BUICKS took over the roads of Echuca-Moama and surrounds this week in a celebration of the American motoring giant.
A total of 84 Buicks of all shapes and sizes and dating back to 1910 converged on the twin towns to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Buick Car Club of Australia.
More than 160 Buick enthusiasts spent the week visiting various toruist attractions around the area including the Great Aussie Beer Shed, Ravertys Motor Museum, the National Holden Motor Museum and Shepparton Motor Museum.
The week culminates in a Show ‘n’ Shine event at Acquatic Reserve today and a gala dinner at the Moama Bowls Club.
The Moama on the Murray resort has been the base for the club drying its stay in the area.
Several of the Buicks will also be sticking around for the 55-56-57 Chevrolet Car Club of Victoria’s convention this weekend making it a bumper weekend for classic cars in Echuca-Moama.
With so many fine vehicles at hand, the Riverine Herald took the chance to speak to some of the owners and find out why they love Buicks so much.
1970 Buick GSX Stage 1
Buick Car Club of Australia president Colin Rowland bought Buick’s only attempt at a muscle car from a retired American air force colonel in 2010.
‘‘It came from Montgomery, Alabama and he had two of them,’’ Colin said, which was quite impressive in itself considering only 678 of the vehicles were ever made.
Colin’s is the only one in Australia and he admits he fluked it on the internet.
‘‘It was rather poorly advertised,’’ Colin said.
‘‘I’d been looking for one for three years and they don’t come up for sale very often.’’
‘‘I just got lucky. There hadn’t been too many inquiries for it because it was poorly advertsied and I snapped it up.’’
Colin said he has virtually done nothing to the car since he got it.
‘‘The previous owner did all the hard work,’’ he said.
The GSX is fitted with the largest capacity performance engine of the era — 455 cubic-inch stage one.
It produces 420 horsepower with an enormous 510lb/ft stump pulling torque. In fact, it held the torque output record for any American performance vehicle for 33 years from 1970 to 2003.
‘‘It’s a bit of a monster,’’ Colin said of the GSX.
‘‘The Buick was a bit of a luxury car and this was their one and only attempt at a muscle car.
‘‘They brought this out at the last minute just as the muscle car era was coming to an end.’’
Based in Melbourne, Colin drives his GSX everywhere and is proud to display his love for the Buick brand.
‘‘The Buick was seen as the affordable luxury car,’’ he said.
‘‘It was one step below the Cadillac.
‘‘It’s a banker’s hot rod. If you were successful in life and you wanted something with a bit of get up and go, then you bought a Buick.’’
1951 Buick Special
According to Buick Car Club of Australia member Rick Chincarini, the owner doesn’t find the car — the car finds the owner.
Case in point is that of fellow club members Bill and Lillian Farrugia from Riddells Creek.
Rick and some other club members were visiting a car show in the United States and came across a 1951 Buick Special.
They showed a photo of the car to the Farrugias and the couple was hooked.
‘‘I already had a Buick and I was looking to get another one and I fell in love with this,’’ Bill said.
His wife was equally enthused.
‘‘I saw the photo and ‘bingo’,’’ Lillian said.
‘‘I’m not a car enthusiast but I like the shape and the lines and the colour.’’
The car was owned by an office bearer of the Buick Car Club of America in Ohio who had the car for 39 years.
‘‘He restored it 28 years ago and was looking at updating and wanted it to go to a good home.’’
The Farrugias have only owned the car for four months and have only just tinkered with the car since they go it.
‘‘We haven’t done anything major to it,’’ Bill said.
‘‘It was imported as is.’’
It has a Straight-8 engine and the bonnet has hinges on both sides so it can be opened from either side of the vehicle.
It seems one look was all it took for the Farrugias to acquire the car and it appears fate had a big — and freaky — part to play in the purchase, as Lillian explains.
‘‘When we first met nearly 50 years ago, Bill was driving an EK Holden and the car’s name was Bertha,’’ she said.
So, appropriately enough, Lillian was happy to have the Bertha name bestowed on the Buick Special.
‘‘It was only after we got the car that we found out that’s what the people in Amercia called her too — Bertha.’’
As Rick Chincarini said, the car finds the owner.
1920 K44 Roadster
Richard Woodley has owned his 1920 Buick K44 since 1966, however, ‘‘it was only a bitsa’’ back then.
Based in Dubbo, NSW, the car — or what was left of it — had been sourced 300km further west from the town of Cobar.
‘‘I was a young fellow back then and thought I’d have time to work on it,’’ Richard said.
‘‘It took me 50 years before I started restoring it.
‘‘I was semi-retired and about 80. I didn’t touch it ‘til then.’’
Once he did get started, it took him about two to three years to fully restore the car.
‘‘The back had been cut into a ute and it had been used as a ute in the bush,’’ Richard said.
‘‘I didn’t need to look for too many parts to restore it. It was really about 2015 when I had it up and running but that was without a hood.
‘‘I put the hood on this year.’’
Richard and his wife Margaret drove the car from Dubbo to Echuca-Moama for the Buick club’s 50th anniversary and the 1920 vehicle handled the drive well.
‘‘I’ve done a couple of rallies in it but this has been its biggest challenge to drive the 700km to get here,’’ he said.
‘‘It took us three days to get here. We’d drive in the morning and rest in the afternoons.
‘‘It has a six-cylinder mono-block engine and otherwise it’s pretty well standard with three forward gears and reverse.’’
Richard has been a farmer all his life and when a historic car club was first formed in Dubbo in the mid 1960s he was keen to be a part of it, which ultimately led to his beautiful restoration of the 1920 Buick.
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