Lee Arnold knew he wanted this 1965 Buick Special Convertible from when he was a child. When his dad was ready to sell it, he asked him to keep the 1965 Buick Special Convertible, so He could have it. See what Lee has done to it and some of the stories that went along with it below.
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What type of vehicle is this?
Make, Model, Year of Project
Buick Special convertible 1965
What stage is this in?
When did you purchase it and for how much?
My dad bought it from a buddy who had a used car lot in Middletown, NY around 1973-4, not sure what he paid for it, I would guess a few hundred bucks.
Why did you choose this vehicle?
Was my dads car.
I remember him driving it when I was a little guy, I’m now 53. I remember when I was 13 or so he was going to get rid of it, but I asked him to save it for me, so it sat on blocks in the garage, and when I was 16, I got a job and paid for my own insurance to get it on the road .
I remember changing the water pump, not knowing a single thing about cars.
What sort of condition was it in when you started the project, what was wrong with it, etc.
It has always been a great driving car to me.
When I was 21 and started making good money, probably around 1988, I had it repainted and a new interior put in. The guy I took it too did a c plus job.
I remember driving it home from Brooklyn, and stopping on the cross Bronx expressway because it felt funny, it turns out that the lug nuts were loose and one of the tires was ready to fall off.
What, specifically have you done, or had done to it?
I just got it back from a frame off restoration, with the exception of the trim and bumpers, the car looks brand new.
Can you list any and all parts that you have put in?
Everything is original/ stock, with the exception of disc brakes, a brake booster, and a new tubular suspension
Where have you purchased your parts?
Opg is a great source, as well as the Buick farm, and the Facebook group 64-65 Buick skylark/GS
What about you?
I am a wallpaper guy.
I always joke that I would rather go out and do a wallpaper job and hire a painter to paint my house, I wish I had more time to learn about engine and body work.
Any stories regarding this project?
What a long road it has been, lol…. my dad bought the car in the early seventies… I can still see him driving down a country road in Orange County NY with the top down, the am radio blasting, and the wind blowing…. at some point my dad has given the car to his brother, but he did not really care for it so much and my dad ended up with it again. When I was 13 or so I remember my dad saying hey was gone get rid of the car, but I begged him to save it for me… when I was 16 , I got my drivers license , a job, and saved up enough money for an insurance policy to get it on the road… I distinctly remember replacing the water pump.. I had not my a clue about cars, but I did it anyway… I used to get parts from the JC Whitney catalog , are they even still around lol…. there used to be a West Point parking permit sticker on the bumper.. I always imagined it belonging to a cadet who might have gone to Vietnam and never came back… anyway I drove it thru high school. At one point I had lost interest and gave it to my younger brother… he drove it for a year or 2 and I talked him into giving it back to me ….. I ended up joining the Paperhanger’s union im NY city and when I graduated to mechanic , I sent it out to a body shop in Brooklyn, where it was repainted , a new interior, and new top was installed … somewhere around 1987 or 88…. It was my daily driver for a good few years… I even drove it on my wedding day with my new bride. I also had the floor plans patched when it was in Brooklyn, you could see right down to the road….when I bought my first house , one of the conditions was that the car would fit in the garage, it’s a land yacht at almost 19’ long…after our kids were born , there was less and less time for it… little by little , it began to fall apart…. the floors boards rotted out , the door gave way, it was faded and scratched up… I still drove it as much as I could , always talki g about some day have it redone …. new top , paint , interior… the guy in Brooklyn just redid the seats and door panels with plain blue vinyl…. not at all what was original, so I always dreamed of getting it restored to showroom condition…. finally at one point , probably around 2009 or 2010, I had taken it to a body shop in Nyack NY, the owner gave it a good look over and told me that he thought it might be around 15 k to get it started , but he would not give me even a ballpark estimate of what the total cost would be to restore it, he wouldn’t know until he was able to take it completely apart and they there were probably many unseen problems that he would uncover …. I kind of stopped there for awhile while continuing to drive it , but less and less because of the kids( not blaming them , I have 5 wonderful children ) still wishing to some day have it restored… finally my wife said “ what are you waiting for , just do it…. so I brought it back to the guy in Nyack for another look…. he basically told me the same thing he had told me a year or 2 before, he would know until he had it apart and could see all that needed to be done. At the same time , I had just recently signed on to Facebook…. what a great way to connect with people for the past , school mates , family , etc. I had connected with my cousin, my dads brothers son, the same one who had the buick for awhile but ended up giving it back. When we were little kids , our families were very close.. we lived close to each other and spent a lot of time together….my parents had ended up moving from oerange county to rockland county , closer to the city… our families ended up drifting apart , for reasons I did not find out till years later as an