1955 Buick Special

1955 Buick Special

“Cadet” is its name and Buick is its brand!

Brian Warren loves Buicks…

Brian Warren Buick CadetCadet, our 1955 Buick Special.
The name comes from the cadet blue metallic paint applied, by GM 60+ years ago
and the fact that the Special was the entry level Buick, at that time. Not sure why I settled on Buicks other than the fact the old advertising campaigns indicated they were “Just Better”. I think I had my sights on a 30’s or 40’s Buick, but found most needed much more work than I was willing to do or closer to the truth, capable of doing. I’m happy I decided on the 55’ because I think the styling is very iconic of a relatively happy time in America history and although lacking power steering, power brakes, and seat belts, I consider the car a reliable modern car.


Cadet joined our family in April of 2012 after surfing a copy of the publication “Uncle Hennery’s” out of Maine. The on-line pictures of the car looked great and deserved a closer look. After seeing the car and a short test drive, I was hooked and made a deal on the spot. I returned 2 weeks later with Vermont plates in hand, checked the fluids, kicked the tires, and began the 200 mile drive home. For the first 10 miles, I was all smiles. But after stopping for gas and a snack, the car would not restart. It was ready to start and wanted to, but the new operator (me) didn’t know how to engage the starter switch. Turns out those clever engineers at Buick had incorporated the starter switch into the accelerator pedal. It’s been fun watching others fall into the same trap since.

1955 Buick Special interiorCadet originally came from Glenn Buick in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. After going through paperwork that came with the car, I estimate I’m the 5th owner. The first owner was a banker from Sharon, Pennsylvania and the car still hasa draw string bank deposit bag from Sharon Savings and Loan in the trunk that contains assorted old wrenches. I think the 2nd owner had kept the car the longest (29 years) and put very few miles on it. The 3rd owner was an auto broker and took no interest in the car other than it being inventory. The 4th owner is an over the road truck driver and after purchase, brought the car to Maine. After owning it for 5 years, he could never find time to drive it, so he let me buy it and bring it to Vermont. At this time the odometer reads 29,850 miles. An oil change sticker on the door jamb indicates 21,033 miles had been logged by 1968.

Since I’ve owned the car, I’ve rebuilt the carburetor, combination fuel pump / vacuum pump, replaced the water pump, heater hoses (all 23feet), all flexible break lines, both front break cylinders, and front shocks. With the exception of an attempt at restoring the engine bay by one of the previous owners and touch up on the rest of the cars exterior, it’s all original paint. Even though primmer is showing in many places, there is no plan to repaint the car. The cars interior is original as well. The car drives very well and with the 264 cu. in. nail-head V8, Cadet has no problem cruising at interstate speeds (and beyond).

1955 Buick Special grilleLast July (2016), our family took Cadet back to Pennsylvania (Allentown especially), for the Buick Club of America’s nation car meet. The annual week-long event was the BCA’s 50th anniversary and was held at an amazing venue. Italian jewelry and luxury goods designer Nicola Bulgari hosted the event at his complex in Allentown. A converted 21 acre drive-in theater complete with a test track and still functional movie screen. Mr. Bulgari has enjoyed a fascination with American automobiles since he was a small child growing up in Italy. He recognized the design and engineering of American cars to be far superior to anything else on the road at the time. Between his Italian and Allentown addresses, he houses over 210 antique automobiles. Although all beautiful to my eye, he considers them to be daily drives and all are registered and driven often. One hanger sized building on his compound, housed nearly 40 Buicks ranging from the early 1920’s to the 1990’s, but lacked a 1955? Through Mr. Bulgari’s generosity, he has been able to secure funds to help sustain the “America on Wheels” transportation museum in Allentown. While on the PA. trip, the 90° days were challenging for me behind the wheel (Dana and Jason had A/C in the Reatta), but the Cadet took the city traffic in stride.

The car is certainly a keeper and although it won’t chirp the ties and the paint has lost most of its shine, we’ll let the stately Cadet gracefully fade into old age as it puts smiles on the young and brings tears to the old as it passes by.

