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Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year Award

Auto Shows, Builders, Events  /   /  By John Drummond

Mark and Ellen Willman’s 1956 Buick Special went from a hulking mass of rotting metal (literally found under a tree with fungus growing on the roof) to the Goodguys 2013 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year award winner.

The transformation from Train wreck to Goodguys winner came courtesy of the hottest builder on the planet – Troy Trepanier and the Rad Rides team from Manteno, Illinois.

1956 Buick Special

The long, beautiful Buick, built with an old Chicago gangster flair, made its debut at last spring’s Detroit Autorama where it landed in the “Great 8” lineup of cars in contention for the prestigious Ridler award. With looks AND performance, this custom rod is the complete package capable of sitting on a concourse lawn with the wine & cheese set or ripping up asphalt to the tune of over 800 ponies!

The car’s big body is cloaked in a shiny slate gray accentuated by brushed stainless trim, and nickel-plated chrome from Nashville’s Advanced Plating. Tucked bumpers, shaved turn signals and the heavily massaged grille blend nicely with one-off 20-inch Billet Specialties wheels sporting toothy spokes. The trim pieces and door handles were eBay Motors scores!

1956 Buick Special engine

Opening the hood a first glance reveals a neatly painted Buick Nailhead with an OEM-looking oil bath air cleaner. Catching a glimpse of the custom headers, one will discover the twin-turbo setup tucked low on either side and realize the 413 has been extensively modified inside & out and features a six stage dry sump oiling system.

The ground-hugging chassis is from the Art Morrison camp complete with Ridetech coilovers, an Eaton Posi for the Ford 9 inch, a Bowler 4L80E transmission and big Wilwood discs on all four corners.

Goodguys 1956 Buick Special

The gorgeous interior retains the Buick feel with modernized stock gauges reworked by Classic Instruments, a modified Ford Starliner wheel, and stock seat frames re-contoured in muted black leather with perforated inserts. The Rad Rides build team used eBay Motors to locate the radio components and various interior clips.

For the big winning the Goodguys 2013 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year award, Mr & Mrs Willman (from Blue Grass, Iowa) will receive a custom toolbox from Snap-on as well as travel accommodations to the Goodguys 16th Southwest Nationals November 15-17 in Scottsdale, Arizona to join the “Champion’s Arena” display featuring Goodguys’ Top 12 Cars of the Year.

Goodguys 1956 Buick Special interior

goodguys rod and custom associationBased in Pleasanton, California the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association promotes and produces some of the world’s most dynamic automotive events. Founded by lifelong hot rodder Gary Meadors in 1983, Goodguys is the world’s largest hot rodding association with over 70,000 active members worldwide.
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  1. Mike McAuley November 8, 2013 at 6:48 am Reply

    The last refuge of the small car collector were the 2 door post and four door Buick Specials. All the two door hardtops in Roadmasters , Supers, and Specials are out of reach price wise.Now with this beautiful car winning Good Guys people are going to start buying up all the mid-fifties 2 door post Buicks driving up the prices of what used to be considered Granny cars.

  2. Bailey November 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm Reply

    Our problem started when Wall St. scum figured out that there was money in cars.

    • Raymond Piechocki July 12, 2017 at 11:34 am Reply

      I agree!!!! What can we do about it? their purchases are not for the “love of the automobile” , but more like pure greed!!!!!

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