Monday, May 20, 2024
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BLUICK – DANNY ENGEL 1955 BUICK CENTURY

“I wanted a fifties Chev, always liked ‘57s and ‘55s but people already have them. I was always looking on the internet, American eBay, looking, looking. I punched in Buick and this thing came up. I thought gee, I like the look of that!” 

Danny Engel’s suede blue 1955 Buick Century was reborn in 2007 down in California’s southlands thanks to the experienced hands of retiree, Russ McBurney. Russ came across the basket case Buick while hunting for a new project to fill in his time. Having grown up in a similar ride as a child, he had fond memories of these Buicks and decided to relive the past with the help of his 33 year old son, thus creating a father/son project. The build took a couple of years and they found it to be a battle to restore. “These ain’t a mail order car, especially when you want to keep ‘em all Buick,” states Russ!

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Most of the work was completed in house, Russ handled the bodywork including seeing it nosed, decked and shaved before applying the satin paint along with the airbag suspension and other subtle custom mods, while a neighbour and fellow enthusiast laid down the flames and flakes on the roof and dash. The pearl white one inch tuck ‘n roll interior was handled by a local upholsterer, Frankco Upholstery.

While it was meant to be a keeper, Russ decided to part with it in 2011 which turned out to be Danny’s good fortune. Danny’s no newbie when it comes to the custom car scene.

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“I’ve always been into cars. When I was younger I always had Toranas, early Holdens, but I always wanted a hotrod, a 1932 Ford tudor. I was in a position where I bought a body and chassis, had the basics and was slowly building it. The kids were only young at this stage and watching them grow up I figured by the time I finish this car, the four of us aren’t going to fit in it. Michelle and I are tall and the kids are getting tall and tudors aren’t the roomiest sort of car. I started thinking the trend is turning towards the big American car which is why I ended up selling the hot rod and buying a 1960 Cadillac. I just went on from there.”

Danny still wanted something older and scoured eBay for ideas. He came across the Buick but by the time he’d sold the Caddy, the Century wasn’t listed anymore. Fortune smiled his way when the Buick was relisted!  “When the Cadillac was on the market, the kids were asking ‘Why are you selling it? We don’t want you to sell it!’ but when the Buick turned up they were like ‘Glad you sold it!’” reminisces Danny.

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Once in his hands, Danny set about tidying up the family’s new pride and joy. “I pulled the interior completely out and gave it a really good scrub. Being a pearl white interior, you could see that it had pearl in it but once I cleaned it, the whole interior just changed again. I basically just cleaned everything up and made it a car that I can just jump in and drive.” Danny does have plans next winter to pull the 322 Nailhead motor and box out and fix the standard old car oil leaks.

While Danny appreciates the work Russ put into it, the mounting of the airbag compressors was not practical at all!  “They were mounted under the floor right where the driver sits, but when you turned the compressors on it was ridiculously loud. Because they were solidly mounted, the vibrations were going right through the whole chassis! Also, because the car lay so close to the ground, I thought if the compressors stuff up, how am I going to get to them?” The end result is that Danny removed the twin compressors and mounted a new, larger single compressor in the boot.

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All who know this car know it as Bluick thanks to the clever number plates! Danny’s wife, Michelle came up with the name. “One day I came home from work and she said, ‘I thought of a number plate for the car’. She wrote it down and showed me. I looked at it and thought I dunno about that. The next day I thought about it more and thought yeah, I like it, thus completing its identity.

As far as Danny’s concerned, this one’s a keeper for him! “We all love going out in the car. My young bloke’s at the stage where we’ll jump in, head up to Chopped and other events.” 

Once again, this old girl helped strengthen the relationship between father and son, who are now working together on a VC Valiant wagon. Happy travelling guys!

BY GREG FORSTER, PHOTOS CAPRICE PHOTOGRAPHY, FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #167.

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