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55 Special 4dr Sedan Help/Assistance/Guidance/Parts needed

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I'm so sorry to barge in like this. But I have to, sort of.


I am Erik, 43, from The Netherlands. yes, across the pond. And I've just bought a '55 Buick Special Model 41? 4 door Sedan (Post). Definately a 20-footer, but she looks allright. Even though I have bought her sight unseen.

However, I have bought it from a long time friend from Iowa and he knows his way around cars, so it is not a lemon.


But, before shipping it, I want to get at least all the parts I need from the USA and will be hard to get over here in Europe. I want to exchange the windshield in the USA and order or replace the rest of the glass, except the rear-window, which is the only one in good condition.


I have to do some welding to the floors, there are holes, but that would be sheet-metal patch work, should be ok there.

The headliner is gone, but I have seen they are available, so that should be ok too.

I noticed the window garnish moldings are not present and have not been able to find replacement, so HELP needed here.

I think most of the window and door seals are gone, so I need those, but the further I look into it, the more confusing it gets with door rubbers, seals, window seals, windlace and what not.

I believe that the lower parts of the front seat are missing as well, those metal surroundings.


I will add some pictures and I hope the trained eye can tell me what else am I missing and have to get? or try to source? Or maybe someone has the parts that I need and I can buy them


What I need I think:
-Left and rear door mirrors

-All door window garnish moldings

-Front left indicator light lens

-Metal surroundings for the front seat

-Rubber seals for the doors and mirrors

-(Maybe better chrome bumpers? these are not the best)

-Window-washer bottle

-B-Pillar cover

-Floor carpet























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I can see you need a proper fuel line.  The fuel line attached to the rear axle strut rod is not such a great idea in my opinion  In addition it runs across the front cross member and looks to be laying on the upper control arm pivot point?  Conventional wisdom is to have the factory fuel line to the factory fuel and vacuum pump AND if needed to have the electric fuel pump mounted on the frame as close to the gas tank as possible, and cut in, or looped into the factory fuel line back there.  An activitator switch would be mounted on the lower part of the dash so that it can be toggled when the electric pump is needed.


I also think you will want to fabricate a heat shield for the master cylinder, as the exhaust pipe looks pretty close to it under the drivers floorboard.  I think all 55's came with single exhaust, but since the duals are already there, a heat shield may be in order to keep the MC cooler. 


I am sure you know that is a later version of a power steering pump.  If it is working I'd leave it and just run with it. 


You may want a vacuum tank.  That is usually riding inside the engine compartment, mounted to the drivers side inner fender, in the area between the firewall and the back of the inner fender.  You may have one there now, but I didn't see it in the pictures.   


Good luck with your car.  It looks like it has some challenges but it is pretty nice.  


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Thank you John for the pointers, I did see the fuelline, but didn't think much of it, other than the shabby way of connecting it to the car. Running a new fuel line from front to back shouldn't be a big problem.

I don't believe this car has an electric fuel pump, unless it was standard equipement, but I doubt that. Would it be necessary to add a extra fuel pump?


The heat shield for the brake cylinder is a very good tip, the last thing you want is to have boiling brakefluid and it shouldn't be all that difficult to make such a heat shield.


I did notice that the powersteering reservoir was different than stock, I figured it was replaced along the line and the power-steering system has been checked and received new lines for it. Should be good there, I think.


Can you show me how the vacuumtank should look like and where it should be? I heard from Chad that the window wipers are not working and it might have to do with that missing vacuumtank as I believe they run on vacuum on the Buick.


I forgot to mention, I got the old gal for 3500 dollar. I am not expecting a trailerqueen or a showpony. My goal is to put her back into her old glory, but not completely restore her. Just an honest, nice looking car, that can be driven.


But I need her to be as complete as possible.

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On 12/29/2023 at 10:13 AM, The Creative Explorer said:

I don't believe this car has an electric fuel pump, unless it was standard equipement, but I doubt that. Would it be necessary to add a extra fuel pump?



