same Dynaflow transmission.  But the Special definitely uses a version of the earlier Dynaflow which unfortunately earned its reputation as a sluggish combination.   At least you have the largest straight 8 in the history of the marquee there.  But getting to the speed of todays traffic will be astonishingly slow, and may sour you on the vehicle.  You have to bump up to a 55 or 56 to get into a better Dynaflow for acceleration, and it can STILL be agonizingly slow under certain circumstances.  I have not driven any Buicks in the '58-64 range.  But the 57 Special I had for a while was  as nice performer for speed but handling was still a challenge.  The 65 Electra I drove for a long period was a very nice performer,  but still wasn't a great handling car if driven hard into corners.  

 

To shorten this up, under the conditions you mentioned in your post, I would not recommend a stock 53 Buick Special for your daily commuter. You really want to get to 1965 and up for that.

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Posted (edited)

Welcome, Young Kid

  I am 84. I drove 1940 and 1950 Buicks when I was in the teens.  Slow was not an option.   As AAron says,  65 is NO problem.  Running 70 will sound to your young ears as if it is flying.  Todays cars are geared faster and have the torque to run the engine in the low 2000s , even less. The '53 will be running upper 2000s or more. MADE TO DO SO!. Will not hurt a thing , assuming all is in good condition.  

  The Dynaflow is another deal.  Assuming it is in good condition, it will sound to you as if it is slipping. That "sound" has relegated many to the junk pile by folks who know no better.  First of, IT DOES NOT SHIFT.  In drive, it is a torque converter.  Mash on it and it will go. Just sounds as if it is not.  Really need to go and sound like it? place in L to about 50+ , then move to D.

 

 Aaron is pretty close on fuel mileage. Should do a little better, maybe his upper range. From your " half hour " to go to work, may we assume 20 miles?   40 round trip.?  Probably around $4.00 per day more than something of the last10 years.

 

  Don't even begin to listen to folks of 50 or younger when talking about old cars. [ Aaron is an exception] They were not there.

 

  PLEASE, let us know what you decide.

 

  Ben

 

  P.S.

   Just read John's post.   I know where he is coming from based on where he lives.  You live where "farmers drive 90 on dirt roads". Betting you do not have same driving conditions. 

Edited by Ben Bruce aka First Born (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

out of my budget.

Put your main focus on getting a bigger budget. Actual job skills or recognition by accredited organizations, both preferably, will do that. I was 24 a long time ago and had a 4 year old '68 Riviera as a daily driver and a '39 Buick for my old car. In this hobby you need at least two cars. A range from two to seven cars is fine. And a garage to protect them.

 

I live in a suburban/farm area where I could drive an old car on a daily basis but, to me, it would detract from the fun and the uniqueness of having an old car.

 

If you drive your old car all the time it becomes kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich. When getting it out for weekends and special stuff, well, then you have a pannini.

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8 hours ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

. . . My question is, to everyone that owns original post-war Buicks with Dynaflows, is the car worthy of being a daily driver? . . . 

 

Here's the best advice I can give you. You might want to thank me for the rest of your life — maybe not. :D  

 

The novelty of driving an old car these days as a daily driver plus keeping it maintained and/or finding a knowledgeable mechanic to keep it running won't take long to wear out.  Consider these two items from a 1953 Buick Salesman's Facts Book: (1) on the heels of power steering introduced in 1952, (2) Buick power brakes are here to take over the final major driving effort — and the most frequently needed one. You don't say whether the Buick has power steering that was available only as an option for the first time on any 1953 SPECIAL 40-Series models plus the fact that it doesn't have power brakes unless they were added after the car rolled off the assembly line. Buick's first-year power brakes in 1953 were not offered on the 1953 40 or 50 series models plus Buick had numerous  brake problems then and 60+ years later, they are still difficult to maintain. There's a local club member who owns a 1953 Buick SUPER V-8 56R two-door hardtop without power steering and power brakes and he and his wife don't enjoy driving or parallel parking it whenever they take it out for a cruise. Add to that, his wife doesn't like not having an FM radio.  :rolleyes:

 

Good luck on your decision.

