True Blue 52: 1952 Buick Special

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Are you a fan of these big Buicks? Me, too. This true blue 1952 Buick Special can be found here on craigslist in bone-dry Phoenix with an asking price of $4,350. Well, it’s actually blue and white, but as far as being in nice shape- it’s true blue.

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This is one great-looking car, although it needs a lot of work and if you spend a lot of money on it you could have gotten one that was already finished. But, that’s why we work on old cars, isn’t it? For the satisfaction, experience, and the fun of it? Unless you’re a car-flipper, I mean. There are a number of nice examples for sale at about twice this price so if you’re looking for a profitable endeavor, this may not be it. But, if you’re looking for a $4,000 fun car to tinker with and get things working and drive it as it looks here, this may be your baby.

Is there a cooler hood configuration? I can’t think of one. What a car!

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It likes you, it really likes you! What a grin, that grille weighs more than I do. The bill from Acme Chrome Company won’t be cheap though, if you’re going to go the restoration route. According the seller, this car only has a couple of small (2″x6″) rust holes in the trunk floor but other that, it sounds as solid as Sears. Or, at least back when Sears was still solid…

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The seller has added seat covers but the original fabric is under there in case you’re really going to crack open the checkbook for this one. There are many companies that supply interior parts for these cars so you should be able to find the bits and pieces that you need. And, you’ll have more than enough room in here for the Route 66 trip that you’ve been kicking around for the last decade.

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This is the famous Buick Fireball straight-8, new for the 1951 model year for the Special with 120hp. Sure, it isn’t much considering how big this car is, but a  Nailhead V8 would soon be offered and that added a little more punch. The seller says that this one runs and drives for short distances, but should be fully-serviced and checked over before taking it out of town or using it for daily-duties. He mentions that it idles at 400 rpm and is super quiet. There is floor-mounted starter switch on this car, does anyone remember those? This car has the famous Dynaflow automatic transmission and it supposedly works great but is starting seep a bit at the driveshaft seal. I know the feeling.

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I wouldn’t do a thing to the body on this car, but that’s just me. It sounds like the mechanicals can all be brought up to speed in short order with regular tools, other than dropping the engine or transmission, which hopefully won’t have to be done to fix any pesky leaks. This would be a fun car to have for a daily driver, I’m pretty sure you’d have the only one in town like this. Would you be up for the task of fixing the mechanical woes here and driving this car as is, or would you want to restore it?

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  1. Cassidy

    What a sweet car! I’d love to have it, I’d keep it orginal and just tool around town in it. Laugh at the car guys who’ve spent their thousands: have fun waxing the underside of your fenders.

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  2. Charles

    Sure looks like a good starting point!

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  3. Vince Habel

    Starter switch is under the gas pedal.

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  4. Barzini

    I have a soft spot for these Buicks because my friend’s dad restored one himself back in the 1980s. Every time I see one I think about a good man who died too young.

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  5. MountainMan

    Such a good looking car. There’s not many from this era that I don’t find to be attractive and have time of style. America sure had it right. Don’t get me wrong…. Love the 60s stuff too but the early to mid 50s American cars just captivate me!

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  6. Jim C

    Nice! I grew up with 50’s Buick’s. My father was a Body & Fender man for a Buick Dealer, Falcon Buick,in The Bronx, NY. I remember, no car seats, seat belts, sitting on my mothers lap or my fathers while he was driving, try doing that today!!

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    • DrinkinGasoline

      I remember standing on the rear floor leaning over the back of the front seat while traveling…nowadays parents would be sentenced to 2 years hard labor for that, but then again, times were different then. People actually had road manners unlike today, where we live in the “road rage era”.

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  7. DrinkinGasoline

    I think I would do a very mild custom on this one. Keeping with the two-tone theme, I would lean towards two shades of blue. Opting for fender skirts, flipper wheel covers with wide whites of course….Twin 5.5 Unity spots with matching road lights, and drop the rear 2 inches or so. The FB8 would definitely be retained but with a split exhaust manifold swap out to facilitate true dual exhaust with Smithy’s glass packs welded in with 3″ echo cans resting under the rear bumper 2″ aft. With a little TLC and resources, the “Dynaflush” transmission can be massaged into submission. As far as the chrome goes, there are many new spray chrome options to avoid a chrome shop’s high costs for a low budget daily driver. For the interior, I think I would cruise it, as is, until I got comfy with it, soaking it in as I cruise, thinking of what might look right. I would probably stroll through JoAnn Fabrics to see what’s offered for any replacement material (keeping it on the cheap). Last, but most importantly, fuzzy dice and Green Onions playing on the AM radio ! This is a great candidate for a Pachuco ride. (Google: Pachuco Bomb). Just My 2 cents.

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  8. Ed P

    Key starting must have been a big selling point when new. The early 50’s cars had starter buttons all over the place. Some on the dash, under the clutch pedal, and under the gas pedal. The tilting hood is cool. Packard’s also used a similar hood set up. Packard’s could also be lifted off. I wonder if Buick’s also could be removed as “easily”?

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    • Henry J

      Having owned a 52 Buick as my first car I can definitely tell you yes the hood could easily be lifted off by two guys. There were two cable operated combination latches and hinges on ea side. Opening from either side you pulled a nob in the foot well on that side. Pull them both and you could lift the hood off. PS That is not an original paint job and the iconic bomb sight hood ornament was removed with holes filled (nosing the hood).

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  9. charlieMember

    Next door neighbor had one when I was in HS and drove the neighborhood car pool to HS on Mondays, my Junior year when his daughter was a Senior – and no, she never gave me a 2nd look. The starter switch was under the gas pedal, which he told me also set the “automatic” choke and gave it a spurt of gas. It idled silently and vibration free. There was no way of knowing if it was running by sound or feel when at idle. The Dynaflow was a one speed automatic at that point, there was no Park to be selected, It had a very strong parking brake, but, he put a block under the rear when parked in his uphill driveway, which resided on the floor of the back seat for parking anywhere on a hill where there was not a curb. So if you buy this remember the chock for the wheels. AND that is not an original color scheme I don’t think the factory painted the part in back of the fender a different color until the new body in ’54. (not counting the Skylark where the under fender was painted a different color.

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    • bigdoc13

      Sorry,Charlie,(How long have I wanted to say that?)the Dynaflow was a two-speed same as the Powerglide.

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      • Ed P

        Doc, early dynaflow and powerglide trannies started in high and did not shift. If you wanted low, you had to move the shifter. Auto shifting did not start until 1953

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  10. alabee

    I agree with Charlie/ I wonder what the original color[s] was/were?

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  11. charlieMember

    Yes, it had a low (L) but until maybe ’55, I think you had to select it, if you put it in D the engine revs went up and the car slowly caught up. Then they advertised “it would ‘switch the pitch” and it started in Low all by it self, and it would downshift if you put it to the floor. The Powerglide, in D, started in the lower gear and then upshifted all by itself. I could be wrong, of course, I was 15 when I rode in a ’52 Buick a lot.

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  12. Roberto

    it sold? I’m interested…

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