By on March 31, 2011

During my recent trip to California, I stopped by one of the biggest self-service wrecking yards in the San Francisco Bay area, a steel-company-owned yard that turns over its inventory of many hundreds of cars and trucks about every two months. If you see a car in this yard, you can be sure that its steel will be on a China-bound container ship within eight weeks. Such is the case with this 59-year-old Buick sedan.

As we saw not long ago, scrap steel prices have gone past $250/ton, a situation which has combined with high unemployment to send every dude with any sort of car trailer out knocking on doors and buying not-so-wanted vehicles. That means that a two-ton monster like this Special will net at least 500 bucks to the industrious scavenger who brings it to The Crusher. This car is probably too far gone to make a restoration worthwhile, although Midwesterners accustomed to extreme rust might disagree.

Wouldn’t this flathead pushrod eight be a great addition to a Billetproof-bound rat rod? I hope someone rescues this one before it gets eaten.

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30 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1952 Buick Super...”

  • avatar

    It looks like it’s been stripped of all the Ebay-able items already. I’m surprised the head and related parts are still there. Those of us who have taken on car restorations know you need two or three donor cars to come up with a good one and a helluva lot of body work regardless. While it’s sad to see a great machine go down remember it was probably an eye sore for the neighbors for 10 years.
    I’m watching a 56 chrysler imperial rust away next door one day at a time.

  • avatar

    1  1952 Buick special
    4   Used rims & tires
    1   Bag steel wool
    1  Dishwashing soap
    10  Rolls masking tape
    8   Cans flat black primer
    1   Case Beer
    1   Flatbed towing charge 
    1   Afternoon with your buds

    For sale eBay 1952 Buick Rat Rod project  $2300.
    Ran when parked.  

  • avatar

    Yep, other than the interior door handles and the chrome trim strips on the door panels, this one’s been picked over pretty good. Meet your future made-in-China toaster, coffee maker, microwave oven and Chrysler 300 metal stick-on chrome “B” pillar covers!

  • avatar

    It is not a flat head. Buick straight eights were all OHV.

  • avatar

    That is one ripe corpse cleaned by the vultures!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Isn’t the glass that’s still intact worth something?

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Not really. Replacement glass is easy to find. I just replaced all the flat glass on my ’55 Super for $260.

      More generally speaking, Buicks aren’t very popular to begin with, and anything prior to 54 is going to be an even harder sell. Also, Buick Supers have a very different body than the smaller, more popular Specials and Centuries. It might swap with a Roadmaster but anybody restoring a Roadmaster will just spring for new glass. So — no real value at all in the glass.
      The engine… I’d kill for a cheap running straight 8. I just think they’re cool.

  • avatar

    Some usable body panels; glass; engine parts?

  • avatar

    “pushrod flathead”?  That’s a bit of an oxymoron.  The major advantage of the flathead/side valve was the lack of pushrods (and rocker arms) which resulted in lower cost.  Neat find though!

  • avatar

    8 or 6?  I count 12 intake/exhaust holes in the head.

    • 0 avatar

      From the ’30’s on, all Buicks were straight eights.  They went to a V-8 in the early fifties.  Can’t remember the exact year, although I do remember that the Special (and Super?) dropped the straight eight a year after the upper range models.  Nice way to ease the conservative buyers into all this new-fangled technology.

    • 0 avatar

      Some of the ports are siamesed (shared). That was common in the older engines. Every Ford flathead V8 has only three exhaust ports per side.