adult … anyway I had not seen my cousins for years . We went to seeing them from all the time to a couple times a year to once every coupe years and then kind of lost touch…well it turns out my cousin ya a small shop and was doing custom bikes and classic restorations. He had already did me a 1932 roadster among other projects. I thought to myself what a perfect way to reconnect.. to have him redo the car … it was afte all his dads car at one point … so I contacted him about doing the car. I went up to his shop on Middletown and he had a bunch of cool old cars and bikes … he had a 70 or 71? Mustang fastback in the shop and had his sights on bringing it to barret Jackson… here was a 63 or 64 nova that he had just gotten , I remember him telling me the story of how this poor woman had been taken to the cleaners by another shop and that he was going to be the hero and save the day and restore this nova , that had meant so much to the family, who were ripped off by another shop… my cousin told me everything I wanted to hear … how he could get my buick back to showroom condition .. when I thank KSK him I had a budget of 20k , he told me no problem he could do it… perfect… I had someone I could trust to do my car… I told him I would come up and do some of the work myself… I was willing to learn and do what it would take to get the job done…. he jumped on the offer… he came down with one of his guys to pick up my car …that was april 2 , 2013…. I gave him a wad of hundreds to get started …. he showed up at my door and from the time I first made contact with him it was only a couple of weeks that went by and he scooped up my car and was off with my ride… he told me it might take a year or more …. I came up to the shop and saw what he was doing … he had the car Field stripped and on a rotisseriewithin a month…. surprise surprise .. it turns out that almost the entire under carriage was toast … the floor was as thin as foil with rust … the fire wall had holes all over it… the trunk pan was shot….. there was a lot of sheet metal that needed to be replaced…. I continued to feed him wads of hundreds … all cash … and all was good… and then suddenly the class would get less and less… I would ask him a question and sometimes not hear back from him.. I chalked it up to him being too busy… no problem…. I remember him commenting that if I were going to get in bed with him, it would be a wild ride… I had no idea at the time…. gradually progress slowed down… it would take 2 or 3 or 4 calls to get a response…. I would hear from him less and less….. a year had passed and the 18 months and then 2 years…. how was the car going ? The answer was always good , but I need more money…. at one point I had stopped hearing from him…. I had my dad call his brother to see if he could push things along…. when I did hear from him he would say a few more months .. a few more months…. I finally got my dad to set up a lunch with me, my dad, my uncle , and my cousin…. right before the lunch my cousin told me if I could only wait another 3 or 4 months he would have the car ready to go…. he balked at bringing me to the shop…. when I insisted after the lunch.. he zipped in, the guys in the shop looked like they had seen a ghost when he walked in …. my car was now sill on the rotisserie, but was packed away in a shed …. the frame , which had been sandblasted, painted , and a new tubular arm suspension installed , was outside with just a small tarp covering it…. because I didn’t really know what I was looking at , thought all was good and that he was a little behind , and he would get the ball rolling…. I heard is fathe me tell him, the guys wants his car back… get the show on the road …. my dad ended up getting sick.. he fell and broke a hip…my focus turned toward that as well as other stuff goi g on with my family…. by that time I had given him 20k in cash…. I remember telling him that I would love to be able to give my dad a ride in my restored car one day before it was too late… he promised me he would get the job done…. he called me up one day to say that the engine was not worth saving , he would need another 7500$ right away to purchase a new 350 crate engine.. I don’t know what. Was thinking but I wrote him a check … then things went south for my dad…. he ended up with a brain tumor and was sick … he ended up having a tumor the size of a small grapefruit removed from the base of his skull….. he survived the operation, but never came back, and ended up spending the next 3 months in the hospital and then passing … there were other tragedies in my life that distracted me from the buick….. when I finally made it back up to my cousins shop after my dad passed , my cousin was nowhere to be found … it turns out his guy who had come to pick up the buick 2 1/2 years before was his partner … and my cousin had not been in the shop in over a year…. it turns out that my cousin had taken all of the money I had given him amd gambled it away at a craps table… my cousins partner had received not one penny of the money I had given him…. my cousin had not paid the landlord any rent and was not welcome back on the property…. the poor lady whose husbands nova was in the shop had been taken by my cousin to the tune of over 50k…. worst of all when I saw my buick I couldn’t believe my eyes…. it had basically been rolled up into a ball and shoved into a trailer….. only the floor had been redone… the body was put back onto the frame, which at thy pwas my had been sitting outside for over a year , had already began to rust over again.. the body had been put back on so the owner of the shop could get it out of the way and work on his own cars… I couldn’t believe my eyes…. I remember braking down and crying….. how could my cousin do this to me ? I trusted him and he got me good
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