The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is a trade-only event bringing the automotive aftermarket industry’s biggest companies, brightest minds, and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Center. While the annual SEMA show is meant to bring the industry together to do business it has also become a vacation destination. As if there wasn't already plenty to do and see in Las Vegas, Nevada, the SEMA show gathers the finest examples of custom vehicles into an area of approximately 3.2 million square feet. The official unveiling of Mike Young’s Chris Carlson Hot Rods built custom 1949 Buick Super 56S Sedanette epitomizes the essence of a SEMA Show build and formal reveal.
Chris Carlson Hot Rods is a nationally recognized full service hot rod shop located in Mulvane, Kansas specializing in custom builds, hot rods, muscle cars, restorations and street rods. One of the cornerstones of Chris Carlson’s work is his ability to combine old school flair with cutting edge technology. Additionally, Chris’ builds are a blend of the customers’ ideas with his expert knowledge, which results in a one of a kind, top quality car. Mike Young, owner of the 1949 Buick Super 56S Sedanette unveiled during a crowded NAPA/Martin Senour Automotive Finishes media event at the 2015 SEMA Show, is on his third custom vehicle from Chris Carlson Hot Rods.
Mike Young is a car guy at heart, and grew up in the age of classic hot rodding. In the late 1950’s Mike grew up around the corner from hot rodding legend Darryl Starbird’s shop and used to hang out there as a youth. Mike’s first car was a 1947 Ford sedan, which he purchased for $50, followed by a 57 Chevy, 58 Plymouth, and a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere; all of which he owned during high school and they were all hot rodded. Since then Mike has owned many classic cars, but for his latest build he decided he wanted to build a big comfortable road car from the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.
Before acquiring the platform for his latest project, Mike almost bought a 1951 Chevrolet FleetLine he found in Oklahoma. However, during his search Mike stumbled across a 1949 Buick Sedanette that had been parked next to a barn in Iowa since 1959. Mike said, “It was love at first sight. The Buick has the features I was looking for in a Chevrolet but with a lot more character than the Chevy. The 1949 Buick represents the love affair the movie industry had with art deco in the late forties.” 1949 was a breakthrough year for Buick as it ushered in its first fully revised vehicle offerings following World War II.
The way in which Mike describes his Buick as having more character than a Chevy falls in line with how General Motors markets the Buick line. Buick is currently the oldest active American auto maker and the marque has always been intended as more upscale than Chevrolet, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile, but reasonably priced compared to the flagship Cadillac brand. 1949 ushered in the third generation Buick Super, which shared its c-body platform with the longer wheel base Roadmaster, and also saw the introduction of Buick’s most recognizable styling cue, the VentiPorts on the fender behind the front wheels.
The Buick VentiPorts come with their own interesting history. Buick stylist Ned Nickles added custom lighted VentiPorts to his personal 1948 Buick to simulate the exhaust stacks of a fighter plane as a reference to Buick having participated in the war effort. Upon seeing this, Buick chief Harlow Curtice ordered that non-lighting VentiPorts be installed on all 1949 Buicks. The number of VentiPorts along each side of the fender initially denoted the size of straight-eight engine installed, but later became representative of the number of cylinders.
Once Mike Young showed Chris Carlson pictures of the 1949 Buick Sedanette the ideas started flowing. In the end there were over 100 body modifications involved with this build. Most noticeable is the fact that Chris Carlson chopped 3” out of the roof height at the A pillar, 4” at the B pillar, 5” at the dog leg, followed by 8” at the trunk. “The lines of the Buick just scream please cut me up and make me into a cool fifty’s custom,” said Mike Young. The chopped top and sloping roofline give the 49 Buick a sleek aerodynamic appearance that appears to be moving fast even when parked. Very little of the Buick’s body was left untouched, and when it was time, the car was finished in Granite color paint from NAPA Martin Senour Automotive Finishes.
Chris Carlson Hot Rods kept with the vintage hot rod theme, while adding classy touches, inside the 1949 Buick Sedanette as well. The Silhouette light graphite leather covered front seats, wrap around rear seats, and center console are all from a 1964 Ford Thunderbird. The custom dash was fabricated using Dakota Digital gauges and modeled after an early Lincoln Zephyr. Additional interior upgrades include air conditioning and heat via a Vintage Air unit, sound dampening material from Dynamat, and a Custom Auto Sound stereo system. The interior work was performed by Chris Carlson Hot Rods using components from Clayton Manufacturing and CON2R.
