-Photos courtesy of Rad Rides by Troy and Goodguys Gazette
Mark and Ellen Willman’s 1956 Buick Special went from a hulking mass of rotting metal (literally found under a tree with fungus growing on the roof) to the Goodguys 2013 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year. The transformation from Train wreck to Goodguys Terrific 12 award winner came courtesy of the hottest builder on the planet – Troy Trepanier and the Rad Rides team from Manteno, Illinois.
The long, beautiful Buick, built with an old Chicago gangster flair, made its debut at last spring’s Detroit Autorama where it landed in the “Great 8” lineup of cars in contention for the prestigious Ridler award. With looks AND performance, this custom rod is the complete package capable of sitting on a concourse lawn with the wine & cheese set or ripping up asphalt to the tune of over 800 ponies!
The car’s big body is cloaked in a shiny slate gray accentuated by brushed stainless trim, and nickel-plated chrome from Nashville’s Advanced Plating. Tucked bumpers, shaved turn signals and the heavily massaged grille blend nicely with one-off 20-inch Billet Specialties wheels sporting toothy spokes.
Opening the hood a first glance reveals a neatly painted Buick Nailhead with an OEM-looking oil bath air cleaner. Catching a glimpse of the custom headers, one will discover the twin-turbo setup tucked low on either side and realize the 413 has been extensively modified inside & out and features a six stage dry sump oiling system.
The ground-hugging chassis is from the Art Morrison camp complete with Ridetech coilovers, an Eaton Posi for the Ford 9”, a Bowler 4L80E transmission and big Wilwood discs on all four corners.
The gorgeous interior retains the Buick feel with modernized stock gauges reworked by Classic Instruments, a modified Ford Starliner wheel, and stock seat frames re-contoured in muted black leather with perforated inserts.
For the big winning the Goodguys 2013 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year award, Mr & Mrs Willman (from Blue Grass, Iowa) will receive a custom toolbox from Snap-on as well as travel accommodations to the Goodguys 16th Southwest Nationals November 15-17 in Scottsdale, Arizona to join the “Champion’s Arena” display featuring Goodguys’ Top 12 Cars of the Year.
The other Top 5 Finalists for the Goodguys 2013 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year included; Mitch Kelly, Bellflower, CA (1957 Chevy), Jim Vagim, Pasadena, CA (1954 Buick), Gil Losi, Murrietta, CA (1961 Chevy), Carl Moyer, Ankeny, IA, (1956 Chevy) and Tim Kilkeary, Venetia, PA (1949 Chevy Tin Woodie)