- - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shortly after World War II, Jacob Blaufarb bought some acreage in the Poconos near Bushkill, Pa. With the land came a 1928 Buick, which the owner had purchased new.

Until his death in 1972, Grandfather Blaufarb’s place was a favorite summer vacation site for his six grandchildren. One of those six, Dave Blaufarb of Silver Spring, can still recall piling into the old Buick with his siblings and cousins for a ride down to the nearby Delaware River for some summertime fun.

Early on, his overriding interest in the Buick became apparent to the entire family. That’s why nobody was surprised in 1967 when his grandfather gave him the car. Young Mr. Blaufarb was 16 at the time.

His father, Douglas, that autumn drove to Pennsylvania in a huge rental truck to retreive the 3,140-pound car and delivered it to a sympathetic friend’s garage near Tenley Circle in the District.

Typical of cars of that era - when good roads were scarce - the odometer had not yeat reached the 60,000-mile mark. Even so, the then-39-year-old six-cylinder engine wouldn’t run. ‘I hadn’t a clue what I was doing,’ Mr. Blaufarb admits as he threw himself at the task of taking the engine apart. ‘My skill level was pretty rudimentary.’

After a year or two, he delivered to a machine shop the 207-cubic-inch block along with boxes of parts that formerly had been inside the engine.

The machine shop ground the valves, shaped it up and got it running. That’s when the garage owner invited Mr. Blaufarb to find another place to park his treasure. Hew found a corrugated metal shed on Porter Street NW near Connecticut Avenue that passed for a garage and rented it for $5 a month.

With the Buick running, Mr. Blaufarb’s father insisted that he replace the plate-glass windshield with safety glass and overhaul the mechanical brakes.

‘My dad bought four new tires,’ Mr. Blaufarb says. ‘He was into safety stuff.’

The first - and only - ‘big trip’ he made in the Buick was when he loaded it up with friends and, on the new 5.25x21-inch tires, drove all the way out to the Brighton Dam in Maryland and then all the way back to the metal garage. There it sat unattended until 1977. In the meantime Mr. Blaufarb went off to college, after which life got in the way. With the garage roof leaking and about to collapse, the Buick was evicted.

It had been idle so long that, once again, the engine wouldn’t run. Mr. Blaufarb rented a trailer and in the summer of 1977 hauled his car to a West Virginia farm his father owned.

His grandfather had long ago discarded the entire top, so Mr. Blaufarb had new oak bows fabricated along with the chrome-plate top irons.

By 1979, the engine, with the help of a rebuilt Marvel updraft carburetor, was once more smoothly producing 63 horsepower. ‘Every one of them a stallion,’ Mr. Blaufarb is quick to add.

He then convinced his bride, Gail, that it was ‘body off’ restoration time.

The Buick was reduced to a pile of parts and soon the rolling chassis looked like new with the engine and transmission in place. This foundation for the entire car was hauled back to Silver Spring.

The rest of the old Buick followed piece by piece in a pickup truck over the next three or four years.

In the 1980s, the Buick slowly came together with items such as the radiator shell being replated after the demands of son Ben and daughter Stephanie had been met.

In the autumn of 1991, the Buick was hauled to Andy Paza’s Automotive Metal Performance shop in Hagerstown, Md., for last-minute work on the scarred fenders and for painting.

The body color is Talena brown and the fenders are black. The five-line pinstripe starts with a stripe of gold with a stripe of vermillion on either side concluding with stripes of trailgreen on the outer edges.

The 12-spoke wooden wheels are made of second-growth hickory, Mr. Blaufarbreports. Eight pieces of walnut make up the rim of the steering wheel. The four spokes of the wheel, he says, are aluminum. Around the horn button at the hub of the wheel are three levers, the bottom one controlling the lights, the left lever the spark advance and the right one the hand throttle.

On the dashboard are the wiper control, choke and carburetor heat control.

In the center is the speedometer calibrated to 80 mph. ‘It will go 60,’ Mr. Blaufarb affirms. The single-action hydraulic Lovejoy shock absorbers help make the ride pleasant.

Of the 235,008 Buicks built in 1928, only 3,134 were the standard Model 25 Sport Touring car. Each car had a base price of $1,225.

Most of the parts and pieces of the Buick were there when Mr. Blaufarb got it.

An upholstery shop was able to copy the brown leather interior, even the pocket in each door.

‘The top went on last,’ Mr. Blaufarb says, ‘in 2000.’ The Buick was then hauled to State Line, Pa., where new fabric was fitted around the skeleton of the top that Mr. Blaufarb provided. The rear window is glass. Then, using the old ones as patterns, new side curtains were created. They are stored in a pocket behind the back seat.

If Mr. Blaufarb’s Buick were equipped with optional bumpers it would be a bit more than 14 feet long. As it is, the length is slightly less than 14 feet. Regardless, the entire rig rides on a 115-inch wheelbase with a 9.25-inch ground clearance.

The car has a 37.5-foot turning circle.

Behind the 16-gallon gasoline tank is the spare tire, which surrounds the single combination tail/backup/brake light.

‘He was a Buick guy,’ Mr. Blaufarb says of his grandfather. Thinking back to those long ago summers in Pennsylvania, he says, ‘When we opened the garage door I can still see light reflect off the flat glass and smell the gasoline and leather.’

Now, 38 years later, a persistent Mr. Blaufarb can say, ‘It’s pretty much done.’

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