Spectacular Photos from Meadow Brook

February 18th, 2010

After the Meadow Brook show I was shocked to learn that James Howe, the noted classic car photographer, had been at the show and taken some spectacular photos of my car. In fact, he put together a special private gallery collection just for 1959 Buick enthusiasts.  The collection is located at http://jameshowephotography.imagekind.com/electra225. Visitors need to use the password ‘electra’ (without the quotes) to access the photos.
~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance

February 17th, 2010

In the universe of car shows only Pebble Beach has more name recognition than the ultra-prestigious Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in Michigan.  In a fortuitous twist of fate, one of Meadow Brook’s featured 2009 car groupings was “Fins and Chrome: The Convertibles of 1959” in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the 1959 convertibles.  The cars competing in that special class included the very best example of every 1959 American made convertible.  They are:

1959 Buick Electra 225
1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
1959 Chevrolet Impala
1959 Chrysler 300E
1959 Desoto Adventurer
1959 Dodge Royal Lancer
1959 Edsel Corsair
1959 Ford Skyliner Retractable
1959 Ford Thunderbird
1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV
1959 Mercury Monterey
1959 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight
1959 Plymouth Sport Fury
1959 Pontiac Bonneville

In a huge honor…my car was selected to represent the 1959 Buick Convertible!

Thanks for this honor go to Brian Laurance for recommending my car to Greg Cockerill (one of the Meadow Brook organizers), who in turn nominated the car for the show. I also need to thank Greg Cook, not only for doing such an outstanding job on the restoration…but also for accompanying me and trailering the car to the event.

The show itself was a first rate event from beginning to end with about 250 of the most exquisite automobiles in existence. All the cars were spread out over a gorgeous golf course and grouped by class. The classes included everything from European sports cars, to true classics, to race cars, and everything in between. I was fortunate to be in the “Fins and Chrome” class with all the other American Convertibles of 1959…and it was an honor to participate and share a patch of grass with such incredible cars.  Below are a few of the cars in the class…

To say a few words about some of the other 59’s…the Pontiac had the most incredible interior anyone could imagine…in fact it won the award for best interior of the entire show, the Chevy was one of only 26 built with fuel injection… and it also had a first year 4 on the floor, the Eldo Biarritz…what can anyone say, the Desoto with dual quads…what a car, the yellow and black Dodge…gorgeous color combination, and on and on…

Here are a few of Snow White…

It was really an incredible lineup!

I finally got the chance to meet Greg Cockerill who was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

One of my sons (Colin) came with me to the show…(he’s the one WITH the hair)

The Judges were all really great and had a few words with Greg and I when they first came over to judge the car…

They asked lots of questions…

Then they got down to business checking every square inch of the car…

After my car was judged I wandered off wondering how the judges could possibly pick a single car out of such an outstanding collection. About two hours later Greg Cockerill called me on my cell with the news that the judges had placed the “Best of Class” ribbon on my board…I was speechless…I’m sure Greg was wondering what was wrong with me as I was having problems getting words to come out of my mouth.

Driving the car to the grandstand to be publicly awarded, with Greg Cook riding shotgun, was an indescribable thrill…

I almost died when they stuck the video camera in my face and started interviewing me on the loudspeaker…I’m sure nothing intelligent came out of my mouth…

Driving away in front of the crowd with the camera’s rolling was quite the experience…

Here’s me and Greg with the “Best of Class” award….

After driving through the Grandstand all the “Best in Class” winners were brought to a special area…it felt a little odd being parked next to a Fiat Supersonic and Ferrari Superamerica

All in all it was an incredible experience!
~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

First Showing – AACA National Gettysburg

February 17th, 2010

Although there are still a few bugs to work out…the car was good enough for its first showing at the AACA Gettysburg National Car Show, especially since the show was literally held in within sight of Greg Cook’s Restoration Shop in Gettysburg.  Here is shot of my car and my friend Joe’s 1959 Buick that Greg Cook completed earlier in the year on the way to the show…

We were fortunate to get spots next to each other, Joe’s car had already won an AACA National First Prize (First Junior) at its first showing a few months ago.  At this meet Joe’s car is vying for an AACA Senior Award, and my car was vying for an AACA National First Prize (First Junior).

After standing inspection I put the top down on Snow White.

Here we are at the show…Greg Cook on the left, Joe in the middle and me on the right…

After surveying the field, it was obvious that Greg’s work is second to none. Given a million bucks there are many shops out there could never duplicate Greg’s work (trust me…my car (and Joe’s) were previously at one of them, and it was considered a top flight shop…). All in all, it was a great day!

