Alan H 1955

In 1998 Ros, myself and our three girls were fortunate to spend the year living in Vancouver, Canada, where I had a teaching exchange position from WA. I went over looking forward to seeing all the cars, but not really expecting to bring one home. I had already started restoring my 1938 Buick so was well aware of how long it took to restore a vehicle. The last thing I wanted was another vehicle that needed a ground up restoration. With the ‘38 still a long way off (it never did get finished), I did not have the time to tackle another major project. Once in Canada and having set ourselves up with a family car plus a motorhome for the year, my eyes did wander through the odd auto classified, drooling at all the older cars for sale. It was then that I realised that there were really no bargains, especially once you add on the approx. $5,000 for freight, duties, charges etc. to get a vehicle home to WA. In March I went in to see the Vancouver Classic Car Show, with a fellow teacher. It was an awesome display of American classic vehicles. To one side was the Car Corral with cars for sale. You guessed it, included was a 1955 Buick Century 4dr Riviera hardtop, repainted a dull maroon and cream, needing another repaint and general body tidy up, but with minimal extra work to be done. It was licensed and drivable with new tyres etc. It certainly had potential and was reasonably priced, but still too much for me. It was when my mate said “we have a paint booth at school, you could paint it this year you know”, that I really started thinking. I did ring the owner a few weeks later and went around to see it. He was selling it to buy a 1938 Packard and had obviously spent a lot of time redoing a lot of little bits and pieces. We could not agree on a price however, so left it after exchanging phone numbers. Two months later after looking at quite a few others, I rang him again. It was still for sale, and yes he would think about the offer…. Shortly after the Buick became ours. The first step was to lock it away for ten weeks as we embarked on our summer vacation, driving across Canada to Ontario and back through the northern states of the USA. On return (with only three months until we had to come home) I started the process of stripping it down and patching up the odd panel. The car was originally Cherokee Red and Dover White, but had had several repaints over the years. There were many layers of paint to be removed, a couple of previous repair jobs that needed doing properly and a small patch of rust in one sill. Most of this was done at school after work, staying back at times until 11pm, much to the annoyance of Ros and the rest of the family, but I knew I would not have time to do it back home. I could not work on weekends due to the building alarm system, so these days were saved for tripping off to see a little more of British Columbia. I eventually painted the car in very close to original colours, which matched the upholstery. I chose the colours from a lovely ‘55 Oldsmobile I saw at one show. It is now Porsche Indian Red and a Fiat White. I never did get it quite finished in Canada, running out of time to put all the trim and finishing pieces back on. Using faxes and the then marvel of emails, I made contact The Buick News Page 11 April 2019 NEW MEMBERS TO NEW SOUTH WALES Welcome to the Buick Car Club John & Colleen Toohey, Kew 1916 DX44 Roadster OR Ron Wilson, Bennetts Green with a shipping company back home who offered a pretty good service to ship the Buick home from Vancouver (unfortunately this company is no longer in operation). Other companies would only ship from LA, over 2000km south. Basically I had a 20’ container for the shipping with the agents in Vancouver chocking and securing it into the container to ensure no damage on the trip home from the potential rocking and rolling of the ship and loading on and off the ship. We were able to fill the Buick with personal effects to take back to Australia with us. When I drove it down to the port in Vancouver I just had room to sit in the driver’s seat with the rear bumper nearly touching the ground with all of our belongings from a year in Canada plus some spares and tools (including front and rear windscreens). The freight arrangements went very well, the car arrived unmarked and the shipping agents handled all the customs and quarantine documentation without any hassles. I collected the Buick on a car trailer from the Fremantle port in February, driving down from our then home in Geraldton. It was then back home again to refit all the trim and complete a few other minor mechanical jobs before I was then able to get it fully licensed and on the road. I was able to ascertain the car spent most of its life in Alberta, but had been in British Columbia for some time. It had been well used on unsealed roads, with quite a few knocks and dents underneath, and the chassis rails pretty full of sand and rocks, but very little rust. If it had been used more on sealed roads it would have suffered from the salt they use to melt the ice in winter. The salting of roads has made a real mess of a lot of older vehicles over the years in these areas. The North Americans in their choice of classic cars, do have a preference for two door vehicles, particularly pillarless styles. This is reflected in the asking price of vehicles for sale. This worked to my benefit here, the Buick was a four door, though being pillarless (GM’s first 4dr hardtop) had a smooth style about it. Buick advertising that year described it as “the Convertible look – but with separate rear doors for passengers”. The four door is so much more convenient for a family of five, particularly when we did a few longer trips down to Perth and further south as a family when we lived in Geraldton, as well as taking friends to weddings, daughters to school balls etc. I did try to pick up a few spares along the way in Canada. I found one great wrecking yard where I was able to source a few bits and pieces and I could have got a lot more but I really couldn’t afford the car, let alone the spare parts, at that time! The brightwork on the car was in acceptable condition, so that is left as original, as was the upholstery. All up it has turned out better than I expected for what it was. It will never be a Concours car, but it has provided us with a useable car that takes the whole family, and also has the good looks and class of a Buick. Back in the original bright red and white, with all the ‘50’s era excess of chrome, it stands out in the crowd! Alan and Ros Hunt (WA Buicks)

1955 Buick Century Sedan

1955 Buick Century Sedan