Driven: 2015 Buick Regal with eAssist

Regal’s styling looks rich and modern | Buick
Regal’s styling looks rich and modern | Buick photos

While the Buick Regal might seem all-American, it’s actually a German car, an Opel Insignia to be exact. That’s a good thing since Regal gains the refinement and surefootedness of the European brand and translates it for U.S. drivers.

Too bad an unexpected problem marred my test drive. But more on that later. Continue reading

’57 Buick, ’58 Bonneville set pace at American classic car auction in Germany

1957 Buick Special convertible brings $52,100 at online auction | Auctionata photos
1957 Buick Special convertible brings $52,100 at online auction | Auctionata photos

German online auction house Auctionata wanted to do something unique, so it staged a sale including only 1950s and ’60s American cars.

“This era of American automobile history stands for roaring engines, tailfins, and chrome on each trim,” the company said in announcing the sale held earlier this week. “With the auction ‘Classic Cars — U.S. Cars Collection,’ Auctionata revives the spirit of the fifties and sixties.” Continue reading

My Classic Car: Arnold’s grandfather’s 1965 Buick Riviera

This Riviera reminds me of grandfather's | photos submitted by Arnold Slater
This Riviera reminds me of grandfather’s | photos submitted by Arnold Slater

My grandfather was a prominent chiropractor in the Washington D.C. area. He was very successful. He had the best of everything. He loved his cars.

My favorite of his cars was a big black 1965 Buick Riviera. It had black leather interior with “wood” paneling and chrome fixtures. It was beautiful! Continue reading

My Classic Car: Mike’s 1956 Buick Special

Mike's Buick was red and white
Mike’s Buick was red and white

I had owned a 1956 Buick Special when I was sophomore in college. It was a slick car and I kept it until my senior year.

I wish I never sold it and I am looking to find it again, but I do not know where to start. If I can’t find the same car, I would like to find to buy one like it.

My 1956 Buick Special was two-tone red and white and red inside, and in immaculate condition. It looked like new. (The car in the photos isn’t mine, but it reminds me of mine.)

I parked it on the hill on a paved street in front of the boys dorm. The next building was the girls dorm and the most beautiful girls on the campus would come asking me for the keys.

I gave them the keys without any hesitation. They would go to the hamburger stand near the campus. People would ask me how many girl friends I had, and who the pretty blonde who was driving my car?

This car always bring me good memories during my youth in college. I really want to find and restore it.

Mike Rubaly, Beaumont TX

Countdown to Barrett-Jackson: 1953 Buick Roadmaster

1953 Buick Roadmaster
1953 Buick Roadmaster formerly owned by Howard Hughes heads to auction | Barrett-Jackson photos

Cars from the Ron Pratte Collection

Editor’s note: This is the first in a 30-day series featuring cars from the Ron Pratte Collection that will be sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in January.

This historic 1953 Buick Roadmaster four-door sedan (Lot #2503) was personally customized for 20th century Renaissance man Howard Hughes. One of his prized possessions, Hughes drove the car while he stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood, utilizing the car as his own mobile office.

Huges installed a special air conditioning and filtration system in the trunk
Hughes installed a special air conditioning and filtration system in the trunk

An aviation enthusiast and aerospace engineer, Hughes directed the Roadmaster’s modifications to conform to his eccentric demands and idiosyncrasies.

Among his modifications is a full 24-volt aircraft electrical system in conjunction with the factory 12-volt system, allowing him the ability to personally jumpstart his airplane as he traveled undetected. The electrical system also features a trunk-mounted air conditioning unit that is fully operable separate from the engine. In line with Hughes’ germ obsession, the air system was designed to first flow through a dust trap and bacterial filter.

The Buick Roadmaster also was the last car that Hughes drove.

Interior is as it was when Hughes owned the car
Interior is as it was when Hughes owned the car

Stored on blocks for 20 years in Hollywood, this piece of history has only 5,339 miles on its odometer.

The exterior is 100-percent original with factory Pastel Blue paint and a Seafoam Green top. All interior appointments are reported to be in perfect condition, complete with blue wool, broadcloth and nylon.

The ’53 Buick Roadmaster four-door sedan is scheduled to cross the auction block in Scottsdale on Saturday, Jan. 17.

The Ron Pratte Collection will begin being auctioned with automobilia from Saturday, January 10 at 9 a.m. (MST_ through Tuesday, January 13 at 1 p.m. Pratte’s vehicles first cross the block at 4 p.m. on Tuesday with lot numbers 2000 through 2109 and continue with lot numbers 2500 through 2530 Saturday, January 17.