The silver cannister on the passenger's side inner fender appears to be an electric fuel pump to me.  Perhaps I am mistaken.  The fuel pump on the engine block appears to have  been disconnected from the carburator but the rest of the line may be hiding behind other things in the picture. 


As for the need for an electric fuel pump, that is something I cannot forsee.  I will tell you that I do not have an electric fuel pump on my 56.  And I drove it across the USA and back this past July in weather with temps in the high 90's and low 100's.   I did have about six incidents where the fuel system appeared to have vapor lock, but in each instance the engine recovered, and the engine never stalled.  Others use the electric pumps with great success to minimize vapor lock symptoms.  I did insulate a large portion of my fuel supply line in and around the engine compartment.  I am not sure if that is the difference.  


On 12/29/2023 at 10:13 AM, The Creative Explorer said:

Can you show me how the vacuumtank should look like and where it should be? I heard from Chad that the window wipers are not working and it might have to do with that missing vacuumtank as I believe they run on vacuum on the Buick.


In this picture, I can see there is no vacuum line to the wiper motor.  On my 56 I believe the vacuum for the wiper comes off a second port on the bottom of the factory fuel pump.  But I will have to look at that again when I have a chance next week.  

Also on my 56, with power brakes, the fitting tapped into the manifold in front of the carburator has a line running over the drivers side valve cover, where a flexible line attaches and goes to the booster on the master brake cylinder. At the master brake cylinder, there is a T and then another piece of line hooks up to the tank mounted on the drivers side fender well.  If your car does not have power brakes, you may not have that tank.  And since the 55 brake system is not like the 56's I am not the best source of information on how the lines ought to be routed.   Sorry,  Just some big changes between 55 and 56 back then. 



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The car certainly has possibilities to make a nice car with some TLC and a few other things.  UNLESS that silver canister in the fuel line has some electric wiring going to it, it's probably just an inline fuel filter.  To replace the earlier glass bowl version.


GM Performance Parts used to sell an inline fuel pump, which was a "lift pump" for the diesel V-8s in a prior life, that looks just like the normal ACDelco fuel filter for EFI pickups in the later 1980s and into the 1990s, but it has electric wiring going into it.  Same size as the GF-481 fuel filter.  FWIW


Certainly, the fuel supply system needs some investigation, considering the fuel line near the exhaust pipe and such.  DEI makes a ThermoTec insulation fabric which has been around for a long time.  They have "wrap" width material for tubing and even exhaust manifolds/pipes, so that might be a good alternative.  It is available from several vendors, including www.summitracing.com.  There are other similar products, too.


I might suggest you check out the "Research" section of www.hometownbuick.com for factory information.  Hopefully some factory wiring schematics and images/illustrations so you can figure out the reason for the re-wiring under the hood, among other things.


Take care,


Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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Electric fuel pump, has a red and a black wire on it.😉


The AC Delco EP90 is similar to the picture, but not exact. I have used several EP90 pumps over the years. One on my diesel Seville so I could get the air out of the fuel filter when I changed it with out cranking forever.



Edited by Frank DuVal (see edit history)
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Just to follow up on my previous post, here are some pictures from my 56 Super.  Again, the 56 and 55 are not exaqctly the same, but these photos may give you some ideas about what has been changed and modified in your car. 

This picture shows where the wiper motor vacuum source should be attached.  The 56 and 55 systems have major differences here but the vacuum port on your 55 wiper motor is in the same place as my 56.  The other port remains open to the atmosphere. 

In your engine bay photo neither port has a hose.  What you cannot see is the metal pipe which runs along the inside edge of the valve cover. 




The picture below shows the original style fuel pump.  The vacuum source for the wipers comes from one of the two ports on the bottom half of the pump.  This leads to the metal line running along the inside of the passengers side valve cover. 

