It didn’t beat the previous year’s sales high-water marks, but it still scored a solid 574,024 cars sold, down from 738,894 in 1955. The economic recession that swept across America in the second half of the fifties was taking its toll on the car-building business,
Naturally, the least sought-after models were the relatively less convenient convertibles. Buick offered a broad range of models from its four series of automobiles. Eighteen different variations, from the entry-level Specials to the top-of-the-line Roadmasters.
Both cars fell under the Special range, alongside the regular, non-Riviera versions (that also came in two body styles, two- and four-door sedans). Alongside them rode the estate wagon and the Convertible Coupe.
This is the one we’re interested in, as one of them is featured in the video below, and it’s a true factory-built example that gets proper road usage. The owner states the engine has never been out of its bay during the 87,344 miles of its life. That’s 140,537 kilometers from a 1956 Fireball V8 we’re discussing here.
Don’t say anything about the Kelsey Hayes wheels not being factory-equipped on the car – they still look the part. The 1956 Buicks had a 322 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine tuned to two specifications. In the Special, the V8 punched out 220 horsepower and 319 lb-ft of torque (223 PS / 433 Nm).
At the same time, the Century, Super, and Roadmaster series had a more respectable 255 hp and 341 lb-ft (259 PS / 462 Nm), thanks to a compression ratio of 9.5:1, as opposed to the 8.9:1 in the Special.
Or, more accurately, it helped the driver stay in the lane. When looking from behind the steering wheel, if the airplane was aligned with the side marking line of the road, then the Buick was dead-center on its lane.
Nice feature, although I don’t think General Motors engineers and designers gave it that much thought to measure, calculate, and plan their car to have this driver aid. But it’s a nice game– fly the hood ornament over the white line to stay on the road.
Since the load sat at the end of an already long overhang (a common feature in ‘56), the stress on the oil shocks and coils somewhat altered the ride quality. However, that would only be felt on rough roads – and ‘verts weren’t about going off the beaten path.
9,712 Buick Special Convertibles were assembled in 1956 – the largest ragtop Buicks of the four series. The Super, Century, and Roadmaster Convertible Coupes accounted for 11,564 units. When Ike Eisenhower was in the White House, a new drop-top Buick Special had a price tag of $2,740 (before any optional equipment was thrown in).
About this particular detail (the gas, I mean) – the ribbon speedometer is in line with the fuel gauge (also fashioned like a color-changing bar). At speeds over 70 mph, the speed indicator would turn red – a sign that the car was going too fast. Just as fast, the fuel tank bar was turning red (when a lead-footed driver got behind the wheel).