'56 Buick Century

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'56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:11 pm

My grandfather bought one like this brand new. It had the same color top as this one, with a dark blue main body and peach under the sweepspear. It rode on four Kelsey-Hayes factory wire wheels. The thing I noticed about this one is that it has power windows. This is the only one I have seen since grandpa's, equipped with power windows. Grandpa cut a pretty wide swath driving that car.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buick-Century-Riviera-1956-Buick-Century-Riviera-/181349277543?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2a39425f67&item=181349277543&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

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WC

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:53 pm

I remember those, my Uncle was a Buick dealer. He used to drive a different one all the time. In the summer he would bring home an Electra 225 Convertible. He would let me take it out and i made sure all the girls in town saw me driving it. I really liked it when he let me take one of his Riviera's.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Dr. Radio on Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:47 pm

One word for you fellas.....

Sonomatic

 Laughing 
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:28 am

Not in Grandpa's Century. His had a Wonderbar. It had a little button up by the headlight dimmer that would change the radio stations without ever taking your hands off the steering wheel. Plus the Wonderbar on the radio itself. Sonomatic was the pushbutton radio. Grandpa's had a Guidematic headlamp dimmer. More commonly seen on Oldsmobile and Cadillac. it would turn the bright lights on whenever you met a car. It looked cool sitting on the dash, though. I told all my buddies that it was radar!  Laughing 

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:58 am

Good looking unit!
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:34 am

Grandpa's had a Guidematic headlamp dimmer.

Mt Dad had that on an Olds, he was a Ford man but he did have a few GM's.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:00 am

Guidematic was more popular on Olds and Cadillac than on Buick, for some reason. There was a four-tube Guidematic amplifier that was mounted to the inner fender panel, right behind the battery. It had a vibrator power supply like the radio.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:44 pm

With a style like that '55 there was no need for jimcracks! Very Happy 
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:22 pm

Most '56 Buick Centurys were found painted with tri-tone paint. It was very uncommon to find a '56 painted a solid color. '55's were the same way. Kelsey-Hayes wires were made available across the board, after the Skylarks were discontinued. The wires made the car even gawdier than it was. Some people put the spinner hubcaps standard to a Roadmaster on the lesser Buicks, as in this example. I still remember those wire wheels on grandpa's Century. It was my job to clean them. 140 chrome spokes per wheel. And a spinner center. Tube-type Firestone Deluxe Champion wide whites. Weights on the inside. The good old days.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:30 pm

I remember those color schemes. I also remember the trunk ornament had the year 1956 in it. It was the only time I remember the year of a car actually being on the car.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:08 pm

My dad's '57 had the year on the front ornament. I wonder if that got more cars sold in 1958. The styling sure wouldn't.
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:06 pm

Starting in 1954, Buick actually displaced Plymouth for the #3 spot in auto sales!  In 1955, they sold more cars than they could build.  Grandpa claimed that Buick was building engines on hand carts on the side of the line, since the line could not hold the volume.  1955 and 1956 was the same, #3 in sales, right behind Ford and Chevrolet.  1957 was another story.  "Suddenly it's 1949!" was the theme that the "Forward Look" Chrysler was using referring to the 1957 Buicks.  These cars utilized a controversial, one-year-only three piece rear window.  They had a larger, gas-guzzling engine with an unfortunate proclivity to overheat and catch on fire!  The overheating was "cured" by a revised temp gauge with a longer "normal" range.  It merely took more heat to get the gauge to read "hot"!  There was a book of recalls and technical bulletins almost a foot thick on the '57 Buicks.  The 1958 "B-58" Buicks were horrible, chrome-laden boats with all the faults of the '57's and a few more of their own.  The overheating had been eliminated, for the most part, but air suspension and Flight Pitch Dynaflow were introduced.  The grille contained 160 individual squares.  There was chrome trim to trim out the trim, especially on the Roadmaster series.  Buick's signature "mouse holes" or ventiports were eliminated on the front fenders.  1958 was the last year, until 1992, for the Buick Roadmaster.  A new Limited Series was introduced in '58 for one year only.  They tacked a foot onto the rear of the already too-long Roadmaster 75, made Flight Pitch standard and created one of the most horrible monstrosities ever created by the Buick Motor Division, GM or any other manufacturer.  1958 sales sunk to 9th place, behind Studebaker and Rambler, and barely ahead of the moribund Packard.  