In your engine bay photo I cannot tell if your factory fuel pump has the 2nd port but it likely does.  Also your photo shows that your fuel pump inlet  line is disconnected from the factory fuel line which runs up the outside of the drivers side frame rail, through the frame behind the drivers side front tire, and then across the front cross member to the passengers side.  My photo does show the black plastic wire loam product that I used to insulate my fuel line.  That product is meant to hide electrical wires but the 3/8th inch product slips right over the fuel line and because it is a flexible shell I was able to push it onto the fuel line where it runs through the frame behind the drivers side front tire.  I thought that area may be subject to extra heat from the exhaust manifolds and the plastic wire loam product is so cheap I had nothing to lose by installing it there.  The other place it may be helpful is back by the gas tank, where it goes up over the rear axle.  Again, just an area I think is subject to extra heat. 





This picture shows the other vacuum line from the lower part of the fuel pump tied into the intake manifold.  This matches your engine bay photo



The picture below is the line that I mentioned goes over the drivers side valve cover. Again, if your car does not have power brakes it may not have been installed on your car.  This lim=ne leads to the flexible line which then leads to the power brake booster. 



In the photo below the tank I mentioned is on the right side, attached to the drivers inside fender well.   There is a major difference in the location of the master cylinder between 55 and 56.  That square head plug you see just in front of the washer fluid jar is the cap for my master cylinder reservoir.  and it is bolted directly to the master cylinder. 56 was the first year the MC was located in the engine compartment. 

But the master cylinder in 54/55 is under the car in the area below the drivers side front seat.   I am not sure, but I believe there has been some indication, and discussion, that back in the day, there was an option for a remote reservoir fill for the 54/ 55.  It may have been an aftermarket part.  So there is a chance your car may have a similar looking reservoir cap.  But the route of the vacuum line will be very different than my 56.  Again, if your car does not have power brakes you would not have any of this stuff. 



I wish you good luck with your car.  I hope you will consider a thread in the me and my Buick section of the forum here, and keep us updated on your progress.  They are fun cars to drive. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you everyone for all the input, it has been a interesting few weeks.


Long story short, I was able to unbuy the car. Not because it is a bad car, I think it has good bones and for the price a good car. But, as we were digging for necessary parts, more and more unique and not available parts seem to be missing, without the knowledge of the current owner. Parts that would be found overtime in the States and if I were in the States, I still would've bought the car.

But, since the car goes overseas and there are hefty importcharges on carparts, I needed everything to be in the car when it would ship. And since it would have became a rushjob, the head took over the heart and with agreement we undid the sale. No harm done, no damage done.

But, I still don't have a car and will be keep looking on this side of the pond, as the choices are very thin to find something decent, priced decent over here.


Thanks again for all the help!

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10 hours ago, The Creative Explorer said:

the head took over the heart and with agreement we undid the sale.

Don't over react to the experience. There is always a balance between the head and the heart. Just be sure the heart has the majority of control.


I have refunded money to undo deals. Almost every time it was because the buyer thought they were getting more than the paid for. Remember "The most you can expect to get is what you pay for".


I have sent quite a few cars to Europe. Always ask the seller to put in 10 sets of inch combination wrench sets. Nine of them will sell fast!

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It is true. But it sure is no fun 🙂


Fortunately it was a friend and we could do this in mutual agreement, he didn't know some parts were missing either. It wasn't until we searched for the needed parts and looked at reference pictures that there were parts missing.

And to prevent I would have to pay top dollar for parts over here, we decided to stop the venture.


But, I will keep looking for something. I have been looking through the "for sale, not mine" section and had contact with the guy from the '63 Thunderbird and the guy with the '56 Fireflite.

The '63 Thunderbird is not shown with undercarriage pictures and I do want to see those from a WA car, so decided to stop there.


The '56 Fireflite was looking very promising and within budget, but the patchwork on the floors and in the trunk looked somewhat sketchy, not something I can't fix though. But when I told the seller that there is a technical scrutening when the car has to be registered, he said to prevent problems for both, not to continue and has not responded to my last mail. So I guess there is more going on than the eye can see.


So, if someone knows a good, complete late fifties 4 door sedan or hardtop, I keep myself recommended. My budget goes to about 10.000 dollar and not looking for a restoration car, a project car with some finishing touches and such is not a problem. Nor the make, although I prefer the higher luxury level.

I know it is difficult, but I think it can be done.

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