BuSonic at Watsons

 

BUSONIC AT WATSONS

 

In 1959 Roy Abendroth started planning his dream custom based on his 1955 Buick Century. In 1963 the car was finished, Roy named it the BuSonic.



[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of Roy Abendroth 1955 Buick BUSONIC. Most of these photos come from the Larry Watson Personal Photo Collection. More on Larry’s personal collection can be found in the Larry Watson section on the CCC-Site. Or on the Custom Car Photo Archive.[/box_light]


[dropcap]R[/dropcap]oy Abendroth from Compton Ca, started planning his dream custom in 1959, based on his 1955 Buick Century. Roy had made sketches of how he Custom Buick with a lot of very well designed restyling. He had chosen John Schott to do the work for him. The most obvious modifications are the front where the stock headlights had to make place for canted quad units sitting on perforated chrome plated plates. The front of the hood was welded to a new grille opening, which was created from shaped tubing. A new shorter hood opening was cut with large radius round corners. Roy had designed a roll pan for the front as well for the rear with bumper-ettes on all four corners. The front units were created from bended round tubing with metal mesh filling the center, then the whole unit was chrome plated. At the rear a 1956 Cadillac bumper was used to create the bumpers. The complete center section was removed, leaving just the end pieced. Each end piece was cut in the center and widened three inches before being chrome plated. Inside the each rear bumper pod are three 1959 Cadillac taillight units sitting on chrome plated mesh. A body extension was added to the rear quarters to make the Cadillac rear bumper sections flow nicely into the body. The front section of this extension piece was made into a “u” shaped scoop to which a piece of chrome plated metal mesh was added.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-01Sadly we have not been able to find any photos of the initial building stages of the car at John Schott’s workshop. But fortunately Larry Watson did take some snapshots of the BuSonic when it was delivered to the Artesia Blvd shop for Larry to paint. This photo of the car in primer shows how well Roy’s restyling ideas worked on the Buick.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-02Busonic at Watsons with the hydraulic front suspension in the drive position.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-04When these photos were taken rented the paint booth in the back of his friend’s Bill DeCarr body shop at 10116 Artesia Boulevard, Bellflower CA. This snapshot shows the car sitting in front of the shop. Most likely the actual paintwork was done in Larry’s next shop at the Lakewood Blvd in Paramount. 
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John removed most of the Buick rear fenders and added 1957 Lincoln rear fenders to the Buick. The front ends of the Lincoln fender fins were reshaped to form a scoop and fitted with metal mesh. And the top sections of the fins where reshaped into a nice pointy shape close to the door. The rear wheel openings with a lipped teardrop shaped units from the Lincoln was favored over the round opening of the Buick. The front wheel openings were reshaped to match the rears. With the new taller rear fender fins the trunk opening had to be reshaped as well, not following the tapering shapes of the rear fenders. The end of the new rear fenders was reshaped using small diameter tubing and the new opening was filled with mesh and three exhaust tips on each side. A large license plate surround was created with round tubing and metal mesh, similar to the bumper-ettes at the front and mounted on the new roll pan at the rear. All trim and handles were shaved and opening corners rounded.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-03Same photo as above, but this time cropped so we can take a better look at the car.
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Roy had planned to use hydraulic suspension on front of his car, which was still quite new in those days. To make sure there was enough space to get the car as low as possible both the front and the rear of the frame was c-ed. A new much taller drive shaft tunnel replaced the now to low stock unit. With the new roll pan at the rear and the forward rake Roy had decided the rear of the car needed a roll pan hiding the gas-tank. John created the belly pan after he had raised the gas-tank and raised the trunk floor. A new thin side trim piece for the rear quarter panels was added to match what they had created for the front quarters and doors on the Buick. Later this front section would be painted white and striped with gold tape. Once all the body work was done John painted the car in dark gray primer.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-07Photo of the finished BuSonic at Larry’s Lakewood Blvd shop in Paramount.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-06The clear plexiglass grille insert fits the grille opening perfect. It was quite unique at the time to use plexiglass for a grille.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-05The rear shows the 6 1959 Cadillac taillights and the triple exhaust tips in the reshaped 1957 Lincoln rear fenders.
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For the interior Roy decided to use Paul’s Custom Upholstery. The complete interior was removed and four bucket seats were used as the base for the interior. The front seats were modified to swivel. A center console and heavily modified dash were created. Once done the interior was upholstered in black Naugahyde and fur. Extra details are a FM record player and an roulette wheel on the center console… for fun. Lots of parts in the engine compartment where chrome plated. A grille was created from perforated clear plexiglass with two chrome plated bullets on the ends. Thin-line white wall tires were mounted on Cadillac wire wheels which were dressed up with a chrome center bullet.