1959 was very little better.  The bright spot in 1959 was the introduction of the famous 401 cid "Wildcat 445" V-8.  Rated at 325 hp with 10.50 to 1 compression, it proved to have a problem with eating pistons in 1959 and part of 1960.  Redesigned piston domes to eliminate detonation were adopted in mid-1960.  All 1959 Buicks required premium fuel.  The front sway bar was eliminated on early jobs, so handling was like trying to stand up in a bathtub in a swimming pool.  The brake booster was bolted directly to the floorboards, and salt corrosion would cause the brake system to fall on the ground when you tried to stop.  The squint-eyed styling was a matter of personal taste with no middle ground---you either loved it or you hated it.  Flight Pitch was in its final year, and air suspension was a really rare option.  Apparently, more people hated the styling, as sales were worse than in 1958.  The '57 thru '59 models has so damaged Buick's reputation for quality that 1960 was viewed with suspicion by the public as well.  The famous Electra 225 series was introduced in 1959.  The 1960 Buicks were actually vastly improved cars vs 1959.  A new Buick-only "K" frame was introduced, handling and braking were improved, better air conditioning was adopted, bucket seats and Positraction rear axles were an option, and 1960 was the last year with the starter on the accelerator pedal.  The 401, though rated as in 1959, had lots more stones, performance-wise.  Sales were little better than 1959, due to the damage Buick's reputation had suffered for the last three or four model years.  Had it not been for Harlow "Red" Curtis being the President of GM at the time, and a former manager of Buick, it is more than quite possible that Buick would have gone the way of the Desoto and Edsel, two makes that died after 1960.

So, 75, to answer your question.  No.  The 1956 and 1957 model Buicks were the only two years with the model identification on the trunk emblems.  1957 sales were not that bad.  Quality control problems did the '57's in.  My grandpa worked for Buick and refused to own or even drive the 1957 thru 1959 model Buicks.  He bought a 1960 Electra 225 flattop to replace his beloved '56 Century. It proved to be every bit as good a car as his '56, and LOTS faster! It was Lido Lavender, two-toned with Raven Black, on the top, tops of the doors and the trunk lid. It had black, gray and white leather and whipcord interior. It was his first car with factory air conditioning.

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WC

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:38 pm

My dad traded his '53 for his '57 when he started working for Fisher Body division. That would have been 58 or 59. He traded for a new '61 Chevy Impala that was red with white trim and white convertible top.
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by willy3486 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:12 pm

I had a uncle who probably didn't go past the sixth grade but was probably one of the smartest fellows I ever knew. He could build ,make or fix anything. He had a car lot in the 50s or 60s. When he got a car that wasn't the best he wouldn't sale it ,he took it to his house and parked it in the woods. He didn't want to sale junk. Anyway he had one of the late 50s buick like this, that thing was huge but a beautiful car. It would have been nice to fix. After he passed away my aunt had them all crushed. There were a lot from the 40s to the 60s there.

As far as a wonderbar radio goes I have one of those radios. I got it goinga few years ago. I need to dig that thing out and play it again.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Dr. Radio on Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:09 pm

Nice avatar Wildcat. I was getting impatient wondering what your car looked like Surprised 

Speaking of which, I was up waaay too late one night. MeTV had an old black and white episode of The Fugitive from 1963. In this episode there was a very young Leslie Nielsen who married into money and a family department store. Guess what he drove? A very nice (new?) Buick Wildcat ragtop. Pretty good shots of the car too, you can clearly see the Wildcat emblem on the rear quarter when he's standing by the car.