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint" 

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Posted (edited)

I drive a 54 Buick Special.  No power brake or steering.   3 speed to boot.  It gets a bit tiring driving this vehicle.   Yes, she'll do 70 but is not really feeling it and prefers 55.   At the end of a long trip going to and from a car show I have learned to appreciate the modern car.    However, I know the old girl has no power anything and expect the performance she provides for the time she was manufactured.  As far as dependability, she has never not once not started and propelled herself down the road under her own power.  Very dependable.   I would driver the 54 anywhere(stick to country roads if I can).

 

Then there is the 60 Electra.  Night and day compared to the 54.  Power everything.  Not only keeps up with traffic but also sets the pace some days.  I would drive it everyday without issue.  Also very dependable.     

       

Edited by avgwarhawk (see edit history)
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8 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

The 53 Special uses a straight 8 while the other two Buicks used the new V8 that year.  I do not know if the V8 and Straight 8 used the same Dynaflow transmission.  But the Special definitely uses a version of the earlier Dynaflow which unfortunately earned its reputation as a sluggish combination.   At least you have the largest straight 8 in the history of the marquee there.  But getting to the speed of todays traffic will be astonishingly slow, and may sour you on the vehicle. 

 

Hey John,

Both the V8 and the 263 were upgraded to the Twin-Turbine Dynaflow in '53; I believe the only difference is in the number of stator vanes (and the bellhousing?).  Zero-sixty does take about 15 seconds, maybe even a little longer.  

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65-70 is no problem unless the engine has significant wear, then 55-60 until rebuilt.

Before driving at any speed rebuild the brake system and suspension including shocks and panhard bar bushings.  Then test panic stops and handling on an empty parking lot.

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I am all for keeping these classics alive and on the road and I really can't speak for old Buicks since I've only owned a few of them (maybe I shouldn't comment here) but I owned quite a few 1949-1956 V8 Oldsmobiles in my time and in general they were all fine cars as year round daily drivers. One 49, two 51s, two stick shift 54s & a 56 come to mind. 6 volt, 12 volt, didn't matter to me. Yes they were all antiques when I was using them and they DO require some more maintenance & repairs than a modern car does but I didn't think anything of it at the time and drove the wheels off all of them. I did all my own body, paint & mechanical repair work.  You become familiar with the vehicle, learn how to drive an old car, maintain it and keep it reliable and safe to drive, learn what it can & can't do and off you go. Those Rocket engines would accelerate fine in modern traffic and easily cruise on interstates at 70-75 plus mph. All were driven daily on a 40 mile round trip back & forth to work. Worst problem I had was I needed a Hydramatic rebuild (by someone else) on one of the 51s. I certainly wore out a lot of tires on those Oldsmobiles. If you're an ambitious person and really want to drive an old car I think you should give it a shot and see how it works out. Everyone has their own vehicle preference, Buicks were also cars with a fine reputation and if that's your preference then go for it. IMO today though I would prefer an old car with a V8 engine and a 12 volt electrical system for daily use. Good luck if you decide to do it and this should make for an interesting thread!

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Sorry everyone, it's been a long day at work, but thank you all who responded, I appreciate it.

 

So I know it's an antique and should be driven like how it was back in the day, and I'm guessing it's on the line of not being able to drive everywhere. I'm sure it could do it, it just sounds like it wouldn't do it confidently. I know it makes sense to only drive it maybe once a week or so, and yes I do live in the rust belt but I can easily store it over the winter.

 

For anyone wondering, I am a mechanic, work on both cars and bikes, and thought this Buick would be a fun project car. Again, it's got the straight 8, owner said the valves need adjusted but that it ran and drove when parked at least a year ago, just needs a "tune up" (whatever that would entail) and some brake work since the pedal goes to the floor. No power brakes or steering, needs some minor body work but a major paint job.

