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Homepage. This page: Memories of a late-1950's Buick sedan, used to tow a caravan on various family holidays.

Memories of a 1958 Buick.

Steve's first car was a 1962 Corvair, but in this article he looks back at a slightly older automobile that his father ran for seven years, a 1958 Buick 4-door Hardtop finished in Desert Beige, with a white roof.

Buying a late 1950's Buick automobile.

Thru the 50's GM cars in America used 3 body shells, A for Chevrolet and entry level Pontiac, B for entry Buick, high end Pontiac, entry Oldsmobiles, and C for high end Buick and Olds and Cadillac. For the '59 model year there was a crash program to catch up to Chrysler's 57 "forward look" styling so all GM cars shared common front doors and rooflines, with the exception of a few Cadillacs, so the divisions between A, B, and C bodies were pretty much blurred.
One of my best child/young adulthood memories is of a 1958 Buick Super 4 door hardtop my Dad bought in 1958. We drove the car across the country and halfway back that year, from California to Massachussetts and back to Oklahoma where my mom, brother, and I were to stay while my Dad, who was in the Air Force (SAC pilot) was stationed for a year at Sondrestrom AFB in the middle of the Greenland Ice cap. My Dad refused to stop for the night until he'd accumulated at least 600 miles for the day, an easy thing in a car like that. That model Buick is always held up as the ultimate example of chrome laden excess among 1950s American cars, but it was a reliable, fast lump with the best brakes in the business (finned aluminum oversize drums). Those big thirsty high compression V8s could climb hills at just about any desired speed without downshifting or even having to press down much further on the accelerator.
1958 Buick sedan
The 58 Buick had a nifty "speed minder" feature - -there was a loud buzzer that could be set to go off at a preselected speed to keep one from exceeding the speed limit. The break-in procedure called for staying under 55 mph until the car had accumulated 300 miles, so that was where Dad set it when we took delivery. One day my Mom was driving us kids to San Francisco on a 4 lane highway and the buzzer kept going off because the car was so silent and really liked to go fast. About the 4th time this happened she was getting aggravated and happened to glance at the odometer. It read 303 miles so she floored it and made the happy discovery that the buzzer would quit if car speed exceeded the preset speed by more than 20mph. She didn't know how to reset the buzzer so our trip continued at a steady 80mph.
After his return, around 1961, we bought a 15 foot travel trailer (Caravan) in which we enjoyed many weekend and some longer camping trips. We kept the car and trailer until 1965. The Buick would pull that trailer up long mountain grades at the speed limit or above until we got stuck behind a Ford Fairlane or AMC Rambler with a puny 6 cylinder engine wheezing it's way trailer-less up the hill. Dad became adept at passing these rapidly uphill, with a ton and a half of trailer behind the 4700 lb car.
On one trip the car started cutting out going uphill towing the trailer. My Dad, a pretty decent mechanic, decided it needed a fuel pump and stopped at a Sears store and bought one and jacked the car up and installed it in the Sears parking lot. Didn't cure the problem as we discovered 10 miles further on, and my Dad started using some very colorful language, having just spent over an hour crawling under the car installing the fairly expensive fuel pump on a hot engine in 95 degree heat. Stopped again and bought and installed a $2 fuel filter in 5 minutes, problem cured.
During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 we lived 6 miles from where my pilot dad was stationed (by then he flew B-52s, having started out flying B-17s with the Eighth Air Force in WW2) -- Travis AFB, a prime target, so my dad loaded up the trailer with canned goods and water and taught my Mom how to hitch it to the Buick so we could head for the hills in case of nuclear attack. Of course there were so many prime targets in the area that our chances were slim, but it was quicker than digging a bomb shelter in the backyard.
In '65 the old bus had over 120,000 miles on the odometer and my Dad decided to sell it, he got $450 for it from an elderly couple who thought it looked like brand new.
Once again, thanks for your exceptionally entertaining website!!!
Thanks for sending that over Steve, much appreciated. If anyone else would like to send over their memories of motoring in the '50s and '60s, please get in touch. In addition to sending over this story about his family's '58 Buick, Steve also sent me some more information regarding a photo of a slightly earlier Buick Special shown in the vintage gallery.
Visit the motoring memories pages at oldclassiccar for more stories like this.

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