He was ready to order with 25 optional extras. The 18-foot, 4-inch-long Buick had Bamboo Cream body topped with a Glacier White painted roof and a base price of $3,507.
With the Buick order form optioned to his satisfaction, the customer left a $100 deposit with the dealer and then went home to Roanoke, Va., to wait for his Buick to be built. Once he was notified that his car had arrived he wrote a check for $4,275 and the car was his — and remained so for the next 40 years.
Paul Puff had been searching for a Buick Wildcat for about five years when in May 2010 he saw this Buick advertised for sale in a magazine published by the Antique Automobile Club of America. The incredibly original, well-kept Buick captured his attention, even though it was not a Wildcat model.
Puff telephoned the man who had handpicked all the accessories on the car so many years before. The condition of the car sounded so exceptional that Puff enlisted the aid of a friend who lived near Roanoke. The friend inspected the Buick and was so impressed that he sent a report to Puff saying, “If this is the kind of car you want, you had better grab it.”
Puff contacted the owner and informed him that he wanted the 1970 Buick LeSabre Custom and he would send him $1,000 as a deposit. The owner said that wouldn’t be necessary, however, Puff sent the money anyway.
On June 2, 2010 Puff made the 200-mile journey to Roanoke towing an enclosed trailer to take ownership of the Buick. It is one of 35,641 such models built that year. The 80-inch-wide, 54.7-inch-high Buick LeSabre Custom, rolling on a 124-inch wheelbase, was loaded onto the trailer and securely tied down.
On the way home to Centreville, Va., with the 3,921-pound Buick in the trailer, Puff encountered what he describes as the worst rain storm that he has ever had the misfortune in which to drive. As he motored through the Shenandoah Valley he was lucky to be near a rest stop where he could get off the rain-soaked highway and sit out the storm.
When he arrived home and opened the trailer he got good news. The trailer had leaked not one single drop of water on the pristine Buick.
“I would like to drive this car every day,” Puff says.
Puff unloaded his acquisition on its set of H78x15-inch Uniroyal tires. With his beautiful Buick LeSabre safely housed in his garage, Puff carefully checked out his prize from the sparkling grille in the front to the 16.9-cubic-foot trunk at the other end. Puff was pleased that his Buick came with the original metal Protect-O-Plate that was to be used every time the car was taken to the dealer for regular servicing.
“The five-spoke chrome-plated wheels put the Sport in it,” he says.
The coolant system was flushed with 16.45 quarts of fluid. The fuel tank has a capacity of 25 gallons of gasoline. Inside the like-new interior, the driver settles into the comfortable seat behind the 16-inch, two-spoke steering wheel. The wheel turns four turns lock-to-lock. The speedometer tops out at 120 mph.
When Puff purchased the 1970 Buick the odometer had recorded 58,000 miles. Since then he has added an additional 160 miles. Puff is pleased to find that his car is equipped with an energy-absorbing steering column, as well as an energy-absorbing instrument panel. The Buick also features a radio antenna embedded in the windshield.
At the first local antique car show he attended with his white over yellow Buick a woman approached him from Linden, Mich., who noticed the 8-track tape player in the LeSabre. She volunteered her collection of 8-track tapes. “You meet the nicest people in this hobby,” Puff observes. — Vern Parker
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010