 

The redeeming quality is that the interior is all original and all there, complete with the "Sonomatic" AM radio and the B-U-I-C-K preset buttons, engine and transmission is all there even with the washer fluid jar, no rust on the frame, just surface rust on the body but none on the body mounts, even the trunk with the original carpet and spare tire. All glass is original, clean and clear. 44,948 miles.

 

I was only interested because it's a steal, $2000!

 

However, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes to invest money and time into this particular car. I think it would make more sense for a more desirable car, but I've had the classic car itch ever since I fixed up my grandma's 64 Thunderbird so we could sell it for her, it was a real creampuff. The only thing stopping me is the paint and body, as I dont have much experience in body work at all besides replacing bumpers and fenders at a dealership.

 

So my new question is, is it possible to have a classic car on a budget? I know it costs a lot but I figure I can do most of the work myself. Is this a question for another forum? Again, thank you for all your helpful responses!

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Define classic car. Having a classic car on a budget might be possible but is highly unlikely. You might think the 53 Buick is a steal but there's definitely a reason why the person is selling it for only $2000. Quality paint and body work today is very expensive. 

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3 hours ago, Aaron65 said:

 

Hey John,

Both the V8 and the 263 were upgraded to the Twin-Turbine Dynaflow in '53; I believe the only difference is in the number of stator vanes (and the bellhousing?).  Zero-sixty does take about 15 seconds, maybe even a little longer.  

 

Thanks to you and @Ben Bruce aka First Born for helping me to be enlightened.  I did not know that about the trans being twin Turbine Dynaflows in all models.    

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52 minutes ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

Sorry everyone, it's been a long day at work, but thank you all who responded, I appreciate it.

 

So I know it's an antique and should be driven like how it was back in the day, and I'm guessing it's on the line of not being able to drive everywhere. I'm sure it could do it, it just sounds like it wouldn't do it confidently. I know it makes sense to only drive it maybe once a week or so, and yes I do live in the rust belt but I can easily store it over the winter.

 

For anyone wondering, I am a mechanic, work on both cars and bikes, and thought this Buick would be a fun project car. Again, it's got the straight 8, owner said the valves need adjusted but that it ran and drove when parked at least a year ago, just needs a "tune up" (whatever that would entail) and some brake work since the pedal goes to the floor. No power brakes or steering, needs some minor body work but a major paint job.

 

The redeeming quality is that the interior is all original and all there, complete with the "Sonomatic" AM radio and the B-U-I-C-K preset buttons, engine and transmission is all there even with the washer fluid jar, no rust on the frame, just surface rust on the body but none on the body mounts, even the trunk with the original carpet and spare tire. All glass is original, clean and clear. 44,948 miles.

 

I was only interested because it's a steal, $2000!

 

However, the more I think about it, the less sense it makes to invest money and time into this particular car. I think it would make more sense for a more desirable car, but I've had the classic car itch ever since I fixed up my grandma's 64 Thunderbird so we could sell it for her, it was a real creampuff. The only thing stopping me is the paint and body, as I dont have much experience in body work at all besides replacing bumpers and fenders at a dealership.

 

So my new question is, is it possible to have a classic car on a budget? I know it costs a lot but I figure I can do most of the work myself. Is this a question for another forum? Again, thank you for all your helpful responses!

 

 

Yes, you can operate a classic car on a budget. Depends on the budget!  Thing is, once everything is up to snuff it basically gas and go. Change the oil.  Wash it.  Just like any car. 

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3 minutes ago, The 55er said:

Define classic car. Having a classic car on a budget might be possible but is highly unlikely. You might think the 53 Buick is a steal but there's definitely a reason why the person is selling it for only $2000. Quality paint and body work today is very expensive. 

I apologize, I know the term "budget" has a different meaning to everyone. This might seem low, but 7 to 10k is about the highest I can go, I'm far from being retired so money is more of an issue for me. Its either this or another cheap motorcycle, lol. I'm definitely willing to learn how to do paint and body work myself, as I dont have the means to fully restore anything.