Mike fully intends to drive his custom 1949 Buick Super Sedanette, and as such he had the powertrain and running gear brought up to modern day standards. A Blue Print Engines small block Chevy 383 stroker crate engine rated at 462 horsepower hides under the hood. Feeding this beast are dual 4-barrel Edelbrock carburetors sitting atop an air gap manifold. Mike went with a Mooneyes air cleaner for that retro look, but when it came time to choose an air filter for the Buick he couldn’t settle for average. Mike reached out to K&N and had a custom black media K&N air filter made to compliment the Buick’s theme. Speedway Motors block hugger headers and Magnaflow Exhaust route the fire breathing 383 stroker engine’s spent gasses to the rear of the car.
Worth noting is that Mike’s 1949 Buick was built to be driven exactly as it sits. The Buick isn’t sitting on airbags, in fact the Total Cost Involved (TCI) Mustang II front suspension and 4-link rear suspension are supported by RideTech coilover shocks at all four corners. 12” diameter GM disc brake rotors and matching calipers are mated to Wilwood pedals and master cylinder to provide modern stopping power. A GM THM 700R4 based transmission adds a much appreciated overdrive for cruising at highway speeds; while a Curry Enterprises Ford 9” rear end based unit with a 3.70:1 gear ratio turns the wheels. Chris Carlson completely boxed the stock frame in order to deal with the stresses involved with running an engine rated at over 3-times the power of the stock straight 8.
When Mike Young unveiled his Chris Carlson Hot Rods built custom 1949 Buick Super 56S Sedanette at the 2015 SEMA Show on November 3rd, it was in front of a crowd gathered around the NAPA/Martin Senour Automotive Finishes SEMA Show booth # 10627. With its classic lines this highly customized, yet very tasteful, build should continue to awe crowds for years to come. Keep an eye out for Mike’s 1949 Buick in several upcoming print magazines as well as numerous car shows. A comprehensive list of modifications made by Chris Carlson Hot Rods, with some help from Mike himself, is found below.
1949 Buick Super Sedanette, model 56S
Interior:Front/wrap around rear seats and center console from 1964 Ford Thunderbird
Custom early Lincoln Zephyr looking dash with Dakota Digital gauges
Steering Wheel and Black Widow Spider shift knob from CON2R
Air conditioning and heat by Vintage Air
Sound damping material by Dynamat
Light graphite color Silhouette leather upholstery
Door handles and dome lights by Clayton Manufacturing
Custom Auto Sound radio and speakers
Body modifications & paint:Top cut 3” at A pillar, 4” at B pillar, 5” at dog leg, and 8” at trunk
Head lights from a 1956 Oldsmobile 98
Modified tail lights from a 1954 Mercury
Front and rear fenders peaked to match the peak in the head light bezels
The trunk modified to resemble a 1965 Buick Riviera boat tail
The tail light hump in the rear fenders was removed
The hoods lines were accentuated
Hood hinges were removed and a custom hinging system fabricated
The hood was belly panned
Front bumper fabricated from two stock bumpers
Front bumper flat spot and bumper guard mounting holes removed
Front bumper was peaked
Rear stainless spear made from three stock spears to give a long flowing look
Paint color is “Granite” By NAPA Martin Senour Paint
Engine Compartment & drive line:Blue Print Engine 383 Chevy small block stroker crate motor rated at 462 HP
TCI 700R Transmission
9” Curry rear end with 31 spline axles and 3.70:1 gear ratio
Mooneyes air cleaner and valve covers
Black Custom K&N air filter
Dual 4 barrel Edelbrock carbs with Air Gap intake manifold
Speedway hugger headers
BeCool cooling system 700 HP polished radiator with two 3100 CFM fans
Custom inner fenders that transition into the outer fenders
Chassis:RideTech coil overs front and rear
Total Cost Involved 4 link suspension with torsion bar sway bar suspension
12” GM disk brakes and calipers
Wilwood pedals and master cylinder
Boxed stock frame
Total Cost Involved Mustang independent front suspension
Wheels & Tires:17”, Circle racing wheels model 91
Diamond Back Tires 235/55/17 front and rear
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