Rare Restorer: 1957 Buick Century Caballero Station Wagon

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While 1957 was a reasonably successful sales year for Buick with 405,086 cars rolling off the production line, only 7,011 of these were the Caballero Station Wagon. It appears that only a small percentage of these survive today, and as a result, they are a vehicle that rarely comes onto the market. This particular Caballero is a fairly solid project car that has been listed for sale here on eBay. Located in Ottawa, Kansas, the owner has set an opening bid of $11,000 for the Caballero in a No reserve auction. While there have been no bids to this point, there are 89 individuals who are currently watching the auction.

Buick only produced the Caballero for 2-years, as they were an extraordinarily expensive vehicle to produce. At the end of the 1958 model year, the car was discontinued, and the model name was never seen again. This particular car is fairly complete, and the rust present is certainly no worse than we’ve seen on some project cars. The worst of the rust appears to be in the front floors, and these will need to be replaced. There are few minor spots on the body, but these are quite small, while there is plenty of surface corrosion to be seen. This is present on the doors, the trunk, and the spare wheel well. There are a few small holes in the trunk and spare wheel well, but I think that these could be repaired. The underside of the car has a good coating of surface corrosion, but the frame appears to be solid as a rock.

While the Caballero was one of the most expensive station wagons on the American market, when you handed over your money, you didn’t really want for anything. You received power windows, power seats, air conditioning, and lavish interior trim. In spite of appearances, this interior is actually complete. A previous owner removed the door trims and power window switches, but they are all present. The interior will need a complete restoration, but it promises to look quite special when returned to its original red and white splendor. Thankfully, the interior has never been butchered or modified, and items like the original clock and Wonderbar radio are still present.

The Caballero was a pretty potent machine when it was new. The 364ci V8 engine produced 300hp, while the transmission is a 2-speed Dyna-Flow automatic. It goes without saying that a luxury car deserves power steering and power brakes, and the Caballero was no exception on this front. Once again, this Caballero is complete, and while the news isn’t good, it may not be as terrible as it could be. The owner has tried to turn the engine by hand, but it won’t complete a full revolution. He is unsure why this is, but it will need some investigating. The transmission shifts into both Park and Neutral okay, so the car can be loaded onto a trailer with no problems.

US automotive history is littered with vehicle models with very short production lives, and the Caballero is one of these. It’s high cost and uncompromising levels of luxury were both its attraction and its eventual undoing. As a result, these are a car that rarely appear in the market today. In fact, if you look across sales results from every auction house in America, there have only been 13 examples go to auction since 2003. Private sales have only accounted for 11 vehicles in the same period. A Concours example sold in 2014 for an eye-watering $280,000, while the most recent immaculate one to hit the market sold for $110,000. This Caballero is certainly going to need some restoration work, but recent sales results suggest that it will be well worth the time and effort.

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    A stunner when new for sure. Curios about the dance on the glovebox?

    Like 1
    • moosie Moosie

      They really were eye pleasing when they were new & for a few years after, glove box lid is probably suffering from decomposing foam foundation. This looks like a project for the brave among us.

      Like 1
  2. IkeyHeyman

    Hope somebody with a fat wallet gives this the first-class restoration it deserves.

    Like 8
  3. don

    Well Buick may have given up on the name, GM didn’t , Some GMC versions of the El Camino were called Caballeros.
    That being said, this car is rare enough to deserve a restoration !

    Like 14
  4. geoffa

    To heck with the car I want the mail van in the background

    Like 1
  5. Fred W

    That auction statistic of 13 sold since 2003 is stunning. I knew these were rare, but didn’t think they were quite that rare.

    Like 3
  6. Sal

    Dang, just look at that tailgate glass….

    I can’t even fathom how many of these were sacrificed to the demo derby gods when they were ‘just a 20 year old clunker’

    Like 4
    • don

      Here in New England that would have been a 10 year old clunker hitting the derby circuit , few cars would have made it to 15 or 20 years unless it was garaged little old lady car . My first derby in CT. was in 1981. I ran a 1972 Country Squire that I paid 50 bucks for – a 9 year old car ! It was rusty and pretty tired too.

      Like 4
      • Sal

        You think living in upstate NY I would know better.

        Guess I have been hoping from one cheap, old lady car to the next for so long now I forgot what happens to a car when you keep it as a daily driver for 10+ years.

        Thanks for the reality check, don

        Like 0
  7. local_sheriff

    The demo derby activity is probably a very contributing factor to the wagon-craze we’ve observed some years now – these wagons were rare when new and served as parts donors for our 2dht and ‘verts until being re-discovered.

    Together with same year Olds Fiesta I’d without hesitation claim the 57 Caballero are the sexiest longroofs ever made,not only of their designs but also for being 4dht!

    This one sure deserves a worthy restoration to regain the jaw-dropping impression it would make on the showroom floor.It’ll be hard ‘cuz 57 Buicks are uncommon already in coupe and sedan body styles

    Like 6
  8. B Bittner

    It’s almost a very rare 5 port edition.

