This week’s Custom Cruise Friday feature car was originally purchased at the South Park Motors dealership within the first year of opening its doors and resold there as a collector car decades later. As President of the Edmonton Antique Car Club, current owner Bert Hoogewoonink knows a thing or two about this topic and it definitely shows in this 1954 Buick Special.
Bert researched into the history of his classic cruiser and discovered it was produced in Oshawa, ON on May 5, 1954. It was shipped to Edmonton on May 7, 1954 where shortly after it was purchased by an Edmonton school teacher by the name of Kay. She owned the vehicle until 1989 when it was sold to Helmut who spent the next two years restoring the car. It was re-painted and re-chromed in 1990, he had the interior re-done in 1991 including the carpet and upholstery, and had the engine fully serviced and detailed so it was mechanically sound. Helmut owned it for about 10 years before he sold it to a gentleman named Gerald in March 1998. For whatever reason, Gerald didn’t fancy the car for long, and took it back to South Park to trade it in for a brand new Cadillac in the fall of 1998.
South Park personnel decided it would be an interesting vehicle to display in their showroom during the winter months. However, they were fairly eager to sell it after discovering the car leaked fluids onto their shiny floor. So when they placed a small image of the 1954 Buick within a full page ad with their other cars, Bert took notice. He was in the market for an antique car; something in the 50s and not specific to any make. So that weekend Bert and his wife Elaine went to Strathcona for some antique shopping. While Elaine spent a total of $50 at the Antique Mall, Bert went over to South Park and spent a bit more on his own antique. Bert spent that day from noon until after the dealership closed to negotiate a price. Advertised for $7,500, Bert got the car for 2/3 of the price.
The first year and a half of owning it was problematic as the car had a bad habit of stalling randomly. It got so bad that Elaine refused to ride in it which is when Bert took it in to have it checked out. He took it to Ed’s Automotive, previously in the Old Strathcona neighborhood, and gave Edwin permission to keep the car until the problem was found. Eventually it was solved – while it had brand new spark wires on the distributor, the main lead wire was broken inside the insulator. So at certain points of vibration and heat, it would separate the wire enough that it wouldn’t send any spark and the car would stall. As the car cooled down, the wire would reconnect and away it goes! It was fixed right away and for the next 17 years, the car has been problem free.
The car now only needs normal maintenance and oil changes, and it got new tires once the old ones wore down. Out of all the collector cars Bert has owned over the years, his 1954 Buick Special has been one of the most trouble-free. Bert and Elaine love taking it out to shows and look forward to the few trips they make on the highway each year. The car rides like a charm and has a nasty habit of riding over 70 miles per hour on the highway. It’s always a challenge to keep it down between 60-65 miles per hour and if you don’t pay attention it slowly creeps up to just around 75 miles per hour where you can easily drive there all day.
When Bert purchased the car it had about 52,000 miles (original) on it and just this June, it flipped over to 80,000 miles. Bert and Elaine like to name all their cars and they decided to name the 1954 Buick Special Veronica, Betty for short. While he wasn’t originally looking for a Buick specifically, he’s very happy it turned out to be one as he believes they are one of the nicest cars of that era. While other antique cars have come and gone, Betty has and will continue to stay with the family.
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