- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

Dan Ryan measured the interior dimensions of his Greenbelt garage before he purchased his 1964 Buick Electra 225 hardtop coupe. “I wouldn’t want to buy a car like that if I couldn’t garage it,” he says.

The car he had in mind was in Palm Springs, Calif., last year. The initial owner purchased it in Michigan and records indicate it was soon moved to Texas before ending up in California. When new the 4,149-pound Buick had a base price of $4,070.

Originally, the big Buick had a painted white top over a light green body. All the paint was stripped off during the restoration process and it was painted bronze and a black vinyl top was applied. The restoration was completed in March 2003.

Mr. Ryan came by his fondness for Buicks honestly. His father was the service manager for Raymond Buick in Bayshore, N.Y. and always drove home in one model Buick or another. Mr. Ryan saw, drove, sat in and admired all those Buicks that he brought home.

“My first car was a 1967 Electra,” Mr. Ryan says. That car was followed by a 1967 Special, a 1966 LeSabre and now a 1964 Electra.

Mr. Ryan had a friend in California authenticate that everything about the car was as advertised. Once he received an affirmative reply he bought the car in December 2007 and arranged to have a trucking company transport his purchase in an enclosed van.

“It took six weeks to get here,” Mr. Ryan says. “I was on the telephone with the truck driver constantly.” It was delivered to a nearby parking lot in the middle of January Mr. Ryan says.

His Buick is so long, with it’s 126-inch wheelbase, that the rear bumper would scrape the pavement during the unloading process. The problem was solved by putting blocks of wood under the ramps to create a shallower angle of departure. “I actually backed it off the truck myself,” Mr. Ryan says. The odometer had recorded 77,000 miles. The new owner is happy to report that there were no unpleasant surprises once he received the Buick.

With the “Wildcat 445” V-8 engine producing 325 horsepower, Mr. Ryan says, “First I drove it to the gas station and then home.” He says that “Wildcat 445” decal on the air cleaner often is misunderstood. That figure refers to the pounds-feet of torque produced by the 401-cubic-inch V-8. All the power produced is transferred to the rear wheels via a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.

Records that came with the car indicated the AM/FM radio conversion was accomplished in Pismo Beach. The four like new wheelcovers came from Enumclaw, Wash., and the Buick was repainted in Placentia, Calif. Many of the parts and much of the work was done in Pasadena, Calif. The rear springs, dashboard, upholstery, vinyl top and exhaust system with three mufflers all are Pasadena products.

Optional equipment on the Electra 225 include:

• Power brakes.

• Power antenna.

• Power steering.

• Power windows.

• Air conditioning.

• 4-way drivers bucket seat.

The car, one of 9,045 such models manufactured, also features a tissue dispenser under the dashboard. Incorporated into the speedometer is a trip odometer and a speed alert function. The driver sets the speed alert to a certain speed and if he exceeds that speed a warning buzzer sounds. A tilt steering wheel was a new feature on most cars 44 years ago. Mr. Ryan notes, “The steering wheel is huge.”

The all-black interior of the car is anything but claustrophobic thanks to the swath of silver across the dashboard and all the chrome trim.

The new owner has driven his Buick about 1,000 miles and when the weather is warmer he plans to give his car a good cleaning including treating the leather upholstery and vinyl top. “I’ll wax it when its warmer,” he says with anticipation. “It’s a sharp car, no question,” he says.

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