Turbo Buicks Visit Bates Nut Farm In Southern California

If you’re on the East Coast or in the Midwest, the above title might sound a little strange to you. But if you’re from Southern California, then you’re more than likely familiar with Bates Nut Farm – and the events that they have throughout the summer. It’s open all year round, and hosts everything from high school class reunions, hay rides, and our personal favorite – car shows!

Local area Grand Nationals and T-Types were well represented at the ‘Buicks at Bates’ car show on June 2nd, 2013.

On June 2nd, 2013, some of the area’s most committed Turbo Buick enthusiasts assembled at Bates Nut Farm for the ‘Buicks at Bates’ car show. Mike Barnard, (aka “SpoolFool” on TurboBuick.com) is a Buick GN owner, an avid enthusiast, and now a manufacturer of custom, fiberglass bumper fillers  – exclusively designed for the ’81-87 Buick Regal.

Barnard’s so passionate about Buicks, that he not only decided to start his own company dedicated to these cars, but to bring back an event from the old days of the Turbo Buick hobby when Grand Nationals and T-Types were much more abundant and popular among the masses.

These are just some of the excellent components that were donated to the raffle by leading Buick-specific parts suppliers, including a few quarts of 'high zinc' Lucas Oil - which is perfect for classic musclecars that feature flat-tappet camshafts like the Turbo V6 (LC2) found in the Buick GN (bottom left). The 18 year-old bottle of Macallan was donated by 'Turbo Lou' Czarnota, and would come in handy pretty much to anyone after working on a Turbo Buick.

Not hosted by any of the large regional clubs or organizations, like the BPG or the GSCA, the ‘Buicks at Bates’ event was the brainchild of just Barnard and a few area enthusiasts – some coming as far as Nevada and Arizona just to enjoy the one-day event for several hours. But that’s not to say that the show didn’t have its fair share of highly respected supporters.

Contributing to the show’s raffle were some of the biggest names in the Turbo Buick hobby, including; TurboLouAlky ControlKirban PerformanceHighway StarsTA PerformanceRJC RacingALRADCOGBodyParts.com, HRpartsNStuff, GNS Performance, TurboBuick.com, and of course, Spoolfool Productions, and Nick Micale of Arizona GN.com – who was personally on hand to help pass out the raffle prizes. 

Event attendees scooped up as many raffle tickets as they could, while other enthusiasts talked shop, polished their rides, and checked their oil. Even the 'World's Most Interesting Man' turned up to admire the cars in in attendance. As he tells us, 'I don't always drive my Buick, but when I do, I do it without my arms and while wearing my Spoolfool T-shirt.' Interesting, indeed.

We’re not talking about flyers, bumper stickers, and refrigerator magnets in terms of prizes, either. Since these guys work and play hard, they don’t mess around when it comes to helping each other out. 

For those that attended, they had the opportunity to see the ‘Potential GN Project Car’ in person. Hopefully, it will be slightly more impressive next year.

They really surprised everyone, including us, collectively giving away Buick body components, interior trim pieces, performance upgrades, gift certificates, collectibles, detailing products, and even a killer set of GN replica wheels cast in clear-coated aluminum. They were so sweet, we seriously wanted them for ourselves!

All a show-goer had to do was purchase a few raffle tickets for $1 a piece for a chance to take these incredible prizes home – we tried.

When we first heard about this event through the TurboBuick.com forums, we were more than happy to ride out to Bates in Valley Center, California, bringing our own in-house “potential Buick GN project” with us and covering the show. As Buick enthusiasts ourselves, why wouldn’t we?

Look closely, this isn't the factory '86-87 GN wheel, but rather, an aluminum replica from GbodyParts.com. The wheel no longer utilizes a removable center cap, as it is manufactured together all in one piece. They're available in the factory 15x7 or in a slightly-widened 15x8-inch version. One lucky Buick owner later walked away with the complete set in the raffle.

