In­tercon­ti­nen­tal Cruiser


Street Rodder - - Contents -

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

pro­por­tions work.

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.



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