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 It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!

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JoeT

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PostSubject: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:24 pm

I've never dreamt I could find one of these, but it was offered up on the station wagon forum.

Now that the car has safely made it back to Michigan, I think I can safely start the project thread for the Caballero.

As you may know, this car was offered on the SW forum: http://www.stationwagonforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31784

Bill (moparandfomoco) offered it up and I was lucky enough to be the first to respond.

I flew out to Albuquerque and spent a fun 4 days with Bill and his son, Anthony. As soon as I got a look at the car, I knew I would take it, so we got it ready for a short trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, where it would be easier to coordinate the transport arrangements.

I arrived late on a Thursday night and we went to see the car on Friday morning. This is how it looked:


Bill and Anthony  helped get the car up on jackstands and I got underneath to see what needed to be done to hold the rear axle in position. This car has a "torque-tube" drive train; without the transmission in place to hold the front of the torque tube, the rear axle is free to float around.

Here's Bill, clearing out the vegetation and making sure there are no critters under the car:


I was happy to discover that the front of the torque tube was already chained to the frame, so all we needed to do was tie down the rear axle.
We pumped up the rear tires and headed off to Harbor Freight for some ratchet tie-downs and tarps to wrap the loose parts.

you can see in this photo that the rear axle was sitting too far forward in the frame; the tire was hitting the front edge of the wheel opening:


We got the axle into position using 4 tie-downs (2 pulling forward, 2 pulling rearward) and re-checked the tires. The rears were leaking badly, so we pulled the wheels and went in search of a tire service shop to install inner tubes. Chihuahua Tire & Auto Repair to the rescue!



After lunch at BackRoad Pizza (Bill knew it was a good "Triple-D" recommendation!), we put the rear wheels on and got it rolling!

Bill, Anthony and I managed to push the car from the back of the yard up to the end of the gravel driveway, where it sat next to the home-owner's Buicks:



The muscle-men celebrate our little victory:


We left it at the end of the driveway. Bill had found a local tow company to pick the car up the next day and move it near his house for the cross-country pick-up.

It was about 98F by the time we headed back toward Albuquerque. Yeah, it's a dry heat, but it still felt hot!

Next morning, we pushed the car a little further up the driveway so the roll-back could easily got to it. Loading was uneventful and we set off for Albuquerque.



The truck needed fuel, so we stopped at the first available spot. The car drew quite a crowd!

Bill had arranged to leave the car at a friend's home. I truly lucked out on this deal; Bill, his wife Ruselle and their son, Anthony were SUPER hosts. We had some fun looking through the neighborhoods for old cars and trucks; they are everywhere out there!

The day after we moved the car to Albuquerque, I got to the car early and started prepping it for shipment. There was a lot of dust, sand, parts and junk in the car. Bill, Anthony and Anthony's friends helped wrap up the bumpers and get everything back into the car. By mid-day, it was ready for pick-up:





Here's the whole team of helpers.
From left to right; Bill (moparandfomoco), Anthony, Greg, Chris and Marilyn (their Mother), who is holding a copy of "Automobile" magazine with a picture of a 58 Caballero on the cover).

I can't thank Bill and Anthony enough for their help and hospitality. God Bless them!



I flew home to Michigan and Bill met the transport company at the car a week later. Here it is as it arrived in Michigan:



My intention was to disassemble the car and restore it, but I have been talking to a lot of people about restoration vs. preservation.

I haven't made up my mind yet, but I am leaning towards getting it roadworthy and preserving it.

I'll post more in a few days when we get back from visiting our daughters in Minnesota and Illinois.

More to come!
.
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:05 pm

Very Cool!
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buickestate
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:18 pm

nice find Very Happy 
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phantom 309

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:09 am

how nice it must be to be able to have the time and resources to undertake such a neat project,..
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:16 am

That is one cool wagon.... Jeff
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:03 am

You can't help but smile. Great unusual and rare car and once running will be a real head turner. Thanks for saving this!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:35 am

So Cool!
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lakeffect
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:59 am

I ca't imagine what the cost of re-chroming that beast will run!


Last edited by lakeffect on Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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81X11

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:42 am

Really glad that car was saved and that you got it! I watched the story unfold on the Station Wagon forum. Can't believe the car nearly went for salvage. Really a neat one!

Will enjoy watching this thread! Keep it coming!

-Mike
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Andebe

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:06 pm

Wow,what a find...good luck with the project.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:29 pm

Got to love the south west weather for preserving these old cars.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:30 am

Best of luck Joe,where are you going to park the GTO?
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JoeT

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:42 am

I've got access to storage space for the winter, so I'm planning to put the GTO away and keep the Caballero at the house.


