Filed under: 1953 Buick Special (Berry Special)
I almost did it. I almost joined the dark side. I almost turned an awesome Buick into an abomination that would belong nowhere. No Buick club really wants a 1953 Buick with a Chevy engine, and no Chevy club wants a Chevy 350 wrapped in Buick clothes. I would have been a man without a brand.
You see, I was afraid of the old 263, afraid that it wouldn't be reliable, afraid that I couldn't find parts, afraid that it wasn't "hot rod" enough or "cool points" worthy. There isn't a lot of chrome and dress up out there for a 1953 Buick 263 last year of production model engine, not a lot of build up parts or info available...let's face it, there's just not a lot of these cars period.
And that, my friends, is where I realized the folley of my ways.There AREN"T a lot of these cars out there. You don't see 1953 Buick Specials populating the pages of magazines or filling up lines of parking spaces at car shows. You can go to any car show on Earth and find a 57 Chevy, or a 66 Mustang or a (insert common car name here) but you have to really dig through the background photos or hit every show in your area to find a mid 50's Buick. Even then they are like finding hen's teeth. Why would I even consider doing this swap if there's even an inkling of a chance that I can rebuild this engine and keep it with the original drive train? Hell, there's the cool points right there, and hot rodding? Everyone knows these old Fireball 8's could hold their own with any engine of the era. Remember "Eight in a row makes them go!"? Hot Rod points? Got 'em! Reliability? I drove the 57 year old car with bad compression to work and back several days before I realized what was wrong with it. It got me there and home...seems reliable enough to me, and as for dress up, it takes me back to my off roading days when I towed shiney toys out of ditches and off of trails with my primer gray Samurai with home made bumpers: Chrome don't get you home!
I broke the news to the wife (while I was still at sea so she couldn't beat me over the head for spending money and about a year now collecting the parts and knowledge to do the sbc swap!) and she likes the idea. The thought that I can have it on the road in a couple of weeks versus 6-8 months was popular with her too. And what of the 350/350 combo I collected? Well, it just so happens that my youngest son turns 16 in a year and really has his heart set on he and I building him a 67-72 Chevy pickup, so now we just need to find a body and frame instead of a running truck. Cheaper means more money for the house and that makes my lady smile! In the end, everything gets used, I get to build soemthing unique, and everyone is happy, win-win situation!
So I'm going to dare to be different, I'm going to keep it the same. I'm going to give this big beast another lease on life and build and drive my Buick the way she was meant to be, ALL BUICK. So, stay tuned for updates when I get home and get to start wrenching!
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