 

Classic car, to me anyway, is a land yacht with a nice open interior, long bench seats, maybe some lap belts, and can't forget the smokers windows. Something to just cruise and look cool while doing it, not to race around corners or run at top speed all the time.

 

Thanks for the reply!

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You can ABSOLUTELY have an old car in your budget.  Keep an eye out here on the forum; there's a spot where people post old cars they find for sale online and in person.  

https://forums.aaca.org/forum/161-not-mine-automobiles-for-sale/

 

The key is realistic expectations.  You'll probably get decent paint but not show car paint.  You may end up with a four-door, which isn't a bad thing for a lot of people.  If you keep an open mind, you can certainly find something interesting and usable for your price range or even less.  People post them here all the time.  All of my stuff is in driver condition, some better than others, and I've had a GREAT time in this hobby.  

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I got in over my head as a novice with a 54 special in high school (1985), and have learned and grown in the hobby ever since, smiling all the way.

 

Buy the Buick and a super cheap econo car.  Have fun with the Buick a day or two each week, and save your pennies for repairs down the road.  When you are hunting for parts, or taking your time to fix the 53, you can drive the beater and not feel rushed.  

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Here are some pictures I took the last time I saw it, I have a lot more.

 

I'm not worried about the paint being show car quality, just a rough coat would be enough for me and this car, and that's exactly what I would do with it is drive it once or twice a week.

 

Thank you for giving me the scoop on finding old cars, I would be fine with any other American classic, as long as they dont top out at 50.

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my advice,

Buy the car, bring brakes and suspension, steering up to spec as suggested above.

Since you’re a mechanic already, the support team here has your back on any trans or engine

issues you may encounter along the way.  
As far as body/paint……. DA the whole car with 220 then 320.  Either just prime it or……

head down to your pals at the local tint/vinyl wrap emporium and have them wrap it in exchange for some 

promotional consideration…….  I’d bet they’d love to see their rolling ad on a 53 Buick!  Then when ready for paint just peel

it off.

 

Throw a mini bike in the trunk for a little insurance and enjoy the whole experience!

Welcome!

 

 

 

 

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Go for it. He will probably take a little less, but at this point $500-$1000 doesn't mean much in the overall scheme of things.  avgwarhawk is right on with the sanding. I made one as bad or worse look pretty good wet sanding with 600 grit. I also painted a Semi truck [ tractor [or cab[] with rattle cans . Drove that sucker for three years, 100,000 miles per year, and still looked good from 15-20 feet.

 

  Ben

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That paint has deteriorated from exposure to rain and other elements. I have bought cars with that paint condition and come out with decent 20 footers, maybe even 10 footers.

Don't go after it like a body man. You will end up spending way too much money and be committed to a repaint.

 

NAPA makes a good chrome polish cream that has a mild abrasive. If you use that on the car it will remove the brown rust tracking that has bled over the existing paint. The spots where you have big boogers will take some brush touching. You wouldn't believe what a different it makes to just gently clean and polish everything in sight.

 

The budget thing is tricky. Say I have a budget of $100 per year year for tires. I get 10 years out of a set of period correct tires, not bad. But there are quite a few who get a case of the blind stutters when they think of spending $1,000 on tires. Cars are expensive for toys. Realize that early or you could prematurely turn into some crotchety old man no one wants to be around.

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Again, I appreciate all the responses and help, you all have great suggestions. Can't thank you guys enough. Sorry for the slow responses as I have a full time job.

 

I've decided I want to buy the car this Sunday, I already have the money set aside for it.

 

As far as the appearance goes, wouldn't it be a bit disrespectful to the Buick guys to keep it as is? It's mostly just surface rust, the only places its rusted through is a tiny spot above the right rear wheel and the spot you can see right behind the headlight housing. Again I have little experience with body work but would at least like to fill in the holes before they get worse.

 

In the mean time, here's a few more pictures of her, and yes it does have the valve cover.

 

And Ben, thank you for the offer, I might have to take you up on that for some quick advice.

