Shop Class Build: 1954 Buick Camper

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Shop class is a great place to learn and develop techniques, but you often don’t want the finished project. Well this Buick “camper” is a neat build in theory, but needs work to be a functional reality. This custom camper fixer upper can be yours for $2,000 or best offer! Check it out here on craigslist out of Mason City, Iowa. Thank s to Leiniedude for sharing this wild find!

The Nail head engine is seized, so perhaps a modern V8 would be more adequate. More power and easier to find parts would certainly be the better option if you were traveling with this machine. I assume all the mechanicals are not operational, to which I would prefer a modern braking system as well.

The original dash remains, but there is no real interior to speak of. This conversion took away the Buick doors, so there is only one way in and out of this machine. Rot can be found in the floors, as well as in the rocker areas.

The wooden framed camper box is a bit scary, as the chassis looks a bit flimsy. The old wet wood is not confidence inspiring either.

I am torn between deciding if the camper shell was borrowed from a horse trailer, a small box truck, or some other type of hauling apparatus. I do not see any taillights, but I do see a license plate mount and light. There is some damage to the passenger rear corner, as well as the driver side rocker. Also there is a very large whole in the passenger side of the windshield. Certainly a neat but ambitious project, what would you do with this Buick?

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  1. Howard A. Howard AMember

    This is the worst one yet. Monster truck show.

    Like 6
    • Howard A. Howard AMember

      No wait, I take that back, make a great portable ice fishing shanty.

      Like 6
  2. canadainmarkseh

    How about a portable $h!t house with stalls for a traveling carnival. I pity the poor fool that would have to drive it.

    Like 7
  3. Dave

    I hear banjos…

    Like 13
    • Al

      I hear em 2, get this camper for your deliverance.

      Like 8
  4. Cleric


    Like 8
  5. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972Member

    I’d rather take $2,000 and invest it in a frontal lobotomy.

    Like 8
    • Mountainwoodie

      But then you’d want to buy it!

      Like 7
    • Al

      In fact you want to buy more of them.

      Like 2
  6. Tommy

    Whole in the windshield?!

    Like 6
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Buy it, and you get the hole thing!

      Like 6
  7. Bob S

    This abomination is the visual representation of the stick in the eye.

    Like 8
  8. On and On On and OnMember

    $2000 worth of beer is a better investment.

    Like 15
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      Hey Gregg, you know were my money is spent. Would look good at your lake house! A place for me to crash!!!!!! Take care, Mike.

      Like 3
      • On and On On and OnMember

        Any time Dude, mi casa es su casa. We cook some good chow up there too, learning how to use a smoker! Bring $2000 in beer, you can stay all summer.

        Like 2
      • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

        LOL! Summer, how nice. 13 below now, stay warm Bud. I’ll bring some venison for your smoker. Take care.

        Like 1
  9. bobhess bobhessMember

    Cut the nose off laterally on the top of the wheel openings, straighten the bumper and you have wall art. Reasonably good prices on scrap steel these days for the rest of it… except for the six fender holes.

    Like 3
  10. Al

    Talk about a clean slate.
    It may be easier to convert the box to a horse box, providing of course the Percheron or Clydesdale is skinny enough to go through the side door.
    If indeed you want a camper buy something better than this, that will give you a down-payment of $2000.
    What I do not understand is does the seller want you to pay $2000 or are they willing to give you $2000 to take it away?
    It would have been nicer if it were a four hole Buick.

    Like 11
    • Al

      It is now priced at $1, hmmmm, nah, still no deal.

      Like 9
  11. Fred H

    Is there anything it does not need. Beside a ride to the scrap yard ? ))

    Like 1
    • Al

      It needs a good home. Like maybe yours.

      Like 8
    • Jnrindian

      I envision a demolition derby or perhaps a figure eight race, just pull a boat behind it.

      Like 0
  12. Rodney - GSM

    FInally, a Buick with real “horse power”…

    Like 2
  13. Maverick

    Wasn’t that used in the movie

    Like 2
  14. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Great post, Brian!

    Just what was needed to exercise the BF collective wit. Keep the comments coming, guys. I think we have just barely gotten around first base. This one is fodder enough to at least make it to third!

    Like 1
    • Derek

      “…moving up to second base with Nicholas van whatshisface…” D.

      (the one and only Sherriff Fatman!)

      Like 1
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      LOL! Take it to third Alan.

      Like 1
    • Al

      Whose Fodder, not mine. I would not even give it to my Fodder-in-Law.

      Like 5
  15. Jose Cantu

    Dump it.

    Like 1
  16. CanuckCarGuy

    “Please look at pictures as they tell the story.”

    One of the most honest statements ever found in a Craigslist ad.

    Like 7
    • PatrickM

      NO, no. Figure 8 racers are in much better condition. Blank Canvas??? Kidding, right? Torn canvas.

      Like 0
  17. Dan

    With no eye-level window on the passenger side, it’d be illegal, anyway.

    Like 2
  18. Matt R

    Bury it in the ground for people in the future to figure out.

