Live Auctions

Parked Outdoors For 25 Years: 1957 Buick Special

When it was parked under this tree 25-years-ago, this 1957 Buick Special was said to be a very nice car. Since then, the time has marched on, and it has marched all over this old classic. It is in need of a full restoration, but it is an essentially complete car, so let’s take a look and see what is what. It is located in Red Bluff, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Buick has reached $1,300 in what is a No Reserve auction.

The person who takes on this Buick is going to have to be pretty brave because they face a mountain of work if they intend to return the car to its former glory. Sitting outdoors on wet dirt for decades is never a good thing, but when you add in broken glass, then you would be fairly safe to assume that the elements have done their worst with this classic. If you assumed that, then it appears that you are right. The owner admits that the floors have some pretty substantial rust, but it isn’t clear how healthy, or otherwise, the frame is. Given its proximity to Mother Earth, there is every likelihood that any restoration will need to be a frame-off process to ensure that any rust issues are addressed thoroughly. Most of the glass looks good, although the glass in both front doors is broken, along with the rear window. What does appear to be in good condition is the majority of the external trim. In fact, it looks like it would respond well to some hard work with a quality polish. The other pleasant surprise is both how straight the body panels appear to be, and how little external rust is actually visible. Even the original Shell Beige paint has survived relatively intact under the dirt, moss, and lichen.

The theme of hard work will continue when we look inside the Buick. With a few broken windows, the rain has been able to easily find its way into the car, and this has done its worst. Surprisingly, the dash actually looks both complete and in pretty good condition. The rest of the interior trim and upholstery looks pretty sad, and I suspect that it probably doesn’t smell that great into the bargain. I did undertake a brief search and quickly found that many of the interior trim components are readily available, but I was unable to locate a supplier who could supply a complete trim kit. However, my search was relatively brief, but given the fact that individual pieces are available, there is a fair chance that a complete kit could be located.

This is as close we get to the motor in the Buick, and we don’t get to see a whole lot. We do know that it is a 364ci Nailhead V8, backed by a 2-speed Dynaflow transmission. When in good health, this is an engine that can produce a fairly reasonable 250hp, endowing the Special with respectable levels of performance. Of course, that sort of health would undoubtedly have been a long time ago, and it isn’t clear whether the engine even turns freely. I suspect that no real attempt has been made to check anything in this area, and given how damp the environment is, the next owner will need to hope for the best when it comes to the condition of the drive-train. Of course, the Buick has to have been parked for some reason, so hopefully, it wasn’t due to a major mechanical malfunction.

As I said, it will be a brave person who takes on the restoration of this Buick, but nothing is impossible. It is also a vehicle that might be capable of springing a surprise or two. I can remember seeing a 1968 Camaro parked in a similar location to this, and it had sunk in the mud all the way down to the belly. When it was extracted from its resting place, the frame was found to be solid, and the floors needed little more than some minor patching. I’m not saying that this will be the case with the Buick, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t mind giving it a close inspection. Of course, the ultimate sticking point on a restoration like this will be what the potential value would be once the work has been completed. The harsh reality is that even in immaculate condition, a 1957 Buick Special 4-Door Sedan is going to struggle to be worth more than about $18,000. If it were a Coupe or a Convertible, the story would be very different, as values of $30,000+ are pretty common. As a restoration project, this one would be financially viable if the next owner is able to complete the majority of the work themselves. However, if they need to pay someone to undertake the restoration, it almost certainly doesn’t make financial sense.


  1. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    It’s entirely possible that there’s $1500 worth of chrome and trim – but that’s about it

    Like 15
  2. JRHaelig

    I want the owner’s full name and address.

    They shall be receiving a tersely worded expression of my disappointment at their utter and complete failure in the discharge of their stewardly duties. Shameful.

    The first photo is, however, calendar worthy.

    Like 20
    • Bob

      I agree with your statement!!! By the looks of the body and chrome this car was undoubtedly a puff when parked!! It’s unfortunate that it got into a crazy persons possession. Total shame!

      Like 7
  3. sir mike

    What makes people do this??? It’s a crime.

    Like 10
    • Steve R

      Twenty five years ago there was no interest in a car like this. If the owner didn’t live in a rural area it would have been sent to a junk yard and crushed in 1995, if not sooner. Today, it at least it exists, it’s parts will help restore one that’s in nicer shape.

      Steve R

      Like 13
      • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

        Not sure I agree with you, Steve R. 25 years ago I seem to remember seeing a lot more ’50s cars at car shows; I even had a stock ’57 210 Chevy at that time. The guys who grew up with them were still around though they were getting up there in age. You don’t see as many ’50s cars today because 60+ years later, most of those guys are gone. A lot of the ’50s cars you do see today have been rodded and modernized, the restored originals are seen less. So this Buick, even if it were in better shape, would probably be modified today. It’s cheaper than going the restored to original route.

