Classic Car: You can bank on a Buick
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This lovely Buick Series 116 is one of three classic cars Richard Lloyd owns.
He bought the 1930-model-year car (built in Flint, Michigan, assembled in Auckland and sold new by Tappenden Motors in 1929) because, “I wanted an American car of this era.”
It joined a 1929 Pontiac, which he acquired in 1985.
The plan was to use the Pontiac at his daughters’ weddings. The only problem was the restoration was never finished in time for the weddings, and Richard’s wife, Mary, was growing more impatient by the day.
“I got sick of it and told him to buy a car we could use,” says Mary.
“It was silly being in a vintage car club and using a modern car to go to events.”
Richard bought the Buick in September, 2004. (The Pontiac is still in the garage, and still under restoration.)
In the next shed is a 1969 Daimler, bought because the couple planned to attend a Dunedin rally.
“We were going to transport the Buick down by rail, but it was very expensive, and Mary was keen on another car, one that was more comfortable for that distance, and which she could drive.”
The Daimler has had a bit of use. “We have a spring tour and went down to Gisborne and round the East Cape in the Daimler.” He says it would have been lovely to take the Buick, “but the distance between fuel stations was too far.”
He’s only just kidding – the Buick guzzles petrol at an eye-watering 21.5 to 25.5l/100km . And, though the tank is big, the fuel bill would have been bigger.
That’s partly down to the massive motor, a 4.1-litre in-line six which alone weighs 350kg, Richard says.
1929 Buick Series 166, owned by Richard Lloyd. Photo / Jacqui Madelin
The entire car tips the scales at two tonnes. And since it doesn’t have power steering, it must give Richard a fair workout.
That engine develops a modest – in modern terms – 60kW, but it’ll cruise happily at a nudge over 80km/h.
When he purchased the car, it was in excellent condition (Mary’s requirement), and they drive it regularly.
“There was a display before the Parliamentary tour, 10 years ago, and we met the son of the owner who had it in 1950. It had done 100,000 miles (161,000km) then. It’s done another 112,000 miles since.”
The furthest afield they’ve been is Taupo, and Houhora, north of Kataia. They drive it for short runs every week.
“I enjoy driving it, though it’s a heavy car to drive,” says Richard.
He has made a few minor modifications, such as the radial tyres, a bypass oil filter (it didn’t have one), and a downdraught carb plus LED indicators, running on 12 volts – everything else is six-volt — an aooghah horn.
There is a modern temperature gauge. “I had the original repaired, but it lasted only just outside the guarantee so I put that one on.”
The other instruments? “It has a capillary fuel gauge, and the original speedo – I just had it recalibrated.”
As for the levers working off the steering wheel hub, one is the lights, one is a hand throttle, so effectively a cruise control, and the third is advance/retard, to set the timing (which cars now do automatically).
The button on the floor engages a ring gear. “ There’s no crunch