The Beauty of a ’67 Buick Skylark
It may not be English or even European but it certainly does classify as special
interest, especially considering Buick is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world and the oldest in America. Buick was founded in 1899 by David Dunbar Buick in Jackson, Michigan. It was founded as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company and was an internal combustion engine manufacturer. Buick continued to steadily make vehicles from the year 1899 and continues to this day. The first two “Buick” vehicles that were produced were made in 1899 and 1900 by Buick chief engineer Walter Marr. However, David Buick was reluctant to start making vehicles having been satisfied with stationary and marine engine production. In March of 1904, the company was purchased by Benjamin Briscoe, who in return sold it to James H. Whiting who was the owner of Flint Wagon Works, in Flint, Michigan. Whiting moved Buick to Flint that summer with the idea of adding Buick’s engines to his wagons. David Buick stayed on as a manager and re-hired Walter Marr as chief engineer, and the rest is automotive history.
The Buick Skylark first hit the scene in 1953 and was revered alongside the Oldsmobile 98 and Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado as a top of the line limited-production specialty convertible. As the years progressed it gained more and more momentum and quickly became four-door as well as one of the best and finest cars you could buy. By the time 1967 came around the Skylark was offered as a four-door with the option of a soft or hard top and the option of a 300 or 340 V8 engine. The 400-401 V8 engine was only stock with the ’66-’69 Gran Sport 400.
Mike purchased his 1967 Skylark in North Carolina in the mid 90’s while he was in the 82nd Airborne Infantry. The car came with a 455 Buick Big Block, as opposed to the 340 V8 that more than likely came stock with this model, and was a sea foam green with rally wheels. He looks back fondly reminiscing about how they would race cars behind the base during their lunch break, and can you blame him? Who wouldn’t love to be able to race around in a Skylark fitted with 455 Big Block?
After the Army, Mike made his way back home to New Hampshire and decided it may be best to get a better vehicle for winter time, so he sold it to his father. They then further decided that it need a new paint job among a few other things. Luckily Mike was employed at a good auto shop and was able to get the paint mixed to his specifications, he settled on the super rare Ford blue that you see on it now, the paint actually changes tones based on the light and time of the day. They painted every inch of the car, under the hood, trunk, door jambs, everything! They then installed a carpet kit, re-upholstered the back seat, installed a new custom dual exhaust and last but not least put all new rims and wheels on it. The end result is breathtaking and truly shows that American cars can certainly have the potential if you have the vision and put the time into it.
What’s going down This Week in the Shop?
Last week was a very busy week, in the garage as well as the office. Cars are coming and going as the season is starting up. We got another Jaguar E-type in, a new MG and Gary just went and picked up a beautifully conditioned beige Morris Minor.
The E-Type that just came in is a 1965 Series 1.5. It’s a beautiful gunmetal gray with a gorgeous crimson leather interior. This car belongs to a very frequent customer and we happened to be the original people who first got this car restored in its final condition and on the road. The gentleman usually sends this immaculate Series I E-Type to us every year in order to go through it to prepare for the season. We will diagnose any problems that need to be acknowledged and we will then fix them accordingly.
We also have a very nice MGB that is currently in for miscellaneous repairs. It’s a beautiful fire engine red 1965 MGB. It’s here for the same reasons as the majority of our fleet, basic check up after being stored all winter. This car’s owner likes to drive this car a lot so it needs to really be on the up and up for the season.
Now to check back on the fire engine red ’63 Series I E-Type we talked about a couple weeks ago, she’s doing well and has all new brakes as well as new cooling hoses all around. Next week we’re going to break down the whole process that Mike will be doing in order to reset the triple carb system. As already stated in past articles resetting carb systems, especially triple carb systems, is not easy and it is, in fact, a lost art that not many auto bodies will do.
Let’s take a look real quick at this gem we found with the MGA that we had in our shop. An extremely interesting concept in an electrical system protection. Can you tell what’s wrong with this picture? I wonder why my wiring is burned up, is the Prince of Darkness being framed again?
The Morris Minor that Gary went to purchase this weekend is in great shape. It is a beautiful off color white with a gorgeous interior. The Morris Minor first hit the scene at the Earls Court Motor Show in London, on September 20, 1948. It was designed under the leadership of Alec Issigonis and well over a million were manufactured between 1948 and 1972. The Minor was released in three separate series: the MM released from 1948 to 1953, the Series II released from 1952 to 1956 and finally the 1000 series which was released from 1956 to 1971.
Some more excellent and exciting news that we have is this follow up from the California Mille! The Jaguar XK120 we prepared for our client in order to participate in the California Mille, has not only successfully completed but has overall done a great job all around performing flawlessly for the whole rally. Rain and shine.
Bringing in the Spring
Spring is finally upon us and that can only mean two things, that summer is right around the corner and the season for exotic cars is finally upon us. The weather in our hometown of Keene, NH has been absolutely beautiful all week, with the exception of one rain day, and everyone is very happy to see winter on it’s way out. We also had ourselves a great weekend, we finally sold the green Austin Healey that we had posted in our classifieds. Gary met the buyer at the Sports Car Services garage Saturday and finalized the deal and they will be picking it up in the near future. They will now be able to enjoy a beautiful English car all season long that was well kept and in spectacular condition.
