John Bozio's 1939 Buick

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A front shot of John's first car as it sat when he bought it from his cousin in 1951. Photo by John Bozio.
When John bought the Buick, it was fit with fender skirts, whitewall tires and Cadillac Sombreros. Photo by John Bozio.
The driver side featured a single spotlight and a blackwall rear tire. Photo by John Bozio.
The deck lid featured a Cadillac Sombrero equipped spare wheel tire. Photo by John Bozio.
Notice the leopard upholstered sun visors. Photo by John Bozio.
John installed a dual carb intake manifold from a 1941 Buick Roadmaster on the car, along with a pair of Stromberg 97 carburetors. In 2013 John could still hear the good sound from the straight 8 cylinder engine with headers and Hollywood Mufflers. According to him, "it would make the V8's sound like a tin whistle." Photo by John Bozio.
The Buick as it appeared after John had restyled it. John had learned the skills of auto repair and body work by hanging out at a local shop named Cooney's Garage from he was 12 years old. At age 14 he entered trade school to become a machinist. The Buick was John's first custom work, and it was the first time that John used the skills he had learned at Cooney's. In this photo you can also see that John has also replaced the rear blackwall tire with a whitewall tire. Photo by John Bozio.
The build was started by replacing the original grille with a later model Buick grille he had found in the junk pile at Cooney's Garage. He formed the sheet metal to fit the grille before he leaded it all in. Photo by John Bozio.
Inside, John installed a 1951 Mercury dashboard. Photo by John Bozio.


1939 Buick Century convertible owned and restyled by John Bozio of East Hartford, Connecticut. The Buick was John's first car, and he bought it from his cousin in 1951. He was 15 years old at the time, and he had to pay $ 300 for the old convertible. John had earned that money by working on tobacco farms in his summer vacation, and by delivering the morning newspapers. The farm work paid $ .50 an hour, and the papers paid $.05 per copy. When John got the car it was already mildly customized, and it had been fit with fender skirts, Cadillac Sombreros, and a rear continental wheel on the deck lid. The spare tire was also dressed up featuring a Cadillac Sombrero. Other modifications included a single spotlight on the driver side, a make out knob on the steering wheel and leopard upholstered interior. After buying the car, John installed a dual carb intake manifold from a 1941 Buick Roadmaster, along with a pair of Stromberg 97 carburetors. The intake manifold did also include a set of factory dual exhaust headers, and in 2013 John could still hear the good sound from the straight 8 cylinder engine with headers and Hollywood Mufflers. According to him, "It would make the V8's sound like a tin whistle."[1]


Mild wasn't good enough for John. He wanted a real custom, so it didn't take long before he started to restyle the car even further. John had learned the skills of auto repair and body work by hanging out at a local shop named Cooney's Garage from he was 12 years old. At age 14 he entered trade school to become a machinist. The Buick was John's first custom job, and it was the first time that he used the skills he had learned at Cooney's. The build was started by replacing the original grille with a 1947 Buick grille he had found in the junk pile at Cooney's Garage. He formed the sheet metal to fit the grille before he leaded it all in. The hood was dechromed before the sidetrim on the hood was shortened and the rear continental wheel was lowered. Inside, John installed a 1951 Mercury dashboard. Once the bodywork was done, John painted the car in a dark grey primer. According to John, there were more dark grey primer custom cars around back in the days for two reasons: "One was as you were cruising around town looking for chicks you gave the impression you were still working on your custom with more to come. The other was, that a good show gloss paint job, believe it or not, was the most expensive part of a custom unless you were building a semi or radical custom." The car never received a gloss paint job, it was a work in progress until the spring of 1953, when the big Straight Eight started having engine issues. When the engine problems started, John bought a 1949 Buick convertible, and he sold the Buick to the local junk yard for $25.00. John always played to the tone of a different drummer. All young guys buying their first car wanted Fords or Chevrolet coupes or convertibles at the time, and as there were no takers on an old Buick, it ended up in the junk yard. John never saw the car again after that.[1]


When it comes to the Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps, John told Kustomrama in 2013 that he would bolt these on by first removing the smaller inner hud from the Sombrero. After removing the hud, he would bolt the inner small stock hubcap of the car to the Sombrero. He used Allen flat head screws and counter sinked the holes he drilled out so as to fit as flush as possible when he put the red Cadillac emblem back together in the center. Sometime he had to use spacers between the two caps.[1]


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