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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:54 am

I too followed that thread over at the SW forum. Awesome car that deserves another chance. Best of luck with it!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:13 pm

I assume all the rear side glass is broken, not removed? If you can't find it, I was at Good-guys Columbus last month, and there is a company that will make clear glass quality plastic windows for any application. They showed pictures of several top customs and hot rods they had recently done, and you could not tell it was plastic. They also had a sample windshield, and until you knocked on it, you could not tell it was plastic. I imagine it is not cheap, but if you can't find the glass, at least you have an alternative. I don't know the name of the company, but I'm sure a little looking on the web will find it. Congrats on what I think it the coolest wagon ever made. And, a dry southwest one to boot! You are one lucky guy!!
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PostSubject: progress report: 12/4/2014   Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:19 am

And so it begins....December 4, 2014 update

Borrowed a friend's truck & trailer and brought the Caballero home last week.


First order of business: release the stuck tailgate latches.
It took a while, but I finally convinced the latches to release. Now, I need to get more PB Blaster into the hinges so I can free up the tailgate.





I removed the roof rail moldings and seals, as well as much of the rear compartment trim. Lots more to do in that area!

So far, no rust or corrosion in any of the window channels; it's all just very dusty!



Once that was done, I started to remove the front end sheet metal.
I started by measuring the gaps at all the fender/hood/door interfaces and setting the door/fender/hood positions where they need to be.


Then I drilled alignment holes in the fender and hood mounting brackets so I can more easily - and accurately - position the sheet metal during re-assembly. You can see the small finishing nail (locator) in this fender mounting bracket photo:



Then I started removing the attaching bolts. There must be about 100 bolts holding all this front end sheet metal together!

Got the fenders off, then the grill.






Then pulled the fan shroud & radiator.


I can't believe how good the metal looks under all that dust!

Neat design; the whole ‌inner front sheet metal assembly can be removed in one piece.
I was surprised to learn that this entire sub-assembly is held on to the frame by only 5 bolts!:




After that was moved aside, I finished removing the hood and got some assistance from my wife to move the hood to the open area in the garage.


I was ready to quit at this point, but HAD to see what was under that dusty old carburetor...



The throttle plates were all tightly closed and covered with more of the desert dust and crud that is all over the frame and underbody.


I was pleasantly surprised; the underside of the throttle body was clean and the throttle shafts feel snug.


Just for giggles, I tested the starter switch...IT WORKS! The switch contacts close at about 20 degrees of throttle opening.
I think I can make that work when I get this baby back together!

Next step: borrow and engine crane/cherry picker and pull the engine. Can't wait to see what I find under all that dust and dirt!
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Big Wagon Guy

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PostSubject: Awesome   Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:15 am

Don't know how I missed this thread. Love the car and the adventure. Can't wait to see it finished. I assume its heading down the restoration path? What colors are you going with?
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:10 pm

Off to a great start,love the pictures.
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JoeT

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:41 pm

Big Wagon Guy wrote:
Don't know how I missed this thread. Love the car and the adventure. Can't wait to see it finished. I assume its heading down the restoration path? What colors are you going with?

Yes, I am planning to restore it.

It was a difficult decision; I was tempted to just do the minimum to make it a safe driver, but it is such a rare and neat car, I decided to bring it all the way back. I also plan to add a dual master cylinder, power brakes and (probably) A/C.

The car was originally "Garnet Red", which was kind of a metallic cinnamon color. There is a rusty area on the hood where the seat was sitting on top of the car, but the what you're seeing on the rest of the body is not rust; it is the original, faded paint.

This Century is the original color (except my wagon was all one color):



I like the original color, but I am seriously thinking of painting it white/turquoise/white with a matching two-tone interior, like this:



I usually don't change colors on any car I restore, but that turquoise/white just screams "1958" to me and I think it shows off all the stainless and chrome better than the original color. I don't know which way to go, but I have at least a year of work before I have to make the paint and interior color decisions.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:45 pm

Mark 96 Roady wrote:
I assume all the rear side glass is broken, not removed? If you can't find it, I was at Good-guys Columbus last month, and there is a company that will make clear glass quality plastic windows for any application. They showed pictures of several top customs and hot rods they had recently done, and you could not tell it was plastic. They also had a sample windshield, and until you knocked on it, you could not tell it was plastic. I imagine it is not cheap, but if you can't find the glass, at least you have an alternative. I don't know the name of the company, but I'm sure a little looking on the web will find it. Congrats on what I think it the coolest wagon ever made. And, a dry southwest one to boot! You are one lucky guy!!

Mark,
Thanks for the suggestion!
I can get a new windshield and all the door/vent/window glass is flat glass, so I can order new glass for those missing parts.
The only piece of glass that is not available is the liftgate glass, but mine is in great shape.

