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Buick Century

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I bought the Buick Century in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas; customized it around 1960-1961 in San Diego, California/Tijuana, Mexico. I forget what the down payment was, but it was enough to get it off the lot. My payment was $35 a month, which took a big chunk out of my Navy paycheck. If I recall, I was making around $150 a month as Petty Officer 3rd class, and then there was my wife and my first born to take care of. For the life of me, thinking back on it, I don't know how I ever got the money to pay to have it customized down in Tijuana. The total custom job--Frenched headlights, nosed and decked, port holes removed, Frenched '59 Cadillac taillights, rear bumper removed and panned, metallic blue paint job, 16 coats of hand rubbed lacquer--cost, I think it was $175.

Some of the things I remember about the car:

When I first bought it, I was home on leave in Wichita, Kansas for a 30 day leave. I was only 19 years old; Patti was 16 and had never had a driver's license. As I walked out the door I tossed her the keys and said, "Don't wreck it". (I had emergency orders to the USS Firedrake (AE-14) an amunition ship, which was on it's way to the Philipines. The North Koreans had captured one of our spy ships, the USS Pueblo, and we were under orders to replenish with bombs and amunition the two aircraft carriers that were on station in case this Pueblo thing turned into a shooting war.)

The demise of my customized Buick came about like this:

As I was leaving for work one morning, I saw a black 1954 Buick Century parked across the street. That puppy's top had been chopped 4 inches. COOL MAN. REALLY COOL.

Never one to let well enough alone, I set out to chop the top on mine. The metal work was not a problem. However the front and rear window was. After three times trying to cut the wrap around tempered glass for the front, and two times trying to cut the tempered glass for the wrap around rear, I gave up. I had been getting the window glass from the local salvage yards at $25 a pop (but by this time my Navy pay was up to $225 a month, so it wasn't too bad). Anyway it became harder and harder to find the glass, and this was our only means of transportation. I still had to drive it back and forth to work, so I bought some goggles to keep the bugs out of my eyes. That worked pretty well 'till the California Highway patrol caught me.