1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible Restoration

August 9th, 2009

This site contains detailed step-by-step photos of a concours quality restoration of a 1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible. The below pics show the car before starting.  Although complete, the pictures hide the fact that the paint is in in very poor condition, much of the stainless steel moldings and chrome are damaged or pitted, and the original leather interior has been replaced with incorrect vinyl.

Buick introduced all new model names for 1959 including LeSabre, Invicta, Electra and Electra 225.  The flagship Electra 225 nameplate came on three models, 4 door hardtop, 4 door Riviera hardtop and 2 door convertible.  Although the “225″ was meant to represent the length of the car in inches, only the 4 door cars were a true 225 inches long.   The Electra 225 Convertible was based on the regular Electra 2 door hardtop and shares its body dimensions which stretched only to 220.6 inches.  Unique to the Electra 225 Convertible were standard leather bench seats and optional leather 1st year bucket seats (neither leather nor bucket seats were offered on any other 1959 Buick model).

Of the 285,089 Buicks produced in 1959, only 5,493 were Electra 225 Convertibles (less than 2%).  Estimates suggest that less than 200 of these cars survive, and of these, no more than a handful that were factory equipped with optional bucket seats and air conditioning.

Options on this particular car include the ultra rare bucket seats, air conditioning, automatic heat, Wonder Bar radio with foot switch, rear speaker, power antenna, and full EZEye (tinted) glass.

I plan to drive the car regularly after the restoration so I opted for an extensive frame-on restoration.  The shop doing the work is located in PA and a friend who also owns a 59 Electra 225 Convertible had a restoration ongoing at this same shop. 

Below is a page from the actual 1959 Buick Facts Book that was distributed to Dealers describing the Electra 225 Convertible. (Click on Picture to Enlarge)

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~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

1959 Buick Disassembly

September 12th, 2009

Before starting the disassembly we noticed that the chrome rear valence (under the bumper) is not correct for this model.  The only models with a chrome valence were the Electra 225 four door hardtop and the Electra 225 four door riviera sedan-hardtop.  The rear valence on the Electra 225 convertible should be body color.

Starting the disassembly process…

The original leather has all been replaced with incorrect vinyl in the wrong pattern and color.  The replacement carpeting is a cut pile as opposed to the original loop style and its generally shot.

The chrome pieces being removed in the below pic are specific to the Electra series…

The doors, top, hood, trunk and fenders have all been removed…

The only rust so far is a small hole under the passenger side door sill…

The front half seems to be coming apart smoothly…

Parts are being blasted, painted, and hung to dry as they come off the car…

The interior is almost totally removed…

Note the overspray on the heater box from a previous amateur incorrect dash restoration…

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~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

1959 Buick AIR RIDE suspension option!

October 12th, 2009

Disassembly has confirmed that the car was originally equipped with “Air Ride” suspension. This optional suspension was introduced in 1958 when it was fitted on both the front and rear.  Because of problems and numerous failures, the system was only fitted to the rear in 1959, and then permanently discontinued. The 1959 air-ride system replaced the rear coil springs with air-chamber “springs” that were kept filled with air via an air compressor that was located and driven off  the front of the engine.  Air Ride cars used a different air cleaner housing that contained an extra inlet and clamp for the for the compressor inlet hose and “Air Ride” was written directly onto the air cleaner.

The below pics show the original Air Ride Junction Box near the rear shocks, the cut lines, and the main line running down the frame. No way I’m even going to attempt to get the system operating again, the parts will be removed and put aside.

Cars built with Air Ride suspension used different lower control arms that included spacers on the lower spring seats to drop the body lower (see pictures below of my car and a standard car).  The reason for the spacers was to accommodate the longer spring length of the Air-Ride cars front springs, which in turn were designed to support the extra weight of the air-ride compressor and associated equipment.  I was able to locate a used set of control arms at Buick Obsolete Parts (http://buickobsoleteparts.com/) off a non Air Ride car.

Below is the page from the actual 1959 Buick Facts Book describing the Air Ride option (Click on Picture to Enlarge)

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~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

1959 Buick Undercoating

October 14th, 2009

Inspection of the frame and underbody reveals the car was undercoated.  Since undercoating was a Buick authorized dealer option in 1959, more than likely the undercoating was applied by the dealer.  I could either take the frame off and remove it all, or leave the frame on and keep the dealer undercoating.  I’m going with the frame-on. The underside will be completely steam cleaned to remove all dirt and grime. If any loose areas are found, which is doubtful after 50 years, it will be scraped off and new material reapplied. A special black sealant will then be applied to bring it back to the look it had the day the dealer delivered it to the customer. I am not, however, going to apply the material to the new brake lines, exhaust hangars, fuel tank, etc.

The car will be detailed to frame-off quality from the cowl forward when it comes to the underside. Meaning that unless you put a mirror under it, the car should look like a frame-off in every other respect. I’m doing it this way because I intend to drive it regularly in good weather which will ruin an underbody restoration in short order, and also because it will save me a small fortune.

Below is picture of a 1959 Buick Dealer Brochure explaining the Undercoating process (Click on Picture to Enlarge).


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~ Tom Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible