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Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:44 pm
by ceejay
Hi all,

I am new to the forum and new to buicks.... new, in fact to American cars.

I live in Sri Lanka and am looking into buying a 1958 Buick. I have much experience with British cars but am not very familiar with American ones.

The car I am looking at buying is a 1958 Buick. It has 4 doors, is Pillarless and has "century" signs on it.

What specific model would this be ?

Im confused with the terminology of... Riviera, sedan and hard top

What is the parts availability like for these cars ? ... This car needs to be restored and will need all new rubber seals for the doors, windows, windshields, brake system, suspension... are new parts available for them ?

Was the century fitted with the "flight pitch" trans ? what is it like to drive ? can you really not feel the gear changes ?
The car has non power brakes. Is that a pain to stop the car ?

How thirsty are they on gas ?

Thanks for your time and help

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:45 pm
by 58limited
Hi Ceejay, welcome to the forum.

Your car is a Buick Century Model 63 Riviera Sedan. Terminology: sedan = four doors, coupe = two doors, riviera = hardtop (pilarless). Riviera was not a specific Buick model until about 1963.

You can get rubber parts from Steele Rubber Products

You can get rubber and other parts from CARS, Inc.

Ebay is a very good parts source too, and you can do an internet search for other suppliers.

These cars can be very expensive to restore. Parts are not nearly as common for Buicks as they are for Chevrolets and Fords. I have to go for now, but I'll post about the Flight Pitch and other info later today.


Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:40 pm
by 58limited
To continue: The flight-pitch transmission was optional on all models. It was standard on the Roadmaster and Limited. To tell if you car has a flight-pitch, you can look at the shift indicator. Flight-pitch reads PRNDG, variable-pitch reads PNDLR. Also, the pan on the bottom of the tranny is square for the flight-pitch, rectangular for the variable-pitch tranny.

I may be wrong (my literature is packed up right now), but I thought that automatic transmission cars had power brakes. Can anyone verify this for me?

I have another car that is manual brakes, it is not hard to stop. The flight pitch transmission gives a smooth ride. When properly rebuilt (to 1959 specifications - there are several changes in the 1959 service manual), it performs quite well. The variable-pitch tranny is always in 3rd gear unless manually shifted into low (1st) gear. Therefore, there is no shifting when driving. If manually shifted into low gear, the tranny will cycle through 2nd, then into 3rd when you manually upshift to "D"

My Limited, which is bigger than the Century, gets 15 MPG, whether or not the air conditioner is running.

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:37 am
by dvonk
just some input: my 1958 Special has a Variable-Pitch Dynaflow Transmission (i.e., automatic, but not Flight-Pitch), but still has manual brakes. power brakes may have been standard on the Roadmaster/Limited, but it appears they were optional on the lower models (at least on the Special). manual brakes are definitely a bit harder to apply than modern power brake vehicles, but they still work fine.

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:07 am
by ceejay
Hey guys,

A few hours ago, my dream came true and I won a live auction for a 1958 Buick Century Riviera !!

The car has the Variable pitch dynaflow and non power brakes.

It has been sitting in one place for over 11 years !!!

Luckily the owner had placed the car on stands so although the tires were deflated, they were not damaged and were easily inflated.

The front brakes seem to be stuck. I'm hoping that they may free up when I tow the car forwards tomorrow.

I have not been able to figure out how to open the trunk !! Please tell me

Also there is something like a push switch... its on the curved part of the drivers side dash. When you open the door, this switch like thing is fitted right at that very end of the dash... what is this ?

I am very excited and happy that I was able to buy this car... It needs total restoration but is complete. It is quite rusty though. It didn't come cheap but its the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka so I had to pay the price.

Tell me what you guys think of the photo... I have a tech. question about the trans and how its used... I'll post that in the trans secction

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:13 pm
by 58limited
Congratulations. The button by the door is the windshield washer button. There should also be a lever that slides back and forth to turn on the wipers. If the lever is missing, it is reproduced.

The trunk uses the same key as the ignition. If it is stuck, you might have to pull the back seat out and crawl into the trunk to work the latch, or remove it.

Looks like you will need a new hood, or a body repair man that is good with sheet metal.

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:21 pm
by ceejay
Thanks !!

Oh... so the trunk can only be opened using the key ? there isn't any cable operated opening device ?

The rust on the hood is no problem at all... We constantly restore cars which are rusted much worse than this.

Where should the lever for the wipers be ? I didn't notice one near the washer switch (thanks for telling me what that is)

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:23 pm
by 58limited
The lever is on the side of the chrome assembly that the washer switch is in - there should be an open slot on the side for it.

No cable for the trunk. A locksmith can probably open the trunk for you.

Re: Tell me some details about 1958 Buicks

PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 6:25 pm
by dvonk
when i bought my '58 Special, someone had lost the keys and had removed the rear seat and unbolted the trunk latch from bottom trunk lip. i removed the trunk lock cylinder and took it to a locksmith--in about 10 minutes i had a key that works in the trunk, doors, glove box, etc.

my Special was also missing the windshield wiper lever when i bought it. i got a replacement on ebay. here are a couple of images of the assembly & lever if you want to see what it looks like.