Original Paint: 1958 Buick Century Caballero

The Century Caballero was one of two pillarless estate wagons sold by Buick in 1957-58. The Caballero hardtop wagon would be a short-lived venture, selling less than 15,000 copies across two model years. They were attractive wagons and its surprising they didn’t take off as well as hardtop sedans did. This 1958 edition has been stored outdoors for several years and now wears the requisite patina for the experience. It’s not rust-free, but generally solid being in Atascosa, Texas. It’s available here on eBay where the seller has set a Buy It Now price of $28,000 but will accept offers.

In 1957, Buick began offering two hardtop estate wagons (aka station wagons for us regular folk): The Special Riviera and the Century Caballero. The Special was the lower-priced, less decked-out version of the two and sold for about $600 less than the Caballero. Both used a 364 cubic inch V-8, but the Special put out 250 hp with a 2-barrel carb and the Caballero 300 hp with a 4-barrel. The roof styling was inspired by the Chevy Nomad/Pontiac Safari design. As with many hardtops of the era, one complaint of these wagons was they had noisy air leaks with the side windows rolled up. After two years, Buick found the pillarless wagons to be slow sellers compared to their pillared counterparts, so both the Special Riviera and the Century Caballero were dropped after 1958. Thanks to How Stuff Works for a Buick estate wagon history lesson!

This 1958 Century Caballero was no doubt a stunning piece of machinery back in its day. The Buicks of that era had bold styling and were loaded with chrome everywhere you turned. Because it was only one of 4,456 when new, these are rare finds today in any condition. The seller tells us the wagon wears its original paint, which is likely Warwick Blue on the bottom and possibly Dark Turquoise on the top. It has been off the road for several years and outdoor storage was chosen, so Mother Nature took control. It’s weathered but said to be mostly rust-free except for the floor pans. The exterior trim seems to have held up, all things considered.

The interior has fared worse than the exterior, where some of the seating has disappeared from sitting in the sun. This includes the cargo area as well as the dashboard, so it will all have to be redone, whether interior trim kits are readily available for an uncommon, 62-year-old car. Factory air conditioning is a rare sight on this wagon, which likely decreases the likely survival rate of similarly equipped wagons.

We’re told that the engine is the original 364 and the seller says it will run but needs a full tune-up including the fuel system after sitting so long. The listing tells us the mileage on the car is 419, but that seems unlikely. Could that be 100,419 miles instead? Despite higher production than the Special Riviera, the Century Caballero should have greater collector appeal now because it came better equipped. These Buicks represent a bit of nostalgia from the days when Detroit would try most anything new to sell cars.

Is the seller’s asking price reasonable for its condition? Well, Hagerty didn’t have a comment on the resale value of the Caballero, but ConceptCarsZ shows a range from actual sales of between $35,000 and $90,000, but only for a handful of cars. So, once restored and in rare company, this could be a valuable piece of Detroit iron. But not one that I would use to take the kids to soccer practice.

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Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    First it’s an amazing looking car. But that price seems over the top, once you start to repair and refurbish, where will it stop? Going to take a wad of cash to bring this beast back to its former glory. Oh yeah and the AC got to seal it up tighter than it was designed in 58 as the freon will cost a small fortune. Looks good in the garage, may sit there a while. Shame it didn’t get in sooner.

    Like 13
    • Steve R

      Freon may be expensive, but R134 isn’t. Neither are the conversions, comparatively speaking.

      Steve R

      Like 10
  2. alphasud Member

    I must be getting old. I used to not have the appreciation for the 50’s cars. But now I look at some of these and I can’t help but to appreciate how beautiful some were. The sheer amount of chrome and the curves. Just wow! What a car!

    Like 27
    • oldsoldie

      I don’t think it has anything to do with being old although I certainly am. But this old Buick is a work of art compared to the wedge shaped plastic crap boxes that are being produced currently

      Like 37
  3. Joe Haska

    I agree it is a work of art and an exceptional car. I think the price is reasonable, but that is assumming you have the time and money to restore it. If you love it, like I do ,but you have to cash in aluminum cans to finance the build, it would probably be best to reconsider.

    Like 3
  4. Maestro1 Member

    Russ, thank you, I remember these Puppies when they were new, and shiny
    in the showroom. My Father got close to one but turned it down. I remember
    all the chrome and almost desperate design. ’58 was a terrible design year.

    Like 7
    • Jimmy Novak

      A bloated salute to excess and the inspiration for the Bulgemobile.

      Like 5
  5. art

    It is a shame that this car didn’t receive shelter in storage but it remains very good looking and a candidate for restoration. Considering the cost to restore the car, 4.5 pounds of R-12 is nothing. I have more than four cases of the stuff. It is available.
    I really hope someone makes this Buick beauty look like new, it deserves that.

    Like 8
  6. JohnfromSC

    IMO, the pricing on this is nuts. The thing this one potentially has going for it is that it appears everything is there. Yes it is relatively rare, but so are the potential collectors for it.

    There is no reasonable path to a “sympathetic” restoration here, only a full nut and bolt restoration which is going take thousands of hours of labor, not hundreds. Add to that the cost of redoing all the mechanicals, interior, replating and paint.

    Cool car, but not at the $ask.

    Like 19
  7. Vance

    The sheer amount of chrome in the front and rear of this car is jaw dropping. I always think of the Cheshire Cat when I see one of these. The front grill to have all those pieces present is amazing. This car would be a labor of love for someone who had priceless memories tied to this vehicle. The more chrome the better, 50’s cars were the King of Cool with the chrome. Big fins, huge grills, and trim aplenty, love it.

