While Jim R. didn’t physically steal his 1958 Buick Special, he did get it as the result of a crime. The second owner, who had bought it in 1959, had been in prison for a long stretch when his mother got tired of storing it in her garage and had made him sell it in 1989.
Jim saw the ad and went to see it. It had a 364 CID “nailhead” V-8 engine with a two-barrel carb and a Dynaflow auto trans. For options it had power steering and brakes, as well as rare factory A/C. With low mileage and no real damage, it was a very appealing car and the price was more than reasonable. You might even say he stole it, but it was all legal.
That is not to say it was without problems. It had sat so long that the tires were no longer round and the paint had turned to sort of a powdery substance. Those he had others replace and redo, but he also has since rebuilt the front suspension. Although the engine had good compression and was basically sound, it did need a valve job. Then there was the chrome and stainless steel trim. This was the last year for the Buick Special as the entry-level full-size Buick and it’s big and flashy. In the Fifties, that meant lots and lots of chrome. There were some dings in some of the stainless steel trim and the chrome was definitely in need of polishing. All seventy-eight pieces of them. Its nickname is the “Rolling Chromeline.” Jim learned how to carefully pound out dents in stainless steel and polish it to look like new. He refurbished all the chrome, including the massive grill that had to be done with a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies.
During all of this, Jim has kept his Buick completely stock. It even still has its confusing starting sequence. You turn the key on and push the gas pedal to the floor. Jim has had people working on the car call him and ask how to get “that doggone car” started. Although it has only 88,000 original miles (averaging about 1600 miles a year), Jim drives his car regularly to car shows and Roamin Angel activities. He says it drives and rides so nicely that it would be criminal not to.
With a completely stock dash, all gauges and the factory AM radio still work. Jim finds the big, roomy seat quite comfortable.
Jim’s ‘58 Buick – Famed designer Harley Earl, who retired from GM in 1958, had his hand in the car’s look. Although it does not have the extravagant fins like the ‘59 Cadillac, it has the biggest ones Buick ever had. It is also unique in not having Buick’s trademark fender portholes.