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“No other Buick looked like this,” boasted a 1958 advertisement. After years of wartime-imposed thrift from World War II and the Korean conflict, Americans were ready for an era that became known as the “Age of Excess,” featuring vehicles with high-flying tail fins and chrome.
After years (1953-1957) of production quality problems due to high production rates (47% increase in 1955) and not-time-to-fix design flaws (brakes and rear axle failures), Buick wanted to improve its reputation and compete in the ultra-luxury market. The Buick Limited cost $1100, which was $240 more than the base models of Lincoln, Imperial, and Cadillac.
The model year 1958, brought a change in styling for Buick, the “port holes” (officially called ventiports and slang term was “mouse holes”) made famous by Harley Earl were no more. However, chrome was still in style, and Buick made the most of it, applying chrome trim in every conceivable area on the car, including the new “Fashion-Aire Dynastar” grille and “Vista-Vision” dual headlamps. The “Fashion-Aire Dynastar” grille was composed of 160 half inch chrome squares, each designed with four triangular concave surfaces calculated to reflect a maximum amount of light; thus, the nickname “The Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Buick retained the Special, Century, Super, Roadmaster models, and re-introduced the Limited. The Buick Special was the bottom-line model, having less horsepower and fewer comfort features and chrome than the other models in the Buick line-up.
The engine was a 364 cid ohv V8 which produced 250 hp. A Flight Pitch “Dynaflow” Transmission was available as an option in 1958. The transmission was a complicated and expensive mechanism, using hydraulic torque multiplication throughout the speed range that resulted in smooth shifting. However, it lacked the response of the Hydra-Matic and the slippage resulted in increased fuel usage; thus nick-named “Dynaslush.”
Buick produced 5504 Special convertibles in 1958 at a base price of $3041.