    Like 10
  8. JolietJake Member

    Nice, leave it outside so that it can get a nice patina on it, and you can ask for more $$$ for it (!?!)

    Like 6
  9. Steve Wertman

    Yes this car is well worth restoring! I love the cars from the late 50s/60s I remember as a young kid riding in my aunt and uncle’s 1963 Buick wildcat way back when! Gosh. I wish I had that car now! They don’t make them like that anymore!

    Like 3
  10. Fred W

    You’ll spend another 28K on rechroming alone!

    Like 9
  11. mrobin

    A long time ago I went to local car show and I parked next the a very nice 58 Buick and I remember the owner telling people ” I spent almost $12K just to re-chrome my car” and I thought I only paid $8k for my car ( 72 TVR 2500M)

    Like 3
  12. Will Fox

    This Buick is one of those cars that is INSTANTLY hold it’s value once restored. Sure it needs alot, but worth every penny. done right, you have an $80K+ collectible. There was another one of these in far worse condition shown here a couple months back; at least this one has it’s glass!

    Like 2
    • ken tilly UK Member

      I actually watched an instalment of “Chasing Classic Cars” today where Wayne Carini had an exceptionally nice Buick Caballero on auction with a reserve price of $65k but the bidding only went to $60k so it was unsold. I have no idea how old the programme was but judging by the cars on the highways it couldn’t have been too long ago.

      Like 3
  13. Bob McK Member

    I love this car, but I sure don’t have the extra $150K it would take to restore it. I hope someone does. t will be truly amazing completed.

    Like 1
  14. LarryS Member

    All of the talk about the expense of rechroming – but the chrome really doesn’t look all that bad. And a lot of the trim is actually stainless. Would love to have this car!

    Like 5
    • Vince H

      It will look bad when the paint work is done. I always thought 58 was the ugliest Buick ever made.

      Like 2
      • BONE

        Have you seen a 1982 Skylark ? LOL

  15. martinsane

    Beautiful car. Boy i wish any modern car had an ounce of the pizazz of this and other vehicles from this era. When and why did we become so nuetered in our styling?

    Id make the effort to restore it over 10 years and be buried in it, but the ask is out of my reality.

    Like 3
  16. BDK

    He should have started at half that.
    People see cars go for big money and think that they should get most of that for theirs with no real idea how much it costs to go through one.
    Like the saying goes, “You can buy them already done cheaper than you can do it yourself”
    (unless you own the bodyshop/or possess the skills, time and materials)

    Like 1
  17. ACZ

    A great candidate for a restoration project and will be beautiful when done. HOWEVER, the asking price is stupidly so far from reality that the seller should be seeing a shrink on a regular basis.

    Like 2
  18. Phipps

    That’s a great looking car and especially the grille.

    Like 1
  19. Bill McCoskey

    From my experience of finding/buying old cars that have been allowed to sit outside for years, It’s my opinion that this car has been partially covered in vines, both inside & out, for a long, long time. See that rust damage on the rear cargo floor? That happens when the vines are filling the cargo area. Vines also damage seats and door panels as seen on this car.

    I’ll bet this was a decent car when it was parked.

    Like 1
  20. K. R. V. Member

    Back in 74, while stationed at Ft Carson CO. I bought a beautiful 58 Buick Special Pillar less Sedan, looking just about exactly like this wagon in two tone blue outside, with a gorgeous tri tone blue with piping interior. Same 364/4 brl dual exhaust, with an automatic that if memory serves me had reverse all the way down. That car road like nothing else I ever driven since, including my Dads new 78 Town Car! Especially after I installed some shocks I sort of custom fitted with the help of a friend who could work miracles with metal and a welder, that were for a 3/4 t Chevy truck! With heavy duty springs, that sort of raised the whole car an inch, but man could that car hustle on the mountain roads, paved or dirt! Especially with the huge truck tires I added! I’ve never driven a car, or truck that could soak up bumps like that, plus with the thick sway bar added out back handles well for its size! The A/C an power everything worked! As the car was only 18 years old! With under 40,000 miles when I bought it!

    Like 2
  21. Bruce Fischer

    I wonder what shape the dynoflow trans is in in it.Bruce.

  22. G Lo

    This car is for driving. If it was mine I would do a full resto of the interior, update the brakes and tires, refresh the engine and trans, and then I would drive this everywhere. Hiking, camping, road trips, beach trips. Someone else can “collect” it later.

    Like 1
  23. George Louis

    It would be nice to know how much this car cost when it was built in 1958.. This was when you got some real metal for the money and the auto companies were making money even though 1958 was a recession year,

  24. Phlathead Phil

    It appears everything must be redone.

    It’s a cool beast “surf’s up wagon,” but what “surfer dude” has this kinda dough?

    You might be able to “hang ten” in this choice ride, but, you’ll more than likely “Wipe-Out” at the re-pop & rebuild parts counter!!!

    Like 2
  25. steve

    Would make an awesome patina’d family wagon.
    Escalade drivetrain, airride suspension.

    Absurd price, though.

  26. PatrickM

    Looks pretty straight. But, all the cost in repairs and restoration…!!! Whew. I just checked the ad: $26,000. Way too much. From my point of view, I wouldn’t give more than $5,000.00 for it, and that’s being generous. I don’t care how much a[raisers and collectors say it’s worth. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

    Like 1
  27. Brian

    You could easily set fire to $10k just at the chrome shop. It seems very solid but it’s still going to cost a fortune.

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