When Juan Freeman decides to look into something, he does it ever so thoroughly. Each tiny detail is minutely examined. Nothing is left to chance or supposition. Juan arrives at all of his decisions after carefully considering every single piece of information that he has been able to acquire about whatever it is that he is working on. Juan applies his career skills to his hot rod and custom building efforts. Each component of his '47 Buick Super convertible has been scrutinized for function, form, and applicability. Juan's thorough approach has resulted in a car that has stood the real test for a stout custom; Juan has driven the big, bad Buick 108,000 miles as of this writing. That is a real world car.
Juan fell in love with Buicks as a kid. His first one was acquired when he was a callow 17-year-old. Juan recalls selling it for a $100-and the sting is not the loss of that car as much as the fact that the buyer never paid it off! Juan's involvement with cars began at age 16. At 17 he had his first, a '50 Chevy acquired in a trade for a go-kart. A series of hot rods followed through the years. Juan was driving a customized '47 Buick four-door sedan that was so flamboyantly painted that the color and girth of the car earned it the nickname "The Pink Pig".
Juan and his wife, Blondie, were driving this car when they met Bill Mendoza. Mendoza had purchased a '47 Buick convertible from an estate sale that, while not running, was in original condition. The Freemans bought the car and immediately ripped into it. The first iteration of the car was a less glitzy version; primer, dull chrome, and a beefy 425 Nailhead. It took some time to get the car onto the road, but when it was ready in the fall of 2000, Juan and Blondie put 12,000 miles on the car through 33 states pulling a Chalet trailer. Juan is a chief safety inspector for the NSRA and the trip included all the national meets. The first build took 18 months, the second three months, and the final version (seen here) took six months. After Juan's friend, Darrell Siggens, helped with the chassis and wiring on the first build, the bulk of the efforts on the car were accomplished by Juan in his home shop. Along the way he learned paint and body and now does custom paintwork in his hometown of Eureka, California, a little slice of heaven near the Oregon border.
The Deco-ish body contours of the Buick shroud a host of hot rod innovation. Home-built in every sense of the word, it was accomplished with a lot of junkyard parts and an even larger part of ingenuity and all-night elbow grease.
The chassis employs a '77 Nova clip that is welded to the Buick frame, fully boxed with welded reinforcing plates. The subframe and the X-members are grafted to the GM chassis. Juan says, "It isn't that pretty, but it's really strong."
The limited-slip rearend is a Ford 9-inch with 2.75 (Bonneville) gears and is hung on parallel leaf springs. Hefty, 31-spline, forged axles won't give up under hard highway and trailer pulling miles. KYB shocks from a Dodge Dakota 4x4 snub the travel and independent airbags add lift and control ride height. The rear 'rails are kicked up and have custom spring pockets in them to create the 3-inch rear drop without having to use lowering blocks. An interesting point about the air ride is that there is no pump for raising and lowering the car at will. Inside the engine compartment are Schraeder valves that you use to fill the bags from a remote air source. Ride height is pretty low and the 'bags are used primarily to adjust for hauling and touring. The car has yet to see the inside of a trailer. Up front the Nova suspension uses Chevy van shocks and the Nova brakes. A Saginaw steering box couples to the Nova tilt column. The chassis rolls on steel 15x7 wheels, stock up front and reversed in the back. All four tires are 215/70R15s.