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*Please note that the chassis number is 6D2034615, not D2034615 as stated in the catalogue.
The story of this wonderfully customized Caballero revolves around its restorer, the late Mike Fennel, whose Saugus, California, shop restored several Pebble Beach-awarded prewar classics for noted collectors. Mr. Fennel also served as the Blackhawk Collection’s technical manager for 35 years.
The consignor, one of Mr. Fennel’s clients, took notice of a Caballero that he had restored for his wife Juli, who managed Fennel’s business with him. Unwilling to sell the Caballero he had completed for his better half, Mr. Fennel offered to work on a similar car for the consignor, and in 2010 the restoration of this 1957 example was completed.
Having restored several Caballeros during his career, Mr. Fennel performed a comprehensive job, with tasteful modifications including almost exclusive use of correct Buick components. To ensure more modern performance, TCI coil-over shocks were installed, and the transmission tunnel was adapted to accommodate a four- speed automatic 700R4 transmission, a popular choice for retro-rod builders. The body was refinished in a deep two-tone scheme of teal over white, and a new interior of pearl white leather with blue piping was installed.
At the consignor’s request, the car was mildly customized for a hot rod flavor, which included lowering the ride height and removing the door handles. Otherwise largely stock in appearance, this beautifully finished Caballero testifies to the imagination of Buick design, and would make a great addition to any collection.
A rarity among the output of mass-produced postwar American automobiles, the Caballero was introduced by Buick in 1957, integrating the Riviera’s four-door pillarless sedan styling into a station wagon. Among GM’s numerous station wagon models produced during this period, the Caballero is the only vehicle to feature such a design.
Also benefitting from Buick’s makeover for 1957, including a revised front fascia, the Caballero was equipped with the company’s new “Nailhead” V-8. The unusually designed vertical-valve motor was tuned for 300 hp on the Century models, and 325 hp with the optional high-performance “tri-power” carburetion, though Buick engineering avowedly prioritized raw torque more than top-end horsepower.
In 1958, Buick restyled once again, eliminating their classic fender portholes and the two-tone color treatment of the sweep spear. As 1957 was the final year to feature these revered styling cues, 1957 Caballeros are particularly desirable to Buick collectors, perhaps second only to the early woodie wagons. The Caballero was made for just two years, and surviving examples in remotely decent condition are quite uncommon.