1936 Buick Coupe - Sal Nicolosi

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1936 Buick Coupe
Sal Nicolosi of Pittsburg, CA
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, embrace the silence that surrounds you and put yourself in a calmer state of mind. I want you to think of a few things the New York Yankees just defeated the New York Giants 4 games to 2 and have just won their 5th World Series Title, the Art Deco movement was the major design trend and Buick unveiled its brand-new design for 1936.
1936 was a big year for Buick, they were GM’s second luxury brand, second to only Cadillac. And this was the first time, they stuck their biggest and newly reengineered Straight-8 engine into their smaller, lighter chassis vehicles. Dubbing them the “Century” because the factory claimed they could do over 100 mph with 120 hp which well overshadowed the ’36 Ford at 85 hp and the ’36 Chevy at a mere 79 hp. Due to the fact that the Century was also smaller than its cousin the Roadmaster, it was also significantly lighter (based on the model, it was 400-800lbs lighter) so due to it being lighter, the big overhead valve Straight-8 made it faster and due to its sleek and modern design it was nicknamed “the banker’s hot rod”.
There is something to say about simplicity in art and the practice of creating art using only what is necessary. Of course, the artist is the one who decides what will be added to his/her medium of choice but its all about capturing the essence of an idea by stripping away any unnecessary elements to deliver their message in its purest form. All these principles being used by any artist whether it’s a painter, an architect, or in the case of Sal Nicolosi’s ’36 Buick, any automotive builder or designer.
Sal is a disciplined guy, keeping tradition in mind when it came to building his ’36 he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it. He wanted to emphasize what was there but highlight those areas that Buick missed out on in the initial design. Then again, this also isn’t Sal’s first build, he’s had a ton of great cars in the past from a ’55 Chevy 210 to an absolutely killer ’59 Impala convertible, Sal has certainly been around the block but admittedly he always wanted a chopped, full custom.
It wasn’t an easy decision but after 30 years Sal made the decision to sell his beloved ’59. “I wasn’t planning on jumping right into another project, but my buddy Junior from Lucky 7 Customs said he knew a guy that had several cars and asked if I was interested in taking a ride to check out his collection”. It’s nice to have good friends, isn’t it? Sal says they ended up somewhere in Escalon on a beautiful property owned by a man named Fernando and he had a great collection of cars, but Sal says he immediately got stuck on the Buick. “it had a lot of work already done to it, but it needed to be finished. An LS3 engine was installed. Dennis Krakenberg had Paul Cepeda ‘Custom Paul’ chop the top. I’m not sure how Fernando got the car, but I was able to bring it home to finish the project”.
Sal did it right though, every step and change he made to the car, he thought it through and that’s why this build took over 3 years to complete. He started off by taking the car to Traditions Rod and Customs in Brentwood, CA. Once it was there, Brandon and his team addressed and tackled any mechanical or electrical issues the car had as well as upgrade the components that needed attention.
First thing that had to be done was to pull the LS3 and dress it up. By dress it up, I mean, paint everything black, everything looks better in black right? While the engine & transmission was out, that gave the team time to smooth out the firewall while they rebuilt the 4L60E transmission,  they installed a new Holley Sniper EFI kit and computer along with rewiring the whole car from front to back. Along the way upgrading components and lighting before shoving the engine back between the fenders with a pair of headers and Cherry Bombs glass packs.
Besides the upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems. Traditions also took on the task of upgrading the chassis and suspension to give it “the look”. First by re-enforcing the stock chassis and installing a new AccuAir air bag set up for the front and rear. Couple that with disc brakes all around, a Ford 9” in the rear, adjustable shocks, with rack and pinion steering. Sal was well on his way to having the chopped highway cruiser he has always dreamed of.
Aside from the great work that was done by the team at Traditions Rod and Customs, Bill Stalica who was an all-around car guru helped immensely with the build and helped Sal navigate several issues with brake adjustments and suspension upgrades.