    • 0 avatar

      12 ports, 8 intake and 4 siamesed exhaust, eight cylinders. The V-8 was introduced for ’53. Before the OHV V-8 configuration became pretty much universal in the 1950’s, GM had quite a variety of engines. Chevy and GMC OHV I-6, Pontiac and Olds flathead I-6 and I-8, Buick OHV I-8 and Cadillac flathead V-8. Divisional diversity of automatic transmission designs carried on until the mid-1960’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Nikita: The divisions were autonomous in engine choice in the fifties and early 60’s too. Paul had a post on the Buick Nailhead at his CC blog a couple of weeks ago. The Oldsmobile Rocket, the Chevy small block were very different engines. For a while in the 1960s Pontiac had a sohc I6.
      The straight eight disappeared in the 1950s because it was too heavy and too hard to build so that it could rev. Mercedes did solve the rev problem in their 3 liter race cars of the mid 50s with desmodromic valves and a split chrankshaft.  I assume they never commercialized that solution because it was way too expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      1953 for the first V8. Count the spark plugs plus the two hidden by the oil filter.
      Sorry. We are having violent weather, and I don’t have much to do.

    • 0 avatar

      The eight blackened ports are undoubtedly exhaust, none of them siamesed.  The four rust colored ports are the intakes, all siamesed.  The rust appears to be the circular intake manifold alignment/sealing rings like those used on Chevy sixes of similar vintage.

  • avatar

    The glass and associated trim pieces that surrounds the glass may not be worth anything. Due to the fact that this car is nothing more than another six-window four-door sedan like almost every other car on the road, it’s probably worth “0”, other than 1955-57 Chevys and a very few other models, restorers go for pillarless hardtops and convertibles.

    • 0 avatar

      Which is a damned shame.  I’ve always considered the low end models (be it cars, motorcycles or bicycles) more important than the trendy models, as they were what really sold when new.  Anyone can save a Corvette.  It takes a real enthusiast to put the time and money into the low end four door sedan.

    • 0 avatar

      @syke:   I agree. The hardtops and converts go for the flash and glory, while the staid sedans do all the real work (mostly). I believe it was 20 years ago I saw more and more 2 and 4 door sedan and H/T ’55-’57 Chevys being restored for the simple reason all the others were pretty much used up. The Buick in question would really be nice if it were a restored one.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the reasons I love my 4 door Chevelle, it’s a bodystyle that went to the crusher long ago (some might say with good reason), the last of the Chevelle line. It’s fun at car shows when people tell me it’s not a Chevelle, and I’ll pull the owners manual out and point to the larger than life wording on the cover and they then splutter something about it being wrong. Most people look at it and remember when they roamed the earth as their mothers car or some parents car.
      To me, it’s far more fun to drive the ugly 4 door of an unwanted generation, than my friends flashy red convertible ’71 Chevelle. I can have just as much fun in mine, without the headache of people trying to run it off the road eyeballing it.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      I absolutely love our ’55 Super. I wouldn’t call my efforts “restoration” as much as it is long-term cleanup. It runs great, it gets decent mileage (about 20 MPG highway), the power windows and brakes are great, and after I replaced all the bushings and shocks, it’s among the smoothest-riding vehicles I’ve ever owned.
      No, it isn’t a hardtop. Not a Roadmaster. Nothing special. But I bought it for $5K, I’ve put probably another $5K into it so far, and I’d drive it cross-country without thinking twice.
      What’s it worth? Like I tell people about so many other things — I didn’t buy it so I could sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      Exactly.  Just look at the price difference between a Mercedes 280SE Sedan and a comparable 280SE coupe or convertable…the latter are five times as much or more.
      It’s cheaper to buy a running 280SE sedan and get the engine out and stick it in a coupe or convertable than to rebuild the original engine, so lots of those cars have engines that aren’t original.

      As for myself, I like the sedans long, uninterrupted lines.

  • avatar

    In the pic it looks too big to be a Special. Maybe a Super?

  • avatar

    You should’ve taken those porthole trim pieces and put them on your Civic (yo).

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My  buddy   had  a 53 Special , it  had  a  straight 8. The  bigger  models  in 53  had V8s

  • avatar

    Murilee and I seem to have the same tastes in cars.  Every time he features one, I find that it’s the same, or very, very similar to one that I used to own.  This one is no exception.  I used to own a 1953 Buck Special (with the Straight 8) and I loved it.  Click the link to see the pictures.


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