BF Classified Find: Custom 1951 Buick Special

Here’s a commonly found ’50s sedan with a definite late ’50s/early ’60s vibe about it, a 1951 Buick Special sedan. While not the more coveted two-door hardtop or sedan, this Special has an interesting touch that is a tribute to the time. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this Buick Special is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $6,000.

The exterior has a roadworthy and time-worn southwest look about it though the body is quite straight and well-aligned. There is no sign of rust or rot with the seller adding, “The car is pretty much rust free.” The trim appears to be intact but the flat-black paint application to the upper grille trim is unusual, perhaps a cover-up for failing chrome. The finish is obviously shot but if you desire a Mad Max look, this may be the car for you.

Of note are the rear doors, in a nod to ’50s customizers, the handles have been shaved. It’s a neat trick and looks well done – it gives the sedan more of a two-door model bearing. A minor word of caution, the doors cannot be opened from the outside. The white stripe tires with the chrome American Racing wheels, continue the customizer’s theme. The seller advises that he does have fender skirts available if that sort of thing floats your boat.

Doubly disappointing is the lack of interior or under the hood images. The seller states that “The original interior and instrument panel are in excellent condition.” That would be remarkable considering that this Buick is pushing 70 years of age but we’ll have to take the seller at his word. He does list the engine as being a 263 “straight engine” which means that it is a 263 CI, “Fireball”, straight-eight, generating 128 gross HP while driving thorough a Dynaflow automatic transmission. There is no word on how the Fireball fires or runs so we’ll have to assume the “matching numbers” mill gets the job done. The seller does advise that the transmission has been rebuilt.

One of the defining images of cars from this era is the three-piece rear window. It is a holdover from developing the ability to sharply curve glass. While not providing a panoramic view, it is a nice old-school touch and a tribute to this Buick’s era. This Special is a bit of a curiosity item, it’s a combination of old school hot-rod/custom work-up having been bestowed on a commonplace four-door sedan, the Buick Special, the entry-level, and smallest Buick model offered in 1951. Shaving the rear door handles makes one think, hmmm, what other custom touches could one apply to keep the theme going? There’s probably more here than meets the eye, so reach out to the seller if you see something special in this Special.


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Those wheels….on a Buick 4-door….what was he thinking?

    Like 7
    • Dave

      Those things unbolt you know.
      Not all bent up and rotted out, but there is a little alignment issue with the front bumper. Could be a good car for the right person.

      Like 2
  2. ruxvette

    It’s been nosed and decked and (probably) the roof mounted radio antenna removed and filled. Curious if everything was leaded or bondo.
    Get the mechanicals right, leave the skirts off, and drive it…real slow. It’s an eye catcher but not for my garage.

    Like 5
    • nlpnt

      Best way to find out, IMO, would be to take a ball-peen hammer to where the rear door handle mounting holes are, and take note of the chunks you find when you take the rear door cards off to hook up the new door handles.

      Like 4
  3. TimM

    Great front grill but there’s to many doors!!!

    Like 3
  4. Anthony C Ginetto

    My dad had a 1952 Buick Special in black with a red and black interior. What a powerful & beautiful car. It also had a hood ornament which must also have been shaved off on this one.

    • Dave

      My parents had one too. I remember my father changing the clutch at least once. These had a torque tube rear end and by the early 60s he’d had enough of coming home from 4-12 and spending the night on his back under the car. Mom got a used 58 Special and Dad a used 59 Edsel Villager wagon.

      Like 1
  5. Bob Mck Member

    When I read that it has a perfect interior it reminded me of a Cadillac I once looked at which had no rust and a perfect interior. When we got there, you put your fist through the rust holes and the transmission was sitting on the back seat. So much for perfection.

    Like 1
    • Eric B.

      You can see the top of the rear seat back in one picture. Looks like mice ripped into it. Sounds like the seller isn’t completely forthcoming.

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