Grand Old Buick Project

Grand Old Buick

Reader David F recently shared a friends find with us and he posed an interesting question that affects not just Pre War cars, but many of the cheaper classics out there. From David – A friend rescued this old Buick. The previous owner had the engine rebuilt and all the mechanicals redone. The bodywork is done. What it needs is the woodwork, paint and the interior. What does one do with a project like this? Cars of this era are worth less now than the cost of restoration. At least it has a dry spot in the back of his shop. It’s an interesting thought that leaves us wondering what will happen to many of the classics out there that cost more to fix than they are worth. Will they simply be allowed to rust away, will they be crushed for scrap, or will they end up in storage like this Buick until the day they are worth fixing? What do you think the future holds for cars like this one? Thanks to David for sharing his friend Buick with us and we wish both of them the best!



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  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Many times the decision to restore/refurbish is an emotional one, not a financial one. I knew prior to taking on many of the cars I have “saved” that I was doing it because I wanted to, not because it made financial sense. Some people like to spend a lot of money on going to shows and concerts; there’s little to nothing tangible left afterwards except the memories (not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with that!); I choose to spend (waste, in some people’s eyes!) my money on parts for cars, most of which it doesn’t make financial sense to do so.

    As long as there are folks like me out there, cars will continue to be saved and restored, and I’m happy with that. :-) I hope this Buick eventually gets put back on the road by someone that loves it.

    • Mark E

      “I choose to spend (waste, in some people’s eyes!) my money on parts for cars…”

      Hey Jamie, are you CERTAIN you don’t know my wife? ^_^ When she got home from work yesterday I showed her the post about the Bitter project and you should have heard her reiterate the reasons why I should NOT buy it… >_<

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Actually, I’m very lucky in that my wife is a co-conspirator!

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        My wife is a co-conspirator too. She actually did the groundwork on half or our collection.

  2. Mark E

    In my mind cars like this represent the future of our hobby. Affordable cars allow people access to the hobby and if they love them, cost is no object for restoration. Besides, they do not have to be frame-off, every-nut-and-bolt restored to just drive them, show them and enjoy them!

  3. peter

    Ya, would needs another buick!

    goto yahoo, groups, type 1927 buick, our club will come up!

  4. jdsport

    Is this vehicle for sale? Where is it located; and how can I inquire about it with the owner? Thank you.

    • David Frank David Member

      Owner Gary has said he would sell it. He even tried to give it to our museum. His shop is located in Newcastle, California, just outside Sacramento. Gary is out of town this week, but I can call him and see if he would mind me giving out his number.

  5. Hugh Spitler

    Somewhere between the purists who insist on frame-off, historically correct restorations and the rad rodders, who just want the body and maybe the frame for their rolling works of yard art, are a lot of us who take a “barn find” and keep the exterior stock while upgrading the running gear to make them daily drivers. The restorers hate us for “ruining” a classic, the hot rodders are puzzled as to why we don’t go all billet aluminum and LS-engined show car. I think anyone who preserves an old car in any form and drives it on a regular basis so folks can see these classicly designed vehicles does it out of a love for the style and character of older vehicles so lacking in what my son calls the “polished turd” sameness of today’s cars.

  6. Chris in WNC

    I’m not one of them, but many people will take on a project like this as a labor of love regardless of how upside-down the end result is.
    This particular car has several parts of the restoration already completed, giving a great head start to whoever wants to finish it.

  7. Byron Riginos

    This dilemma is so true and repeats itself in many parts of the world.
    Near Athens, Greece, we face similar about a 1926 Chevrolet Superior…

  8. Blindmarc

    Do the previous wood in steel and drive it as you finish the rest.

    • David Frank David Member

      It’s an interesting idea, but the wooden parts are structural, and would be impossible to reproduce in wood. Have a look at the third picture, for example.

  9. Wiley Robinson

    Sadly, these are the types of cars that often get hacked up and abandoned by rat rodders with dreams but no plans. They are cheaper than a 32 Ford and seem to find their way down to the bottom of the old car world.