        Like 4
      • Joe Average

        When I go to a car show these days, the old timers can hardly get around let alone manage an antique car to and from a show. The big walking events like the Pigeon Forge, TN car shows has a bunch of people riding battery powered gadgets b/c nobody wants to walk.

        My retired father and I discuss whether my generation or my kids’ generation will have the money or the inclination to own a nice old car. That implies – old car knowledge, some place out of the weather to park an old car, a garage shop.

        I know guys in their 40s who have never had those resources and a divorce or two also reset their old car budgets a couple of times.

        Like 6
  4. Chris in Pineville

    appears to be a very good parts car at current price.
    demand for these Buicks is low enough to keep bidding down in the real world.
    good find for the right buyer.

    Like 7
  5. Ken Carney

    I vote to restomod it. That way, you’ll at
    least save it from the crusher. Just add
    a 455 V-8, a T-400 tranny, update the brakes and cooling system, and the hard
    work’s done. Any good upholstery shop
    can whip up a new interior by using the
    original fabrics and vinyl as a pattern.
    Can’t find original carpeting? Then just use what you can find for that. Yeah, this
    poor car didn’t deserve what happened to it, but it is, after all, a blank slate to see it
    as it could be.

    Like 7
    • ACZ

      Easier said than done. Remember, this is a torque tube driveline. It needs a completely different rear suspension design to be able to accept the later model engine/trans.

      Like 2
  6. Bob C.

    Sad, very sad. Horrible thing to do to a car like this.

    Like 2
  7. local_sheriff

    If this Buick indeed has been sitting 25(!) years in a field I’d say it has survived miraculously well! Sitting up to its hubs in dirt for decades is of course not a good thing, however I expected to see crusty fender lips, non-existant rockers and rust up to the door centers, but this is California. Maybe it’s salvagable after all? Too bad there are no pics of its (under)floor, chassis or cowl to evaluate the damage, with the pics provided it’s pure guesswork …

    It’s a very sad sight and judging by the brightwork condition I suspect this was an extremely good example when left to its own fate. If it cannot be saved I really hope it’ll partially live on as bits for some happy ’57 Buick owner

    Like 5
  8. Little_Cars

    I see no evidence of flaking, peeling or pits in the chrome (based on the BF photos). Not really any damage to the trim. Certainly this car can give up it’s essential plated parts so that another can LIVE ON!

    Like 1
  9. Del

    Take more to tow it out of the pig crap it sunk into than its worth.

    I imagine it will still be there in 2120

    Like 2
  10. Jason

    I wonder how many times someone knocked on their door to buy it…

    Like 6
  11. John Taylor

    Even in 1995 when this car was dumped there in the open it was still quite a desirable ride, it make you wonder why do people just leave things like that in the open, the grass will have rotted the underside most likely, what a shame, I hope someone does restore this car back to its former glory.

    Like 2
  12. Robert White

    It’s a great rat rod as is and likely only needs the gas tank drained & flushed along with the engine block and radiator. A good tune up and oil change will get you a mobile running car that you can drive onto a hoist for new break lines and tires.

    32 bidders are currently watching this solid rat rod that only needs a tune up & tires.

    I’ll bet the bidding goes to about $4500.00 given the straightness of the exterior body panels and lack of bubbling paint. The frame will be solid and the rockers will need a bit of welding but not whole rockers.

    This car looks like a turd that can’t be polished but it’s actually a good find if the buyer can get it for under $2000.00 USD.

    Always remember that cars like this get sandblasted rotisserie fashion and primed before welding patches. This car is likely very solid and NOT cheese.


    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      Sold for $1800?

  13. Del

    Yes John, the frame will be rotten.

    Like 1
  14. Del


    last pic shows soneone there with a trailer.

    Hope there is enough parts to pay for it because it will never drive on its own again

    Like 1
  15. James Turner

    I concur with Dell. Strip off the reusable parts, Find a buyer/ Restorer online and scrap the rest. We all see this kind of disregard all to often. How hard is it to store an old car on blocks, Out of the dirt with a tarp strapped down with bungee cords from blowing off. As usual The a&& holes that do this expect big bucks when the vehicle is scrap metal. It is the same story with boats sitting on the trailers out in the open uncovered for years dry rotting the interior and the fiberglass.


    Like 2
  16. Kenn

    Frame may not be rotten. Didn’t sink to the frame immediately, so perhaps not that many years that deep in the ground.

    • Little_Cars

      The last photo with the trailer behind it shows a shovel indicating someone dug the tires out of the earth. IF they stayed inflated for 20 years and flat for 5 your theory may carry some weight. Any time I’ve brought “earth moving” equipment to extract a car, there usually wasn’t much left underneath. Still, the Buick looks like a sound starting point.

  17. TimM

    This should be illegal to keep a car so long that it rots into the earth!!!

  18. JBP

    What a shame, but it dosnt look so bad, that it couldnt be made to a driver. New floors, and a bit metalwork here and there.. pull engine, and in with a running.. think it would be a shame to part it out. Imho..

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