Gary Moore sent us pics of his amazing Buick "Beulah" along with an equally amazing story of perseverance throughout its transformation to the beauty you see today.
The summer of '66 found me working as a station attendant for Humble Oil in Salem, Massachusetts. I pumped gas, checked your oil, air pressure and topped off your window washer fluid, back in the days of true “full service”. Next door to this Exxon Gas Station was a small electric motor repair shop that had an old rusty Buick sedan wasting away out on its lot. I learned that many passersby had inquired about its future, only to be rebuffed by in shop staff that had no connection to the old gal. As a 19-year-old working my way through college, and someone with an interest in unique cars, I made my way over to the Loring Avenue Electric Company, dressed in my service blue overalls. It is often said that "timing is everything.” True enough. I was told that the Buick’s owner, a friend of the shop’s proprietor, had just announced that he had purchased an open touring car that he preferred to restore, making the 1928 Buick mid sized sedan (Model 47S) expendable. Within the hour, I was on the phone with this downtown attorney, made him an offer of $200 and the Buick was mine.
She wasn’t pretty, showing a near complete patina of rust, a few tears in the upholstery, and an overall tired look. But, she was complete, with no metal rust through or rot of her wooden frame. Towed her the 200 yards to the Exxon Station and there she remained for several weeks until I could locate an affordable garage. There was a sharp learning curve, but I managed to master the art of starting a “'20s" automobile. Topping off the vacuum fuel pump (the fuel tank baffles were toast) allowed for short bursts of running the famous Buick Master Six valve in head engine. Toe-heel of the right foot, clutch with the left, retard spark and idle controls on the steering wheel hub, and carburetor choke-heat controls on the dash, I eventually mastered the choreography of the start. The only casualty of this learning period was the muffler. After leaving the timing retarded too long, the inevitable back fire occurred, blowing out the muffler entirely. My car savvy friend Brian, just happened to have an old truck muffler that fit with near perfection and remains on the car to this day. Turns out the engine ran quite nicely. There was evidence of earlier problems with the cooling manifold as it had wraps of fiberglass repairs. But with only 23,200 miles on the odometer, it was understandable why the engine ran so well. I purchased the Buick with her 1941 tags still in place. An insurance document found in the glove box showed she was last registered in '41, owned and garaged in Salem. Sadly, as a nineteen-year-old in 1966, I did not pursue learning the cars provenance. Thus, I have presumed that this Buick was “put up” in 1941 for the war. Gas, tires and a host of other consumables were scarce and rationed. If possible, it was patriotic to take your car out of service for the duration of the war.
From 1966 to 2011 the Buick resto languished. Life's priorities, education, marriage, family, career left little time or resources for her revival. Fortunately, I was able to allocate enough time and money to strip off all of her bright work, get all of the nickel plating done in the mid 1970s, and do enough body work to prepare her for a two tone paint job that was done in 1995. I had her wood spoke wheels refurbished in the late 1990s. I kept her engine in running condition throughout this long hiatus, by cranking her over (with the manual crank) or occasionally firing her up. She also spent “storage” time in five different locations over this 45 year period.
In 2006, retirement came to me at the tender age of 59. I worked part time until 2010, and now it was time to put up or shut up. Should I continue ownership of this partially restored Buick or sell her to someone who would finish the job. With encouragement from my wife Sandra and an offer to help out from my older brother Don, I committed the necessary time, energy and dollars to complete her to road worthiness. It has never been my goal to make Beulah “Concours" worthy. Rather, It was always my wish to enjoy her as a street capable and local car show entry automobile. I would be happiest when she was out and about, showing off what it was like to be a road traveller in the early days of the horseless carriage.
And so it is that since her return to the road debut in 2011, I have shared Beulah with our local community by participating in parades, attending local car club shows and occasionally just going out for a ride. Her 1995 paint job shows some aging, her carburetor needs a rebuild, and her wiring harness could use an upgrade. But, for the moment, I am enjoying the privilege of ownership and the pride of keeping her an active part of the automotive world.
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