Beach boy Buick
It’s the early ’60s in Southern California. You’re hanging out with your older brother and his friends, learning about girls, surfing, girls, beaches, girls and Woodies (the car of choice of the young surfers). With that sort of influence on a young mind, how could anyone want to drive anything but a Woodie?
It may have taken Wildwood residents Dennis and Margaret Teague 40 years to fulfill that dream, but they did it. The culmination of years of searching concluded with the 1952 Buick Super Estates wagon (a Woodie) featured today.
The Woodie was purchased in 2003 from the Ionia Wood Body Factory Museum in Michigan. The Buick had been on display in the museum for 18 years. The Ionia factory was where all of General Motors’ Woodies were created from 1938 to 1952, when they stopped production. When production ceased in 1953, the last car produced was a Buick.
In 1952, Buick made two station wagons-both Woodies-a Super and a Roadmaster. The two wagons were identical except for four inches of added length on the Roadmaster to accommodate a larger engine, and one very subtle but obvious exterior trim difference. Does anyone besides me and Dennis Teague know the difference? Contact me at email@example.com, and I’ll recognize you next week in the column.
When Teague got the wagon home, he began to detail it and make a few changes. He added 1953 Buick Skylark wire wheels and with the help of his brother, split the exhaust manifold for dual exhaust. Teague’s wagon is powered by a 128 horsepower 263 cubic inch in-line 8-cylinder engine. The transmission is a Dyna Flow automatic with 4.11 gears in the rear. Anyone who has had any experience with a heavy General Motors car with a straight eight knows that those engines were made for cruising, not accelerating. Dennis says he needs those gears to get the old girl rolling with that Dyna Flow transmission.
The all-original interior, with its beautiful wood trim, is as spacious and comfortable as your living room. And every gauge, light and even the clock and radio work.
The Buick, which is one of 11 known to still exist, has got 35,000 original miles on the odometer, and the Teagues have put over 8,000 of those miles driving to Woodie shows up and down the California coast. While the old girl cruises easily at 65 miles an hour, Teague says, “I have a hard time keeping up with my older brother who drives a bit faster than that.” His brother, Dick Teague, also owns a Woodie and lives in Grass Valley. He’s been trying to lead Dennis astray since they were children. Dennis says, “Since Mom liked me best, Dick has always tried to get me into trouble.” If you know Dick Teague, you won’t have any problem believing that.
Dennis’ wife, Margaret, is my kind of a girl. She wants a “tin” Woodie-the ones with the faux wood finish, manufactured between ’49 and ’54 for her daily driver. She does, however, want a modern engine and drive train. You go, girl! Oh, by the way, the Teagues are all active members of the Roamin Angels Car Club. It is rumored that the club reads this article every Friday morning at their breakfasts. I am honored.
While doing research for this article, I found a very interesting Web site with everything you want to know about Woodies and station wagons. See http://www.shiawasseehistory.com/mitchell.html.
As you read this, I’m in Vegas for the NASCAR race. This would be a great race to come and visit me, especially since this is the last race before they reconfigure the track. As soon as we leave, they are going to tear the track up and increase the banking to 20 degrees. When they finish, it will be one of the fastest, if not THE fastest, tracks in the Western United States. In addition, they are also going to change the pits and make the infield more accessible for fans with an over-the-garage walkway, allowing fans to get closer than ever before to the cars and drivers.
Has anyone seen the county’s new promotional recycling van? It has a full vinyl graphic wrap on it, the exact same type as all the NASCAR haulers and race cars use for their graphics now. How about that? Right here in little ol’ Grass Valley!
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