Roy Abendroth's 1955 Buick Century - The Busonic
Roy bought the brand-new Buick for 3300 dollars in 1956. He had just come out of high school, and it didn't take a long time before he had given the Century a mild makeover. "We tunneled it," he told Sondre Kvipt in 2020. "We lifted the floorboards up where the driveshaft goes and C-framed it. We cut the rear frame up and used heavy metal, so when you drop down, the axle doesn't bang the frame." Roy did all that work himself. The car was black when he got it, and the father of the girl he was dating at the time, John W. Schott, helped give it a scallop paint job. This iteration of the car hit the streets around 1958.
In 1959, when Roy was 22 years old, he decided to go radical with the Buick. During the rebuild, the stock rear fenders were removed and replaced with 1957 Lincoln fenders that had scoops fabricated at the front. In the rear, the fenders were reformed to house triple high-mounted exhausts. Also, in the rear, two complete 1956 Cadillac bumpers were purchased for rear guards. Each side had two outer tips with a 3-inch section added between them, holding three 1959 Cadillac taillights. The fenders were shaped to fit, and as with all other parts, rubber gaskets were made up to seal the fit between the body and the special components. The decklid was tapered in two inches at the rear and new sills were formed to fit. A bellypan in the rear necessitated raising the gas tank 6 1/2 inches and putting in a new rear floor. The license plate holder and nerf bar was mounted directly to the frame through the pan. The mesh was hand-made. All the door corners were rounded. Up front, the hood was cut off and sectioned 4 inches. The new grille opening and the canted quad headlight tunnels were formed using tubing. The front nerf bars matched the design theme of the rear license bracket.
Hydraulic Lifts by the Aguirres
Once Roy and Schott had completed the bodywork, Roy took the car to Larry Watson for a sparkling Metalflake paint job. Roy told Watson that he was interested in something different for the car. Watson, who had also painted Ron Aguirre's X-Sonic, told Roy about the lifts Ron had installed on his Corvette to adjust the ride height by the touch of a button. That was something brand new that caught Roy's interest, so he approached Aguirre about having him install lifts on his Buick as well. Ron accepted the offer, and Roy drove the car up to Fontana to have him install lifts upfront. "I took it over to him after the bodywork had been finished, while it was still in primer." Afraid of damaging the paint during the operation, he figured out it was safer to install the lifts before paint. "Ron took it apart and put all the lifts in. From what I understand, the lifts were built from parts from an aircraft. Like a piper cup or something like that. Componentes that lifts the wheels in and out when it's flying." The lifts were installed around 1961, about a year before he first showed it, making Roy's Buick one of the earliest lifted cars we have come across. It was the second car Ron installed lifts on, and it might have been the third hydraulic lifted custom in the world. Roy believes Ron's dad did most of the work. He also believes that Ron and his dad didn't install lifts on any other cars after the Buick, but he can't confirm that. "I know that mine was the second one after the Vette, but I haven't heard that he did any others after mine." In 2020, Roy couldn't remember how much he paid for the lifts, but he told Sondre that it wasn't all that much at the time, "I don't think it was even 500 dollars. I doubt it was that much."
Copper Metalflake Paint by Larry Watson
After the lifts had been installed, the car was painted in Copper Metalflake by Larry Watson of Watson's House of Style. The wheels were Cadillac wires adapted with spacers. The interior of the car was upholstered by Paul's Custom Upholstery Shop. It featured a console, FM radio, record player, bucket seats and fur trim. Under the hood, all of the detail pieces of the engine were chromed. The build was completed in 1963, having a total cost of $8,000. USD.
Larry Watson resprayed the BuSonic green in late 1964. In 1968 the car went into storage. Jim Breazeale found the car and decided to restore it back to its 1963 incarnation. Jim had the Watson-applied spray replicated in modern candies, metallics and flake. The restored version was painted by Don Heckman. Jamie Stormes did the pinstriping. In June of 2008, the car was listed for sale; the asking price was 77,000 USD.
Around 2012 Alex Gambino of Gambino Kustoms bought the car with a friend. It was a trailer queen when he got it, and in 2019 he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that "it has never been driven on the street its whole life. I'm the only person that ever drove it. Back in the day, the rumor was that the 3rd and 4th gear linkages weren't connected, so no one could drive it." Gambino drove it twice about 4 miles for a photo shoot. Except for that, it gas just been driven on and off trailers. The car is currently up for sale, so get in touch with Alex Gambino if you want to become the BuSonic's new caretaker. Alex can be reached at email@example.com or 408-561-5744.
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