There’s always room for a surprise in the world of custom cars and classic automotive enthusiasts. One such surprise is making its way to the Mecum 2023 Las Vegas event on November 11th, 2023. What’s so exceptional about this classic beauty? It’s a 1956 Buick Century – a General Motors (GM) product from the ’50s but with a remarkable twist.
Under this iconic 1956 Buick Century’s hood is a beastly GEN III 6.1-liter (370 cubic-inch) HEMI® V8 engine. You might wonder why a Buick from the ’50s would be powered by a HEMI, a powerplant most commonly associated with modern-day Chrysler’s muscle cars. But that’s precisely what sets this classic apart and makes it a showstopper.
This customized Buick Century boasts a robust 6.1-liter HEMI V8, a powerplant known for its reliability and impressive stock performance. The owner, Bob Mazzolini, made some tasteful modifications to enhance its capabilities, including forged Mahle pistons, a FAST fuel injection system, and a one-off 3-inch exhaust system with stainless TTI tips. Bob even thought about the finer details, adding a polished custom aluminum pan because the stock unit couldn’t quite fit the new chassis. The result? A whopping 480 horsepower that’s efficiently transmitted through a rebuilt 1970 Torqueflite 727 transmission.
Bob Mazzolini’s connection to Buicks and hot-rodding goes back to his high school days in 1963 when he bought his first car, a ’56 Buick. His passion for automobiles and tinkering with them eventually led him to become a prominent figure in drag racing and classic car restoration. After a successful career as a schoolteacher, he and his wife Fran built Bob Mazzolini Racing, a thriving business that celebrated its 40th year in 2022. He’s been involved in countless automotive projects featuring Chrysler V8 engines, including legendary ones like the 426 HEMI and the 426 Max Wedge.
Bob has also worked on various NHRA entries, such as HEMI ‘Cudas, and even delved into Chevrolet Corvettes. However, his affection for the ’56 Buick he owned in his youth never faded. About 11 years ago, he embarked on a quest to find the same model, leading him to a Century coupe in Las Vegas, Nevada. The vehicle, previously used in motion pictures, had the look of a former sheriff’s car, complete with three aerials, dual spotlights, and spent cartridges in the trunk. His trade for this ’56 Buick was unconventional but fitting for a Mopar enthusiast – a 426 Max Wedge manifold.
The restoration of the Buick was no easy feat, considering that 1956 Buick stock components are far less common than their Chevy counterparts. The aftermarket industry showed limited interest in this model, so Bob started from scratch. He had a custom-made frame crafted by Art Morrison, equipped with coil-over shocks and rack-and-pinion steering. He sold everything from his Buick except the body, buying a second ’56 to source missing or better parts when necessary.
The custom-made frame also supports a 9-inch Ford rear end, guided by a chromed four-link suspension system. Under the surface, you’ll find a bespoke 33-gallon gas tank and a custom aluminum driveshaft designed by Inland Empire Driveline. With the car’s weight and power in mind, Bob installed Wilwood disc brakes, both front and rear, sporting 12.19-inch rotors. The car’s stance is enhanced by Billet Specialties wheels measuring 17×8 and 17×10, wrapped in 255-40 Nitto and 255-60 General Grabber tires, creating that perfect, classic hot rod rake.
Regarding the exterior, Bob decided to keep the body stock, but with some subtle modifications. The Buick lettering on the hood and the rear lid ornament were removed, giving it a cleaner, sleeker look. The color combination is a sight to behold, with a vibrant Sunset Orange Pearl mixed with Cool Vanilla, which had pearl added, a nod to the 2006 Chrysler 300s.
The vintage vibe is retained inside the vehicle, thanks to the exceptional upholstery work by Ron Mangus Hot Rod Interiors. The side panels and seats, including the front pair originally found in modern Cadillacs (Bob isn’t certain of the year), maintain the classic atmosphere. Modern touches include a Billet Specialties steering wheel, a B&M shifter, and a range of Dakota Digital instruments.
All these remarkable details combine to create a stunning and unique ’56 Buick Century. It’s a rare treat to see a ’50s Buick powered by a HEMI V8 at local car shows, and now, you’ll have the opportunity to witness this automotive marvel up close. This beautifully restored and customized 1956 Buick Century, with its GEN III HEMI V8, is set to be one of the stars of the show at the Mecum 2023 Las Vegas auction, so make sure to mark your calendar for November 11th, 2023, and don’t miss your chance to own a piece of automotive history.
Custom HEMI-Powered 1956 Buick Century Image Gallery: