Barn Inheritance: 1956 Buick Special Riviera

1956-buick-special-hardtop

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

We dream of receiving a phone call notifying us that a long lost relative wants to give us their super rare and valuable classic car, but we have yet to receive that phone car and probably never will. We would even be happy to have inherited this 1956 Buick Special Riviera Hardtop. The little old lady that originally owned this car recently passed it on to her nephew, who has decided to sell it. With only 18,867 miles on the odometer, it is still in great shape. It has been pulled from the old garage and can now be found here on eBay.

1956-buick-special-hardtop-side-view

This Buick appears to be very solid, especially given that the car has spent its entire life in Huntington, West Virginia. The seller has yet to do anything to the car and they haven’t even cleaned it yet. They don’t state what condition the 322 cui V8 engine is in, but we would assume it’s in decent shape. The Special isn’t as desirable as some of the other Buick models of this era, but it still offers those great Buick looks and the 220 hp engine isn’t a slouch. Prices for these “Junior” Buicks are still relatively low, but are climbing, so this maybe the time to get into one.

1956-buick-special-hardtop-interior

The interior is in amazing condition and is showing almost no wear. The seats are still wearing the vinyl covers the original owner installed when she first got the car, so it’s safe to assume the seats are also in great condition. Even though it appears to be in amazing shape, we question the seller’s asking price of $29,900. It will likely be worth this kind of money someday, but not in the current market. Hopefully the seller is willing to hear and take offers. If you were in the market for a car like this, what would you be willing to offer the seller?

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Comments

  1. Ken Olsen

    In it’s present condition and in today’s market, I think $15-$20,000. Maybe in 5-10 yrs when (or if) the economy rebounds and the car has been thoroughly checked, cleaned, repairs made, etc. It could bring the owners asking price. After sitting that long it will need a radiator recore, tranny seals and gaskets replaced, probably freeze plugs replaced, fuel tank drained/cleaned or replaced, as well as fuel lines, brake lines, hoses, anything rubber that can deteriorate. The fact that the body and interior are solid and in good shape is a definite plus, but ANY car – even one only 10 years old – that has sat that long will need to have the aforementioned items addressed which can be a bit costly. I know because I just purchased a 1955 Buick Special that sat for 15 years with 41,000 original miles on it and these are the things I found that had to be done..

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  2. robert rayborn

    this car is worth 10-12K tops. I bought a Road Master (1955) in immaculate condition with 8K road miles on it for $8200.00 in 2009. No big deal.

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  3. AMCFAN

    This is a very nice Buick. My concern is that part of WVa. being too close to Ohio. I find it hard to believe no rust or lower body damage or paint work.
    Too bad Auntie didn’t buy a Chevrolet BelAir. I think the seller would get his price if so.

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  4. Troy

    Could be 118,000 miles. Still think he’s about 10k to high,

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  5. Dale John Steltz

    If it runs I mean the seller should clean it up get it running and do the minor belts, hoses. and service it they might get 20,000 for it

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  6. Tom

    Looks like the nephew is looking for some quick cash.
    He will be surprised when he gets no offers at that price.
    I agree with around $20, 000
    Will take some money to replace rotten gaskets, hoses ,belts, tires are probably rotten and will need the fluids including the gas to be replaced.

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  7. Paul Logue

    I think the car is well worth it if ti is everything they say it is. Be nice to see more pics but if the rodents have left it alone then what is there to worry about. It wouldnt take much to get it running. any motor head knows that. You certainly could not restore a car for this money no less buy a true survivor. IMO if your a Buick fan this is a great find and good investment.

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  8. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    This looks like it might be a great car for someone, but you don’t really know until you view it in person and have a close look at the body and especially the underside, the engine bay, and the trunk, which weren’t shown in the photos. The body looks good, but as AMCFAN said, it’s located in a place where corrosion could have taken hold, so you need to look the underside over closely.

    The paint colors compliment the car’s style well. If the mechanicals check out OK, you could probably just drive it as-is. But the paint looks oxidized, especially the red, which back then was the color that oxidized the most, so you would want to protect it by waxing at least.

    The car might sell for the $30K ask, but the Special was the low-priced Buick back then, so even tho it’s a hardtop it will not bring top ’56 Buick dollar. One thing that doesn’t help is describing the car as ‘mint’. Low miles and apparently unmolested, yes, but ‘mint’, no. The original tires help to support the odo reading but they will not pass any safety check, so will need to go. Other than that and removing the ugly plastic seatcovers, you just need to confirm that the drivetrain is good, change the fluids and tires, and enjoy.

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  9. AMCFAN

    Very true as always Dolphin.
    Something I didn’t think about before is the cleanup of the paint on the car as mentioned above. I can understand the sellers motive for not wanting to alter the present condition by a simple clean and detail. However buyer beware. This could clean up and be mint. However it may show in greater detail the true condition of the paint/chrome and trim. Once cleaned and shined could reveal alot….more, that you didn’t expect. To spend what the seller is willing to accept you would still need to see and make the transaction in person.