1955 Buick Special hood vents


16 responses to “1955 Buick Special”

  1. Pete Saile

    Nice pictures and story , Brian! Hope to see you today. That car is classic Americana!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story and the location of where the Buick Club of America has it’s shows.
      I once owed an original 55 Century 4door Hardtop, they called it a Riviera roof as apposed to a 4 door post model.
      My car was Black and White.
      I owned it for 10 years, sold it in Aug 1998 for Medical reasons and miss it from time to time.

      1. Hi John,
        I never realized readers could leave comments. The Buick Club of America moves the national car meet around each year. Whenever they are within a reasonable driving distance from northern Vermont, we try to attend. It’s always filled with great memories.

  2. Angevine

    Gorgeous car, love the 55 styling

  3. William Sims

    I had a ‘55 Special 2-door sedan in my senior year of high school. Solid white, with full disk wheel covers, white-wall tires, and a Walker Continental glas-pack muffler (to add a tasteful rumble to the sound of the 264 nail-head). It was the prettiest car on campus, for sure. While I was proud of it and enjoyed driving it, I’m sure I would appreciate it more now, at the age of 75, than I did as a teen! Besides, it would be a great tow car for my teardrop camper! 😁

    1. Hello William,
      I have a good friend that has a similar high school story to yours. He too made what modifications a teenager could make with a paper boys salary. The best part is he still owns the car. He’s continued to make gasser mods to the car over the years, but has done noting to the body. It’s all there, but has faded paint, surface rust and primer. It truly looks like he just drove it out of the 60’s. You would appreciate it.

  4. Dale Leonard

    would you sell this car? My wife`s first car was exactly like this one. Exactly!

    1. Hello Dale,
      Not ready to sell yet, we’re still having to much fun with it!

  5. Thomas Kearns

    Enjoyed the article very much. Its good to see someone is preserving this car. I learned to drive in a blue 55 Buick Special back in 62 and remember the joys of parallel parking with no power steering. Buick kept that starter switch under the accelerator into the 60’s and I’ve seen a few people have trouble starting those cars!

    1. Hello Thomas,
      I’ve never attempted to parallel park the Cadet. I can’t imagine trying under the pressure of a driving test. The starter switch is still a hoot. This past summer I gave our priest a ride. Before we set out on our ride, I told him sometimes I have a hard time starting Cadet and maybe if he said a prayer, it might help. As soon as he finished the prayer, I easily pressed the gas peddle and Cadet came to life. He looked at me with a somewhat blank face that said “what just happened”. Ya, it was time for confession.

  6. Rose Patrick Tovey

    My Dad was a chemist for Goodyear in Akron. He bought a car just like this one (except a darker shade of blue) in 1955 or 1956, when I was 5 years old. (I thought it was a 1956, but it had the 3 ROUND wells, not the teardrop shape ones.) I don’t remember when he sold it, but seeing yours brought me a flood of memories. ….Rose

  7. Hello Rose,
    Thanks for the comments. If the port holes were round, it was definitely a 55. I’ve talked with a lot of people that had a relatives that owned a car just like mine. I think the blue was very popular. 55 was a banner year for Buick and probably helped its popularity back then.

  8. Mike Marshall

    Here’s the Special my family had when I was born…



  9. What a pleasure to see your 1955, it is the exact twin of the one my father owned. I remember driving from Denver, Colorado to Santa Monica, Ca. in 1958. We drove straight through, dad, my older brother and I who was 15 at the time. I was taking my turn to drive which was down in New Mexico. Flying down the highway at 80+ I had the wheel in my left hand and my right hand casually over the seat, about this time dad woke up saw me and then the speedometer, needless to say he was not happy and from then on with him in the car I used both hands on the wheel. I wish you had it for sale, I would sure like see if I could buy it. Charles

  10. Mary Cox Shaver

    My father’s mother drove a blue Special when I was a kid back in in the 1950s . It must handle well because she negotiated traffic in Norfolk,Va with no apparent difficulty. I just googled Buicks from that year just to walk down memory lane and there it was. Fresh as a daisy. Those were great times.

  11. Bob Roske

    My dad worked for a highway construction company, that also owned the local Buick dealership. On early 1956 dad bought a new 1955 Buick Special in this same blue color, what a flash back. I was given the car in 1964. It was sold when I went on active duty in late 1966.

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