    I’m partial to wagons, to me they are the right version of the contemporary sedan, not the variant.

    Like 1
  9. SC/RAMBLER

    As far as the engine only completing a partcial revolution bewere I had a 400 Pontiac that did the same after a rebuild new rings, bearings etc. turned out crankshaft was bent.
    If that’s the case here I would say not worth trying to restore. Hope that’s not the case. Sure would like to see it restored if possible.

    Like 0
    • Blake Young

      I would think the engine would be the easiest thing to source parts for and sort on this car. I love it though.

      Like 4
    • local_sheriff

      Nothing to worry about its engine – it’s a 364 Nailhead if it isn’t restorable other and larger cubic Nailheads are still found out there

      Like 1
  10. Chris In Australia

    There’s one of these here in Australia. Red/orange over white with a matching caravan. Only one I’ve ever seen anywhere.

    Like 7
  11. HoA Howard AMember

    There’s some 5 ( or 10) mph bumpers for ya’. IDK, you’d really have to be into these to sink a ton of money making it nice again. When done, still pretty much a tank, and not sure younger generations will want this. For grandpa, however, this was one of the nicest wagons you could buy.

    Like 2
  12. Jim22

    These are so awesome. If I didn’t have two 69 C10’s as projects I would consider it.

    One question I have though is how do you repair the floors for something like this? I have Mustangs and the C10’s where you can just about build a car out of a catalog. But this car? Do you have to fab the floor panels?

    Like 1
    • Blake Young

      Probably, but it’s not that hard with the right toys. It can be crudely done with hammers and such, but a bead roller, sheet metal break, and cutting devices can make a pretty good panel to weld into place.

      Like 4
    • local_sheriff

      Hardly believe repops are available for 57 Buicks, so you’ll need to fabricate your own like the old car guys did before the repop word was ever invented!

      However, unless your going for 110% originality, this wagon’s floors seem fully fixable without massive work, the good thing about floors is that you don’t see them once they’re properly patched! Apart from the floors and few rocker holes this longroof’s steel is SHOCKINGLY intact for a Midwest vehicle

      Like 1
  13. Dave

    A neighbor some years ago had one in cream and bronze. This car would look great with the wire wheels from 53-54 Buick days. I have a full set of 5 if anyone is interested.

    Like 1
  14. mikestuff

    Buick missed a great name to use on their lineup of SUV/CUV’s currently on the market. 2019 Buick Enclave, Encore, Envision. Those names bring to mind very private golf courses or an expensive Condo project in Ocean City, NJ.

    The 2019 Buick Canyonero, with the Homer Simpson interior package.

    Like 2
  15. Jesse

    These are one of my top 3 favorite wagons of all time. So cool, but soooo expensive to restore.

    Like 2
  16. peter r

    I’m old enough to remember these when they were new. Impressive then as now. Way too much work for me to contemplate a purchase. At my age they need to be mostly done if I’m the buyer. I hope someone else has the patience and deep pockets to rescue this one.

    Like 5
  17. Denis Flaherty

    These are beautiful when finished but the owner is nutz on his price….

    Like 2
  18. CaCarDude

    These were definitely an elegant lady when new and Buick had a real eye for the upscale station wagon. My research shows that there were actually 10,186 of the model 69 4dr Riviera Estate Wagon sold in 1957. Still a very low number and I do hope this old beauty gets a full on restoration. Nice find!

    Like 2
  19. Pete Phillips

    “when you handed over your money, you didn’t really want for anything. You received power windows, power seats, air conditioning, and lavish interior trim.”

    No you didn’t. Not unless you ordered those things as optional extras. Yes, the lavish interior trim was standard on the Caballero, but not those power accessories.
    It looks like the rear bumper ends on this car are pretty solid, which is a huge plus. Good rear bumper ends for 1957 Buicks are nearly impossible to find any more.

    Like 1
  20. Rodney - GSM

    “A Spanish Gentleman”, back when cars had actual names, fantastic. Not letters like today mostly “X’s” “S’s” and “L’s”. You rolled very large with this and commanded mucho respect when you glided into the local cantina.
    Restore this and ride high and proud once again. Spurs sold seperately.

    Like 5
  21. Miguel

    I had heard about these way back and they always carried high price tags.

    I see this one is no exception, but hardtop wagons are the best.

    Like 1
  22. 1957Buickjim

    It is a great wagon! I’m working on restoring it’s little brother right now, 1957 Estate Riviera Wagon, 4dr htp, but not with the Caballero bells and whistles. It is a challenge for sure, as bodies were not made by Fisher, but by Bentley-Mitchell and there is very little documentation to help with the differences.

    Like 1
  23. Keith

    Just finishing putting together our ’57 Caballero and then headed to upholstery shop for full custom interior. Four year build for my wife, her hotrod. Hoping to have it on the road in a couple months.

    Like 1
  24. Jorm

    I have a 1958 Caballero, with all bells, even air suspension and A/C… it’s on the waiting list standing in my Garage.

    Like 0

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