THE CAR AND ITS OWNER: 1954 Buick Special convertible owned by Richard Falciano
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: Boasting a signature waterfall grille, chrome side spears and "VentiPorts" on the front fenders, this convertible would have been the perfect car to cruise Long Island on a sunny July Fourth weekend in the 1950s. "With just the right amount of chrome, 'sweep-spear' side trim, aviation-themed dashboard and just a hint of tail fin, Buick created a beautifully balanced fifties classic," Falciano says of his ride. "It was the first year (for Buick) of the wraparound windshield and the Special got its own V-8 'nailhead' engine. It was the last year of the vertical bar grille and teardrop headlights."
Known at the factory as the model 46C, this Buick was part of an all-new 1954 lineup that helped the brand to stay among the top four makers in U.S. auto sales. Under the hood, its "Fireball" overhead valve engine put out up to 150 horsepower from 264 cubic inches, allowing the big ragtop to gobble up the highway miles with ease. Today, collectors are drawn to these Buicks and show-goers still gaze at them, taking in the advanced design features borrowed from General Motors concept cars of the period. It was no wonder that the company's advertising called these '54 models "the beautiful buy."
HOW LONG HE'S OWNED IT: Since 2012
WHERE HE FOUND IT: He bought it from a classic and sports car dealer in Connecticut.
CONDITION: "The car has only 14,000 miles on a beautiful, correct restoration that is still fresh," says Falciano. "The exterior is 1954 Buick 'Titian Red' with red interior and dealer-option chrome wire wheels. All brightwork, including bumpers front and rear, are re-chromed. The radio, which is original, plays loud and clear. The engine and transmission run strong and smooth. There do not seem to be many Special convertibles left. There are only 12 listed with the Buick Club of America." Just 6,135 such convertibles were made, even though the Special was considered Buick's high-volume, entry-level model.
TIPS FOR OWNERS: "Whether the car is an exotic or a 'plain-Jane' or a 'rust bucket,' find the car that takes you to that special place," Falciano advises.
VALUE: He has insured the Buick for $100,000. Hagerty, the classic car insurer, places a value of up to $88,500 on a pristine example. The original base price was $2,563.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "This is an often-used, go-anywhere car with a few safety upgrades," Falciano says. "It has halogen headlights, safety belts and radial tires. Another great upgrade is the disk brakes with a dual master cylinder, something that anyone who has ever lost their brakes can appreciate. Like most Buicks, it loves the open road and handles highway speed easily."