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  10. Tom S.

    I think it’ a better look than a ’56 Chev. Muscular.

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  11. HenryJ1953

    They say you can always come Down on the price, but this REDNECK,,,( I am also from WV but don’t meet the Redneck definition) is dreaming and watching Barrett Jackson,, waaaaayyyy toooo much. T’is a crying shame, that the inconsiderate, selfish,spoiled, brat, doesn’t want anything to do with the car other than sell it,,, When I grew up, in the UNselfish time, one would NOT dream of selling an item like this given to you by a Grandfather, Parent, Aunt, or Uncle.. If you don’t want it,, give it to another family member, what does want it. I wish I was as unfortunate as that recipient.

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    • Horse Radish

      I agree with you.
      Family goes first.
      But nowadays with three ex-wives and multiple children from all, who cares about aunt so-and-so’s old Buick………
      That is really the problem for this country/world.
      The poor aunt might have been better off giving it to a worthwhile charity instead.

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    • Billy Rockfish

      I’ll agree with you on that one, Henry J. I lusted after my deceased Great Auntie’s ’53 Mercury and ’66 Mustang which she kept well into the early 80s. However, my requests to purchase either/or/both fell on deaf ears. My distant, drug-addled, alcoholic cousin got his hands on both cars. Mercury was sold right away which probably financed cocaine; the Mustang, he mid-west-rednecked it out and drove it into the ground. Sad. Auntie Irene’s ‘Stang was red with dark red “galloping pony” embossed seats.

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  12. Slim Chance

    A lowly “three hole’r” model at that. 😉

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  13. Rene

    I would do as little repair to this car, as possible. Clean it, make sure that everything is in working order and probably have the paint polished / make it look as good as possible and then drive it as is.

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  14. scot c

    ~ aside from the items previously mentioned by the gentlemen above (particularly price) the other possible flaw not well shown is the reason the hood gap is fitting so poorly. none of the pics give a good overall view allowing us to know if it is just unlatched and/or kinked at the hinge mounting point. hopefully the seller would provide close-ups of the panel alignment and of all the rare trim to reveal potential pitting. images of the underside, rockers, and quarters might cause the interested prospect to take the next step or to stay home and not waste sellers time. more is better with description and photos. there were 3 or 4 different red hues in ’56 so perhaps paint is less dull than it appears. maybe Tahiti Coral or Seminole Red?

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  15. Bernie

    What I see out there when these cars come on the market is the people who end up with these “barn finds” talk with some self styled “expert” who advises them to ask some pie in the sky price for the find. Usually the price is representative of a fully restored and sorted out vehicle which was just offered at an auction or was seen at Barret-Jackson, home of the ego bidder, What usually happens is that the vehicle dosen’t sell and it sits around untill the seller gives up or gets hard up for cash and then sells it for less than the first “real” buyers offered. this Buick is a good example of this outcome.

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  16. Anthony

    Wash and put a buffer to it put some Kelsey Hayes wire wheels on it and a tune up and go through it and its perfect. Its worth the dough. No way that car has 118k on it . I agree with Henryj1953 as well. I wish I had one of my grandfathers or another relatives car, there was too many nice ones to mention.

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  17. Rancho Bella

    If you go the auction and click on the feedback, it does appear this person doesn’t do cars. My friends and i are into old Porsche and Lotus. Most of the their kids couldn’t care less.

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  18. braktrcr

    I think it’s a good deal actually. Believing the ad, it says it runs excellent. We would then presume that it moves, so tranny likely ok…these are things we obviously talk to the seller about. The hood gap concerned me also, until I saw the front end pic with the hood partially open. There are no engine bay pictures, and I asked the seller to post some. Most desirous car on the planet? Not at all. Cool as heck? Yeah I think so. 30k? Another 1k in transportation…yes a lot of money, but not too much in my opinion. How much is a new car? About the same, and that same car a year from now, 10 years from now? Here you have a fun car, that you really don’t seem to have to lift a finger to, except wash, wax, put some tires on it and enjoy.

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  19. CarGuy

    The seller’s low feedback is a concern. Atmospheric price = greed (sans nostalgia)

    Buyer beware.

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  20. Dave

    The car is worth exactly what one what’s to pay for it…No matter what the value is.

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  21. braktrcr

    I don’t think it’s the Nephew that many seem to be slamming, that is the one selling the car. Could be a friend, or perhaps some one bought it for a song and is turning it. Regardless, I still thinks its a fair deal

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  22. Rick Prokopchuk

    Absolutely love the color. If it were a Ford, I’d say it was Fiesta Red, but in a Buick, I think the color is called Ember Red. Great great color

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  23. douglas birgfeld [BIG D}

    if some one will pay the asking price it is worth it. i have seen rebuilt ones go for less.it still is a Buick after all. you will still have to do some work on it to get it up and running for the road.

