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Facelift In Progress: 1956 Buick Special

These 1956 Buick Specials are beautiful, with great looks, and a solid power plant. I know that many prefer the 2 door coupes, but a 4 door pillar-less hardtop is a great looking car as well. In very nice condition overall, the back story on this Buick is unclear. I would guess that perhaps there was a paint mishap that required repainting the front end or maybe the front end had some rock chips that needed to be resolved. Despite this part of the puzzle, this Buick is complete and tidy, with a running engine, and is likely ready to drive. This solid package is offered at $3,500. Find it here on craigslist out of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Difficult to see, there is a 322 Nailhead resting in the engine bay. My guess is that this Buick has been restored at some point in its life making for its very clean appearance. The engine compartment, and all of the sheet metal that resides under the fenders is very clean, with no evidence of rust or even dirt. The 322 V8 is listed as running, and from the looks of the rest of the car, I would be willing to bet this Buick was a driver before having its front end removed.

Looking inside shows a lovely interior that is free of any rips, wear, or staining. Most certainly reupholstered, the interior has a clean period like interior, with black carpet, and red floor mats. The interior trim looks to be all accounted for, and the door jambs, and sills are very clean.

The paint has an awesome reflective quality to it, and hopefully with the right paint man, the front end could be matched. The front end is removed and currently primered. The chrome and stainless trim is excellent, and the front bumper and grill especially are nice. Described as rust free, this Buick looks the part. The 2 extra doors don’t hurt my feelings in this situation as the pillar-less look is sleek and cool. The price seems reasonable for the condition, and everything you get with this Buick. Would you jump on this “quick” project?


  1. Eric 10Cars

    It seems like a very reasonable price…..IF, the engine is okay and the transmission as well, and there genuinely is no rust. The trim around the rear window looks a bit iffy. No undercarriage pix or trunk floor, so hard to determine how clean it really is. It’s strange to offer at one price with the engine and another without the engine. I don’t see an engine in the car from the pix, and that makes sense given the 2 prices. They’re gonna pull the engine to meet the lower price? Really?

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    • George

      Exactly, something seems fishy here to me as well. A good bit more information needed.

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    • Adam T45 Staff

      Eric, I think that you’ve made an important pick-up. The trim around the back window isn’t just “iffy”, it actually appears to be missing. I think that what we can see may be the original color of the car, and that it has been a “mask up” respray rather than a full bare-shell job. I’d want to have a very close look at this before I went any further.

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      • Eric 10Cars

        No, I don’t think so, Adam. It looks as if the trim is there, but it looks funky between the trim and the rear window. It could just be a bad camera angle, but it looks very orange-like, i.e., rust. And the trim doesn’t look all that good there either. It may have been resprayed at some point, but I don’t think that we’re looking at over-spray there. But what do I know :-)

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      • Adam T45 Staff

        Eric, you’ve now got me second-guessing myself. I notice that there is a comment further down by JCW Jnr and he’s of the same opinion as me. I’m really not sure. It could be the way the light is hitting the strip, or that the strip is missing and there are rusty retainer clips still in place. I just wish there was a close-up of that part of the car on the ad.

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  2. redwagon

    yup, need more info but this seems like a resonable price for something that appears as nice as it does. think of these as valentines day colors!

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  3. Fred W.

    If as it appears, this is exactly the kind of project I would jump on if I had an empty garage and the car was nearby.

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  4. motoring mo

    This car is super, it really bowls me over.

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  5. JW

    My dad bought one of these in the mid 60’s from a cousin and it was 2 tone blue. The cousin was so picky about his cars that every time he drove it when he got out he had a wisk broom that he would sweep the floor clean on the drivers side and any passengers area that rode with him.

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  6. Drew V

    Selling the car with or without the engine does not bother me… As nice as the rest of the car looks,I would guess that the mechanicals were just as well attended to… Perhaps this person ought the car just for the running nailhead,they are very popular with Hotrodders,especially T-Buckets. Personally if I were to buy the car,I would prefer it sans eng & trans. I’ve got a low miles 65 Gran Sport with a great running 401 but the body is rotted too bad to restore. I would drop the 401 in, have my paint and body guy match up the front end and have a Super Sunday driver. Now before any of the purist start yammering about the engine swap,this car is far from original to begin with. At least it’s the same style of engine and most ppl couldn’t tell the difference between a 322 and a 401…

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  7. Peter R Member

    Check-out the rear wheel rims…

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  8. JCW Jr. Member

    In the photos the trim around the rear window on the bottm is missing and is looks like a lot of rust between window and trunk. Also where trim was it is green. So? Need a inspection in person to find out the whole story.

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  9. Woodie Man

    Despite all the speculation this is one project I would be interested in. The only question I have is why the seat bottoms appear carpeted or “furry”.

    Whatever else it may need including the front clip painted etcetera, I like the color combination and this is one 4 door I would drive in a minute.

    As a matter of fact in the mid eighties came close to buying one from an old car dealer in north San Diego County. He had a lot with lots of old iron…..just great. The seating position threw me a mite as you sit seemingly far back from the dash, ie the steering column sticks out more than other old cars I have owned.

    If this was in Lincoln, California I would definitely take a look.

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    • Brakeservo

      Looking at the rear seat makes the upholstery appear quite amateurish or very cheaply done, the fit alone is awful.

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  10. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    This is actually a very rare car. The 4-door hardtop “Riviera” body was introduced late in the ’56 model year and few were produced [Same situation as the ’56 Chevrolet 4-door hardtop.] Back in the mid 50s Buick had a much more staid company image, and most who wanted Buicks bought regular sedans, not flashy hardtop sedans. And of course, a few months later Buick had an all new body!

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    • CaCarDude

      According to Buick production numbers the 1956 Special model 43 4-dr Riviera sedan with V8 there were 91,025 made, and they also made a 4-dr Tourback model 41 sedan of which 66,977 were produced. I also thought this would be a rare vehicle being the hardtop model, but these figures are in the current BCA guide.

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  11. Mike S

    Go to the Craigslist posting and look at the full photo portfolio. Why on God’s green Earth would someone trying to sell their car show a photo with a bicycle sitting directly on the roof of said car? Makes me wary but I do like the price.

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    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      In the same bike photo it looks like the car is wearing a side pipe.

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      • JW

        I seen that also, it looks like he was attempting to see what it would look like with them installed as the side pipe looks to be sitting on paint cans not attached.

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  12. grant

    Probably the worst photos in a car ad I’ve seen in a while. It looks nice, but the pictures seemed to have been drawn with felt markers by a talented art student.

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  13. Woodie Man

    looking more closely at the pix, it appears they were taken at three different times. The front wheel is different in two of the pix.and someone has some side pipes propped on coffeecans in the pix with a front blackwall on the wheel as opposed to the trite red wheel hot rodders favor. I’d still go look at it.

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  14. Tom Driscoll

    I agree with all, photos are poor and info is lacking. My biggest question is why the front clip and engine are removed…I suspect a front end fight, possibly with frame damage requiring removal of those items. Why didn’t they put it back together???

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  15. John Deebank

    I would love to own this. My 1st. car was a 56 Buick. It was a standard 3 speed on the column ordered that way.

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