Now it was time for paint, Roy decided to have Larry Watson paint the car. Together they choose a candy rootbeer with scallops done in copper metalflake outlined in white. The top was covered in white canvas material. The car was completed in 1963 and according the magazines from the time Roy had spend $8,000. Roy named his Buick the BuSonic.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-16In January 1964 the Busonic was photographed at the Inland Empire Car Show in San Bernardino in Jan 1964, no lake pipes then.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-22The BuSonic was featured in several magazines in the mid 1960’s. Here is a full spread on the car in the Januari 1964 issue of Car Craft magazine. Notice that the car was now updated with lake pipes, which were not on the car in the Watson Collection photos.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-21The BuSonic (in the top middle of this photo) at the 1963 Motorama show in Long Beach California.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-20The BuSonic at the Watson shop. It looks like the body has been taped off for some repair paint work. 
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-08Watson accepts sweepstakes trophy for Roy Abendroth’ 55 Buick Custom Car Division Long Beach Arena October 1964
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Less than a year after the car was finished Roy decided it was time for an update for the new car show season. The front fenders were extended at the front, creating a large peak over the quad headlights. Other than that everything stayed as it was on the first version. Larry was hired again to perform his magic on the paint. This time they choose a very bright and brilliant lime gold flake nitro lacquer. For this version the top was covered with black canvas. Roy also added a set of double chrome plated lake pipes for the new version. The clear plexiglass grille insert was replaced with a yellow tinted pleaxiglass grille with boomerang shapes matching the grille opening. The two chrome bullets remained.

CCC-larry-watson-busonic-12The new version showed beside all new Larry Watson Metalflake lime gold paint, peaked hoods in the extended front fenders, as well as a new grille insert.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-11The rear of the car remained the same as the previous version, but without the copper scallops it looked a bit different.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-10The side view taken by Larry Watson shows the peaked front fenders now match the angle  of the rear fender fins. The top of the car was now covered with black canvas.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-09This slightly lower angle photo shows how nice the silver and gold tape insert panel complements the lime gold paint on the car. The forward rake was accomplished using hydraulics on the front suspension.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-14Howard Gribble took this photo of the BuSonic in 1968, soon after this the car was stored and would stay there for the next 35 years.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-13The BuSonic at an unknown car show surrounded with angle hair and colorful Larry Watson business cards.
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In 1968 the car was stored and kept there until the late 1990’s. The car was still in its last Watson lime gold flake paint then and was shown at a Californian show. The then owner did not know about the cars history, he had bought the car from a widow who had it listed in the Penny Saver as an “old ’60s low rider. Jim and Stacy Breazeale were in love with the car right way and even though he did not know anything about the car he decided he had to have it. A deal was made and soon after that Jim was the new owner of the car. Soon after that Jim started looking into the history of the car, and found out what he had bought.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-24Paul Kelly took these photos of the unrestored BuSonic at the 1999 Paso Robles show.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-17Mark Jaroslaw took this photo of the BuSonic fresh out of the 35 year hibernation. The whole car still looked amazing, as well as the original Larry Watson lime gold paint.
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Jim decided to bring the car back to its original 1963 Rootbeer candy with pearl white top version. Don Heckman did most of the restoration workc including reshaping the headlights back to the original version and applying the new paint. Larry Watson was consulted to insure the right color wasThis time modern paint products were used for the candy and metalflake paints. Jamie Stormes was hired for the pinstriping in white around the copper flake scallops. In 2011 the restored BuSonic was invited to the prestigious Customs Then & Now exhibit at the GNRS in Pomona.


CCC-larry-watson-busonic-23Photos of the BuSonic taken during the restoration work. The first two photos show the nice metal work done in the early 1960’s by John Schott. Larry Watson helped in picking the right modern paint material and colors for the car to best match the work he did  in 1963.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-15The BuSonic after its restoration. Ron Aguirre on the left, original owner and designer Roy Abendroth in the center and Larry Watson on the right.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-19A plaque Roy created for Larry Watson’s 65 birthday. The photo of the Lime Gold BuSonic with the trophies shows how popular this car was back in the early/mid 1960’s.
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CCC-larry-watson-busonic-18The BuSonic was invited to the Prestigious Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS in Pomona. It was amazing to see this car in person.
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Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

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