- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2010

Dan Ryan measured the interior dimensions of his Greenbelt, Md., 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 said.

The car he had in mind was in Palm Springs, Calif. The initial owner purchased it in Michigan, and records indicate that 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.

The big Buick originally had a painted white top over a light-green body. All the paint was stripped off during the restoration process, and it was repainted bronze. 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 his father brought home.

“My first car was a 1967 Electra,” Mr. Ryan said. 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 said. “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 said.

His Buick is so long, with its 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 said. The odometer had recorded 77,000 miles. The new owner was happy to report that he found no unpleasant surprises once he received the Buick.

With the “Wildcat 445” V-8 engine producing 325 horsepower, Mr. Ryan said, “First I drove it to the gas station and then home.” He said 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 that the AM/FM radio conversion was accomplished in Pismo Beach, Calif. The four like-new wheel covers came from Enumclaw, Wash., and the Buick was repainted in Placentia, Calif. Many of the parts and much of the work was completed 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:

c Power brakes.

c Power antenna.

c Power steering.

c Power windows.

c Air conditioning.

c Four-way driver 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. If the driver exceeds the speed at which the alert is set, a warning buzzer sounds. A tilt steering wheel was a new feature on most cars back then. “The steering wheel is huge,” Mr. Ryan said.

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.

After driving his Buick about 1,000 miles, Mr. Ryan was planning to give his car a good cleaning, including treating the leather upholstery and vinyl top. “I’ll wax it when it’s warmer,” he said with anticipation. “It’s a sharp car, no question.”

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