As much as Sal enjoys the way his car sounds from the outside, like me, he also cares about what it sounds like while he’s driving so having a fantastic audio system was important. Sal took it over to audio expert Tony Sancen of Seductive Sounds in Oakley, CA to install a 1500W Audison power system with Hertz speakers. Tony also took the time to fabricate the speaker boxes and door panels to match the 1930’s art deco theme the car was built with.
Now that the car was looking right and sounding right, it was time to make his ’36 a showstopper. Sal trusted the team over at Lucky 7 Customs in Antioch, CA and Marcos Garcia to get the body back to shape. He credits Marcos with really giving the exterior it’s theme, urging to push for the chop as well as the LS swap and then of course he trusted the team with aligning the doors, adjusting the gaps, replacing the running boards, and then fitting and installing the rear skirts. If that doesn’t sound like a lot of work, they then color matched everything to the black the ’36 was wearing and then detailed it after adding a pair of Appleton spots and accessory mirrors to the Buick.
For a truly classic look, Sal turned to Juan Tejeda and his crew at Deals on Wheels in Antioch, CA with getting the old artillery wheels straightened and whipped back into shape and had them wrapped with a set of Auburn Deluxe tires by our friends over at Diamondback.
Finally, after years of work and upgrades, the end was near and its final stop was over to the upholstery wizard, Bob Divine. If you haven’t picked up on the theme of Sal’s build yet, it’s black. Continuing onto the interior “black on black on black”. Bob used a combination of black leather, black suede, and black cut pile to complete the look while wrapping the door panels and stock seats. The depth of the black highlights the incredible art deco accents which of course is in homage to the original design elements of the car. Sal had the gauges restored using an incredible mother of pearl gauge face against the original dash with woodgraining which truly makes the interior “come alive”.
Sal went into this project knowing exactly what he wanted to build. He formulated a plan, assembled the right team, and made it happen. In our world of taildraggers, Sal took a risk by taking a seldom used vehicle and made it unforgettable. After seeing Sal’s ’36, I know I’ll never look at a Buick the same way again and if you’re in California, there’s a good chance you will see Sal cruising his taildragger. Now that the to-do list has dwindled, Sal is most excited to get the car out, drive it, and enjoy it. Congratulations Sal, we’re stoked you finally were able to get the chopped Custom of your Dreams!
Series 40 Special Coupe modified with a chopped top
Chop by Paul Cepeda ‘Custom Paul’ of Nipoma, CA.
1936 Buick rear fender skirts
Running Board stainless moulding & rubber mat
Firewall smoothed
Stock Front & Rear Bumpers with Guards
Appleton Spotlights
Fog Lights
Black with subtle Green Pinstriping
Paintwork by Marcos Garcia of Lucky 7 Customs. Antioch, CA
Black Leather with Suede upholstery by Bob Divine. Pittsburg, CA
Black cutpile carpet 
Stock 1936 Buick Dash and Gauges
Banjo Steering Wheel
Tilt Steering Column
Vintage Air : Air Conditioning
1500W Audison Power with Hertz Speakers
Stereo System by Seductive Sounds. Oakley, CA
Sound deadening
Stock 1936 Buick reinforced frame
Ford 9” rear end
Stock Fuel Tank
Chassis Fabrication by Traditions Rod & Custom. Brentwood, CA
Accuair Air Management with Adjustable Shocks
Suspension Work by Traditions Rod & Custom. Brentwood, CA
Front & Rear: Disc brakes
16” Artillery wheels painted Green with Buick hubcaps wrapped in 6.50 DiamondBack Auburn Deluxe Radial whitewall tires
Wheels / Tires by Deals on Wheels. Antioch, CA
LS3 6.2L GM engine; Black paint color
Aluminum Cylinder Heads
Holley Sniper EFI 
Engine Work by Traditions Rod & Custom. Brentwood, CA
4L60E Transmission
Transmission Work by Traditions Rod & Custom. Brentwood, CA
12 Volt Wiring
Cherry Bomb Glass Pack exhaust
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