Lost & Found, Grandpa's 1964 Buick
Written by Jim Suva
This is a story about a 1964 Buick Electra 225. On October 28, 1963 my Grandfather, James F. Suva, took our family to Dvorak Buick Company, located at 5312-29 Cermak Road in Cicero, Illinois. Grandpa wanted to buy the beautiful white 1964 Buick in the show room. Of course, since I was 7 years old, I wanted the red Buick Wildcat 2 door that was also in the showroom. Needless to say, more sensible minds prevailed. So on November 2, 1963, my grandpa took delivery of his brand new 1964 Buick Elctra 225. That was just 20 days before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Below are images of the original paper work on the sale:
The Buick came with a Nailhead 401 V8 engine, 3-speed TH-400 transmission, power steering/brakes, tinted glass and an AM radio. It also had cornering lamps on the front fenders with brocade cloth interior. My grandpa had clear plastic seat covers installed to protect the fancy cloth seats. Total cost of the Buick was $3,945.00.
I have some great memories of this car. I remember taking trips to St Adelbert's cemetery in Niles, Illinois to plant flowers and maintain the gravesites of my great-grandparents. We always took a push lawn mower and brought flowers. Afterwards we always picnicked at Oxhead Lake on Touhy Avenue.
My grandpa always took great care of his car. He never drove it in the rain or snow. In fact, my grandma had to wait for nice days to go to the grocery store! One of my grandpa's favorite things was to always keep the engine compartment clean. Something, I hate to admit, I never did. Below is a picture of my Grandfather, James F. Suva.
In 1973 and 1974 I was in Auto Shop classes at Proviso West High School. I remember driving the Buick to school to work on it in shop class. Even at 10 years old the car was in great shape. Then in the summer of 1974 my grandpa's sister was in the hospital and he drove the Buick and parked it on the street in Chicago. There it was hit by driver that did not leave a note. The damage included a broken left tail light, and the bumper and chrome tail section was dented. The Buick had two special chrome bars running up and the down in of the front area of the tail lights. We could not find a matching tail light to match. So my Grandpa made his own chrome pieces which we glued to the lens. Not perfect, but it looked like it matched. I have never seen these on any other Electra 225 model. The bumper was replaced along with the chrome tail section. At this time, the Buick had only 9,000 original miles on it.
In the spring of 1979, my grandpa was driving my grandma to the grocery store. The car was hit while making a left turn. The right front fender and right front passenger door were damaged. This was the time my grandfather gave me the Buick. I had it repaired, but I had to buy another '64 Electra for parts, so I could replace the chrome that was damaged in the accident.
I also had the Buick rust proofed to help protect the car for the future. I installed air shocks on the rear to bring the back end up higher, to avoid step driveways.
In May of 1987, I was moving to Los Angeles, California. I sold the Buick so that I could afford the move. I sold it to a younger guy whose father loved these types of cars. I do not remember his name. I sold the Buick for $3,600. The car had around 19,000 original miles on it. I think this kid got a great deal! I kept all the original paper work. Below are pictures of the Buick the day I sold it.
I moved back to Westchester, Illinois in June of 1997. As time went on, I started wondering if the Buick was still around. So in January 2008, I found a web site call The Lost Car Registry. I posted an ad looking for the car, which included the VIN number. I also posted pictures on my Pinterest account with the VIN number.
Fast forward to March 2014. Marcin Chomicki found my ad and Pinterest pictures while searching the vin number. He took ownership of the Buick 6 months ago. He was trying to find out the history of the car. He left me a message here on my blog. Needless to say we connected and I went and met him and saw the Buick for the first time in 28 years. The car still only has 23,984 original miles.
Here are some pictures of the Buick taken on 3/21/15.
Unfortunately the day before I saw Marcin and the Buick, the car was rear-ended by a drunk driver.
As a tribute to my grandpa, there is a picture of his hat on the driver's seat and the back package shelf. Here is a picture of the Saint Christopher that my grandpa mounted on the glove box back in 1964.
Martin is currently trying to find the complete owners' history of the Buick. This is what he knows so far.
His friend George owned the car from 1997 until he passed away 6 months ago.
George received the Buick as a partial payment for work he had done on the then-owner's home. George loved the Buick and kept it at his shop. He hardly ever drove it. Unfortunately, the Buick was kept outside. This is the reason the exterior is in its present condition. The interior is in near mint condition. Pretty much the way it left me in 1987, except the plastic seat covers have been removed.
Marcin is going to be restoring the Buick over the next few months. I will be posting updates on the car as it is being worked on.
Fall of 2014 - Marcin picked up the Buick and it was not running. Due to squirrels chewing on the fuel line, he had to replace a good portion from the front seat forward. He replaced the radiator core while keeping the bottom and top of the original radiator. He installed a new alternator to resolve a electric issue, as well as buying a new air cleaner that was missing.
Winter and Spring 2015 - The carburetor was worked on and reset. A new distributor with electronic ignition was installed. A new fuel pump installed. Marcin let me drive the Buick and it runs smoothly. He has a new exhaust system on order and recently purchased another 6 window 1964 Electra 225 as a parts car. The air shocks air line needs to be repaired or replaced, as the rear of the car sits low right now.
Current plans are for him to remove all the chrome, interior, windshield and windows. He has a friend who owns a body shop and will be doing the body and paint work. I am hoping to take pictures of the car as it goes through the restoration process.
I know I would love to own this Buick again someday. You never know what can happen in the future.
Please check back, as this story continues!