Retirement is supposed to be fun and a few years ago, Jim Smith decided he’d had enough of working.. and that building and driving old cars was more fun.
The Buick pictured here is one of his fun projects and he’s been driving this one for quite a few years now and there’s no end in sight; except.. The next one is better, a 1960 Chevy 2-door Bel Air, similar to the one he had right out of high school in Pueblo, ColoRODo after he sold his kustomized ’50 Plymouth that he painted himself.
Matter of fact, he’s had a whole string of cars since he graduated high school but, let’s get back to this ’49 Buick beauty.
Jim found this Buick while working in ColoRODo Springs and figured it would make a nice kustom. He wanted to use a 1990 Caprice sitting off to the side of his place to help with the project and got to measuring. Yep, it’d work but he would have to add 5 inches to the Caprice’s frame so the wheels would be centered in the Buick’s wheel wells. That was accomplished easily enough and the Buick body was channeled to fit the frame.
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Once on the Chevy frame, the logical engine choice was a 502” crate with a 700 R-4 behind it running into the stock Caprice rear.
An Edelbrock manifold/carb combo filled the space between the heads and shorty headers exit spent exhaust through Flowmasters. Kind of a sleeper, the stock bodied Buick didn’t look like the “SUPERAT” Jim thought it should be but it was time for test drives.
By the end of five years of driving, Jim’s wife, Terry, was tired of the original interior and asked Jim to do something with it. Well, you know how these things go, one thing leads to another and before long, the whole body was stripped down and the body mods began.
He called Jerry Horton to bring his ideas to life and fifty-five Chevy headlights were added, the hood was modified and now opens from the rear. Side scoops were sliced into the hood and all the emblems and handles were removed. Lakes Pipe shrouds were molded onto the fenders and an antenna sunk into the rear of the roof.
The one defining item on this Buick is the stock taillights. Jim liked them so much they were kept and treated to some “eyebrows” Which alone made the Buick stand out. While Jerry was waiting on the bodywork, Jim decided the rear fenders needed molding to the body, eliminating the stock seams.
The dash was molded and cleaned up and Classic gauges were installed, along with an Ididit tilt column. The final item needed on the finished bodywork was to drill holes for the ’55 Chevy side trim which complimented the car nicely. When that was done, Jerry covered the car in PPG’s Sierra Gold.
Terry liked the body color and decided on a nice complementary cream leather for the interior. Jim located some 6-way Cadillac power bucket seats, got them mounted and then built the console between them.
Precision Upholstery in Pueblo gets credit for taking Terry’s design and stitching up a masterpiece. To finish off the interior he used German square weave carpet to cover the floor and a Vintage air/heat combo to finish.
Jim and Terry enjoyed building and driving their car and they’ve got quite a stable full of builds and have even gotten to the point of helping their son build his cars. Every chance they get, they take one of their award winning cars to a show.. and isn’t that the fun of owning a cool car, to show it off by driving it somewhere?