Saturday, June 28, 2014

1955 Buick Special

It might seem like I'm always hanging around under the BQE due to the amount of posts featuring this shadowy underworld. The simple fact is that it runs past my neighborhood and continues on through Brooklyn to my shop, so I'm constantly driving or biking on, under, or next to it. This was one of my rewards for taking this path to work:
Looks like we've got a big, dirty, dusty, slightly rusty 1955 Buick Special on our hands! This beast has quite a presence to say the least, and nice proportions for such a large ride.
The Special line was also known as the 40-Series. There were more upscale 50 and 60 Series models as well, each of which would have a 4th porthole on the front fender. The Special is the descendant of the Buick Century of the '30s, which got its name from being able to hit 100mph.
You've gotta love that swooping check-mark side trim, the shape of which could be found on Buick bodies all the way up to the end of the '60s.
This thing has a huge no-nonsense truck and great visibility due to the almost 360 degree window treatment. Reverse lights on a 1955 indicate that even the thrifty trim model Buicks had all the bells and whistles.
General Motors was careful in terracing their many brands from value to luxury so that no one division stepped on anothers toes (and sales for that matter). It was aspirational; the everyday Chevrolet driver aspired to step up to the more well-appointed Pontiac or Oldsmobile, then on to  Buick, before finally attaining Cadillac status. Being a close #2 to the top of the GM heap, Buicks of the day were fine machines; well built and carefully engineered for luxury and performance. 
This taillight is a classic example of the "Jet Age" design. The first passenger jets were only a few years old and Sputnik wouldn't be launched for a couple more, so this is the sort of styling that was common.
 I test drove a '55 Buick back in high school that was listed for $1,500! The most amazing detail I remember was the starting procedure; you had to turn the key with the gas pedal planted all the way down to the floor or the starter motor wouldn't engage. I was turning the key fruitlessly until the amused owner told me what to do.
From this angle you can see the wrap-around windshield that was introduced the year before. The size of the backdoor is almost limousine scale! Neither footroom nor headroom were an issue in the '55s.
This emblem is fantastic! One easier to miss detail is the lower edge of the door handle, curving around clockwise to follow the contour of the pushbutton. Subtle but nice detail!
The mesh grill was new for '55. Looks like someone was tired of the puny rear-view mirror and tied a larger one right over it!
This little turn signal is cool, and the three-prong design resembles the centerpiece of the grill. I looked for meanings to the "V" hood ornament and the 3-prong circle but found none. Some old man out there remembers what they refer to, as they probably refer to something.
Mexican blanket interior is the fail-safe option when you're ready to cruise and aren't restoring your ride any time soon. Just visible through the reflection is the large ashtray mounted in the middle of the front seat back. This car has a curious options list as it seems to have a clock next to the glove compartment, but radio delete. Next to the metal plate where the radio would have gone are smaller, individual ashtrays Cadillac style.
This beast looks capable of firing up and rolling down the highway. It has a 264 V8 under the hood; the first of the "Nailhead" engines, which is perfectly adequate to keep up with modern traffic. When new it was also rated at a very respectable for the time 17+ miles to the gallon. Considering many trucks fail to achieve that today it is impressive.
Finally let's close out with this important detail: those chrome bullets jutting out of the grill are known as Dagmars. "Dagmar" was actually the stage name of Virginia Ruth Egnor, the first female star of television, known as a "statuesque busty blonde" who wore low cut tops and bullet bras. She was amused at the tribute!

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