Rat rods hold a special place in my heart. They are the epitome of class without the flash. Building a rat rod takes as much skill as building a show car but with a different vision for the end result. Today I have a few pictures of a rather unique 1950 Buick Special that the owner Roger says took him 3 years to get right.
Roger bought the car from a scrap yard in Texas and trailered it up to Idaho to his farm for some winter restoration work. The car was solid with very little rust and complete except for the engine and transmission which were long gone. He spent the first winter in his barn pulling the body off its frame and fixing a few frame issues that came to light after he popped off the body. Roger chuckled and said he used his farm tractor to pull the frame straight, and I wished I had been there to see that!
The body floor boards had a few holes so he repaired those next welding in new metal and finishing in black paint. The main body didn’t need too much work other than being stripped to bare metal and repairs to some old accident damage. That took pretty much the second winter to finish.
Roger sourced a 425 Buick Nailhead engine from a scrapped 1965 Riviera that he rebuilt and used a tri-power carburetor setup to push the fuel in. He added a crane cam and a few other goodies to give the engine a little extra power to propel his behemoth Buick. The stock 425 cid made 325HP but Rogers figures with his additions along with headers, dual exhaust the car now makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 425HP, about 200 more than the original 8 cylinder engine. He fitted in a 4 speed Muncie transmission feeding a 12 bolt posi GM differential to put the power to the pavement.
The steering links and system are stock but have a Oldsmobile steering wheel and column added for a luxury touch. A 1971 Oldsmobile Delta 88 donated front disc power brakes to add safety to his ride. The whole chassis rides on air ride suspension and the typical ride height is lower by 2 inches to get that low rider rat rod look. The 1950 Buick’s ample trunk space allows for the air compressor and tanks for the air ride and still had room to add his 12 inch sub woofer boxes that were necessary for the mega stereo he wanted.
It wouldn’t be a rat rod if it was painted a pretty color, so of Roger went for a flat black paint finish. He painted it in a homemade booth he built in his barn. Before he put the grille and bumpers back on, he sent them out for a new dip in chrome for that added flash.
The interior is more or less the original Buick bench seats, stuffed and recovered. He added gauges to watch the engine, and a nice skull head tops the shifter. When you poke your head in the car, you get that old car smell, not in a bad way, just a smell that says I am 60 years old.
As winter projects go, I think Roger’s Buick is a fine example of time well spent when he wasn’t working his farm. Roger drives his car to shows all over the USA and sometimes Canada just for fun. He can be found often cruising the streets of Boise on weekend evenings looking for stop light victims. Dollar wise Roger said he has put about $14,000 or so into the build, including the original car purchase. He hasn’t counted the hours spent but hundreds and hundreds were what he figured he put in. So why not build a rat rod too. Its a valid concept to do with an old car that otherwise may not be worth restoring to original. Happy Hunting!