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:51 pm

stick with the stock color! its different and i like it!

Really cool project!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:18 am

2 for stock color.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:43 am

benn wrote:
stick with the stock color! its different and i like it!

Really cool project!

Wagoninabox wrote:
2 for stock color.  

If I stick with the original color, I would probably go with a two-tone like this (Jim Culp image):

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:45 am

Yes.

That is gorgeous.

Do that.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:13 am

Nailed it!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:41 pm

Ding ding ding,we have a winner!Its ultimately your choice Joe but PLEASE dont paint it bright orange!LOL
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JoeT

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:42 pm

That last one DOES look pretty sweet. hmmmmm.......
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 08, 2014 12:42 am

Coulda had two more feet of cargo space if it went to the end of the wings!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:32 am

It is truly hard to believe that Buick made a car that cool in 1958. It's even harder to believe that it survived in the dry southwest, and is now in safe hands. Best of luck in your restoration. No matter what color you choose you will have a spectacular car when you are done.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:24 pm

December 13, 2014 update

I was able to remove all the trim and the headlight buckets from the fenders. I can't believe how solid the metal is on this car!
On both fenders, all the mounting tabs and holes for trim clips are in great condition, except where someone apparently ripped the "bull's-eye" emblem out of the fender!


So far, the only rust I've found is in the doglegs at the rear of the rear doors. There are a couple of pinholes in the passenger side rear floor pan where there was a pile of leaves and junk laying on the floor, but otherwise it all looks excellent.

The die-cast headlight housings and the eyebrows are almost perfect!


The headlight buckets are a little rough on the back side, but they look like new inside!

Once all the front end sheet metal was out to the way, I borrowed a friend's engine lift to pull the nailhead.

After a couple of false starts due to some air in the hydraulic cylinder, I was able to begin lifting. This engine is no lightweight!




I thought I had disconnected everything, but I missed one of the transmission shift linkage brackets. Luckily, I caught it before destroying the pivot bracket.


Engine out and on its way to the open garage bay.

Had a VERY scary moment when the engine swayed "downhill" and the whole shebang started to go over. I was able to control it and keep everything from tipping over, but now my back is a little angry at me.
Sorry; no pics. I had my hands full at the time!

I have an old welding cart that worked perfectly as a "nest" for the engine. I left the lift connected so nothing can tip or roll while I proceeded with a preliminary inspection.

I pulled the rocker covers and didn't see any obvious valve train problems. There is a little condensation visible, but that's the only issue I see.


The crossover manifold came off easily, but the water pump is being obstinate. One bolt won't budge; I'm going to let the PB Blaster soak for a day or two before I try again.


When the engine was still in the car, I had tried to roll it over and I couldn't get it to move more than a few degrees. I had not removed the spark plugs yet, so I was hoping it would move freely after I got the plugs out...

After pulling the plugs, I poured a few ounces of MMM in each cylinder.

After a few hours, I tried to turn the crank but it still won't move more than about 10 degrees. I was hoping it would be free, but no such luck.

I'll try moving it again in a couple of days, but it looks like I need to have a pro go through the engine. Only thing I've ever built was a stock 283 for my 1957 Corvette, back in about 1981. Not sure I want to tackle this one...


Back to the chassis; I removed the Y pipe; it is very heavy and it looks like the original Buick part! I hope to find the stamped part number after it's been cleaned up.


Now that the engine is out, I'll let it sit for a few days before trying to move the crank again.

In the meantime, I will start working on the tailgate hinges; they are stuck solid.
Probably won't have much more to report until January.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:59 pm

Following.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:20 am

Cant believe someone was going to junk this beautiful old girl,thanks for saving her Joe.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:44 am

Thanks Jim.
It's going to take me a long time, but I think it will be worth the effort.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:16 am

Going to be worth a LOT of money when you are done with it.I saw a similiar wagon on one of the big auction sites go for almost 6 figures.I think it was on the show "Chasing Classic Cars" with Wayne Carrini.You are lucky its so complete with all that stainless trim.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 2:44 am

I have 2 rust free southern cars, and it always amazes me when a nut comes off a bolt without drama. My cars are only 21 and 18 years old, and yours is close to 60 years old! You truly must have done something right in a former life to score such an amazingly cool old RUST FREE car!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:24 am

Yes, I am blessed.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:05 pm

Wow, I've been busy on a bathroom remodel and just reading this now, nice score of a rare one.

Love 50s wagons, from the tin woody up to the 59s..... will follow with great interest.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:10 pm

This is the coolest wagon of the 50's, right up there with the 55-7 Pontiac Safari's. This should be a 364 Nailhead right?
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:20 pm

Yes; it is a 364.
Engine is original to the car; Buick stamped VIN on the blocks.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:01 pm

Just now reading through this thread. Great find and looks like a fun project, thanks for sharing the progress!
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JoeT

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PostSubject: Happy New Year! First 2015 update   Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:58 pm

Update 2015.01.05

I have made some progress recently...

