Friday, July 27, 2018

Another Day, Another Project Car: Introducing The DT SportWagon

We've had a few project cars featured on DT over the years, including in no particular order, a sweet Volvo 242 that is way better off in the hands of its new owner, der Schmetterling, zee Draken, an E34 M5, a Roadmaster wagon that is passed around DT staff like a case of the clap at Woodstock, and a C36 AMG that has gotten more love/attention than any C36 in the history of AMG benzes. What is next?  Well..lemme tell ya. Another DT internal B2B (bro-to-bro) transaction was transacted the other day, when Hunsbloger passed this 1965 Buick SportWagon over to yours truly, DT Editor-in-Chief Vince for a small wad of cash.

1965 was a good year for the automobile -- styling was still unencumbered by crash standards, pedestrian safety or insurance industry lobbying; technology was standardized to the point where each car didn't have its own unique driveshaft connection apparatus; and horsepower was not restricted by anything other than displacement.  Buick launched their A-body based station wagon in 1964 using the name "Sport Wagon"'ll see.

This car left the factory as a 1965 Buick Sportwagon (Model 44455)  (6-passenger, not 8) powered by a Wildcat 355...which was a 300 cid, V8, 4bbl 250Hp and 355 ft./lbs of torque. Buick got creative with nomenclature, and the 355 is a reference to torque values.

Options included: 4bbl Wildcat 355 V8, AM Radio, Auto Trans (2-speed), Power Steering, Tilt Steering, Power Brakes, Power Windows, Power Driver's seat and factory A/C.  This is one of the best equipped Sport wagons that you'll find around town.

The interior is in remarkable shape for the age and has probably been refreshed once or twice in the past 54 years of life.  Don't worry, the steering wheel isn't really pretzel shaped, it was just my twitchy panorama photo on the iponwed.

I really cannot stress how awesome the view is through those vista windows that the SportWagon shares with the corporate Vista Cruiser cousin.  The car does have some rust around the windows that needs addressing in the not too distant future, but all the glass is good and the power windows (all 5 of them) work like champs.

If you want any proof that is has a real Wildcat V8 under the hood, just check out the dead rat corpse I found where the windshield washer fluid reservoir should have been. Yeah, windshield washers on a 1965 automobile.  Buick really built a top-of-the-line machine when this beauty left the factory.

In case you were wondering, that is a fine coat of Buick Seafoam Green paint covering the car, with a nice shade of green on the interior too.  It ain't easy being green, but it is easy to bring home 20 ft pieces of baseboard moulding.

There is a list of things to do on this car...which is why it is a project car.  It started when I had to replace the flexible fuel lines at the tank to get it on the road, and then slap on a new set of tires to make it all the way home.

The short list of near term items include:
Getting some shine into the paint
Rebuild carburetor
Fix oil leak(s) -- oil pan gasket, valve cover gaskets.
Fix trans leaks
Fix coolant leak -- water pump/lines/t-stat
New spark plugs (currently has splitfire plugs...which I think went out of business a few years ago).
Replace intake manifold gasket
R&R steering wheel (has cracks)
Fix interior lights
Fix turn signals
New brake booster/master -- upgrade from single piston, to dual piston
Upgrade ignition from points to Pertronix style.
New fluids/filters.
Replace AC compressor seal
Polish bumper/roof rack chrome.
I'm probably missing a few items.

Stay tuned for more project Sport Wagon updates in the near future...and post your ideas for a car name in the comments below.


  1. The car and I match, as I'm green with envy. Looking forward to seeing more updates on this project. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks -- it has been a great cruiser so far.

  2. Nice Score! Really a unique find, can't wait to see the progress.
    I know that baseball field, my Nephew plays there : )

    1. Okay -- that is hilarious. My kids have played soccer at that field for the last 5 years or so.

  3. Great to see the wagon on DT, Vince - nice write up!

    I'm looking forward to more cruising around in this thing. It really wafts along quite nicely.

    Let me know if you want some help with the paint. I have a selection of buffing implements now and am going to attempt a paint revival on that sad old Triumph TR7 soon.

  4. Boaty McSportwagonface? Mmmm, maybe not.

  5. It should be said that I am thrilled that Vince has been able to take this over. This car has been a collateral victim of some health issues that have prevented me from working on it the way that I had originally planned. Rather than watch it decay before my eyes, I was thrilled that Mrs. Vin looked at it and found it to be far more appealing that the Beastmaster that it replaced. If Chip Foose hadn't retired Overhaulin' this would have been a great candidate, but if not a free Overhaulin', keep it with a family that can really enjoy it. Now it has a couple of kids rattling around (albeit safely belted in) the back seat, which completes the image of what it was designed for...hauling the family around with the kids looking out the windows next to them and above them, instead of gaping at their cell phones and missing the ride.
    I grew up with Buick wagons and there's nothing that will make you smile more than turning the steering wheel two full turns with one finger as you bank into a parking space, or back out of one.
    I've had a lot of fun cars, but this one has always launched more gas pump conversations than any other.
    Thanks for taking it on Vinnie, I'm looking forward to watching it return to greatness.

    1. This is one super cool ride -- I appreciate the chance to own it for a while.

  6. Funny to make this comment, but you note that this is only the 6 seater, not the 8. In general, with smaller families, it is harder to find vehicles that seat 6. Sure, there are the big SUVs and minivans, but more than 5 seats is rare. Part of the reason why we ended up with a big crewcab pickup with the dual bench seats (ok along with ranch duties), so that we can move our family along with a couple of guests. Times change.

    1. Yeah, the fact that front bench seats in family cars have been obliterated by the pointless floor shifted automatic is a really dumb. On many modern cars the auto shifter is only attached to some sensors and some gears to simulate the feel of a I really don't understand why it isn't out of the way and a small occasional use center front seat isn't standard equipment. Long live the bench seat. May it rest in peace.

  7. Now you need a matching Grand Sport 65 is a great year for American car company's.

  8. I love your wagon! I had a '64 Wildcat convertible about 20 years ago with the same engine. It had lots of torque and was utterly reliable. I'll never forget the day I found the glass bottle with it's cap that Buick provided as reserve windshield washer concentrate. It mounted in the engine compartment. I came out of that junk yard with a huge smile on my face.

  9. My first car memory was the brand new 1965 Buick Sport Wagon in the driveway when I was 4 years old. It was stripped down to the bone, every option and every feature was deleted when my father ordered it. Alas it didn't have the vista glass, in fact it didn't even have a radio, nor carpets, nor...

  10. Jeez I just saw this! Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Hunsbloger and took a good look at the got in the way and I left Hunsbloger hanging...........for that I apologize! As a kid we had a stripper '65 Buick and a Sportwagon is on my bucket list. The car is in good hands and I hope we'll see pixs of the rust remediation and any other work!


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