- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

In 1956, a top-of-the-line Buick Roadmaster Riviera sedan carried a base price of $3,692. Most of the 24,779 built for that model year sold for much more.

Each one of the 17-foot, 9.5-inch-long Buicks left the factory in Flint, Mich., with a 322-cubic-inch V-8 engine under the hood. A four-barrel carburetor helps it produce 255 horsepower.

Even weighing 4,355 pounds, the massive Buick could deliver an honest 100 mph.

It’s not the sort of high-powered luxury car you expect to be driven by ladies of the Social Security set. Nevertheless, Gregory Weidman bought a new one for his mother in Silver Spring.

After serving her for about 40 years, the big, black Buick had 56,000 miles on the odometer

Bill Tricarico first saw the car in the autumn of 1997 on display at an antique car show and was captivated by its beauty. He purchased the then-42-year-old Buick in May 1998.

After the black Roadmaster was trucked to his Vienna home, he discovered that it had sat idle for the past four or five years. Consequently, the starter was bad and the gas in the carburetor had turned into varnish.

Patiently, Mr. Tricarico cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor and cleaned the gasoline line and the gasoline tank. He also refurbished the radiator and, so he would never be troubled again, he obtained a new, stainless-steel exhaust system.

With the installation of a new set of white sidewall radial tires, Mr. Tricarico, who kept the original bias-ply spare tire, was ready for some Buick boulevard cruising.

The Buick floats on a 127-inch wheelbase. The spacious Roadmaster came equipped with power brakes, power steering, power windows and a power antenna along with a button on the floor to activate the “Wonderbar” station changer for the AM radio. The shift pattern of the automatic transmission from the left is: Park-Neutral-Drive-Low-Reverse.

Curiously, the high-dollar car came with no air conditioner. On the other hand, that gave the owner an opportunity to roll down all four windows and display the fact that the four-door Buick had no “B” pillar between the doors. At the base of the windshield is a chrome-plated cowl vent through which fresh air can be directed to the cabin.

The part of the dashboard that wasn’t painted coral seemingly was chrome plated with the entire unit topped with a black vinyl.

With virtually all of the car in excellent original condition, only the shabby seat covering marred its beauty.

“The material is futuristic,” Mr. Tricarico says. “It looks like it belongs in a spaceship.” He located material matching the original fabric in Oregon and an upholstery shop made the interior look as good as the rest of the car.

Once all that Buick bulk gets moving, Mr. Tricarico reports highway fuel economy of 13 miles per gallon. The speedometer tops out at 120 mph. “I think it could do 120,” he says. “It likes to run. I like the way the car accelerates.”

The extraordinarily comfortable cabin absolutely forbids the intrusion of any feeling of the outside world.

Mr. Tricarico is particularly fascinated by the oil pressure and temperature instruments on the dashboard. When all is well, the gauges are illuminated green — which changes to red when something is amiss.

Mr. Tricarico isn’t one to let his car sit idle. The Buick’s odometer has eclipsed 63,000 miles with no end in sight.

With all of the attention the owner attracts when driving his chrome-laden Buick, he can be excused if he feels like a movie star.

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