Early iron resting forgotten in wide-open fields—we figured that kind of treasure still exists only on posters and paintings. But every once in a while we hear from owners who found cars just like that and brought them back to life.
Jerry Gray’s 1952 Buick Roadmaster hardtop had been resting in a field in Nebraska since 1965 when he located it on eBay. In 2008 he bought it for $1,500, brought it to his home shop in Belgrade, Montana, and completed the total frame-off rebuild by 2013. The job began with a complete frame and chassis from Art Morrison Enterprises to upgrade the Buick with rack-and-pinion steering, Wilwood disc brakes at all four wheels, triangulated four-bar rear suspension, and a Ford 9-inch rearend with a Posi and 3.50:1 gears.
The body came out of that field wearing virtually all of its exterior trim, emblems, and hardware. Jerry retained and restored it all, adding 455 and fuel-injection badges to the front fenders.
“It was painted by me in my garage with colors chosen by myself and my wife, Suzy,” he told us. “The body paint is PPG Copper Metallic on top and Desert Rose on bottom. My friend Brett McGinley helped with the bodywork and airbrushed Marilyn under the hood. As a safety precaution, I added LED lights behind the Dynaflow trim on the trunk. They are now also a left and right turn signal and third brake light. The final touch to the Buick is the porthole lights. There are mini LED lights behind each modified porthole. They flash with engine timing and the speed is adjustable.”
Wire wheels and wide whites seem like the perfect choice for a resto custom like this one. Jerry chose 15-inch Truespoke wheels, paired with 225/76R15 American Classic radials from Coker.
Jerry made sure his Roadmaster stayed Buick powered, but replaced the factory OHV inline-eight engine with a 1972 455 from the muscle car era, updated with throttle body injection from Howell Engineering. A stout, locally built 700-R4 transmission backs up the 455.
Inside, the original seats have been re-covered with brown and ivory distressed vinyl by Mike Wood. “Cool fall and winter days are more enjoyable with the heated front seat—and Custom Autosound, Vintage Air, and Sirius radio keeps everyone happy,” Jerry says. The stock steering wheel is mounted on an ididit tilt column. Stewart-Warner gauges are integrated with stock ones.
In the five years that their 1952 Roadmaster has been back on the road, Jerry and Suzy have driven it more than 50,000 miles. “The Buick is our summer road car,” Jerry says. “Each year we head different directions, visiting many states, making new friends, and driving to numerous car shows and events. We have to burn the good stuff, but 22-26 mpg at 70-75 mph eases the fuel bite.”