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In my opinion leaving the original paint on the car wouldn't be disrespectful. If you don't have the budget to do a nice paint job on it I think that cleaning up the old paint as best as you can and fixing the rust is just as respectful to the car. You'll probably want to put most of your resources into making the drivetrain reliable. Plus, you only have the original paint once!

 

Just my 2 cents from one young person to another.

Definitely keep us updated on the forum! Everyone here is super helpful.

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You will always find self-appointed concour judges who will be hyperventilating with their legs crossed and eyes rolled back dying to point out flaws to you. In most instances they will be arms length away from the flaw in question. As you age and observe you will notice they need to touch whatever they question. The sense of touch is the only reliable human sense. Sight, smell, sound mean little. They have to touch. I make it easy. I leave at least one very obvious flaw so they can ask "When are you going to fix that?" (I have a way of copying their voice that really annoys my wife. )Just be sure to leave them something easy to find fault with and get past that part quickly. Believe me, it helps.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I was thinking the same thing, get the car mechanically sound and drive it, worry about the paint later. Good idea on the chrome polish, I'll have to try that. Although the other thing I'm worried about is window seals, they aren't looking too good either. I also need to find some door and trunk seals, and I would be okay with the generic adhesive backed rubber seals, but any help on that would be appreciated.

 

I also wanted to ask about fuel additives. Would I have to use lead substitute at every gas stop or occasionally? And oil, I know probably conventional petroleum oil, is there any certain type for older engines? I saw somewhere that motorcycle oil is good for them, which would be good since I work at a motorcycle shop.

 

Another thing, I hope it doesn't offend anyone that I'd rather use radials over bias tires, just because I know radials ride better and are more readily available, also they're cheaper, lol. I'm not looking to fully restore it just yet, I just want to drive it. That's what this thread is about after all.

 

If it's in good condition by September, and if they haven't canceled it like last year, you better believe I'm taking it to the route 66 car show in Springfield IL, if anyone would like to come see the car and rub off some of their wisdom on me. I'd like to see some other Buicks as well.

 

Edited by Just_Some_Young_Kid (see edit history)
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There is a saying around here.  They are only original once.  She is all original down to the fading paint.  All the dents, scratches and worts tell her story.  And her story continues with you.  Create a new post in the Me and My Buick forum after you pick her up.  Let's us know what you are tinkering on 

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1 minute ago, avgwarhawk said:

There is a saying around here.  They are only original once.  She is all original down to the fading paint.  All the dents, scratches and worts tell her story.  And her story continues with you.  Create a new post in the Me and My Buick forum after you pick her up.  Let's us know what you are tinkering on 

Enough said.

 

Will do on the new post, I'll keep everyone updated, lots of work to be done on her.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

I also wanted to ask about fuel additives. Would I have to use lead substitute at every gas stop or occasionally? And oil, I know probably conventional petroleum oil, is there any certain type for older engines? I saw somewhere that motorcycle oil is good for them, which would be good since I work at a motorcycle shop.

 

 

 

I wouldn't bother with fuel additives.  I use Shell Rotella T4 10W-30 in all my old cars with no extra additives (other than an occasional half bottle of Rislone to help quiet down a ticking lifter).  You probably should count on replacing all three brake hoses, all four wheel cylinders, and perhaps the master cylinder.  You may be able to get away with honing the cylinders and installing rebuild kits, but I wouldn't count on it.  There's no need to change to a 12V system in my opinion.  Make sure to use heavy gauge battery cables and you should be fine unless you're driving in 0 degree weather.  You may want to consider cleaning and repacking front AND rear wheel bearings and replacing those seals at some point early on.   Then you should be in pretty good shape to see what pops up next!  :)  Things will pop up on any car that's been sitting a long time, so be ready for anything, at least for awhile.    

 

https://www.teambuick.com/reference/library/52_shop/index.php

 

Here's the service manual for you to download; you want the '52 manual because the '53 is just a supplement for upgrades (mostly V8 stuff).  