    Like 8
  19. Harry

    Wow …. what a cool project with unlimited possibilities ……. retro mobile coffee kiosk, traveling bar, mobile one chair barber shop, RV ……

    Like 3
  20. Superdessucke


    Like 2
  21. Beatnik Bedouin

    What’s there to like..?

    Like 2
  22. Kenneth Carney

    So Mike, is this the best example you have near you? Looks a bit rough around
    the edges I’d say! Drop in a 400 GM V-8,
    a beefed up T-400, and a 12-bolt posi and
    that’ll round out the drivetrain. Next, beef
    up that flimsy-ass frame, rip out that rotted wood, rebuild the structure using
    3-D printed beams derrived from patterns
    you took from the best of the wood, then
    re-wire the damned thing and bring it up
    to code specs. And that’s just getting it
    running and driving! For round two, we
    have insulating and walling in the box,
    adding new glass,and last, but certainly
    not least, fitting the interior. Would
    definately be a labor of love to get this
    rather unique vehicle back on the road
    again. That is, if it was ever there to
    begin with. If ever there was a project to
    test the most stout of heart among us,
    this is it! Maybe the staff at BF could
    buy it and run a series of articles while
    they rescue and upgrade it–much the
    way Tex Smith did when he wrote for
    Rod & Custom Magazine back in the ’70’s.
    I’d take it on, but I don’t think Mom would
    like having this hulk parked in her back
    yard…What would the neighbors think?!!!
    Better yet, I’d hope the code inspector
    would have a sense of humor on this
    one–before he cited me!

    Like 4
    • George

      The structure is square metal tubing as they call it. I would check all the welds though.

      Like 0
    • Jnrindian

      Or, go put $2k down on a real RV

      Like 0
  23. Steve

    This is what cousin Eddie Johnson drove in his younger, single days before he bought the farm.

    Like 1
  24. Vindam

    If you stand up in the camper when driving, you would have windows at eye level and therefore be legal.

    Like 2
  25. Mark

    Knock out the rotted rear floors, cut a door opening in the back of the box and get yourself a couple of horses that can really run. At full gallop they you might get you 2 mpo (miles per oats) @ 5 mph.
    DISCLAIMER: performance results are estimates only and may vary depending on the owners ability to motivate equines to run under certain conditions. It is suggested to remove the engine and tranny prior to use for maximum performance and extended horse life. Speak to your local vet prior to starting any equine exercise program.

    Like 5
  26. Kenneth Carney

    Showed this to Mom tellimg her that it
    would be a great vehicle for a road trip
    when finished. She looked at the pictures and said “Oh hell no!” and said that I’ve
    lost what’s left of my mind for even thinking about it. I said “But Mom, it’s
    a Buick.” She didn’t budge and the
    answer is still hell no!

    Like 3
  27. Jack Quantrill

    Would be good revenge weapon to park in front of someone’s house to get even for slights, real, or imagined!

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Park it on your lot, one foot behind the line legislated for non-op vehicles in your municipality, just to irritate the blight inspector, or your snobbish neighbors, whichever is your issue…. Make sure it is visible from the road….

      Like 1
  28. Peter K

    I would cut the box off and turn it into a pick up truck, then continue on with the rat rod restoration of choice

    Like 1
  29. Car39

    Steve McQueen once met the owner’s mailman. Has to be worth 150k off of that.

    Like 2
  30. Jose Cantu

    Nah, it wasn’t the owner’s mailman. It the mailman’s second cousin twice removed who was friend of a friend, that had heard of McQueen, and whose great grandson had once seen a McQueen movie rerun on TCM . That should up the price to about $1.50. I know that’s a bit high, but think of the provenance.

    Like 0
  31. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    I can see this in the movies now, a Rob Zombie movie, Barn Finds Rejects.

    Like 0
  32. lbpa18

    I always look forward to reading Howard A’s comments. This one is a great thread all the way thru. Id either paint it bright and park it in front of a roadside restaurant as an advertisement, or do the wall art cut and “paste”.

    Like 0
  33. Bruce Fischer

    I would use it for yard art at my mountain top home and weed eat around it in the summer time. Bruce.

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Nice Wagon Bruce!

      Like 2
  34. AllenMember

    ‘ Was all set to buy this and restore/finish it. Then I read that it has no title, and we all know what a hassle that is!

    Actually, the fact that it has no title shouldn’t be a problem. I can think of a few already!

    Like 1
  35. Mario

    Pos is a major understatement !!!! Wtf ?

    Like 1
  36. Rick

    Good God!

    Like 0
  37. robjMember

    Maybe I’m squinting or maybe it’s the 2-3 long necks, but I have a vision. No funds or time but a vision. I see the aluminum polished aka Airstream, Nice paint of your choice on the nose and $5000 worth of re-chromed grill. 50’s teal and stainless diner inspired interior. Engine? A Nailhead would be cool, but a truck tuned 454 would be a little more practical parts wise, gas milage be damned…It would be an extensive project, but aren’t they all? Where’s Jay L. when you need him?

    Like 2
  38. Tom S.

    It needs a periscope. You’ll never see the stoplight turn from red to green with that overhang above the windshield.

    Like 3
    • walrus

      And never change lanes in your life with just that little window on the drivers side, no amount of mirrors would give you enough confidence.

      Like 0

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