 

Pearl Harbor survivor ’39 Buick comes up for auction

The 1939 Buick Special convertible has been restored to original condition | Woltz & Associates
The 1939 Buick Special convertible has been restored to original condition | Woltz & Associates

On the eve of the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, one special survivor will roll onto the collector-car auction block looking as fresh as it did on the “date which will live in infamy.”

The handsome 1939 Buick Special Model 46C convertible was parked at the dock – its Navy officer-owner, Dee Venter of Connecticut, at sea on the USS Pensacola – when the attack was launched in the early morning hours of December 7, 1941. Despite the vast destruction all around it, the Buick was found unscathed when Venter returned from sea six days later.

The Buick wears a 1941 Hawaii license plate | Woltz & Associates
The Buick wears a 1941 Hawaii license plate | Woltz & Associates

Now restored to original condition, the silver-gray Buick Special will be offered Saturday, December 6, by Virginia auction house Woltz & Associates in a sale of some 70 domestic cars, most of them in abandoned condition and scattered around a wooded property in Martinsville, Virginia, where the auction will be held.

Woltz & Associates is mainly a real-estate auctioneer in the Southeast with occasional forays into equipment sales, said Boyd Temple, auctioneer and real-estate broker with the company. “This is the first mainly classic car sale we’ve done,” he said.

The Pearl Harbor Buick survivor is the standout of the auction with just one other car, a 1969 Buick Electra 225 convertible, presented as restored, Temple said, adding that a few of the other cars are in running condition.

The current owner of the ’39 Buick, retired Martinsville quarry owner A.C. Wilson, obtained the car from his cousin, Mary Bullard of Radford, Virginia, who had owned the survivor since the war years when Venter traded it with her and Navy pilot husband, George Bullard, for a Ford Model A.

Red highlights were part of the original look | Woltz & Associates
Red highlights were part of the original look | Woltz & Associates

With the war in progress and her husband fighting from the sky, Bullard returned to the United States and brought the Buick back with her. She met her mother-in-law, Pamela Bullard, in California, and the two women drove the convertible cross-country to Pulaski County, Virginia, a trip that took 11 days and included many flat tires.

During the war, George Bullard was shot down, survived without water on a desert island, and was captured by Japanese soldiers. Mary Bullard, who thought her husband had died in the crash, was joyously reunited with him when the conflict ended. After they returned home to Virginia, the Buick was used extensively for transportation and road trips.

In an article about the Pearl Harbor Buick in the November 2007 edition of the Buick Bugle, the magazine of the Buick Club of America, the writer notes, “She has traveled from sea to shining sea in this country. She has crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, shuttled passengers to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and sailed the Pacific Ocean on a boat.”

The Art Deco interior is beautifully detailed | Woltz & Associates
The Art Deco interior is beautifully detailed | Woltz & Associates

Mary Bullard was widowed in 1966 when her husband died of a heart attack while working on their farm. A short time later, she retired the aging Buick to the barn. When A.C. Wilson – a Buick enthusiast and collector – visited his cousin, he’d ask about the Pearl Harbor survivor out in the barn. In 1973, she finally agreed to sell the dingy relic to him.

Wilson kept the car for a number of years until he treated it to a total restoration, which was completed in 1993, reportedly at a cost of $100,000. The car has been driven less than 1,000 since the restoration, Temple said.

“This car has really had a charmed existence,” said Jim Woltz, president of the auction company. “First, it survived Pearl Harbor, then returned to the United States, where it was finally restored with great care and attention to detail. In all that time, it has had only three owners.”

The property in Martinsville where the auction is being held is owned by Wilson, who collected the cars and parked them there.

For more information about the December 6 sale and the Pearl Harbor Buick, see www.woltz.com. The auction company has included several videos about the rich history of the car on its website at www.woltz.com/video.

My Classic Car: Mark’s 1962 Buick Skylark

Mark's 1962 Buick Skylark | Mark Parrish photos
Mark’s 1962 Buick Skylark | Mark Parrish photos

Thirty years ago in October, I went to buy a 1965 Buick Skylark hardtop, found out it was a four-door and decided to pass. The guy said wait, I have another car. I said, what is it? He said, a 1962 Buick Skylark convertible.

I looked at it. It was in need of a bunch of work. But I made him an offer and have ended up owning it for 30 years.

