When you’ve built as many cars as John Curtis of Aurora, Colorodo, has over the past 20 or so years, you tend to want something different for the next one. John found his ’26 Buick roadster on the local Craigslist three years ago. It was nearly complete, had most everything except the headlights and the rear fenders but best of all, it came with a clear title and documents dating back to 1934 from a small town called New England, North Dakota.
Add to that sometime in the distant past, John had acquired a 1962 Buick 401ci Nailhead engine from a ‘54 Ford hot rod truck that went to an all-Ford build so the Buick body would be the perfect resting place for the engine. After hauling the body home, he started the build with assorted pieces consisting of a bare frame and odd-make sheet metal body parts. First the frame was boxed most the way through after he shortened it 6 inches to achieve a wheel base of 104 inches.
Once the frame was boxed, he fabricated the rear suspension using a stainless triangulated four-link, mated to a ‘57 Ford 3:73 geared, 28 spline, 9-inch axle with QA1 coil-over shocks. Moving to the front, the axle is from a ‘39 Ford coupe, mostly, but with a slight two-inch drop to it and splitting the bones. The mounting points have been moved one inch forward on the frame for fender alignment. The old lockhead drum brakes are from the same ‘39 Ford although John plans to add disc brakes in the near future to get better stopping power.
The engine, complete with a single Edelbrock 600 carburetor, was then mounted in the frame and a Bendtsen’s adapter was used to hang a World Class 1989 Camaro 5-speed. To make it all work, he used the hydraulics and swing pedal system from the same Camaro. John built the headers for the engine and ran the exhaust under the car.
The bodies of most early GM cars are wood structured and there was literally none left in this one so John had to fabricate steel supports throughout while shortening the body six inches behind the doors. With that accomplished, John mounted the body and built the dash to mimic the original design and added aftermarket Omega gauges. He also hand-built a grille to fit inside the stock Buick shell. The headlights were part of the odd-make assorted parts he had accumulated and are from a 1920’s Cadillac. The rear fenders were off a 1930’s Ford truck to which he added ‘50 Ford tail lights.
The car is wired throughout with a color coded EZ Wire harness and the steering column is just a simple shaft from Speedway mounted to a Vega box and cross steered. The steering wheel is from an old Anglia gasser and the bench seat was a trade item from a metal scrapper’s pickup. The windshield frame posts have been chopped three inches, and the visor over the windshield is original to the car.
The top bows are owner -fabricated covered with painter’s canvas cloth top material at this time – kinda like a bikini top to keep the rain off but black canvas will be the final material. Most of the interior panels at this time are black plastic upholstery board. The seat is out of a Chrysler mini-van and fits perfectly.
Future plans will be to finish the upholstery with a medium grey vinyl and cloth. Charcoal carpet will cover the floor and help to deaden the road noise a little from underneath. The top will be finished in German three layered Mercedes canvas. The color of the lower portion of the car is a Micro Metallic Charcoal Grey single stage paint (owner applied), with the upper portion of the body a slightly lighter Grey Micro Metallic that John made up by mixing the Silver and Charcoal colors.
John mentioned he rarely keeps his builds, but this roadster has really struck a nerve with him and for all good intentions, won’t be sold anytime soon. He reports initial drives get a lot of thumbs up and the car handles well. He also said, “I guess I’ll have to work on someone else’s car to satisfy my fabrication needs.” John mentioned he has “…some ‘24 Dodge roadster parts. Am I crazy to even think about a hot rod like this? I think I am gonna be a mad scientist in my next career. Whoohooohaha”
What do you think of John’s Buick – did he improve a classic? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.