This 1958 Buick Century: A Surviving Icon Laden with Chrome and Big V8 Power

Introduced in 1936, when Buick renamed its entire lineup, the Century spent its early years in showrooms as a mid-range model between the Special and the Roadmaster. While it shared the shorter wheelbase of the Special, the Century packed the more powerful engine of the Roadmaster, which made it the hot rod of the full-size Buick lineup.

The Century was discontinued in 1942 but returned in 1954 using the same recipe. Buick retired the name again in 1958 and brought it back on a midsize model in 1973. The latter soldiered on through 2005, making the Century one of the company’s longest-running nameplates. Oh, and you probably didn’t know that the Century name was revived in China for the fourth-generation GL8 minivan in 2022.

But I’m not here to talk about the latest Century. I want to show you my all-time favorite iteration of the full-size car, the 1958 Century. It’s part of the second-gen model, which Buick introduced in 1954 as a brand-new design.

Based on the smaller and lighter Special body, the Century got the company’s range-topping 322-cubic-inch (5.3-liter) Fireball V8 in its first year on the market. As it was standard at the time, the Century received annual updates, which also included output gains. Horsepower jumped from 200 to 236 in 1955, reaching 255 horses in 1956. For 1957, Buick replaced the 322 mill with a bored-out 364-cubic-inch (6.0-liter) unit good for 300 horsepower.

The 1958 model year did not bring a power upgrade but saw the Century getting a significant makeover design-wise. The redesign added a considerable amount of chrome trim to the full-size, turning it into one of the flashiest, most flamboyant land yachts of its time.

The massive bumper was the highlight of the Buick lineup that year. Called the “Fashion-Aire Dynastar grille,” it was made up of 160 chrome squares, occupying more than half of the entire front fascia. The rear end was just as shiny, thanks to a huge bumper and big chrome bezels for the taillights.

The latter extended into the rear fenders all the way to the doors. Moreover, Buick also incorporated thick trim pieces of chrome around the windows. Compared to the Century, the 1958 Cadillac looks downright restrained. 1958 was also the final year for the full-size Century, so it’s also a historically important vehicle for the brand.

Buick sold 37,566 examples that year, a relatively small figure compared to the more affordable Special, which found more than 139,000 homes. And sadly enough, only a few of those rigs are still on the road today. Most examples that still run and drive have been restored, but some Buicks were lucky enough to survive as unmolested gems. The green two-door you see here is one of them.

One of 8,110 Riviera hardtops built that year, this Century shows fewer than 50,000 miles (80,467 km) on the odometer, which makes it one of the lowest-mileage vehicles of its kind. But more importantly, it’s still highly original and packs the same 364-cubic-inch V8 it got on the assembly line over 60 years ago. It’s also a two-owner car. And that’s something you don’t see every day when it comes to 1950s classics

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