In the end, my car scored the AACA National First Prize (First Junior) and Joe scored the AACA Senior Award.  Not bad for a first showing…

After the show my car headed back to Greg’s shop to finish working out a few bugs, and Joe’s car headed back home…but not before a little photo op in Greg’s front yard…

~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

Wheel Alignment & First (almost) Completed Pictures

February 17th, 2010

The car is finally ready for a wheel alignment.  Below is a shot of the car getting loaded up for a trip to the alignment shop, and another of the car in the shop. The hubcaps were deliberately left off the car until after the alignment to avoid unnecessarily scratching the wheels.

With the wheels set straight (and the hubcaps finally on), Greg started doing some preliminary road tests. His reports to me best explain the progress so far:


First the “Yahoo!” part. I’ve only driven the car 6 miles so far and it is GREAT!!! Runs and drives superbly! Steering is straight arrow with absolutely minimal “bias ply drift”. Feels real good! The quick steering box is the cat’s ass! Felt a bit weird at first but I got used to it REAL quick!

I worked out one nasty little bug this morning. There was a rude little feedback through the throttle linkage. Not quite a squeak but a light thud/rub, I guess, just enough to be annoying. There is a plate that goes on the engine/bellhousing and the firewall mounted throttle linkage bears against it through a rubber bumper. The plate was slightly bent so there was metal to metal contact. This probably happened when they did the triple/twin conversion. It’s back behind the left head so there is no way in hell that you can see it. It took a while but I located it and snuck up in there with a long bar and straightened it. Until it’s in position you can’t tell there’s a problem and when it’s in position you can’t see it! Nice…..Smile

Now….the “AWSHIT!” part. Yesterday when I did the front end alignment it’s critical that the car doesn’t move. I stepped down on the parking brake hard and it went about halfway down and caught. Just like it should and had done several times in the past. I gave it a final push and BAM! it went to the floor! Corvette resto guys were watching so I was ridiculed. Fine, be that way…..I figured I just hadn’t tightened a clamp properly and it had slipped. No big, right? NOT! Turns out the brand new (at least it appeared to be) parking brake cable had sorta come apart. The collar that is crimped on the end of the housing was either made wrong or not crimped tight enough at the factory. The outer cable housing pulled through and is about 1 1/2″ beyond where it should be! Real nice!

I’ll see if I can fix it on the car otherwise I’ll have to get a new one from CARS/Buick. I think they’re less than 50 bucks but replacing one is like extracting a wisdom tooth through your butthole!

A bit of a bump in the road but overall very happy with first road test.


As I was backing the car up the slight grade in the yard the transmission started this high pitched whine, not quite a screech, but working that way. But only in Reverse under load. Well, kiss my ass! Maybe low on fluid, a hydraulic buzz. Don’t panic yet. I moved the car around to different positions and it wasn’t getting any better. Now it would do it in Park and Reverse. Low and Drive still okay.

So I pulled it over to the shop to check ATF level. On the way over it started doing it in Low. Not good…..

Pulled in the shop and popped the hood with it running. The noise was coming from the AC Compressor! Son of a …, NOW What?????

Well, as it turned out it was only the generator air duct hose rubbing on the generator fan. The hose is metal reinforced and the rotating fan on the generator cut through the rubber to the metal thus the ever increasing high pitched screech.

Ahhhh…..that made my day! Easy fix!

Also…I was able to repair the parking brake cable without removing the whole assembly from the car. Thank God for that! I was able to get the “collar” to slide back into it’s correct position and then I tack welded it. That should do it! I stood on the park brake pedal and it felt just fine.

I noticed the gas gauge was right on “E”. Not on the peg but on the actual letter “E” indicating that it was working somewhat. I crawled under the back and tapped on the tank. Sounded pretty hollow so I guess it’s pretty accurate. THAT is the end where it needs to be accurate! If it doesn’t go all the way to FULL who cares??? I want to know when it’s close to EMPTY! I poured in 6 gallons and it came to a bit over 1/4. Poured in 5 more gallons and it came up to about 5/8. Then 3 more gallons brought it up to a bit over 3/4. I’d say we’re in pretty good shape as far as gas gauge is concerned.

Anyway…since it was finally a beautiful sunny day…it was perfect for photo op. So I scrubbed the blue crap off the new whitewalls, ALWAYS big fun!! Smile I picked the best wheel covers and stuck them on after a minor spiff. Then I took it out front and shot some pics…

~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible