Ivan Peroff's 1956 Buick

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A photo of the Buick taken before Robert began the restoration. "I actually had it handed down to me from my late dad that bought it from a car lot in Spring Valley, California," he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in July of 2021. Robert had always loved the car. He knew it was special, so when his dad was at the point at which he was thinking about selling it, Robert, who was 14 years old, begged and begged him not to. "He agreed and said I could keep it." It took about 20 years before Robert started the restoration, as he decided to put it away until he had money to do it right. Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
An old newspaper article about the Peroffs. The story describes the family as "Hawaii's first family of drag racing." The Buick can be spotted in the photo along with a couple of other customs the family had built.
Another photo of the Buick from the newspaper article. The guy who Robert's dad bought the car from got it from a storage yard where apparently it was lost by someone not paying the storage bill. "Half my life I wondered who did all this amazing work and finally one day about four years ago, I was looking for any info on Ivan’s name since I had an old title. True story I paid a dollar for a newspaper search and I had a hit in Hawaii for a newspaper article advertising Peroff’s auto repair. I called the number and got an answering machine. 3 weeks later, I got a call and the man said "Hi Robert, this is Ivan. I Built that car." It was beyond words. Now I consider him a friend and we talk often as I’m restoring the car."
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.
Photo courtesy of Robert Guthrie.

1956 Buick Century owned and restyled by Ivan Peroff of Kanehoe, Hawaii. Built between 1957 and 1958, the car was sectioned, channeled, and powered by a supercharged Buick Nailhead engine.[1]


The Peroff's

Ivan was born into drag racing, and according to an old newspaper article, the Peroff's were "Hawaii's first family of drag racing." His parents, Victor and Betty, practically cut their sons' teeth on engines. The family ran the Territorial Chrome Plating Shop in Honolulu, and the Buick was built by Ivan and his father from a total wreck. Ivan told later owner Robert Guthrie, that when they sectioned the car, "they went the maximum amount until the windows rolling down in the doors were going to hit the bottom. It appears to be around 4-5"." The floor was channeled another 4 inches, and a 1957 Ford frame had to be used in the middle section of the car due to the invasive Buick X-member in the middle not allowing the floor to sink into the middle. A 1958 Ford Thunderbird front bumper with a custom top bar molded on replaced the stock bumper. The wheel wells in the front were radiused using a steel rod heated and bent to form the fender opening. The rear wheel wells were cut and re-welded up to keep the factory appearance. The fender toppers were 1959 Ford Galaxie.[1]


When Ivan completed the Buick, they didn't have any car clubs in the area, as they had in California. In 2021 he remembered all the club activity being in California, and he was never part of one in Hawaii back then.[1]


The Guthrie's

In 2021, the old custom was owned by Lifters of So. Cal member Robert Guthrie of Huntington Beach, California. "I actually had it handed down to me from my late dad that bought it from a car lot in Spring Valley, California," he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in July of 2021. Robert had always loved the car. He knew it was special, so when his dad was at the point at which he was thinking about selling it, Robert, who was 14 years old, begged and begged him not to. "He agreed and said I could keep it." Robert already had a 30 roadster with a 1955 Cadillac engine that he drove to high school, so he took the motor out and installed it in a 29 roadster on 1932 Ford rails he finished when he was 18. "The original Nailhead that came in the car was cracked in the block so I had another one fully rebuilt a few years back. I tried really hard to keep everything the way it was. I had to fabricate the chrome coolant passage extensions under the supercharger and refined a few things but it’s exactly what he had on there."[1]


Tracing Ivan

The guy who Robert's dad bought the car from got it from a storage yard where apparently it was lost by someone not paying the storage bill. "Half my life I wondered who did all this amazing work and finally one day about four years ago, I was looking for any info on Ivan’s name since I had an old title. True story I paid a dollar for a newspaper search and I had a hit in Hawaii for a newspaper article advertising Peroff’s auto repair. I called the number and got an answering machine. 3 weeks later, I got a call and the man said "Hi Robert, this is Ivan. I Built that car." It was beyond words. Now I consider him a friend and we talk often as I’m restoring the car."[1]


Ivan told Robert that the Buick stayed at his mother Betty's house until his father passed away. When his father passed away, his brother, Victor Jr., who was also a drag racer, wanted the car as a pass down from his father. Around 1982 or 83, Victor Jr. took the car and went to California, to the San Diego area. That was the last time Ivan saw the car. In California it eventually ended up getting lost in storage for someone not paying the bill, "which is where the guy we bought it from got the car for $1200. My dad's friend at the time, Bob, owned that storage I believe, and took the car in exchange for the $1200 the owner owed." Robert's dad purchased the car from Bob in 1998 or 1999.[1]


The Restoration

In July of 2021, Robert, who had owned the Buick for about 20 years, was busy restoring it. When he first got it, he decided to put it away until he had money to do it right.[1]


References




 

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