1959 Buick LeSabre

So…how did it come out?

 Very nice, thank you. 

It is hard to even fill up fuel, without getting in to conversations with folks:
I remember when aunt Betty and uncle Lester owned on of these”…

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Dumbest questions so far:

Did you paint it?

Is this Christine?

What kind of mileage do you get with that?

Are those fins real?

Thanks everyone that contributed and visited. I hope I inspired someone to restore another classic for yourselves and future generations.

What did I learn? 

Make it clear to your vendors/suppliers what you are expecting BEFORE committing. Then, make sure it happens that way. 

Keep working with it until it looks like you want it, until then, it’s simply not finished, and you will regret it later.

Don’t give up! If you hit the “bonk”, just close the shop and walk away. You can come back later and work, don’t rush it. 

When looking for a vendor or supplier, spend some time to ask around. Check our local car clubs: Who does good chrome, paint work, etc…Then go and look at some of their work they have done. Ask for references.

This car is now sold to Australia, and it received  “Best Car award” by Directors Choice at the GM 2000 American Car Display in Australia.

As you can see, Vilma is in really good company!

See what car they used for the poster for the Yarra Glen, Australia All GM car show!

“This is obviously a vintage car but if you are in the market for a new or used Holden take a look at Carsales.com.au
Sept 13, 2012

Up-date: in 2011 the car was used inside this rock and roll album produced for the European market.

I am honored.

Also, I learned that the car is now sold to a Holden dealer and sits on the showroom floor together with brand new Holdens.

1959 Buick Interior

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A couple of dual cone speakers “stealth” hidden under the speaker grill will be a major improvement.

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I didn’t like the idea of bulging after market speaker grilles on the rear shelf, but I still have to have some tunes when cruisin’, so I made spacers, that will “counter sink” the speakers below the surface.

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Then I made a new shelf board and covered it with speaker cloth.

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Using the original vinyl trim that goes against the back seat, it looks quite original.

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More stealth…Nobody would know there are two high powered Pioneer speakers here.

Dash

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All dash and steel interior trim was repainted. Use an acrylic lacquer for this. Since it dries semi flat, you can leave the parts you want flat (matte) finish, and hand rub the parts you want shiny. This way the paint matches perfectly.

Instrument cluster…This thing weighs 20 lbs.!!! It was disassembled, and restored. The background faces and the black trim was redone, and some fluorescent paint from the hobby shop makes the dials and arms look like 1959 again. We also added an optional clock.

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The radio and glove cover plate was painted white on the LeSabre. A dip in the chrome tank and a Electra/Invicta Buick shield brightens things up.

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Door Panels

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Door panels are in good shape, but very warped. Start by removing the vinyl from the old board (carefully!!) Use a heat gun to soften up around corners.

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Remove the steel top support from old panel.

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Using the old panel as a template I outlined the shape on new door panel material. Choose the waxed kind, it repels moisture. Cut panel.

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Position the top metal support at the correct place, and rivet it to the panel.

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Apply a layer of 1/4 inch “landau padding”, (Yes, the stuff that’s under your mother’s Cadillac roof) and then put the vinyl side back over. Use spray adhesive, mostly in the corners. It is better to let the vinyl stretch, that be glued down everywhere, it will stretch better and look more straight.

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Glass

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Since I replaced the rear window with tinted, all side glass was also replaced with matching tinted glass in re-chromed frames.

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The channels in the front door that holds the window frame straight was recovered with velvet material.

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Power switches was installed…

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Tinted glass installed, and power operated to boot! Took about a week to line and adjust everything to work nice.

Upholstery

New pad was installed before carpet.

New carpet and shiny repro door sill plates. “Body by Fisher” (Body by Rolf??)

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Fresh repro rubber all around ensures a rattle and leak free Buick

All seats were re-upholstered with NOS original material. Looks great. The side panel were in very nice shape, and they have an embossed Buick crest, so I was lucky.

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If you ever forget your Buick is equipped with power steering, look in the center of the steering wheel to re-confirm!

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Looks like we need to go for a ride.

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Postcard from Carmel “by the sea”

Wouldn’t you like to get one of these in the mail? Those were the days…

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The LeSabre didn’t have the shiny trim around the head liner, so I had a good set polished to chrome finish.

 This sucks!

I hate this!

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After installation of head liner (puh!) I can install the shiny stuff.

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The art deco courtesy light from are way cool…

Trunk

After much searching, I found a repro houndstooth material that matched the trunk liner. The old pieces were intact but faded and soiled, but they make great patterns.

Some companies offer a 5 piece set for LeSabre and a 7 piece set for Invicta. I have no idea what they are talking about, since my LeSabre liner consists of TEN pieces, plus five cardboard panels. So, let’s just do it ourselves…

The old pieces were used as pattern. I used a tar paper like material and covered it with the houndstooth material.

