Ryan Johnston’s 1950 Buick Fastback
by Chadly Johnson
I had been seeing Ryan Johnston of Aurora, IL around the mid-west show scene for a couple of years before we were finally able to get together for a photo shoot. The wait was well worth it though as his killer, bare metal, 1950 Buick has improved at every show I’ve seen it at. I put on a ton of miles to hit events, often in a modern car, which is a true testament to the kind of mileage Ryan puts on his Buick as he seems to be everywhere.
Once at an event I rarely see anyone having more fun than Ryan in his Buick. With his gorgeous girl Angi by his side I’ve seen him push his 50 to the limits sideways around corners on the dirt track at Vintage Torque Fest, smoking his tires until his car disappears while doing burnouts, and throwing massive burst of flames that would make Godzilla jealous. Yeah Ryan knows how to have a good time, it’s a good thing he built his Buick to withstand the abuse and beg for more.
The story of "The 50" begins a few years ago when Ryan was doing a general search for his next project. A particular car was not set in stone until a friend began working on a fastback Fleetline that Ryan could tell was going to turn out killer. This narrowed his search down to a 50s era fastback, and once he spotted the snaggle tooth grille of a 50 Buick, he knew what car he had to build. So began the long search for a good fastback, which proved to be a very hard find. While attending the Hunnert Car Pile-Up Ryan was discussing his search with a gentleman attending the show in a 50 Buick Riviera. The guy smiled and said he had one sitting in his garage that he’d owned for several years. Now Ryan is aware that calling on a car once a week is not how you get a car for cheap, but he didn’t care, he wanted the Buick bad. Persistence paid off in the end and after a trip to Toledo, OH to retrieve it,"The 50" was all his !
The New Mexico bodied car was very solid, but covered in heavy surface rust, so it was treated with CLR which revealed the stock paint below. The Buick had a good look, but had one front fender that was a mismatch for paint. Ryan quickly removed the front clip and pulled the non-running factory straight 8 mill with plans of updating the drive line with a 99 Z28 set-up. Adapting the late model uni-body suspension and drive line to the stock Buick frame along with air ride components was quite an undertaking to say the least. In the end, Ryan pulled off a unique combination that rides smooth, and performs aggressively when he mashes the throttle resulting in a best of both worlds in performance, comfort, and reliability.
After a short time of driving the fastback Ryan could no longer handle the mis-matched fender, so he took to the Buick with a grinder and didn’t stop until the whole car was in bare metal…a full 2 week battle. The metal was then treated to prevent flash rusting and the final appearance is nothing shy of stunning.
|The fastback has seen a ton of miles hitting events such as the Hunnert Car Pile-UP, Vintage Torque Fest, and the Detroit Autorama. Even with all the hard miles Ryan has continued to add to the Buick slowly as he enjoys it, mostly focusing on the interior. He personally stitched up all the upholstery himself making this a 100% owner built car.|
Hot Rods and customs are never done, but the Buick is at a point were Ryan is content, and plans to turn his attention to his latest project, a 54 Chevy 150 sedan. With as impressive as the Buick turned out I cant’ wait to see what’s in store for the 54.
And if you're in the Midwest at a Kustom Show ... be sure to watch for Ryan and his cool 50. .