Paul and Erik Hansen are the owners of Resilience, this classic but contemporary '52 Buick custom, but they are just part of the team responsible for the creation of the car. The father-and-son enthusiasts made a big splash about 5 years ago with a '32 Ford roadster nicknamed Sedeuced. That car was a huge success, starting with its premier appearance at the 2004 Detroit Autorama (where it was a Great 8 finalist for the Ridler Award). The roadster was invited to the Fresno Autorama a few weeks later, and was named America's Most Beautiful Roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show in 2005.
Blackie Gejeian has been a hot rodder since the Forties. He has personally selected the cars for his invitation-only Fresno Autorama for 50 years. When the Hansens won the Street Rod Sweepstakes Award with Sedeuced in 2004, Blackie told them, "Do yourself a favor, don't build another roadster. Build a sled. You've proven that you know how to build a hot rod. It'd be interesting to see what you can do with a custom."
Blackie's advice made an impression on the Hansens. Erik told us he's always been a fan of lead sleds and early customs, and his dad Paul said they both were inspired by some of the customs built in the early days by Dick Bertolucci and Harry Westergard. They were also impressed by some of the customs being built currently by Tim and Carrie Strange.
Tim and Carrie are the owners of Strange Motion Rod & Custom Construction in Cambridge, Illinois, and are well-known for their award-winning cars. One custom they'd never completed was a '52 Buick Riviera they'd started in the late Nineties. The build-up had been going well until the owner's wife found out how much money he was spending, and the project came to a sudden halt.
The Hansens and the Stranges had met a few years before, and when Erik and Paul found out about the abandoned Buick project, they called Tim. Fortunately, Tim was still eager to finish the car and was able to convince the owner to sell it. By the fall of 2007, the Buick was back at Strange Motion, ready for some attention. The project really got rolling in January of 2008 at the Grand National Roadster Show when the Hansens, the Stranges, and Brian Stupski got together in person and started putting together ideas for the project.
Brian Stupski is an illustrator and designer (and occasional R&C contributor), and has worked with Tim on previous projects. Paul calls Brian "the translator" of the five-person team-the one who could "take the concepts and translate them into something that could be seen in a drawing and applied to the car." Brian's concept illustration of the Riviera appeared in this magazine in April 2009 as "Dream Car of the Month," and the finished car, the result of a collaboration of five people, doesn't deviate very far from Brian's artwork.
"We wanted to pay homage to the customs of the Fifties," Erik explained. "We tried to give it the flow and old-style flair of 50 years ago, without denying that we're in 2009-and, hopefully, have a car that will be just as cool 50 years into the future." If there's one word that defines that concept, it's resilience.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Erik & Paul Hansen
Discovery Bay, California
1952 Buick Riviera
The crew at Strange Motion boxed and smoothed the stock frame, and Z'ed the 'rails 7 inches in the front to give the Riv the same low stance as in Brian Stupski's concept sketch. A custom trans crossmember was built to emulate the look of an old cast piece. Attention to detail included chroming the suspension components, which include custom tubular A-arms and Mustang II spindles, and an Air Ride Technologies triangulated four-link locating a Ford rearend with 3.56:1 gears. Air Ride ShockWave air springs were added to the front and rear. The Buick is steered via a manual rack, and stopped by GM front discs and Ford rear drums with a Corvette master cylinder and Kugel under-dash booster.
Erik said, "I challenge you to find another 500ci Cadillac with six deuces." In addition to making that unusual combination work, the idea was to create the impression of a Sixties-era speedboat engine. The '70 Cadillac mill was machined and assembled by Auto Rons in Davenport, Iowa. A custom intake manifold was fabricated to handle half a dozen Barry Grant Demon 98 two-barrels. Erik said it was his idea. Paul said he wondered if they could get all six of 'em running; they did. The valve covers are handmade, as are the custom headers with old-time water-jacket-style manifolds to continue the marine theme. A handbuilt front bracket mounts the Powermaster PowerGEN alternator (intended to resemble a generator) and electronic distributor (intended to resemble a magneto) and the A/C compressor on the driver side. Allstar Performance provided the aluminum radiator. A Flowmaster U-Fit exhaust kit runs 21/2-inch pipes into Flowmaster mufflers. Bowler Performance Transmissions in Lawrenceville, Illinois, assembled the Turbo 400 automatic, with a B&M floor-mounted shifter and shift kit, connected to a Denny's Driveshaft Service driveshaft.
Body & Paint
The amount of sheetmetal work on the '52 Riviera body by Strange Motion is obvious, but many of the details are not. Shaving the portholes and the majority of the trim pieces and adding '53 Buick Special trim is just the beginning. The toothy stock grille was replaced by a '51 Olds grille bar, V-cut to fit the contours of the nose. The '52 bumper was retained but modified to fit and frenched in. The quarters and doors were completely reshaped; front fenders were sectioned 11/2 inches and fitted with Jeep Liberty headlights. The trunk was reskinned with '51 Buick sheetmetal. The finned design of the '54 Merc taillights was carried over into the quarters and '55 Pontiac rear bumpers as exhaust ports.
The top was chopped and swapped for the top from a '48 Buick Jetback four-door sedan, which was shortened 16 inches, narrowed 31/2 inches at the A-pillars and widened 81/2 in the rear with new C-pillars.
The color was a critical decision, made by Erik, Paul, and Tim standing outdoors in the sunlight with paint sample books, and debating at length. Ultimately, everybody agreed on Blazing Copper, a DuPont Hot Hues color. Tim shot the car, using the same paint on the interior, but with a satin finish in contrast to the high-gloss exterior. The same technique was used when shooting the Amber Ecstasy. It's glossy on the frame, but satiny under the hood.
Wheels & Tires
The 18-inch custom rims were designed by Tim Strange and Brian Stupski as a modern interpretation of classic GM 8-lug wheels. Greening Auto Company in Cullman, Alabama, CNC-machined the 18x8 rollers with 5 inches of backspacing. Low-key copper 'striping and custom center caps with Resilience badges, created by Motorhead Jewelry in Louisville, Kentucky, finish the look. The low-profile street/racing tires are P235/45R18 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW radials.
Attention is immediately drawn to the full custom dash, another collaboration between Tim and Brian. The center instrument pod monitors mph, revs, oil, volts, fuel, and water temperature, and was styled after vintage clocks, radios, and other appliances. Classic Instruments came on board to make it actually work, with juice delivered via a Painless Performance wiring kit. The '59 Olds steering wheel was sent to Australia to be redone with a swirl finish by Pearlcraft, before being adapted to an ididit tilt column. The custom console houses the controls for the Hot Rod Air A/C system; vents in the sides continue the '54 Merc taillight theme. Ross Johnson and Greg Bloomberg installed the hidden Custom Autosound stereo with a 10-disc CD changer and Kicker amplifier and speakers.
The front and rear buckets are extensively re-formed '59 Oldsmobile convertible seats, covered in two-tone Ultraleather by Krist Kustoms in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Carrie Strange completed the rest of the upholstery work. The window cranks are from a '41 Buick. Dome and kick panel lights came out of a '52 Hudson.