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January 17, 2015

The Oriental Buick to be restored

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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THE ORIENTAL BUICK

UPDATED: I have always like the wonderfully restyled 1955 Buick of  Wes Gaunce, so it was really great news to hear the car was “found” and is going to be restored to its former glory



Cousin Eric shared a quick snapshot on his Facebook page of an photo album from a guy he met on a car show recently. And this is what he mentioned about the photo he posted.

So I met this guy tonight at the car show and as we are talking he tells me he just bought this old kustom last week. Only details is it was built in Ohio, was called The Oriental, and made the mid west show circuit pretty hard. It still runs and plans are to restore it back to its former glory. That’s about all I found out and the dude was gone.



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-found-02The photo Eric posted on Facebook shows two pages of a photo album the current owner of The Oriental Buick showed him.

 



The 1955 Buick is the really wonderfully restyled 1955 Buick Wes Gaunce from Ohio. Wes did most of the restyling on the car himself and included 1959 Lincoln grille and headlights, 1959 Plymouth front bumper, extended and reshaped rear fenders with a custom made pan and hand made taillights. Shaved hood, trunk and rest of the emblems and handles created a smooth looking base for a startling gold metalflake. The interior was another highlight of this car and was upholstered by Jim Hayden’s trim shop in Norwood, Ohio. The february 1964 Car Craft article mentioned that Wes spend more than 500 hours in the design, carving and dying the leather panels in the upholstery for the totally unique Oriental themed interior.

Wes showed the car intensively on the show circuit in the early to mid 1960’s. One version of the car was painted black with gold outlines and scallops pinstriped in bold white lines. This version also had the pancaked hood.


CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-06The 1964 Car Craft article shows a more subtile version of the car, still with the smooth rear quarters. 

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-07Great shapes on the extended and completely reshaped rear fenders. The pan replacing the bumper was also hand made and a set of handformed lucite taillights outlined with a subtile chrome trim piece was set in the new panel.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-08Fully detailed and upholstered trunk with upholstery by Jim Hayden.

 



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CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-10Wes used a 1959 Lincoln grille which he narrowed to fit the 1955 Buick. The front fenders and hood had to be extensively reshaped to for the new grille and quad canted headlights. The 1959 Plymouth lower grille fits the rest perfectly.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-03Great color photo from The Oriental shows a later version of the car with reshaped rear quarters.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-04Chrome reverse wheels on thin line white wall tires. Not the upholstered in gold wheel-wells.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-05Close up on the interior.

 



At one point, we are not sure which year, the hood on the car was pancaked and the car was painted black with gold scallops outlined in bold white pin-striping. This version also shows gold painted wheels with hubcaps with painted gold and white pin-striped starts on them. The interior remained the same.


CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-02This version of the car was painted black with gold outlines and scallops. Wes used paint detailed hubcaps to the car.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-01Amazing work on the interior with the base done in gold and black leather.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-11The seat backs have this amazing dragons in colored leather.

 



Hopefully the current owner will be sharing the restoration progress and hopefully we will find out more about his plans as to which version the car will be restored to. And if the unique original interior has survived all these years. If we find out more, we will be sharing it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


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Update Januar 17, 2015

Cousin Eric had another meeting with the new owner of the Oriental Buick, Jim Wilkens from Connersville, Indiana. This time Eric took a lot more photos of the album. Photos showing what is left of the amazing interior Wes created so many years ago. It looks like most of the interior might be beyond repair. Some of Wes his handy work however survived, and might be used to recreate in the restored version. The spare tire cover survived remarkably well. Possibly this was stored inside. We can also see one photo with the new owner and Wes when the car was picked up.

Thank you very much Eric for taking these photos, and sharing them with use as the Custom Car Chronicle.



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-33Wes Gaunce with the hat on and the new owner on the right. showing the spare tire cover.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-17As it sat behind Wes his home.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-29Pulled out of the shed.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-12On the trailer to its new home and on its way to once again become a show queen.

 



CCC-wes-gaunce-oriental-21In the shop.

 



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About the Author

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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2 Comments


  1. It was exciting to see cousin Eric’s post and even more to see it here. Hope this car goes in the right direction with its new owner.


  2. That’s a neat looking Buick…I like the front end treatment after the Plymouth bumper part was added. Thanks for sharing!



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