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Just Needs Detailing? 1955 Buick Special Sedan

Here at Barn Finds, a lot of the cars submitted to us have come out of long-term storage.  Most were not hermetically sealed and placed in climate-controlled enclosures at the start of their entombment.  The great majority find themselves slumbering in an old garage, shed, or, you guessed it, a barn.  In these places, moisture, dirt, dust, rodents, and temperature swings take their toll on the exterior finish and the interior materials.  Take this 1955 Buick Special sedan for sale on Facebook Marketplace in Lubbock, Texas as an example of what we are talking about.  While this stately old Buick is complete and has the potential to be a fantastic car to cruise around in, just how well will a car like this polish up?  Can a professional detailer bring this Buick from rough and ready to a fifties version of Cinderella going to the ball?  Would you apply a liberal amount of elbow grease to get this car looking good after shelling out the $4,850 asking price, or leave it as-is?  Thanks to T.J. for this four-door find!

While there is a certain amount of shame in this admission, I will confess something to make a point.  I occasionally watched Fast and Loud.  Now that that is out in the open, I want to reference an episode where Dennis had picked a prewar Aston Martin (I believe).  It was in rough shape from stem to stern.  The leather was dried out and the paint had more chalk in it than the White Cliffs of Dover.  He called in a professional detailer.  When I say professional, I mean someone who specializes in bringing expensive but forlorn cars back to life, not the guy who advertises on the Facebook message boards for your neighborhood.  I remember the job taking him many hours.  The result was incredible.  Almost like a classic car version of the car cleanup scene in the movie “Pulp Fiction.”

Now consider that transformation from dried-out leather and chalky paint to a very presentable automobile.    The time invested was considerable and the cost was surely high financially.  The detailer was also quite knowledgeable and had many methods to save as much of the original material as possible while still improving the looks of the car.  When you consider the prospect of putting the Buick you see in this write-up through a similar process, it makes you wonder just how nice a professional detailer could make this car.

Why go through the expense and time?  The straight-up answer is that this car is never going to be fully restored.  A four-door lower-line Buick from the fifties is not a restoration candidate unless it has sentimental value to the owner.  It is just too expensive, with chroming, refinishing, reupholstering, and the thousand other items and services you would need to bring this Buick back to its glory adding up to a ridiculous sum.  This car is nice enough to fix up and drive as it is anyway.  So, my feeling is that this would be a perfect car to spend the money and time to have a top-level detailer work their magic in this case.

So if you like this idea and are interested in this Buick, the seller did provide a little written information in the ad.  We are told that there is very little rust, and that the car is clean inside and out.  Despite sitting in a barn for 40 years, the engine does run.  The seller says that it is not yet drivable, but the picture of the engine with a valve cover pulled off alludes to the necessary work being done as I type this.  They have hooked it up to a battery and the lights work at least.

A look into the trunk reveals the flotsam and jetsom that one collected and stored in a car back in the day.  When was the last time you were given a paper road map at a gas station?  Have you ever changed a tire with a bumper jack and a combination jack handle and lug wrench?  Or, if you want to have some real fun, go to the service department of your local Buick dealer, hand them the can of oil, and tell them to put a quart of oil in your car.  Do you think anyone there would know how to open it, much less have a spout?

In all, this is an interesting car that would make a good road trip vehicle once the bugs were worked out of it.  It may clean up much better than you would think.  Buicks of this era were fine cars, and hopefully, someone takes it to a proper detailer.  I guess that there is a beauty of a car underneath the grime and surface rust. Do you think a professional detailer could help this car become much more presentable?  Have you ever purchased a car that cleaned up better than your expectations?  Please share your thoughts and reminisce in the comments.


  1. Avatar photo Mike

    A friend of mine in Belgium has the exact car less the white top. 43k Dog dish hubcaps and polished patina.
    I’m not a big fan of patina but on his it works.
    This one would be a fun cruiser. It looks like you could move in to that trunk.

    Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Greenhorn

    This may not be a desirable car, and it may not be in great condition, but I’m really enjoying the history in the photos. The old oil change stickers on the A pillar, the oil in a can, the Texaco Texas map, and the ginormous AAA badge on the trunk. This isn’t a lot of money, and it would be a shame to see it scrapped. And of course, 99% of what you see are Chevrolets of this vintage.
    Anyway, a neat car.
    P.S. Jeff, I’m old enough to have seen those bumper jacks in action, dangerous as Hell.

    Like 12
    • Avatar photo Michael Tischler

      Worked with a guy back in 71′ that died when the car slipped off the bumper jack while he was working on it.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Bovey59

        People are still dying using modern jacks. It isn’t the jack. It’s the lack of jack stands properly placed and used.

        Like 5
    • Avatar photo Orca17

      I have used a bumper jack. It makes you anxious as hell. One of my father’s coworkers had one fly off and break his jaw.

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Ashtray

      I enjoy seeing ALL of these old vehicles listed for sale, especially this one. It is like opening up a time capsule.
      I have noticed TJ finds a lot of these nice rides. I think a big shout out to TJ is in order. Perhaps this could be TJ Day? Hey, that rhymes.
      I completely agree with Jeff on this one. Have a professional clean it up and buff it until it’s at it’s best, and drive it.
      Absolutely, leave the period correct AAA emblem attached.
      Yes, I have had some crazy experiences with these bumper jack’s. Having this one still neatly stored in the trunk is a big plus.
      Thanks for the post.
      Just my oponion!

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo randys

    Ad gone. Too bad, I would have rocked that. Like everything out that car.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo UDTFROG

    My totally frame off restored 54 is a far Century 20 door is a far better model LUVIN IT!

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Brad Chipman

    I have a different take on this one. If the project was done as a hobby to make a cool driver by a beginner it could make a nice cruiser not a restoration. I’m not into 4 doors but this would be a cheap project

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Terry Shanahan

    The nailhead was a good engine but prone to overheating and those Buicks had weak transmissions. This would be a really cool project even tho it’s 4 door.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Jon Calderon

    I had a 77 Pontiac Catalina my grandmother originally got from her brother, Louis Kole who owned Kole Pontiac in Oak Lawn. It also came with a bumper jack. Used it several times, and never had issues with it. I miss bumper jacks, along with vehicles with real metal bumpers. Was my first car. Thing would fly! Suprised many of my HS friends. It would spin the tires so long, you couldn’t see me in the cloud, then I’d idle out of the cloud. I was rough on it, and it took it all.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Keith S

    My Dad bought one when I was a young boy & he put lights in the Portholes on the fenders. Imagine if he had put a Patten on that I would have lived a life of leisure…lol

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo charlie Member

    I used bumper jacks starting with my father’s ’50 Studebaker, then a ’56 Chevy bought new, and passed around the family, finally rusted out at 140,000 miles and 14 years. Tires, in those days, lasted about 22,000 miles. Used bumper jacks on it, never had a problem, except that the bumpers bent up, especially front, you will see these on the ones for sale, ’55’s also. Can be bent down, but eventually it weakens the bracket that gets bent up.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Anthony DAmico

    Very nice write up Jeff. My dad had a ’55 two door Special so I can relate to this one. He always drove Buicks..eventually died in his ’55 because he collided with another ’55 Buick! That steering column did him in. In later years someone realized the danger so they came up with the recessed steering column. I agree that this car has no potential other than being a driver for someone that has a personal attachment to it. Now if this were a 2 door Super or Roadmaster, that’s a whole new ballgame.

    Like 0

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