 

P.S. I can tell that the valves are adjusted wrong on that engine.  Some are turned way farther down than the others.  Chances are that some of the lifters are no longer pumping up.  Driving the car for awhile might help, but you may want to be prepared to change them or clean them.  They are very expensive, so you'd want to try cleaning first if it comes to that.  At the very least, you'll have to do a valve adjustment, which is easy.  I can explain it to you when the time comes if you want.  

Edited by Aaron65 (see edit history)
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20 minutes ago, Aaron65 said:

I wouldn't bother with fuel additives.  I use Shell Rotella T4 10W-30 in all my old cars with no extra additives (other than an occasional half bottle of Rislone to help quiet down a ticking lifter).  You probably should count on replacing all three brake hoses, all four wheel cylinders, and perhaps the master cylinder.  You may be able to get away with honing the cylinders and installing rebuild kits, but I wouldn't count on it.  There's no need to change to a 12V system in my opinion.  Make sure to use heavy gauge battery cables and you should be fine unless you're driving in 0 degree weather.  You may want to consider cleaning and repacking front AND rear wheel bearings and replacing those seals at some point early on.   Then you should be in pretty good shape to see what pops up next!  :)  Things will pop up on any car that's been sitting a long time, so be ready for anything, at least for awhile.    

 

https://www.teambuick.com/reference/library/52_shop/index.php

 

Here's the service manual for you to download; you want the '52 manual because the '53 is just a supplement for upgrades (mostly V8 stuff).  

 

P.S. I can tell that the valves are adjusted wrong on that engine.  Some are turned way farther down than the others.  Chances are that some of the lifters are no longer pumping up.  Driving the car for awhile might help, but you may want to be prepared to change them or clean them.  They are very expensive, so you'd want to try cleaning first if it comes to that.  At the very least, you'll have to do a valve adjustment, which is easy.  I can explain it to you when the time comes if you want.  

Thanks for the reply Aaron

 

I like to think I'm pretty good at scoping out what a car needs just by looking at it, so I have a list of parts and things to do already put together; new brake lines, master rebuild, new wheel cylinders, I can even go to my old shop to turn the drums and put on tires with their fancy machine, I'm sure they won't mind. Of course coolant hoses, plugs, wires and cap, fluids, etc. along with everything else.

 

As for the manual, I actually got my hands on a paper shop manual ahead of time since I prefer reading paper manuals over looking at my phone or laptop, but thank you for the link, I might just use it anyway.

 

And for the oil, should I atleast run any special oil to help the lifters pump up and start working properly, if that's the case in this engine? And could you tell me off hand if there's a clearance spec for the valves or is it just by feel, I haven't got that far in the manual yet.

 

Again thanks for the info, I appreciate it.

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Oh another question while I'm thinking about it, the Buick shop manual says to only run Buick Factory Hypoid Gear Lubricant in the rear diff. I wasn't sure how true this is and curious what you all run. I'm just wondering if I can use regular ol gear oil.

20210527_214230.jpg

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Posted (edited)

No need for special oil (in my opinion).  You may want to prime the oiling system by removing the distributor and using a drill (I just chuck up a large flat screwdriver without a handle or something similar).  Regular old 80W90 GL5 gear oil is fine for the differential.  

 

Dynaflow 263s had hydraulic lifters that are actually fed from the rocker shaft down, so they're set at zero lash.  I adjust them cold with the engine not running.  With the cam on the base circle, set the valve to zero lash (the rocker arm tip will just touch the valve at that point - you can see it easily on this engine), and then turn the screw another two turns down.  

Edited by Aaron65 (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Aaron65 said:

No need for special oil (in my opinion).  You may want to prime the oiling system by removing the distributor and using a drill (I just chuck up a large flat screwdriver without a handle or something similar).  Regular old 80W90 GL5 gear oil is fine for the differential.  

Will do, thanks for the suggestion. And thank God I don't have to use liquid gold gear oil, lol.

 

I didn't see your edit there, that's good information. Now I know what to look for if there's an oiling problem.

