THIS ’57 BUICK IS AN OVER-THE-TOP, DOWN UNDER CUSTOM
Adam Cleary’s ’57 Buick
“The thought of building
a car and the endless possibilities are like an adrenalin rush I can’t get enough of.” That’s how Adam Cleary describes his passion for customizing cars. It’s been lifelong, but really ignited when he was 16, building his first car with his father. Soon, he and his friends were helping each other with their cars, developing their mechanical chops, and learning the importance of friendship between car guys working together to make things happen.
“I have always loved ’57 Buicks,” Adam told us, “due to the lines on the car—and the unique design with the three-piece rear window, big front bumper and grille, and bullet-shaped side ventiports.” Unfortunately, those cars are harder to find in Sydney, Australia, where Adam lives, than they are in the United States. Building a custom
car there is also more expensive and subject to strict regulations. Fortunately, Adam’s friends include American car guys with the same passion as his. Chad Canerday from Chad’s Auto Glass is one of them. They met several years ago when Adam bought a ’61 Cadillac custom from Chad. By coincidence, Chad had a ’57 Buick Special he wanted to build for whomever would buy it. From an ocean away, a deal was struck, plans were discussed, and work began.
As usual, the original plans were for a simpler build, but the plans always called for a slammed stance and seriously plus-sized wheels. Achieving that look was accomplished with a custom front and rear suspension built by The Choppin’ Block in Fresno, California. Air suspension components from RideTech controlled by an AccuAir e-Level air management system let Adam drop the Buick until the pavement pushes back. Up front, Choppin’ Block tubular control arms were added to the Fatman Fabrications front clip.
Factory ’57 Buicks were not designed for the kind of wheels and tires this one rides on. Packing those 24x9 Raceline Sniper 5 five-spokes and 275/30-24 Pirelli P-Zero radials into the wheel openings required modifying the front fenders with inner fender guards. Mini-tubs were fabricated for the rear and the rearend was narrowed to make room. That’s a lot of wheel but relative to the massive size of the body, the
As the old saying goes, big wheels … big brakes. For the right look and reliable stopping, a Wilwood disc brake combination of 16-inch rotors and six-piston calipers was mounted at every corner.
The stock Buick body lines have a custom look even without any mods, and a restomod approach was taken with the exterior. The door handles were shaved, along with lettering and emblems on the hood and decklid and the grille emblem. Many other classic trim elements were retained, such as the hood ornament, side molding, and three ventiports (identifying the Special model). Lewis Milinich at Milinich’s Body Works did much of the final sheetmetal work, including shooting the PPG paint; patent leather black was the perfect color choice.
On the inside, restomod surrenders to full custom, starting with a definitely not Buick dash. It’s a ’56 Chevrolet, housing Dakota Digital VHX gauges and ornamented with the “Special” lettering transplanted from the decklid. The Raceline steering wheeling is
trimmed in red leather to match the upholstery. Matching high-end carpet covers the floor. Krist Kustoms in Livingston, Texas, built and upholstered the interior. Front seats are from Glide Engineering and the rear buckets are custom made. A scratchbuilt console splits the interior and holds the Lokar shifter, power window and air suspension controls, and the stereo head unit. Red leather upholstery with custom billet inserts covers the seats and continues onto the door panels, kick panels, and trunk. Looney Tunez Car Audio built the Buick’s sound system, combining a Pioneer PRS 80 receiver, Digital Designs amps, and Unity speakers from Hybrid Audio.
Some of the work done to Adam’s Buick took place after its initial build in California and after its debut at the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Once the Buick made the trip to Australia, Adam took it to builder Paul Sant, his longtime friend and the owner of Proflo Performance in Sydney.
The Wilwood brakes were one of the changes made there, but a more significant change was the rebuilt engine. The Billet Specialties Streamline valve covers and air cleaner cover still dress up the 427 Chevy big-block, and a Holley 750 double-pumper carb and Edelbrock manifold continue to feed it. Proflo Performance beefed up the internals with JE pistons and rings, plus a Scat crank and rods. Valvetrain components include Manley valves and springs and a Crane solid lifter cam. An MSD ignition lights the air and fuel. Exhaust exits through Sanderson headers and custom 3-inch pipes. Behind the big-block, a Turbo 400 transmission with a B&M converter delivers torque to 3.50:1 gears in a Ford 9-inch rearend.
Adam’s beautiful Buick has been successful at impressing showgoers on two continents. The car is finished now, but he says he will probably never stop making tweaks and adjustments. It’s part of his passion. Of course, driving the car on the street is where the real adrenalin rush kicks in.
THE STOCK BUICK BODY LINES HAVE A CUSTOM LOOK EVEN WITHOUT ANY MODS, AND A RESTOMOD APPROACH
WAS TAKEN WITH THE EXTERIOR.