Pretty Little Driver: 1961 Buick Special

David FrankBy David Frank

Isn’t this a cute little ride, perhaps something a guy might be able to talk his wife into? It does have an aluminum V8 in the nose with some potential. It’s listed on craigslist in Auburn, California for $8,900. It came from St. Louis, Missouri, so there is the potential for rust. It’s completely original and has only 58,822 miles on it, or so they were told by the folks they bought it from. It would certainly be interesting to know the history of this little Buick.

The interior looks really nice. The upholstery may have been redone but it looks original.

This is the 215 CID V8, but it is very light. It’s only good for 155 horsepower but there are lots of aftermarket parts available to give it more go. This engine became the Rover V8 and has become a favorite of our British friends. Besides the rover, it was used in the Morgan Plus 8, MGB GT V8, and Triumph TR8. They have found lots of ways to squeeze more performance out of it, like using the Rover’s heads, different carburetor, or even turbocharging. One of these little V8s even ran at The Indianapolis 500 in 1962 against the Offenhauser engines. It did pretty well in Micky Thompson’s car until the transmission failed.

This little Buick looks pretty good on this end too. Up close, the paint will show some flaws, but it could be a nice driver. The two-speed automatic isn’t an ideal choice, any manual would be much better, but it’s dependable and works well enough for a driver. This Buick Special is arguably overpriced, but what would it take to restore another one to this condition? The last little Buick Special to sell on eBay was not nearly as nice, was a 4 door wagon and sold for $5900. Unless this car is hiding a lot of rust and a lot of problems, I think it’s worth at least $6,000 and if it’s as nice as it looks, a bit more. I would enjoy driving it as it is and consider swapping out that “Dual Path Turbine Drive” for a 4-speed manual before.

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Comments

  1. mark

    This looks like one someone should buy and leave it as is. If that 2 speed automatic is the same as the Chevy Powerglide, it is a good transmission. I had a 68 Chevy pick up years ago with one in it. This looks like a great daily driver and attention getter for the right price……..as long as the description is true and rust??????

    6+
    • David

      I’m curious too. If someone is really interested it would give me an excuse to drive up and have a look.

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    • Blyndgesser

      The dual-path automatic is unrelated to the Powerglide.

      3+
  2. Rustytech

    I haven’t seen one of these in years, let alone one that looks this nice. Buick did these right using all aluminum instead of trying to mix dissimilar metals between block and heads. The result was a very dependable engine that endured for decades, unlike the aluminum block cast iron head engines that came later. I would be happy to drive this little Buick as a daily driver or weekend cruiser.

    11+
  3. Roger

    My second grade teacher owned a similar Special to this except it was black with Im thinking a tan or light gold interior but I think it was a ’62 model though,she had an accident with it but she had it fixed and drove it until 1968 when she replaced it with a new black Special two door with the 250 straight six Chevy engine in it.

    0
    • glen

      How can you remember so much about your second grade teachers car? I guess my memory is shot!

      7+
      • Joe Cat

        Perhaps Roger’s second grade teacher was a pretty as mine was 🙂

        1+
      • al leonard

        Roger’s in 4th grade now!!!!!!

        5+
      • glen

        Al Leonard!,that’s funny!

        1+
  4. Mountainwoodie

    This is the perfect second grade teacher car! My neighbor drove a red wagon like the earlier one sold on Ebay well into the early seventies. Perfect size car imho. I think the interior pattern on the seats is wrong. On another subject, I’m always wary when a seller advertises a car saying he was going to restore it but but but too many projects. Someone go see it!

    0
  5. JW

    I had one of these after unloading the 63 Econoline, it was light blue and the twin to this one. I think mine was a V6. It was a very dependable car, I needed something cheap on gas because I worked in the next town 20 miles away and it got me to work and back every day summer through winter. Can’t remember what I did with it, had so many cars over my life time.

    1+
  6. JimmyJ

    Not a big gm guy but this is a very cool little car!
    I heard the British changed quite a few engine parts and nothing swaps over
    Is this true?

    1+
  7. Fred W.

    My brother in law at the time bought a V6 one in black in the early 70’s. Watched him buff out the GM lacquer and was floored at the deep gloss level and lack of orange peel, compared to the Ford’s I was playing with.

    0
  8. Anthony R from RI

    Not sure that is an original 62 Buick color. It may have been repainted. And definately not the original interior. I believe it is wearing 55 Buick wheel covers. But if its not rusty probably a nice driving little car

    1+
  9. Will
    1+
    • leiniedude

      Hi Will, Thanks a lot for posting the ad archives. I try to post auction prices after the sale on cars I am interested in. It’s nice to see what they sell for later down the road. Thanks again, Mike.

      0
  10. Sael

    My Grandfather had one of these, might has been a year or so newer, sky blue with a white vinyl top and I’m thinking that it had buckets. Lots of fun and a quick ride for a teenager. The only issue was the shift pattern with R below L, could cause problems on manual downshifts but I wouldn’t know about that…….

    2+
  11. Skip

    My parents bought a ’61 Special that was solid white. It was supposed to be my mom’s car but I ended up driving it more than she did, which was fine. She liked larger cars better and didn’t really like driving the little Buick. She got her way and went back to her Chryslers a year later, trading off the Buick which literally crushed me. At the time, Dad wanted to keep it as a school car for me, but that didn’t go over with my mom, so away went the Buick. Waaaah!!

    0
  12. RonB

    Nice – I had one. Clutch fork broke – dealer could not get one. Found it to be the same as corvair.

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  13. conrad alexander

    bought mine in 1988, still got it

    0
  14. Clay Bryant

    Overpriced….? Try to bring one up to this and check your wallet then.

    0
  15. Greg

    I just bought a 62 Skylark convertible a month ago off eBay for $3500. Ironically, it came from Missouri too, then to the second owner in San Diego where it sat stored for a decade undriven, on to me in Nor Cali. Spent the last months free time getting everything cleaned and repaired to finally start her up. Will be doing that this weekend! Great little cars. Mine has the higher compression 215 v8 with the four barrel carb.

    2+
  16. CaCarDude

    Nice little Buick and a good bet worth the price of admission as there were only 4,232 of the 2-dr coupe made in ’61. I would clean up and drive as is, not sure about body color if original, door cards look original, seats have been recovered non original pattern. Nice find!

    0
  17. CaCarDude

    I believe this may be original in the paint department, if so it was called Venice Blue. I like it and would venture to say not many left the factory in this color.

    0
  18. Kaye Hartfield

    My family had one identical to this, first my grandmother, then we got it, and I learned to drive it. The last time I saw ours was 1982. But it looked exactly like this one, and ours had an aluminum V8 and 2spd trans as well. Rather eerie, I think. Kaye

    0

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