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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Dr. Radio on Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:15 pm

Wasn't the Guidematic system a revised version of the older original Autronic Eye system? I believe there was a version of the Autronic Eye that failed miserably. The one that incorporated the "Safety Salute" system that would auto flash the high beams to oncoming cars for a split second as a reminder to them to lower their beams--this in addition to the normal switching of hi to lo for an oncoming car???

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:56 am

The current Perry Mason episodes feature Buicks from 1963 and 1964. The wife of the bad guy usually drives a Wildcat convertible. The bad guy himself usually drives and Electra 225 four door hardtop. One of the guys who got murdered drove a '64 LeSabre station wagon.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:10 am

Dr. Radio wrote:Nice avatar Wildcat. I was getting impatient wondering what your car looked like Surprised 

Speaking of which, I was up waaay too late one night. MeTV had an old black and white episode of The Fugitive from 1963. In this episode there was a very young Leslie Nielsen who married into money and a family department store. Guess what he drove? A very nice (new?) Buick Wildcat ragtop. Pretty good shots of the car too, you can clearly see the Wildcat emblem on the rear quarter when he's standing by the car.

Thanks, Doc. Changing my avatar is the only way I can put pics to this site. This car has a Wonderbar radio. The last year Buick with a Dynaflow transmission.

Regards

WC




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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:00 am

I did a little looking up on the history of the Delco Radio/Electronics plant in Kokomo and was rather surprised to find it was a Crosley radio factory at first and built auto radios for GM, then was bought out in 1936.  I knew Crosley had facilities in Marion, but not others in the area.
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:19 pm

GM bought the old Crosley plant in 1929. Crosley never built factory radios for GM. Several suppliers built radios for GM until Delco Radio "officially" commenced production, in 1936. Delco Radio started producing radios in 1932, but the Depression prevented full production until '36. The 1937 model year marked the first time that a factory radio was installed in the instrument panel of an automobile. Crosley had plants in Indiana and Ohio. The Crosley car was built in Richmond. The old Crosley plant that GM bought was originally part of the Haynes-Apperson car manufacturing facilities. Delco Radio started building car radio cabinets in a converted hanger at what is now Grissom Air Force Base, north of Kokomo.

There is some mis-information on the 'net about Delco Radio. I have a document from Delphi Electronics that I got in 1993 when I was doing research for a display that I did for the 1993 Buick Club of America National Meet held in Phoenix that year. The information I have came from the archives of Delco Radio. I have no idea what happened to all that literature after GM spun off Delphi.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:43 pm

Crosley also built cars in Marion. They sold the plant there to General Tire. That is how I remember the plant growing up.
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:24 am

Wasn't there a Chrysler transmission plant in Marion?

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by 75X11 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:24 am

Not that I know of, However there was a Dana Corporation plant there, whose end is recounted here. http://www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/main.asp?SectionID=31&SubSectionID=64&ArticleID=59243 The other automotive plant was Fisher Body. Most of the rest were wire, glass. plastic and paper products
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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:24 am

Dana corporation seems to make parts for all car manufacturers. My heavy Ford trucks and my 4WD Ford trucks all have Dana axle parts.

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Re: '56 Buick Century

Post by y2kbruce on Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:00 am

I was 15 years old when I was joy riding in a 1956 Buick driven by a 15 year old friend who had "borrowed" it from his neighbor. We had a case of beer under the front seat when a small town cop pulled us over and when no one was 16 in the car, threw all 6 of us in the slammer in Eldridge Iowa.

My dad had to come and bail us all out and dropped off all the kids at their homes. That 56 was a fast car in its time. Another night in that same car, we were street racing in it when the oil light came on. My buddy drove me home and then when to his home. He called me the next day and said the oil drain plug was missing and all the oil was out but the car made it home (about 6 miles)  and ran fine once filed up again with the Texas tea.

My 1st car was a 1963 Buick Skylark drop top with the 215 aluminum V-8. I owned a 1965 225 about 20 years ago but blew up its engine on an on-ramp to an interstate bride. Love those nail-head V-8's.
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