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  24. FRED

    I AGREE WITH ALL THE CAR GUYS ABOVE ME THAT THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH.IF THE SELLER WANTED TO GET THE BEST PRICE FOR THE CAR THE LEAST HE COULD DO IS GIVE IT A GOOD DETAILING TO BRING BACK THE GREAT COLOR COMBO AND MAKE THOSE BEAUTIFUL BIG WIDE WHITE WALLS WHITE AGAIN. NOT THAT THOSE TWO THINGS WILL WARRANT THAT PRICE BUT I HAVE NEVER SOLD A CAR WITHOUT MAKING IT LOOK THE BEST I COULD MAKE IT. IT’S OBVIOUS WE WOULD NEVER SEE THIS SELLER ON US CAR GUYS WEBSITE,HE PROBABLY HAS NO CLUE WHAT HE HAS AND HOW LUCKY HE IS TO HAVE AUNTIE LEAVE HIM WHAT WE WOULD CALL THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH CARS.

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  25. Jim Mosley

    I live in Ohio, not too far from where the Buick is located, so I will probably take a run down there to check it out this week.. I am a Buick/Chevy guy and have owned several of each thru the years. I will gladly share with you other “CAR” guys what I find out.

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    • Rene

      Thanks. Looking forward to reading what you post 🙂

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  26. Billy

    Is that a BMW 2002 next to the Buick in the first shot?

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  27. twwokc1

    This Buick has been a one owner/family car, belonged to a lady, who left it to her nephew several years ago, hence the low miles on the car.
    If I’m reading this right a dealer now has the car.
    If it were mine I would sort out the mechanical/electrical issues, detail it and drive it.

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  28. Chris

    The dentist around the corner had one of these and as said, I also thought they were better looking than the sme year Chevy. First car I ever road in with a/c. As I recall the Buick nailhead V8 was a good match for the auto trans. Back then Buick was noted for their engineering and quality build. In the ’50s GM ranking was Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and then Cadillac. The new Corvette was just getting started witht their legend. For $10K I’d be after this, but life is too short to knock this price back down to reality from $29,800. This one will just sit, hopefully inside.

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  29. Harley505

    New Member Here! What a great site you have here! It still amazes me to think how many hidden treasures/time capsules are still out there waiting to be found and shared here. Keep up the great work!

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    • Duffy Bell

      Amen to that.

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  30. Duffy Bell

    No Buick is ever a “Junior” car. I ought to know, I own 3 of them. At $29,000 it had better be running & road worthy if the owner wants to sell it at that price. If he does that, cleans it up, & replaces the tires, he might just get his price. Otherwise $6,000 to $8,000. tops

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  31. Kurt Spengler

    Living in the St. Louis area, I gotta say this car looks in remarkable shape for the Eastern boundaries of the rust belt. Back in ’81 I purchased a Roadmaster Riviera 2dr Hardtop with the same drive train that had been stored outdoors for 10 yrs. The seller had stopped driving it because the TreadleVac Power Brakes went out. To those who’ve made comments with concerns as to the undersides condition.. Check out the underhood photos included in the E-Bay posting..Specifically the the body mount area at the bottom of the firewall, the condition of the cowl area, Hood hinges etc. This car is in great shape! a bit dirty for sure and the person who’s posted says it does run well.. I would say it’s worth 20-25K.. New tires from Coker and a professional detail job would make it worth the asking price..

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  32. Jim Mosley

    Sorry fellows I was unable to get a phone no. or address where the car is located, so I can’t give a report on it.

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  33. Jesse

    They relisted it with with the same asking price.

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  34. Your Name

    I THINK $ 18,867.00 WOULD BE A FAIR PRICE AT A DOLLAR A MILE! MY BUDDY JUST BOUGHT ONE OF THESE THAT HAD BE THROUGH A FRAME OF RESTORATION WITH 30K ORIGINAL MILE SAME YEAR FOR 25K AND ITS HIS DAILY DRIVER

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  35. braktrcr

    Relisted at 27,500 or best I am still smitten with this car

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  36. A. W. Richards

    According to the listing, it is rolling on its original tires. Needless to say, that 57 year old rubber’s gotta go if you want to drive it.

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  37. Billy Rockfish

    I think $15K is more than reasonable. Clean, well preserved and straight, but how do we know the 322 nailhead doesn’t have a valvetrain and crankcase full of black, molasses like sludge? Has it been turned over and driven? Elbow grease and the finish will look like new, but the whole drivetrain and fuel system will have to have been gone through stem to stern. Yes, I would LOVE this car. Would be tempted to find a Carter period-correct AFB four pot and manifold to put on this car.

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