It was a friend who found the 1933 Buick 60 Series sedan that William "Bub" Valiquette now drives. Though the Buick was beautiful, Valiquette's friend really wanted a convertible.
When Valiquette heard that the Buick sedan was available he and his wife, Gloria, went to investigate. The car was close to their Worcester, Mass., home. In the nearby town of Paxton, they found in excellent condition a then 34-year-old, five-passenger, four-door sedan.
When new, the 4,115-pound 1933 Buick 60 Series had a base price of $1,310. Beneath the long hood was an inline, overhead valve, eight-cylinder engine. The 272.6-cubic-inch straight-eight developed 97 horsepower.
Only 7,450 such Buicks were manufactured in model year 1933 - the depths of the Great Depression. Valiquette was told that after years of sparing use, the meticulously maintained Buick was passed onto the next generation in the family. However, they were not particularly interested in the old sedan, hence Valiquette's arrival at their doorstep.
Valiquette says his wife was more excited about the Buick than he was. The odometer had recorded about 40,000 miles, as verified by thorough record-keeping, so they bought the car in October 1967. To enter the Buick and take his new acquisition home, Valiquette had to step up onto the running board. Activating the starter button on the dashboard with his left hand, the smooth engine began to purr, fed fuel via a two-barrel updraft Marvel carburetor. Five door vents on both sides of the hood help control heat generated by the engine.
Upon arriving home Valiquette reports, "My wife went right to work buffing the black car."
Giving the already handsome car a touch of added elegance are the dual side-mounted spare tires encased in metal shrouds. At the rear of the Buick is a collapsible luggage rack, upon which a fitted steamer trunk can be mounted. Valiquette says when he takes the Buick out for a drive he leaves the trunk at home and folds the rack up against the back of the car. Otherwise, he explains, the rack and trunk protrude several inches beyond the rear bumper.
In the days before air conditioning became common, engineers designed methods to control air flow to keep occupants comfortable. Valiquette's Buick has a cowl ventilator, as well as windows that can be lowered in each of the four doors. Additionally both front doors have enormous wing vent windows that direct air into the cabin. The windows to the rear of the back doors are divided; one part stationary while the other half is a wing vent window.
Over the years two of the 12 windows have been replaced. Most of the car is original, a testament to the good care it has always received. About 20 years ago, Valiquette noticed that some red primer was showing through the black paint on the top of the engine hood. That part of the car was repainted. "She buffed it out nicely," Valiquette says in praise of his wife.
The 1933 Buick is well-appointed. It has a pocket in each front door and two wipers to clear the one-piece windshield, a courtesy light on the ceiling, a robe rail on the back of the front seat, a footrest in the rear, an ashtray in the right rear armrest, and for privacy, three curtains to shield the three rearmost windows.
Valiquette changes his own oil saying, "It's easy to pull the plug out of the pan." He reports that each oil change consumes 8 quarts of oil.
"The farthest I've gone is about 50 miles to a car show in Newport, Rhode Island," he recalls. On that excursion, the Buick delivered 10 miles per gallon. "I drive it about 30 to 35 even though I know it will do 70," he says. Valiquette is conscious of the limitations of the mechanical brakes on his car.
Valiquette still looks forward to settling in the driver's seat behind the three-spoke steering wheel and going for a ride on the 6.50x17-inch white sidewall tires mounted on steel spoke artillery wheels. The odometer on the 78-year-old Buick has just recently reached 53,000 miles.
The best part of any ride is sounding the dual horns suspended below the headlights. "They absolutely have a nice tone," he says.
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