I pulled the intake manifold and the valley pan; everything looked very good.
No stuck valves, all lifters looked clean and appeared to move smoothly, but I could only get about 90 degrees of rotation on the crank before it came to a hard stop.






I used a borescope to look into the cylinders, but I could not get a good look at the combustion chambers and cylinder walls.
I figured I had to tear it down further anyway, so I pulled the heads.



The obstruction was rust in the #8 cylinder.



A few minutes with some Marvel Mystery Oil and a soft wire brush and the engine was spinning smoothly.



Next step is to get it to a professional for cleaning/magnaflux and re-fresh.
It doesn't look like it needs to be bored, but I won't know for certain until it's cleaned and measured.


Picked up a parts car just before Christmas. It has a lot of stuff that I need, and some stuff I wanted.
It had a split folding rear seat; the only one I've ever seen; pretty cool!




Started cleaning and prepping the grille inserts. I haven't decided if I can live with the original chrome or if they need to be re-plated.
There is a little bit of pitting and some "desert sand-blast" spots on the faces of the grille diamonds.





Hubcaps off the parts car look very nice when they're cleaned up. Still need some TLC/polishing, but I'm going to be able to use them.





I took the opportunity to try out my recently-acquired ultrasonic cleaner.
Here's the carb as it was being disassembled:





Into the tank:




After 25 minutes in hot water & Pine Sol:





On the third batch of parts, the cleaning solution was less effective, but I'm very happy with how it worked.
The internal passages are clear and I only need to do a little "touch-up" where the varnish was thickest in the bottom of the float bowls.

More soon!
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:13 am

looks fun! congrats...just found this thread
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:18 am

Great build, keep the pictures coming
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:20 am

Really enjoying this thread! Love that car, such a good save!

-Mike
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:24 am

Thanks for sharing the pics.
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stewzer55

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:34 pm

Carter AFB?
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:20 am

Thought it would be done by now considering how fast the GTO restoration went.With the money these wagons are bringing completely restored just rechrome everything that's not perfect!Are you going to go with the original colors?
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JoeT

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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:18 am

Haven't been around much lately....

stewzer55: Yes; AFB

Flasheroo: This one's going to take a lot longer than the GTO.
I'm planning to pull the body off this spring. I figure I've got 3 years of work ahead of me...
And yes, there is a TON of stainless and chrome to be done!!!

Hope to post an update in a few weeks. Too much going on to touch the car right now.
We were gone for much of the winter and now we are helping out with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson's relocation from Illinois back to Michigan (YAY!) so there is no garage time these days.
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buickestate
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:45 pm

Joe has also been busy being a good Son, doing some home improvements in her home. He has been very busy so far this year I have seen this 58 in person, it's impressive and in good hands.
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PostSubject: September 2015 update.   Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:28 pm

My, how time flies....

Wow...summer's essentially over and it's almost embarassing to admit how little I have accomplished on the Caballero.

Inspection of the engine revealed corrosion that was too deep to clean up with a hone, so it needed to be bored .030".
The heads checked out great.







Engine assembly will begin soon (September).

Re-built starter and generator



All engine brackets and tin parts (air cleaner, rocker covers, heat shields, etc) were bead blasted and prepped for paint.
The air cleaner base will require some additional work to repair some rust pitting and pinholes.

The oil pan drain plug area also required some repair due to a significant dent just ahead of the drain plug.

I removed the fuel tank and got a very unpleasant surprise.


Apparently, someone tried to tow the car when the transmission had been removed. That let the rear axle basically stay at rest until the front of the gas tank crashed into the differential case. At that point, the gas tank became the push bar for the body and the forces were sufficient to put a nice imprint of the differential into the front of the gas tank.

I haven't cut it open yet, but the plan is to cut two large windows in the top of the tank so the damage can be worked out from above/inside the tank.

The dash has been removed and the steering column comes next.


Speedometer needs to be rebuilt. Cool piece; it shows a travelling red band in the slot to indicate vehicle speed.

I bumped out the dents and creases in the front fenders and they are at the media blaster to be blasted and primed.

Had to drill out all the spot welds an remove the front fender reinforcements due to corrosion below the headlights. I've seen much worse, but I was hoping this would not be this bad.




All the front end sheet metal (core support, fender liners, fan shroud, etc) was disassembled, media blasted and powder coated satin black.
Looks great!






The radio was refurbished by Kim Kusluski in Grand Blanc, MI. Works great!

More soon.
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PostSubject: Re: It's a Buick, but it's not something you see very often. Caballero!    

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