— Mark Parrish, Bellingham WA

The Skylark's interior
The Skylark’s interior

Pick of the Week: 1960 Buick LeSabre hardtop

The 1960 Buick LeSabre is best remembered for its bodacious tailfins
The 1960 Buick LeSabre is best remembered for its bodacious tailfins

When the talk turns to tailfins, who could forget the sleek pair that adorned the 1959-60 Buick? Slanted outward from a crested line starting at the front doors, they were a stunning embellishment of sporty style that closed out an exuberant era of car design.

The Pick of the Week is a red-and-white 1960 Buick LeSabre hardtop, a big and brassy 42,000-mile beauty that looks factory fresh with a repaint and new interior.

The low-mileage Buick has been repainted and reupholstered
The low-mileage Buick has been repainted and reupholstered

The Buick is a lifelong Southern car that has never been rusted or in an accident, the seller says. The hardtop was delivered new in Shreveport, Louisiana, in April 1960 to a woman who drove it sparingly until she sold the car in 1999. It is being offered by a classic car dealer in Lakeland, Florida.

The Buick is described by the seller as having “new dual-stage repaint in factory bright red with white hardtop, excellent new red-and-white vinyl interior in as-new condition, mint original dash, new correct door panels and carpet, and very nice original chrome and stainless.”

The car is powered by a 364-cid V8 with four-barrel carburetor and automatic transmission, with a new air-conditioning system by Vintage Air.

A ’60 Buick hardtop in this great original condition is a rare find, and the asking price is $34,500. The car would make a great cruiser and appears all ready to go with its low-mileage drivetrain, restored body and interior, and a new set of radial whitewalls.

“Now it will look great in your garage,” the seller says.

My (Dad’s) Classic Car: ‘Green Hornet’ 1942 Buick Roadmaster

Brother Johnny’s 1948 Buick Roadmaster | Anthony Calati photo
Brother Mike Jr. and Dad's 'Green Hornet' Roadmaster | Anthony Calati archives
Brother Mike Jr. and Dad’s ‘Green Hornet’ Roadmaster | Anthony Calati archives

When I was a baby, my oldest brother, Mike Jr., gave my Dad a ’42 Buick Roadmaster that he had bought and drove for about a year. At the time, my Dad had a ’37 Chevy with a rumble seat — and 5 children living at home. A ’37 Chevy with a rumble seat really didn’t make the grade, but at the time was the only car my Dad could afford.

Well, the ’42 Roadmaster became a family legend. It was nicknamed “The Green Hornet.” In my opinion, it was a freak. Nonetheless, it wore its model name with pride!

My brother Johnny would tell me the stories about The Green Hornet. When  Johnny was 17 years old and I was 2, we were making a trip upstate in New York and bringing everything we thought we needed — and everything we could fit in the Buick. This is where it gets really interesting: My Dad removed the rear seat cushion and filled the space with 50-pound bags of potatoes. On top of the potatoes rode two of my brothers — Richie and Bobby — our German Sheppard, Duchess, and myself.

In the trunk were 5 bags of cement, the spare tire and some tools.

In the front seat were my Dad, my brother Patsy, and my brother Johnny.

Do you think there was enough weight in this Buick?

We were making a 150-mile trip and on the way, there were some steep hills. My brother Mike Jr. and a childhood friend, Frank, were following us in a 1948 Dodge. When we got to this one long, steep hill, Frank started blowing his horn and flashing his lights because we were going too slowly. The Green Hornet was really loaded down, so Frank thought his ’48 Dodge could outrun it easily.

To Frank’s surprise, the Green Hornet started to pick up some speed, so much speed that it waved good-bye and left the ’48 Dodge, with only two people in it, in the dust!

Yes, that ’42 Roadmaster was a freak! It out-pulled Frank’s car so bad, the Dodge finally disappeared in the distance.

My Dad parked the car for good in 1956, and it hasn’t run since the year after that. It’s still in upstate New York, though lacking some of its parts.

In 1960, my brother Johnny bought a 1948 Buick Roadmaster with the Dynaflow transmission. He still drives it!

Obviously, Johnny was really impressed and I was overwhelmed by the stories. I bought a ’48 Roadmaster Model 76S just so my Dad could ride in it. I asked him if he wanted to drive and he said, “No, just take me for a ride.”

That was just 4 months before he died. I kept the car for 39 years in his memory, but then I realized that whether I had the Buick or not, I had my memories — of my Dad and his Roadmaster.