Alex Ceja’s ’87 T was immaculate; featuring 700 horsepower, upgraded suspension, wheels, tires, and brakes – all for a pro-touring theme. It’s a look that features both form and function, and it’s seriously what we’ve been planning for our own Buick project. Keep an eye out for a full feature on Ceja’s Buick in the near future.

While our own Buick has yet to be given the official green light, much less a catchy nickname, we went in hopes of collecting a few new ideas and meeting with some of the biggest names in the hobby face to face.

Hey, if we want to get the support we need from the Turbo Buick community, it’s probably a good idea to show our readers in person what we’re working with, right?

A handful of classic Buicks turned up to the event as well, including these three very unique '71 GSs and the '64 Skylark pictured above.

And get ideas for our car we did, as we encountered pretty much every possible combination available in a Turbo Buick street application; road racing, autocross, and street/strip in particular is pretty much what this set was all about. Sure, there might have been a few “beauty queens” in attendance, but we’re certain that any one of them would surprise the owners of today’s hottest pony cars. 

Despite the fact that we were having a mechanical issue with our car on that day, that didn’t keep any of the attendees from walking over, checking out the car, and lending a hand to help diagnose our GN’s technicalities. Even Nick Micale and crew offered their suggestions, while others who were readers of the magazine gave us a few ideas what they would like to see in the project. 

Typically referred to as 'boxy and square' by some of the most cynical critics, to enthusiasts, it's all about the tiny details that make these cars stand out.

One part about this event that we especially liked, was that there was no judging – literally or socially. Boosted Regals from ’86 and ’87 were well represented, and while there were definitely those that were in pristine, show-winning condition, there were many others that have seen better days in terms of cosmetics. 

That was OK, though, because this event was about bringing enthusiasts together, and the hosts of the show were just happy to have the cars turn up – running and driving, like they should be. We were surprised, however, to see that no “before black” carbureted or “hot air” EFI ’84-85 cars turned up.

Here are just a few of the personalized plates that we spotted at the show. Take these as proof that the car's owners aren't scared of a challenge or two.

Altogether, the event brought a total of forty-one Turbo Regals, four classic Buick musclecars (three ’71 GSs, and a ’64 Skylark), and even a C6 ZR1 – that was packing a little bit more than the factory 638 hp, thanks to ‘Turbo Lou’ Czarnota.

Less than fifty cars might not sound all that impressive to those used to showing up to all-Mopar or Mustang shows, but for a get-together that was primarily billed as a Turbo Buick-only event, it was quite impressive.

Nick Micale of Arizona GN browses through the car show, while 'Turbo Lou' Czarnota has a hard time explaining to Chris Atkins as to why he hasn't crashed any of his cars. Mike Bernard MCs the raffle giveaway, while Eric Brown assists with pulling the tickets and Nick Micale looking on. On the bottom right, Rod, the 20-year owner of GNX No. 034 poses next to his car.

But even the ones that might have been the most beautiful examples in the world, were still built into some of the fastest street cars around, and that’s what  keeps the legacy of a Turbo Buick everlasting, not a bunch of 1st Place show trophies.

After the event was over, and Barnard was given a couple of days to gather his thoughts, we gave him a ring on the phone to provide us with any additional information that he could. As he tells us, the event was a success, and there are already new sponsors signing up for next year’s event. The show for 2014 is already locked in place (June, 1st), and we have a sneaky suspicion that it will be even bigger and better than this one! See you next year!

Rod with the GNX watches the raffle, while a group of Turbo Buicks cool their turbos in the shade. One GN seem to have borrowed a set of Hurst Lightning Rod shifters from an '83-84 Olds H/O.

About the author

Rick Seitz

Being into cars at a very early age, Rick has always preferred GM performance cars, and today's LS series engines just sealed the deal. When he's not busy running errands around town in his CTS-V, you can find him in the garage wrenching on his WS6 Trans Am, or at the local cruise spots in his Grand National.
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