Show Us Your Car: Find beauty in a rusty ’59 Buick – USA TODAY

Posted: Monday, January 06, 2014

IRVINE, Calif. — Gary Bell knows the perils of buying a rusty old car and taking it home to your spouse. In this case, the unloved puppy was a 1959 Buick Invicta.

“She hated it at first, and now she loves it,” he says.

What’s not to love? The big Invicta is as big, wide and classic tailfinned 1950s as they come. The car, originally white with copper roof, has been sitting outside for years in Southern California. So while it hadn’t rusted into jagged shards of brown metal, allowing you to see the highway rolling by beneath your feet, the entire car is covered by a brown, um, patina.

Frankly, it’s gorgeous.

And after a few minutes of trying to buff off the rust, Bell, who lives in this well-polished city south of Los Angeles, came to see that classic cars aren’t all about shiny paint jobs. Now he is vowing to keep the car’s exterior in its splotchy bronze hue and devote his restoration effort to the inside instead.

“The goal is a lot of customizing, but leave the outside the way it is,” he says.

He says he’s owned it for about a month. And having worked on cars since he was a teenager, he knew how to get the Buick running again. Now, even though the Wildcat 445 engine looks to be roughly the same condition as the car, it runs fine.

Taking an old car and restoring them with modern components turns into what’s known as “restomods.”

In Bell’s case, his weathered Invicta will sort of be a “rustomod.”


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