    • Wiley Robinson

      Like this…

      • james g

        That car is amazing (the red wagon in the background)

    • james g

      This car is acceptable under my rules and is an ethical example considering the condition before it was started

      • james g

        But THIS on the other hand is completely unethical and very unacceptable in my rule book of hot/rat rodding. Shame things happen to great cars. It’s just sad. Yeah found this on ifunny. NOTE: I did not caption this; it’s ugly after, pretty before

  10. MH

    Rat rods are terrible and so are the people that do that to these cars.

    • Blindmarc

      I agree 100%

  11. moosie craig

    Do what it needs to be a SAFE running and driving car and then just enjoy it,,,,, it doesnt need to be fully restored to be enjoyed.

  12. John

    Do people actually restore these cars with equity in mind? I never did nor did my father. This surprises me. I have always worked on cars for fun and to be with my father.

    • Ed P

      John: Perfect answer. I just wish my father were still alive to do the same.

  13. Dan Farrell

    What a great project for a trade or technical school that has more manpower than money. I know some schools have a vehicle restoration major.

    • james g

      Or a private school’s Industrial Arts program (or for the few responsible kids and teacher) oh wait we don’t have shop class anymore…

  14. stu

    Ditto what Hugh and Craig said.

    A rational person knows how to do what a vehicle deserves. Some should be ‘restored,’ others ‘preserved,’ and some just resurrected from a long rest for another chance. A few are best utilized as component donors or by melting down and reincarnating as new steel.

    “Driver” beats “show car” in our book in all but the most special cases.

    If we’re bringing the wives into the equation, here’s what’s worked the last 27 years with mine:

    1) It has to feel safe.

    2) It’s best if it’s (mostly) reliable. Even new cars sometimes fail to proceed. A small kit with screwdrivers and pliers will often save a call to me for simple road service. Sockets and wrenches are a plus but not mandatory. She’s fine with checking and maintaining fluids herself.

    3) A nice interior makes her smile when she drives it. 2-tone is magnitudes better than a single color.

    4) Pretty paint and ‘over the top’ cosmetics hamper her enjoyment. Those things make her hesitant to park at Walmart. She also occasionally makes references to ‘not wanting to hurt your baby.’ Somehow, if they’re pretty they’re mine and she doesn’t take ownership.

    5) Updated drivetrain, suspension, etc. often make it easier to drive. She’s pretty comfortable with clutches and manual windows and chokes. If those functions are automated it’s still usually a plus. A/C is a neat convenience and was featured in the first old ride that got her started.

    6) Possibly the most important, she LOVES all the new and interesting friends she meets at the gas pumps and anywhere else she stops. Sometimes she’ll meet someone who’s seen her rides around forever and are surprised to find out she’s the pilot.

    7) Having your wife driving old vehicles causes people to bend over backwards to tell HER where other cool things are laying, neglected and in need of a new owner.

    So we’re in the Keep ’em Rollin’ camp, philosophically speaking.

  15. geomechs geomechs Member

    It’s a labor of love. I never think about the value of the cars I own; I just want to restore/preserve them and enjoy them. Those who are thinking of taking on a project to simply flip it for profit should invest in real estate. The only ones who make a profit in this hobby are the custom restoration shops and the auction houses.

    • St.Ramone de V8

      Exactly, geomechs! It’s a hobby. Hobbies cost time and money. Try skiing, golf, fishing, boats… Anything we care to do because we simply love being involved in is going to come at a cost. I think, and really hope, that cars like these will come up more often to those of us who are willing to tinker with it. If they are not going to be worth a look for a flipper, then maybe it’s a good thing? I’d gladly be in the hole for my hobby. I’m pretty sure I already am…

  16. Ken M.

    I’m not in the “rat rod” crowd myself, but if the choice is between the car rusting into a heap or someone transforming it into whatever their vision is, then I say go for it. I don’t understand the negativity toward people being creative. To each their own. There are some incredibly skilled craftsmen on both sides of that line.

  17. Steve J Member

    I have found over the years that when I take on a restoration project I am worried less about the cost of restoration then I am about the experience and the joy I get from the process. Restoring a piece of history is rewarding in many ways, the accomplishment of overcoming the challenges, sharing the experience with my family and most of all therapy. When I disappear into my shop I forget about the other pressures and challenges of life and consider this therapy. If I were paying to go sit on someone’s couch it would cost me more than the difference in the cost of restoring versus market value. In the end the greater value is the personal satisfaction and piece of mind not the market value.

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