We can’t think of a bad reason to build a cool custom, but we will say that Mike Young’s reason might be the best we’ve ever heard.
He says he was just about to buy a 1950 Chevy when he came across a 1949 Buick Sedanette. “The old girl had been parked next to a barn since 1959 and was in horrible condition, but it was love at first sight,” Mike says. “At $700, I overpaid, but she needed to be saved from the crusher.” Horrible as it was, the Buick had the features Mike was looking for in a Chevy, but with more character.
The next town down the road from Mike’s home in Derby, Kansas, is Mulvane, home to Chris Carlson Hot Rods. Chris had built two cars for Mike, and once he found out about the Buick, ideas started volleying back and forth, revolving around the concept of a cool early ’60s custom.
“The Buick’s lines just scream ‘cut me up,'” Mike says, and more than 100 amazing modifications were made to intensify—not change—the shape of the body. The already sleek top was chopped, and the hood was pancaked, pie-cut, peaked, and panned, with the factory seams filled to create the hood perimeter re-cut sportscar-style. Chris used an English wheel on the decklid to create the look of a Riviera boat tail. He shaved the front fender trim and door handles and peaked the front and rear fenders. A pair of 1956 Olds 98 lights fill the raised headlight buckets, with 1954 Mercury taillights fabricated into the reshaped rear fenders. Drew Carlson at CCHR built a custom front bumper from two stock bumpers. The dark gray pearlescent paint, sprayed by Chris, is a variation of the Granite color from the Martin Senour Automotive Finishes Rod & Restoration Custom Color Program.
Whitewall tires are a necessary ingredient for a period custom and the Buick rolls on 235/55R17 and 255/55R17 Uniroyals from the Diamond Back Touring line, mounted on 17-inch Circle Racing Wheels 91 Series billet solid wheels. Wilwood components ensure reliable braking, from the remote dual master cylinders and booster to the 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors and four-piston calipers mounted at each wheel.
In addition to improving handling, the custom chassis setup enhances the Buick’s reduced profile with a low-slung stance. The stock 1949 frame was retained and reinforced with boxing plates. It has a Mustang II-style front suspension from Total Cost Involved. At the rear, the TCI four-link locate a Currie Enterprises 9-inch, housing 3.70:1 gears. RideTech HQ Series coilover shocks are mounted all around.
Historic early customs didn’t typically have clean engine compartments, but in the Buick, it’s sanitary. The smooth custom firewall and inner fenders cradle an injected Chevy 383 stroker engine from BluePrint Engines. CCHR added the Imagine Injection 8-stack EFI system with K&N air cleaners for retro appeal. The finned Moon valve covers and Eddie Motorsports serpentine drive pulleys dress things up even more. Other engine compartment components include the MSD ignition, Be Cool radiator and dual fans, and Speedway hugger headers feeding exhaust to custom exhaust pipes and MagnaFlow mufflers. Chris backed up the 383 with TCI Automotive’s Street Fighter 700-R4 transmission and Saturday Night Special converter.
Chris crossed over into Ford territory to fill the completely redesigned interior with front buckets, rear wrap-around seats, and center console from a 1964 Ford Thunderbird. The seats were modified and upholstered with tan and hazelnut leather. The console was customized for the Lokar shifter and Pioneer head unit. Focal speakers are mounted front and rear.
The custom dash design was inspired from the Lincoln Zephyr and houses a Dakota Digital VHX-1021 gauge cluster. The lower dash panel contains the controls and vents for the Vintage Air A/C; additional vents blow cool air into the back. A CON2R wheel tops an ididit tilt column. The trunk is fully finished with the same two-tone leather and deep pile carpet.
Every part of the build was done with one reason in mind: driving it. “I wanted a big comfortable road car that my wife, Glenna, and I could drive across the country in comfort,” Mike told us. “The best part is traveling with the cars and the Carlsons to car shows and to SEMA [where Mike’s 1949 Buick Sedanette custom has been featured twice]. It’s nice to have that cool car but at the end of the day it’s the journey and the friends you make.”