Edited by Just_Some_Young_Kid (see edit history)
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16 hours ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

 

 

I also wanted to ask about fuel additives. Would I have to use lead substitute at every gas stop or occasionally? And oil, I know probably conventional petroleum oil, is there any certain type for older engines? 

 

Another thing, I hope it doesn't offend anyone that I'd rather use radials over bias tires, 

I’m drove a 54 Special Convertible as my only car for 10 years in the ‘80s.

I was told to add lead additive to every tank (I bought it at Union76) if the engine is original. I was also told to use NON-DETERGENT oil, so living in Los Angeles I carried a case of Quaker State 30 weight non-detergent, suitable for all occasions! My Buick, Fred, never let me down or stranded. But I remember saying that I didn’t actually accelerate, I put in a requisition to accelerate. 
The brakes hinged on a single hose. If that hose failed, all you had was the emergency brake. Twice, I drove Fred 8 miles at 6am without ANY brakes to the brake mechanic. I just coasted at idle speed and went when there was no traffic. Why? I was stupid and never trusted tow trucks to hitch it correctly, frame not bumper, and I was trying to save money! Good times! I could go on and on. After30 years Fred was sold to a childhood friend who spent $100,000 on a complete “original” restoration. I miss the old Fred. Named after Fred Astaire so I wouldn’t feel so bad spending the money to keep him going. I got a lot of joy and attention driving Fred. When I couldn’t take the fumes any more I bought a Honda. 
 

7F5A89CE-064F-4B62-A2B4-2C3EFDFE090B.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Jetneo said:

I’m drove a 54 Special Convertible as my only car for 10 years in the ‘80s.

I was told to add lead additive to every tank (I bought it at Union76) if the engine is original. I was also told to use NON-DETERGENT oil, so living in Los Angeles I carried a case of Quaker State 30 weight non-detergent, suitable for all occasions! My Buick, Fred, never let me down or stranded. But I remember saying that I didn’t actually accelerate, I put in a requisition to accelerate. 
The brakes hinged on a single hose. If that hose failed, all you had was the emergency brake. Twice, I drove Fred 8 miles at 6am without ANY brakes to the brake mechanic. I just coasted at idle speed and went when there was no traffic. Why? I was stupid and never trusted tow trucks to hitch it correctly, frame not bumper, and I was trying to save money! Good times! I could go on and on. After30 years Fred was sold to a childhood friend who spent $100,000 on a complete “original” restoration. I miss the old Fred. Named after Fred Astaire so I wouldn’t feel so bad spending the money to keep him going. I got a lot of joy and attention driving Fred. When I couldn’t take the fumes any more I bought a Honda. 
 

7F5A89CE-064F-4B62-A2B4-2C3EFDFE090B.jpeg

Thanks for the story Jet, what are the benefits of an non-detergent oil? And I believe the lead additive is for the valve seats right?

 

And as for the Honda comment, I used to have an old 5 speed Civic that I'm sure put more horsepower to the ground than some of these old cars, especially the straight 8, and I was getting 40mpg.

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All of the above is good advice.   I have a 53 Special 2 door hardtop with power steering that now has 67,000 original miles.  It is happy at around 60 MPH but can go to 65 OK.  I won't repeat what the others have stated except that you should change the oil and filter and put in Shell Rotella 10W-30 or 15W-40 and warm up the engine.  Follow the procedure in the 52 shop manual and adjust the valves even though they are hydraulic.  When you are done when you start up the engine it will likely run rough as the lifters fill up with oil and then it will smooth out and assuming all else is good, it will idle very nicely.

I run whitewall Diamond Back radials on my Buick because they are safer for stopping and for handling.  Buy a heavy duty 160 degree thermostat and flush the cooling system.   The heavy duty thermostats have a larger opening when fully opened and these type work best on these engines.  Be sure you have heavy battery cables of at least "0" or "00" gauge with clean connections at the battery, the ground and the starter solenoid.  It goes without saying that the brakes have to be in good working order.  Post on this forum if you need help or have any questions.  

Good luck and enjoy it for what it is and the era it represents.

Joe, BCa 33493

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