1953 Buick Special 45R Riviera Coupe
Beautiful, Fully Restored California Car, One Year Only Styling, Thousands in Recent Upgrades
Long known for having bulletproof engines, good brakes and smooth Dynaflow transmissions, Buick models of the early 1950s are unique and undervalued classics that offer great style and driveability for the price. Of all the early 50s models, the '53 is considered by some to be the most desirable. It features a unique body only produced for the 1953 model year.
The Buick Special was the last model to receive a new full-width body, in mid-1949 as a 1950 model. Before that the Specials were basically Fisher B-bodies dating back to 1941. The new model was introduced with a “snaggle-tooth” grille, which spilled down over the bumper and was also fitted to Super and Roadmaster models. Specials had three “ventiports” on the hood sides.
The 1950 Specials were divided into two lines. The base model had no body-side moldings, while the Special Deluxe had trim, bright window outlines and “Special” script on the front fenders. Three body styles were available in the Special line, with four in the Special Deluxe. Each had a fastback, or “Jetback,” two-and four-door, as well as a conventional notchback four-door touring sedan. There were no Special convertibles or station wagons and the top seller was the four-door touring sedan with 141,396 sales. Power came from the 110-hp, 248-cid OHV straight-eight engine, with a three-speed or optional Dynaflow automatic transmission. As Buick’s affordable option, Buick Special prices ranged from $1,800 to $1,983.
For 1951, the Buick Special grille was modified to a more conventional waterfall design, and the Special line gained a convertible and a Riviera two-door hardtop. The Jetback style was dropped, to be replaced by a more conventional notchback form. The straight-eight engine was increased to 263 cid and 120 hp.
Little changed in the 1952 Buick Special lineup, with just a curved side molding and a gravel guard appearing. The base model had a two-piece windshield, while the Deluxe had one-piece. A steel strike and the Korean War cut production of the Special to 120,898, with only 600 of those being convertibles.
All Specials were Deluxe models in 1953, and this was the last Buick to use a straight-eight engine. Standard power output increased to 125 hp, though an estimated 80 percent of the cars produced were equipped with automatic transmission, which bumped ratings up to 130 hp. Buick changed over to 12-volt electrics this year. The 1953 Special was the last year of the immediate post-war body, with its swooping fender line; the 1954 models would be much boxier.
History of the car:
The previous owner bought the car 12 years ago from the original owners, an elderly couple who had purchased the car new in Los Angeles, California in 1953.
The car had been parked in their garage and had been off the road since the 1970s so it was in extremely well preserved and rust free condition.
When he found it, t he car was all original, with original upholstery and in extremely nice condition
The floor pans were still in their original primer
It had 72k miles on it on it
He went through the trans, brakes, dropped the front uprights, rebuilt the cylinder head, did the front end, went through the starter, generator, distributor and carb and drove it for a few years
He repainted it the factory yellow and white.
When we got the car, we performed a number of mechanical repairs and upgrades. We had the bumpers and most of the chrome on the car redone, an alternator installed for better charging, and had the fuel pump rebuilt, among many other things. The work done to the car recently is as follows:
Adjust emergency brake
Install new front king pin set
Repair charging system and convert to alternator
Rebuild fuel pump
Install new rear knee-action lever shocks
Install new trunk gasket
Rechrome front bumpers, hood spear, trunk emblem.
Perform alignment on all four corners
Clean crankcase breather, clean oil bath and add new oil and oil filter
Lubricate and check chassis, check all fluids
Install rebuilt wiper motor
Install new battery
Install new points and condensor and set gap
We have taken great pleasure in driving the car in our time owning it, and have driven it several hundred miles up and down the east coast. It is a joy to cruise on the open road, and the car gets an incredible amount of friendly attention because of its size, color, and how easy the shape is on the eyes. It has a happy demeanor and people seem to pick up on that.
The original accelerator-activated ignition switch is still in place and the car fires eagerly. The motor immediately settles to a smooth idle and exhibits a understated rumble when pressed. The car accelerates smoothly at any speed and the Dynaflow transmission is so smooth the shifts are nearly undetectable. As with all Dynaflows of this era, it has a tendency to leak a little trans fluid. People generally treat it with swell-seal, which seems to do the trick. That is what we have done.
This car would be equally at home on a local show lawn or the open road. It is an older restoration that still makes a nice impression. The interior was completely refinished including new seat covers, new carpets, headliner and accessory gauges. A few areas in the paint have small touch ups and other minor imperfections but in our opinion, they do not stand out or detract from the overall presentability of the car.
1950s Buicks offer great value compared to their contemporary Chevrolets and Fords. They are every bit as well built, if not better. They offer unique and very attractive styling, high build quality, and when set up right, are extremely reliable. These cars seem to us to be quite undervalued. With examples such as this becoming increasingly hard to find, values will be on the rise.
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