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Aluminum Block V8: 1962 Buick Special

After the introduction of the Chevy Corvair in 1960, other General Motors divisions would get into the compact game as well. Pontiac had the Tempest, Oldsmobile the F-85, and Buick the Special, all based on the new unibody Y platform. The Corvair won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award in 1960, followed by the Tempest in 1961, and the Special in 1962, so GM was on a roll. This ’62 Special is a 4-door station wagon and these are seldom seen after 60 years. It’s located in Woodland, California, and here on craigslist for $5,500. The great tip is brought to us by Pat L.!

Buick got a lot of mileage out of the Special nameplate, using it off and one from 1936 through 1996. It appeared in a variety of sizes and shapes, including the compacts of 1961-63. The car is noted for introducing the modern Buick V6 engine that became a core GM engine for decades and even lives on today in current upgraded products. But the autos were also powered by an innovative aluminum block V8 that displaced 215 cubic inches with an output of 155 hp with a 2-barrel carburetor (185 with a 4-V). As a station wagon, three versions were built that added up to 20,576 copies in 1962. Half of them were a 2-seat Deluxe wagon which is what the seller’s Buick appears to be.

This wagon is on its third owner and has had quite a bit of mechanical work done to keep it functioning. That included an earlier replacement of the V8 engine with Oldsmobile’s version of the same motor. Add things like a tune-up, voltage regulator, battery, master cylinder, and some assorted odds and ends. It still needs new brakes and tires to be roadworthy. But it has a rebuilt 4-barrel carb so it should be a preppy little wagon. The odometer reading is 21,000, but no claim is made if that’s real.

The seller has owned the car for about a year and it sat outside in California for 10 years before that, adding to the ample patina the body and paint now wear. Of course, there are a few little dents and dings, but the seller says rust is only skin deep. The exterior chrome was removed in anticipation of a restoration the seller was planning but will now come with the car for its next owner. The interior is okay except for the headliner and front seat which has a blanket over the bottom. Another project has caught the eye of the seller, so this rare station wagon needs to go to free up some room. Any takers?


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Cars in the Woodland area are usually only have surface rust.
    There’s also a wrecking yard there that specializes in old Fords/-

    Like 2
  2. Corvair Jim

    I wish I had the money. Sure, I’m primarily a Corvair guy, but I am interested in station wagons in general as well (I really want a Corvair Lakewood!), and something as solid, as restorable, and as interesting as this car is with its aluminum 215 V-8 would be a sure-fire conversation starter wherever it went.

    Like 9
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      I agree. I really like the smaller wagons. Some of the land barges are OK but these and the Corvairs are special.

      • Corvair Jim

        Well said. The Pontiac, with its “rope drive” and Oldsmobile versions are pretty cool as well. Then there are the Valiant/Lancer twins with their way-out-there Virgil Exner styling, the Studebaker Lark Wagonnaire (and what boy from the 1960’s didn’t have the Matchbox version of that one?), and the two-door Falcon. Detroit (or South Bend, or Dearborn) had some great little wagons back then. Of course, there are hardly any traditional station wagons any more. First, they morphed into minivans, then crossover SIVs. Our loss.

        Like 3
  3. geoff a

    Great motor, dumbest thing GM ever did was to sell that motor to Rover, I know among many stupid things that GM has done and continues to do. Great opportunity if all the chrome is there.

    Like 7
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. Unfortunately, GM excels at doing stupid things over the years. They introduce something to the public to get their interest, and then a few years after, they discontinue the car. I don’t get why they do that.

      Like 4
      • Tman

        Yep. Holden.

        Like 1
    • bone

      I dont think it was such a dumb move, although Gm has done some huge ones. In an era where cubic inch and horsepower were king, the little 215 seemed like it just wasn’t big enough, and they stopped production on it . With Rover looking for a v8, selling an unused motor program made sense. Kind of like Dodge selling Studebaker its dies for making trucks beds that they didnt use anymore. .

      Like 1
  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. 1962 has always been my favourite year for the Buick Special/Skylark. If only more pics were posted. I would’ve liked to have seen the engine under the hood.

    Like 1
  5. Steve

    The Buick aluminum V8 was sold to Rover. That engine is widely sought by MGB owners as it is 200 pounds lighter than the four cylinder that the cars came out of the factory with. I’ve driven a number of the Bs with this engine and it’s a thrilling ride.

    Like 2
  6. Greg Gustafson

    The styling of this car, like most cars of the earlier eras can really be appreciated in comparison to the varying assortment of “jellybean” body styles the manufacturer’s have dumped on consumers as of late.

    Like 1
  7. Ralph

    The engine back then had constant overheating and warped heads, blown head gaskets. I have 2 62 cutlass now..2 dr and a convertible. The real culprit was the old antifreeze cause the aluminum to end up in radiators. Todays antifreeze has that handled. My olds 215 , cams, good valve jobs, came with hardened seats, just a tick over 200 Hp with the Edelbrock carb. Run all day after pit 200 r 4 trans in with adapter kits on the market

    Like 2
    • BOP_GUY Member

      I agree. My old 62 Skylark convertible was a great car, once I had the engine block cleaned out, new gaskets and seals, valves & seats, and a new aluminum radiator in it with modern coolant. They drive great and good power for a fairly lightweight car. Sometime in the future, I want to get my hands on a 62 Jetfire!

    • V8roller

      The right antifreeze was available back then from Buick dealers, but cheapskate owners and know-nothing garages didn’t use it. That’s why the engine got an undeserved bad reputation.
      I have a 215 in my ride, it just needs the right coolant, and a change every two years.

  8. Phil D

    To the author of this article: To my knowledge, there are no longer any engines in GM Powertrain’s lineup that are derivatives of the 90° Buick V6. Everything at GM now is a 60° V6, likely all descendants of the 1980 X-body’s 2.8 Liter V6.

  9. Gary

    I’ve always loved the little wagons from the sixties, especially the Ford and Chrysler ones. My 19yr old aunt had a maroon/white top 63 Olds F85 convertible she bought new. I was a little 5yr old gearhead in 1968 and she took me everywhere she went, we had some good times riding around in it with her girlfriends A few years later, when it was time to trade, we went to the local dealer our family dealt with. She want a Cutlass and the had at least 10 Ralley 350s, the all yellow ones, across the front of the lot along the road. They really looked impressive lined up like that. The yellow bumpers were a no sale so she ordered a light blue/dk blue cutlass supreme with deluxe dk blue bucket seats and console, all loaded up. A beautiful car. My grandpa taught me how to do a burnout in that car when we went to town to fill it up for her one day. Miss him and the Cutlass

  10. Rock

    How big is the back area ?
    Can I get 2 large German Shepard’s in the Back

  11. David Nelson

    I know these B-O-P compacts well, having had a 61 Special Deluxe sedan, a 61 Pontiac Tempest deluxe sedan, and 2 1962 very low miles Skylarks! I love them!!

    Like 1

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