Revisiting the 1958 Buick Special


For many car enthusiasts, the 1958 Buick Special is synonymous with the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, soda shops, malted shakes and all the trappings of ’50s Americana. (I personally can’t help but recall the scene in the classic comedy “Animal House,” where the car rides down main street during the finale of the movie).

The Specials of the late ’50s certainly have an iconic look, especially when given a multi-toned paint job and whitewall tires, but history buffs may want to note that while its style is synonymous with the times, it was meant to contrast other models of the era.

In a 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics, many of the interview respondents noted that they preferred the Buick Special’s exterior to other models, saying it was “down to Earth,” didn’t look “like something that came from Mars” and had admirable “straight-line styling.”

And it’s this style that attracts motorists today – (it’s certainly not the performance, as versions of the car with original parts take nearly 12 seconds to hit 60 mph and only have a fuel economy of just over 17 mpg) – as the vehicle’s lasting appeal still inspires risk-taking.

In a recent edition of Old Cars Weekly, the magazine profiled the story of Scott Dohnal who decided it was finally time for him to purchase the car of his dreams – the ’58 Special. However, when he first found the car he eventually purchased, he was skeptical.

“Well, the car was pink and black, and it was the guy’s wife’s car,” Dohnal said in an interview. “And it didn’t run at the time, and I could only see the car on Sundays, and I could only pay for it in cash! So, I was wondering what I was getting myself into.”

However, after a lengthy restoration, the car has not only helped Dohanl fulfill his dreams, but it also was picked as the publication’s “Car of Week,” most likely for its ability to catch the eyes of other car owners who can only stare in envy at his restoration of this American classic.