Too Many Doors, Nah: 1954 Buick Special

Scanning through ads, this Buick listed on craigslist for $8,000 caught my eye. Some would move on after noticing the extra pair of doors or the missing set of portholes. The 1954 Buick Special was an all new design. It is longer and wider and the new Nailhead V8 replaced the flathead straight eight. There’s no history provided on this example, but likely this Buick is either a survivor or an older restoration. The seller has the maintenance records, and that will tell the story. The license plates are from the 1970’s so perhaps that’s when the restoration work was done. Either way, this might be a nice driver for the new owner requiring minimal work. After carefully studying the ad and asking questions, there are usually surprises when looking at the car in person. Most of these surprises are not good things. There’s no history provided on this example, but perhaps it’s either a survivor or an older restoration. The license plates are from the 1970’s. Either way, this might be a nice driver for the new owner requiring minimal work.

There are no pictures of the interior, but the dash looks nice. There’s no pernundal (park, reverse, neutral, drive, low) over the shift lever, so it’s a “three on the tree”. If the rest of the interior is this nice, this could be a nice Buick.

This is the 248 CID “nailhead” engine new for 1954 Buick Special. The upright valve covers are a big clue but the nailhead comes from the small diameter valves. Everything looks complete under the hood and even has the original air cleaner and washer bottle. The engine could use some serious cleaning, but everything looks to be in good order.

The panels look straight and the trim and lights are complete. Hopefully there’s no filler hiding under that shiny paint. This Buick looks like a good honest survivor. The seller says it is a nice cruiser, so it must run and drive well. There will likely be a few mechanical gremlins to deal with. If this old Buick is as nice as it looks in the pictures after a look at the interior and the usual places for rust, it might just be a really nice driver. It’s right here in Sacramento, so if anyone wants more info and pictures, I’d love an excuse to go have a look.


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WANTED 1967 Chevrolet C20 4×4 I need a rust-free or easily restored cab for a ’67 small rear window C20 4×4. Contact

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  1. Nsuracer

    Just a couple of corrections. All Buick straight eights were OHV. The new nailhead V8 was 322 ci. 248 was the displacement of the small straight eight. Yes, a 3 speed manual really woke these cars up.

    • Corey Wadley

      Actually, the 322 was not available in the Special for ’54. It came with the 264, which was a replacement for the inline 263. With the Dynaflow tranny, however, the engine power to the rear wheels was so diminished, that it might has well have been driven by a rubber band.

      -Former Buick Guy

      • Mountainwoodie

        That ’57 is sweet!

  2. crazyhawk

    And my 73 Challenger gets called a ‘sad mouth’….but not this

  3. Dave

    Always been a fan of the 3 holer.
    Less to fix.

  4. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    This reminds me of the $8000 1941 Caddy ad. 8K seems to be the magic number. Sacramento posting also. I really hope this one is for real.

  5. mark

    Two cars above this one is a plain jane 74 Pinto for $4500. $8000 bucks for this one is a far better deal.

  6. David

    This was my very first car. A black 1954 Special. A friend of my parents came every week to visit and parked in the driveway creating a narrow gap between the family car. Well then, I was on the tractor with a cultivator attached and came roaring down the drive. BANG. i didn’t realize that the gap was not wide enough. I didn’t catch hell, but fortunately only dented the area below the taillight. I drove that car until 1965. In 1964, my girl friend at the time- and eventually wife- got in and i told her that the windshield leaked and to move closer to me. She learned the hard way. Water came pouring in. That was a great car!

  7. JIm

    Paint it Black and White with Highway Patrol Stars on the Doors and you could be Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol all over again.

  8. LAB3

    The mid 50’s through early 60’s four door Buicks look better, at least to me anyway. The design and styling of the lines, moldings and curves fit the car much better on the four door models. The two door models seem to miss the mark on overall proportion in this respect, as if they’re merely the same design with a piece cut out of the middle instead of a more refined aesthetic unique to that model.

    • paul

      I had a ’56 Century 2 dr hardtop, white over blue. looked much better than the 4 doors

  9. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Buick. I’ve always loved early 1950s Buicks. My grandparents drove Buicks back in the day.

  10. Bill Wetzel

    Am drooling over this. Bought a 54 46R(Special 2 dr hardtop) with just over 10,000 miles in 1975 and owned it until 1988. Selling it was a big mistake.

  11. Bruce Jones

    This was our family car (used) from 1959 to 1968. Trips from CT to Florida, my sister and me in the back seat, the sole concession to passenger safety being a rope across the front seat back. By ’68 the car was rusted out junk, and my father sold it for parts, but my friend Doug and I got the radio and put it in his ’58 Ford, suspended under the dash with coat-hanger wire. Ford had a leaky heater core and now and then a drop would land on the hot radio with a hiss. Picture below shows Buick radio in ’58 Ford.

    • TouringFordor

      The “rope” was a robe cord. A vestige of the 30s, when the rear seat passengers used big blankets to keep warm. You would hang the blankets on the cord when not in use.

    • dr fine

      Pretty clever. I don’t want to remove the factory am radio from my 66 Dodge Coronet, so my sound system is two old PC speakers, bottom to bottom, held under the dash with zip ties. A tiny old $10 mp3 player is plugged in, and both are powered by the cigar lighter outlet. Sounds surprisingly good, but I prefer the sound of the 225 six thru a low resistance muffler. Since I used a feeler gauge to adjust the valves with the engine running, it sounds like a Hudson Hornet.

  12. al leonard

    This “too many doors” ideology has to go!!! Anyone can get a nice 2 dr….for BIG bucks!!!.No kid today can start out in the hobby with those inflated prices…I look for and purchase mainly 4 door origionals as the price hasen’t gotten out of hand…YET..The more doors the better,,,the cars just look better…and can provide family fun with easy entrance/exits….come on people, get off this idea that any more than 2 doors is not good!!!!

  13. charlie Member

    SOME 4 doors look great – for example the 4 door “hardtops” with no B post – especially the ’57 Buick and Olds, for example, the early 60’s GM flattops and the ’65-’68 Corvairs. But some are just not attractive – the ’53 to the end Studebakers for example, although as Larks they looked better than their predecessors. The ’38 – ’41 Caddy 60 Special was especially pleasing as a 4 door as was the ’63 – end of the run Lincoln., and the T Bird of the same era as a 4 door was pretty good too. The tri-5 B post Chevy on the other hand, one of which I owned for many years, was relatively ugly, as were both the Jr and Sr Buicks, Olds, and Caddy of this model – ’54 – ’56. Not too many doors, too many posts.

    • dr fine

      Other four door hardtop beauties are the 64 Ford and Mercury, plus the mopar station wagons.

  14. Corey Wadley

    The first year of the Sedan DeVille (1956) was a well proportioned 4-door.

  15. Maestro1 Member

    If the car is not minimally equipped with Dynaflow and Power Steering I think I would pass because of traffic conditions here. I drive my cars, so some consideration has to be given to convenience.

  16. Bruce Fischer

    I have always been a fan of the orphan 4 door cars as shown here with my 56 Chrysler. Bruce.

    • Corey Wadley

      That is a good looking Chrysler.

  17. normadesmond

    Actually, the dash looks awful. I see a dent and I think the finish above the dent should be a machined metal.

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