I should have some more trunk pictures, but they may have been erased.

So…How did it come out?

1959 Buick LeSabre Restoration

1959…

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The first programs of Bonanza and Rawhide aired…
Ben-Hur earned a Best Picture Oscar…
Fidel Castro took over Havana…
USA added Hawaii to the Union…
Everybody was humming a Mack the Knife tune…
Buddy Holly died…soob…

and…


Buick introduced the Delta Wing!

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1959 Buick LeSabre restoration.

Come along on a comprehensive “frame-on” restoration of this representative of the culmination of American glory and flash.
A time that probably won’t come again.

In other words: It is really cool!

It was said that the fins stabilized the car at high speeds. Maybe we should test when it’s done? The 1959 model shared the roofline with other GM products. It offered Scenic view rear window and panoramic front windshield.

Other than that, each division was free to design anything they wanted. And they did…

The starting point: Straight and rather solid, some stainless had some dings, but all there. The good news: 58,000 documented miles since new. Owned since new by a local lady.You wouldn’ need to worry about calling out the RAC rac.co.uk, like you do in the UK or whoever you use with a car like this. It seems to be somewhat of a rock, a bit of a car power house.

Not bad for a car that was sold new with 90 days or 4000 mile warranty!!

OK, here goes nothing: Off with the front sheet metal, so the front fenders can be blasted and we can get to everything.

If you were a nice kid when your folks picked up their new ’59 Buick, you may have gone home with one of these…

Interior, glass and chrome was stripped, and the whole car walnut-shell blasted. No chance of hiding anything here!

After blasting all the sheet metal was scuffed to loose any high spots. We don’t want any metal to come through the primer…

Holy Delta Winged Warrior!! Bat-mobile!! The little rust we found was professionally repaired, and a coat of DP-90 black etching primer seals the body, so I can concentrate on the engine for now.

Firewall painted in stock red color. Note the dual line 68 Buick Riviera brake booster. I think it is an acceptable deviation from stock for safety.

After DP-90, the frame got a coat of semi-gloss black. Looks very correct.

Under-hood detail. All bolts was cad plated, and latches that was gold cad, was redone. The fenders was painted red before assembly, so it looks correct.

Have you seen so much stainless??? All going out to be straightened and polished…

“Aerosol Overhaul”

With 58,000 mile on the car, the engine was in great shape, but I did replace all gaskets, rear main seal and water pump.  I did remove a couple of bearing caps, they looked great. Also, water-pump and other items was replaced. After a clean-up and paint the engine looks great.

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierSnuggin’ up the new motor mounts. Now, this starts to look like something…

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierI added a A Delco Script Tar Top repro battery. Nothing else would look right here.

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierChristmas?? Well, almost. Vilma is once again red and white… Yes, she has a name, after her original owner. Now the fun begins…

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierYou can’t see my face, but it’s sporting a big grin….

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierBuck Rogers, eat this!!

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged Warrier1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierDetails, details…These “BUICK” script and rocker chrome is actually from an Invicta, but it is a nice addition.

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierA fresh repro lens looks good in the re-chromed bezel…

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged WarrierThe original license frame from the selling dealer was re-plated and detailed. This adds character to this fine classic. I think old man Hal would be proud of me!

1959 Buick LeSabre, Delta Winged Warrier1959 Buick Electra by Husky, first produced 1960 Scale: 1:66 (England)

When re-chroming the back-up lights, it’s advisable to remove the reflector from the pot metal piece. Then you have to rivet or screw it back, to ensure proper ground.

NOS front blinker assembly. The box smelled like it was 40 years old too…

Using chrome screws to assemble the freshly chromed bumper-bars and blinker assembly. Another tough job!

If you are bored, try masking off 72 grille squares! I will tell you it is easier than learning to speak a new language like learning to speak Spanish.Knitting would be more exciting. The grid behind the grill squares has to be black, so here we go…

No, that is NOT an  American  flag that I am using for underlayment, it is an old Harley throw.

Oh well, the result was rewarding. Use black enamel,  it sticks better to the metal than lacquer.

The rims were sandblasted and painter body color. Radial white walls ($160.00 each!!) makes the car drive very nice, and stock deluxe wheel covers looks just great.

Since we can’t pick-up my Visa card and order a repro trunk emblem, I had to chrome two units, pick the best, and pick from four different emblems the best aluminum inserts. This ain’t no fifty-seven Chevy…Remember: Chrome is GOOD!

Vernon Green & the Medallions hit the charts with their Buick 59 song. For those who wonders why they are posing in front of a Swedish car, this is the cover of the single “Buick59”, and the backside is “Volvo59”!!! Got this tidbit from Ullrik Bjurstrom in Sweden. Takes a Swede to get the facts!

Exterior finally done, looks like we got ourselves a 1959 Buick again.

 Check out the finished product