We’ve gotten a new customer car in this week as well, a red 1963 Jaguar E-type Series I, here for a basic check-up, the list is growing but nothing too serious. The Jaguar E-Type is a British sports car, which was manufactured between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of high performance, competitive pricing and elegance established the model as a staple of the motor vehicle industry. At a time when most cars had drum brakes, live rear axles, and mediocre performance, the E-Type burgeoned on the scene with 150 miles per hour for a top speed, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, monocoque (structural skin) construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent front-end and rear-end suspension and unsurpassed looks. The interior of the E-type is beautiful and the body and mechanics of the car, in general, are in great condition and nothing too serious is wrong with it. The check-up is specifically focusing on mechanical aspects and Mike has been working for the better part of the week diagnosing what is necessitated with it from basic wear and tear. He’s also going to be re-tuning the triple carburetor system and there is a small issue with the driver’s side caliper, which is causing it to stick, and the best option for that is to rebuild the caliper in general, both of which are lost art forms that not many garages will do.
The Crosley is still here in the Sports Car Services garage and should be making its trek home shortly. Everything that we were asked to fix on it has been done, and its running great now. We did not fully restore this car and there is still plenty of work that could be done on it, but we at least got it on the road. A fully restored basic Crosley is worth anywhere from 10 to 15 grand. A Crosley H-Mod classic racer , on the other hand, is worth much more, anywhere from 25-35 grand.
We also have a very cool ’61 MGA Mark II on our hands as well. This Mark II is going to eventually be fully rebuilt from the frame up. The MGA Mark I replaced the MG TF 1500 Midget (like the one I wrote about a few weeks ago) and represented a complete style change from MG’s earlier sports cars, the Mark I was of course eventually replaced by the Mark II. Announced on September 26, 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The MGA design dates back to 1951 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver’s seat because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. Road & Track magazine reviewed the MGA Mark II in the September 1961 issue and reported a top speed of 105 mph and a 0-60 acceleration of 12 1/2 seconds. The frame on the MGA Mark II that we’re working on is just like brand new, the engine is in mint condition and has been rebuilt to standards of a brand new engine and the drive-train, as well, is in very good condition. Albert spent a good part of the week running brake lines, as well as fuel lines for it, the next step will be to finish the body.
Jason and Rod are still busy in our brother shop, G&R Autoworks LTD, getting the Jeep rebuild finished. There has been a lot of modifications on this project. Utility boxes have been added all around it as well as a new winch. That isn’t even half of it though, they have Installed new ball joints , the front axle U-joints, replaced both front axle seals, full E-brake service requiring a redesign to the original automatic adjusting system that everyone complains about, installed new wheels and tires, installed headlights. The list is just starting to grow and who knows what else we’ll be modifying next.
What is the California Mille?
Last week we talked about how the beautiful ’53 Jaguar XK120 we had in our shop was getting prepared to go to the California Mille in San Francisco, California. Well, what exactly is the California Mille you may be asking, The California Mille is a run, not a race, starting in San Francisco and continuing into the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey and along the Big Sur coast toward Carmel. It is open to cars that either ran or would have been eligible to run in the original event; hence participants cars must be designs from 1957 or earlier. The California Mille field is limited to 65 cars and applicants are screened for their car’s historical significance and general condition; not all applicants are accepted.
The California Mille is run in honor of the “Mille Miglia” which was as an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy. The Mille Miglia was run twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957. From the years 1953 until 1957 it was also included as a round of the World Sports Car Championship. The race was banned after two fatal crashes. The first was in 1957 when the crash of a 4.2-litre Ferrari 335 S took the lives of the driver Alfonso De Portago, his co-driver/navigator Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators. The car supposedly landed on top of Portago and Nelson cutting them in half. Portago desperately wanted to win this race and made the grave decision to wait to long to make a tire change. The second crash was much less devastating, although it took the life of Joseph Gottgens and his Triumph T3.
The California Mille was founded in 1991 by automotive enthusiast Martin Swig, it is supported by an informal group called the “Amici americani della Mille Miglia” (“American friends of the Mille Miglia” in Italian). The event attracts a number of corporate sponsors which have included in the past Jaguar, Chrysler and Sotheby’s as well as many others this corporate sponsorship ensures that the California Mille remains one of the more exclusive and high quality events.
Travel Itenerary via The California Mille Website
“On Monday, April 24, at 8:30 a.m. Consul General Ortona will wave the Italian flag outside the departure arch at Mason and California Streets, officially starting the four-day, one thousand mile tour (not a race) of northern California time capsule towns and little-known backroads.
The Mille will cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north toward Highway 1 passing through colorful Marin County towns and villages. At Laguna Elementary School on Chileno Road, the entire student body (all 16 kids and principal Cindy Demchuk) will greet the Mille by waving paper Italian flags and shouting “Benvenuto” – or something similar. The first day of the drive will end in Healdsburg.
On Tuesday, April 25, the Mille will drive to Cloverdale, Lakeport, Boonville, Elk and north, logging 191 miles before spending the night in Little River.
The California Mille will depart at 8:00 a.m. on April 26 for Fort Bragg, Westport, the stunning “Lost Coast,” Petrolia, and Ferndale. Day 3 will end with an overnight in Mendocino.
The final day of the legendary drive will take the Mille to Point Arena, Gualala, Jenner, Tomales, Nicasio, Petaluma, and complete the tour in Calistoga with an awards dinner and closing ceremonies.”