Dan and Ken Hiramoto's 1941 Buick

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An early version of the Buick featuring the Robin's Egg Blue paint job. Running blackwall tires, the car seems to have 1951 - 1952 Ohio license plates in the photo. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
A photo of the Robin's Egg Blue version of the Buick running whitewall tires and a white convertible top. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
An early photo of the black version of the Buick running the original bumpers and un-frenched headlights. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
The Buick as it appeared in 1957. By then the headlights had been frenched, and the car had been dressed up with 1947 Cadillac bumpers and 1954 Cadillac hubcaps. Notice the short plugged lake pipes under the front fender. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
By 1958 the Buick featured a 3 inch chopped and padded top. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Dan and an Army buddy with the Buick in Georgia in 1958. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
The Raven version of the Buick at an indoor car show. This version was also dressed up featuring pinstriping. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Dan knew how to use a sewing machine, so so he reupholstered the entire interior, truck and ragtop using his mothers sewing machine. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Sometime between 1958 and 1961, Dan and Ken reworked the front of the car to accept a 1958 Edsel grille. The bumpers on this versin were also replaced with nerf bars that Ken made from metal rods. The rods were bent to fit the curves of the car and the new grille. During the build, Ken bought a new car of his own, and Dan took full ownership of the Buick. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
The Edsel-nosed version of the Buick at an indoor car show. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Dan's Buick was featured in Speed and Custom February 1962, in a story titled "Road-Hugging Ragtop." Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
The front end of Dan's Buick was reworked to accept quad headlights, a custom-made expanded metal grille, and custom made nerf bars. Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
The fenders were molded to the body, and the factory stock taillights were replaced with 1958 Chevrolet Corvette taillights. Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
Inside, the Buick featured a rolled and pleated interior that sported extra gauges and a chromed floor stick. Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
The trunk compartment was also upholstered, and an electric screwjack was used to control the deck lid. Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
Power came from a blown 1956 Buick mill. The engine was also hopped up with a Chet Herbert cam. The transmission came from a 1937 Buick. Photo by Robert Hegge, courtesy of Speed and Custom Magazine.
A photo of Dan's Buick from Rodding & Restyling. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
Dan sold the Buick in 1962. This photo shows the Buick as it appeared when it was found in a garage years later. Photo courtesy of Dan Hiramoto.
The Raven as it sat in January of 1996, when Brian Prior bought it. Photo courtesy of Joe Koenigsmark.
The Raven as it sat in January of 2017. Photo courtesy of Joe Koenigsmark.
The old rear fenders. Photo courtesy of Joe Koenigsmark.

1941 Buick Super convertible owned and restyled by Dan and Ken Hiramoto of Cleveland, Ohio. Dan and Ken were brothers. During WWII they were placed in camps in Torrance, California with their family. When they were released, the family moved east, to Cleveland. They lost every possession they had in California. Their home, farm equipment, everything except what they could carry. Once settled down, the Hiramoto family started over in Cleveland.[1]


Contents

Uncle Bob

Dan and Ken bought the Buick from their uncle Bob Ishikawa. The original color on the car was maroon, so the brothers sanded it down and gave it a Robin's Egg Blue paint job. Early photos, taken around 1951 - 1952, shows the car running the blue paint job, blackwall tires and four bumper guards up front.[1]


Black Paint Job

By 1954 the car had received a shiny black paint job. A photo from Dan's collection shows the black version of the Buick running the original bumpers with four bumperguards, Sombrero-type hubcaps, and un-frenched headlights.[1]


The 1957 Version

Photos from 1957 shows Dan and Ken's Buick running reworked 1947 Cadillac bumpers, 1954 Cadillac hubcaps, frenched headlights and short plugged lake pipes. This version was also shaved for door handles.[1]


Raven

By 1958 the top on the Buick had been chopped 3 inches, and Dan and Ken had fit it with a padded top. This version was lowered 7 inches up front and 8 inches in the rear. Dan knew how to use a sewing machine, so so he reupholstered the entire interior, truck and ragtop using his mothers sewing machine. Named "Raven," this version was also dressed up featuring pinstriping.[1]


The Road-Hugging Ragtop

Sometime between 1958 and 1961, Dan and Ken reworked the front of the car to accept a 1958 Edsel grille. This version was featured in Speed and Custom February 1962 in a story titled "Road-Hugging Ragtop." Other modifications included quad headlights from a 1959 Chevrolet, fenders that were molded to the body, and 1958 Chevrolet Corvette taillights. The bumpers on this version were also replaced with nerf bars that Ken had made from metal rods. The rods were bent to fit the curves of the car and the new grille. Inside it sported extra gauges and a chromed floor stick. An electric screwjack was used to control the deck lid. Power came from a blown 1956 Buick mill. The engine was also hopped up with a Chet Herbert cam. The transmission came from a 1937 Buick. During the build, Ken bought a new car of his own, and Dan took full ownership of the Buick.[1] According to the story, Dan spent six months and $3,000 building up a $200 dollar stocker into a trophy-taking show car.[2]


Sold in 1962

Dan sold the Buick in 1962. He had bought a new car, and the Buick just sat in the garage. After that he never customized another car.[1]


Rolled and Totaled

Dan's old custom was later found in a garage. By then it had been painted green. In 2016 Ken Hiramoto's daughters told Kustomrama that they last saw the Buick in the early 1980s. They used to see it parked outside a business for many years. They don't know what happened to it after that, but they have heard that the last person to own it was a kid in his early 20s; "Since my dad did a little work on the car originally, he brought it to my dads body shop to have it restored. A week after the kid picked it up he supposedly rolled it and it was totaled." The last part of the story was unconfirmed until January 2017.[3]


The Car Resurfaces

In January of 2017 the story about the Raven was featured on Kustomrama. A couple of days after the story was published rumors about its whereabouts started to appear. January 9, 2017 Joe Koenigsmark could confirm that the car was still around, located at the building next to his shop in Elyria, Ohio. A friend of Joe bought it in 1995; " From the timeline I have been told, Dennis King owned it in the 1970s. It was then sold to Jerry Stienbrick. Jerry sold it to a guy, I believe his name was Fred, in the early 1990s. Brian Prior bought the car in 1995. Brian was the first one to actually tear it apart and start the restoration. He ran out of steam, so another local guy that is into Buicks bought it so he could restore it back to the original look with the stock front end." The car had been sitting untouched for years when Kustomrama first talked to Joe about it. At the time, the current owner had decided to keep the modified front end.[4]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Speed and Custom February 1962


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Dan Hiramoto
  2. Speed and Custom February 1962
  3. Kustomrama
  4. Joe Koenigsmark





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