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getting closer to the finish line

Seventeen years ago I began my search for a particular car that my father owned before it got wrecked in the early 80's. It was this Buick pace car. My intent has been all along to find this car, restore it, then "give it back" to Pop.

Recently I received not one but two e-mails from two different people stating they each had this car.

Was I overjoyed?

Sort of.

This is what I've found out about this car to date. This is a bit of a re-hash from my other Buick post but it's relevant nonetheless.

1. Placards are never there.

The red and blue placards were usually removed by the dealership before retail sale. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. What this means is that you'll usually find the car in white. What this means to me is that I have to put the placards back. Problem is that they don't exist anywhere, so I would have to have them custom painted on the car once received after a repaint of white.

2. Hawk emblems are usually missing.

Behind the opera window on each side was a hawk emblem. The original pace car (as in the one that paced the track) had gold ones. Most consumer pace cars had silver ones, or none at all.

3. Interior color is always blue with white seats.

This was a centennial car, so the red-white-blue motif shows throughout, even in the interior. The vinyl and plastic were colored in a "glacier" blue.

4. Custom cut t-top glass.

These days, t-tops are a thing of the past, but they were available as an option on many cars up until the early 90's. This Buick pace car came with them as standard equipment.

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This is a short list of what I have to deal with if I had to restore one of these pace cars:

Interior

The carpet will need to be torn out and replaced with new. This will be custom cut fabric and it won't be cheap.

The seats will need to be reupholstered. The original material used was naugahyde, a.k.a. pleather. Reupholstering isn't necessarily expensive, but they are large seats, so who knows.

The doors will also need reupholstering.

Some faux wood inserts may need replacement. Typical to the 70's, this car has wood trim interior. Not a big deal, but the pieces have to be custom cut.

There's also the headliner, interior lamps and some other stuff I'd need to attend to.

Mechanicals

I don't believe I'd have too much trouble in this department. To the best of my knowledge the car comes equipped with a 2bbl GM 350 and TH 400 auto transmission. As far as brakes, steering, suspension and the like, again I don't think it would be too much trouble - so I think. 🙂

Exterior

This is the one thing that would keep all would-be owners of this car away from it. You're gonna spend a lot of loot. Strip it, prime it, paint it white, then a custom stripe job where the placards used to be. The painter guy who does this for you will literally have to take his best guess where the stuff should go based on photos. We're talking at least $5000 for a correctly done job.

And those hawk emblems? I'd be lucky to ever find one, let alone two.

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Basically speaking, no one wants this car. Actually, let me say that a different way. Some people want this car, but no one wants to take on the challenge of restoring it.

The "some people" I refer to are select few Buick fans who know what this car is. I am one of those people.

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And this leads me to the last few e-mails I've been sending and receiving recently.

Car #1: It's in Arizona. The car's got well over 200,000 miles on it. No placards. No hawk emblems. It's white. Waiting for more photos on it because the ones I received didn't show much.

Car #2: Not sure where it's from, but received photos. T-tops are cracked. Impossible to replace unless I were willing to spend $1000 for each side for a custom glass job - and I don't have that kind of cash. Plus it had a landau top which was most likely added later (the originals never had them). Had to refuse the car because of the cracked t-top glass. Had a long talk with Pop before saying "no" to this car. However, I may have use for this as a parts car later. More on that in a moment.

I am praying that car #1 has the t's fully intact. The t's above all else are the one thing on this car that absolutely have to be undamaged and work properly. Otherwise it's not worth owning the car. If they rattle, shake and leak, that's fine. It's the glass and mounts that count.

Car #1's problems are that the rear trunk lid is a bit eaten up and the rear bumper is shot.

But car #2 has the rear bumper and trunk lid intact. Maybe I'll need to pick up both to rebuild one car?

Hm..

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Pop and I have had several long (and I mean long) discussions about this car. The car is first and foremost for him.

My car of choice is the DeLorean DMC12. I yapped about this car a while back and I want one. In Florida they're very easy to get.

But the Buick comes first.

In our discussions, the consensus is like this:

The Buick can obviously blow the doors off the DeLorean. A small block V8 can run circles around the DMC12's underpowered V6.

It would cost me less to restore the Buick compared to buying a DMC12. Way less.

Owning a DMC12 requires no restoration whatsoever. Just go to the dealership in Bonita Springs and buy one. Simple as that.

The Buick has t-tops that allow for open air. The DMC12 doesn't and never did.

There are other considerations, but at the end of it all it would be better to put my money towards the Buick. The DMC12, while the epitome of coolness, doesn't have the flair of the pace car.

Also, the challenge of restoring this car is appealing to me. Getting a DMC12 is easy, but getting this Buick isn't. After acquiring this car comes the long arduous process of restoration. It will take a lot of time and effort to bring this car back to pace car glory.

But once done, look out. She'll turn more heads than any DMC12 ever did.

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