Gene Howard's 1950 Buick

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The Buick as it sat before Gene modified it. Photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection[1]
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
Gene in the early 1960s in front of the Truly Rare trailer. Photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
The Buick as it looked in 1962. Photo from the Bill Johnson Collection
Gene-howard-1950-buick7.jpg
Gene-howard-1950-buick3.jpg
Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
Construction photo from the Dick Fuerholzer Collection
The radical version of Truly Rare was featured in Popular Customs Fall 1965.
Gene-howard-1950-buick2.jpg
Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Gene-howard-1950-buick4.jpg
Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Gene-howard-1950-buick5.jpg
Gene-howard-1950-buick6.jpg
Truly Rare at the 1970 Rod & Custom Car Show at the New York Coliseum in New York City. By then the car had been painted blue Metalflake. Photo from the Kustomrama Photo Archive.
Truly Rare at an ISCA show after Walt Trapp had bought it. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
Walt's wife Karen had a Corvette with a wild paint job that they showed together with Truly Rare. The Corvette had an ocean with a surfer in it painted on the side of the car. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
Karen posing in the Buick. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
A "Penthouse Pet" posing in the Buick. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
A photo of Walt and his son Bill Trapp with the Buick. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
The Buick as it sat in 1989, after 13 years in storage. Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Truly Rare when it was pulled from storage in May of 2004. Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
Photo courtesy of John Trapp Sr..
Truly Rare next to Ed Roth's Tweedy Pie. Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
The Buick as it looked when it was advertised for sale on eBay in 2007
Gene-howard-1950-buick9.jpg
The Buick as it sat after it was sold to Canada in 2007
Gene-howard-1950-buick-canada2.jpg
Richard "Fuzzy" Fuerholze with Truly Rare. Photo provided by Richard Fuerholze.
Truly Rare as it sat when it was advertised for sale for at the Auburn Fall auction in 2011. Photo by Auctions of America.
Truly Rare as it sat when it was advertised for sale at the Bonhams Amelia Island Auction in March of 2016. The car sold for US$ 11,000. Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.
Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

1950 Buick restyled by Gene Howard of Gene Howard's Body Shop in Bloomington, Illinois. The car is also known as "Truly Rare".[2] Gene's Buick was restyled during the late 1950s - early 1960s.


A radically restyled version of Truly Rare was featured on the cover of Popular Customs Fall 1965. The body on this version was channeled 6 inches over the frame. The frame was fabricated from 1950 and 1951 Buick and Olds frames. The body included 1951 Oldsmobile and 1950 Cadillac parts, and the front end and sides were heavily reworked with a flowing plastic look. 1960 Plymouth taillights were nested into the deep "scallops" in the rear fenders. Inside, it featured a combo of 1955 Buick instruments and gauge clusters. The steering was both 1949 Cadillac and Chevrolet converted to stick control. It featured a wild white diamond pleat naugahyde interior that sported custom made bucket seats. The front seats were swivel, while the rear units were stationary. Deep fuzzy rugs were also installed. The 1965 version was painted Lavender Pearl by Mandy Holder. Don Wallace had prepared a hot 1951 Chrysler 364 Hemi for it. The engine ran a 3/4 cam and six Stromberg carburetors. Gene was still the owner of the car, that by then had taken over 60 trophies.[3]


Bill Holtz and Walt Trapp

In the late 1960s or early 1970s Bill Holtz bought the car with a couple of other people. Bill painted it in Blue Metalflake before he sold it to Walt Trapp of West Caldwell, New Jersey. When Walt bought the car the T-stick steering had been replaced with a traditional steering wheel. According to his son John, the T-stick steering was replaced in the late 1960s. The Hemi engine had not run since Gene sold it. The engine was out of a track car, and Gene was worried someone would get hurt driving the car, so he disabled the engine when he sold it. Walt got it running shortly after he bought it, and John remembered that it only had a one gallon gas tank below the radiator area. After buying it, Walt showed the car on the ISCA circuit. It won many awards, and it was shown at almost all the ISCA Eastern shows.


In 1976 Walt showed Truly Rare for the last time. The show was an indoor car show held at the Asbury Convention Hall. At the show it won Best of Show, Best Paint, and Best Interior. Walt's son, John Trapp Sr., remembers his dad driving it down Asbury Boardwalk before he loaded it up to go home. After the show the car was put in storage. After a while, Walt and his family moved to Egg Harbor, New Jersey. He brought the old custom along, storing it in the garage at the family house. Walt eventually opened a shop in Tuckerton, and the car was put in storage in the shop for many years. After opening a second shop, Walt lost his eyesight. He lost the shop as well, and the car was moved to storage in a small storage warehouse for 8 years. Walt was able to reopen the shop with his son Bill, and the Buick was moved back to the shop. In 2006 or 2007 Walt sold the car to a guy named Larry. Larry promised Walt he would restore the car back to how it appeared when Gene first built it, so Walt decided to sell it.[4]


From what John Trapp Sr. was told, Larry went low on cash, and In 2007 the car was sold on eBay. It went to a new home in Canada. This version was slightly updated from the original appearance, and it featured a steering wheel instead of the T handle steering. The new owner intended to restore it back to the violet version, but due to lack of time and money he sold the car to a collector in New Hampshire ,along with the Black Flame Buick that he also owned.[5] September 1 - 4, 2011 Truly Rare was offered for sale at the Auburn Fall auction in Auburn Auction Park in Auburn, Indiana. It did not sell at the auction.[6]


March 10, 2016 Truly Rare was offered for sale at the Bonhams Amelia Island Auction. The car was sold without a reserve, and it was estimated to sell for between USD$ 30,000 and USD$ 50,000. The hammer fell at USD 11,000.[7]


In June of 2017 the car was advertised for sale in Hemmings by Dick Shappy Vintage Auto Sales in Providence, Rhode Island. The asking price was $47,500.[8]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Popular Customs Fall 1965


References



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