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- June 2009
Stunning at Sixty
Written By: Emily Pogue
From rock n’ roll to beehive hairdos, the mid-century was filled with status. The introduction of the 1960 Buick Electra 225 Convertible was no exception. And while its initial debut may have dropped jaws back then, it is the pristine and historically accurate rebuild of this classic that will truly stun you.
This gorgeous Midnight Blue Buick hasn’t always looked the part of 1960s bombshell. It was in rough shape as it sat weathered and rusted behind a gas station in a small rural South Dakota town in 1985. Believing that the 1960 Buick was “one of the most fabulous automobiles ever,” Ennis Lund made a play for the beat-up beauty. “I’ve got the love for the era … for rock n’ roll, Elvis, and a time in our country when it was fun to be alive,” shared Ennis. After making a deal for both the Buick and a 1958 Plymouth, Ennis hauled his acquisitions home and unwittingly began a story that would span decades.
As a self-proclaimed “car freak,” Ennis has been working on cars for a hobby for over 50 years. As owner of Cliff Avenue Upholstery & Restoration, Ennis has taken that hobby to a passionate career and has mastered the skill of whole car restoration. His incredible ability to impeccably restore a car has led to some long-lasting relationships with other car enthusiasts. And the results are nothing short of astonishing.
Ennis eventually got a call from a buyer on the east coast asking if he would restore the Buick for him. Through 10 years of phone calls and money exchanged for work on the car, Ennis meticulously carried out the restoration, piece by piece. Everything was going as planned until one day, when a new voice came on the phone. The owner’s wife explained that her husband had passed away, and she was looking for help selling the car.
That’s where Rich Baier comes in. Rich and Ennis had been introduced years ago through one of their mutual car enthusiast friends. It was between cars 7 and 8 that Ennis was looking for a buyer for the Buick. Although Rich already owned a 1960 Buick, he took Ennis up on the offer to purchase the Midnight Blue Buick and saw the process through to the end. The result? An incredibly authentic restoration from the ground up.
Ennis called on his team of skilled tradesmen, including his lead mechanic Aaron, to restore the classic car.
“Our lead mechanic Aaron puts in extensive hours on every car that comes into our shop, including the 1960 Buick,” shared Ennis. “Aaron is quite a problem solver and sometimes does what I consider magic.”
The crew was able to breathe life back into the Buick by making sure that every bolt was in the proper place, the leather bench seats were stretched perfectly, and the specifications were replicated to a T. That’s where the pride of the restorations that Cliff Avenue Upholstery & Restoration shines through – the skill, detail, and quality of the rebuilds is amazing.
“Ennis is pretty particular and does a fantastic job, right down to the last bolt,” said Rich. “I don’t think there’s anyone that does it any better.”
Coming in at over 225 inches long, the rear wheel drive 1960 Electra 225 was a status symbol in itself. Rivaling the longest Cadillac on the market, the sprawling Buick was dripping with chrome. This model included advanced amenities like power steering, windows, brakes, seats, and the power of a Wildcat 445 engine. The fins were also decreased and rounded out slightly from the 1959 model giving the 1960 a new look.
Ennis Lund is considered a Pontiac guru, but he’s known for giving the same high-quality consideration for all cars. “If it has wheels, I can build it,” shared Ennis. Besides a 2001 Chevy Corvette that was purchased complete, Ennis has worked on car in Rich Baier’s lineup.
1957 Pontiac Cheiftain (coral)
This 4-door hardtop with original colors was purchased by Ennis from the original owner in LaMoore, ND. Ennis restored it for Rich in the ‘70s.
1960 Pontiac Ventura (light gold)
Rich and his wife Dee picked this car up in Arkansas. After a paint job and under-the-hood restoration from Ennis, this one is Rich’s favorite. “I love the body design and wide-track,” he said.
1960 Buick LeSabre (blue)
Many times, Cliff Avenue Upholstery & Restoration is called upon to fix up someone else’s work – this is one of those cases. Work was performed on this rare 3-on-the-tree sedan at another shop, and then repaired and restored by Ennis and team.
1960 Buick Electra (midnight blue)
Rich liked the features of this car, but he also appreciated the memories it brought along with it. “I grew up with the ‘60s Buicks,” he said. “I remember seeing the cars buzzing up and down the streets. I loved them.”
1974 Chevy Spirit of America Centennial Impala (white)
This car is the only one in the collection that Rich purchased new. A few years ago, Rich asked Ennis to detail everything out, including re-dying the white interior.
1964 Pontiac Bonneville (yellow)
Rich and Dee spotted this hardtop in Watertown, SD. “She said, ‘Aren’t you going to stop and look at it?’” laughed Rich. “Dee was always with me in the process, encouraging me a lot of times.” Ennis painted the car an original Pontiac yellow color and detailed everything under the hood.
1957 Pontiac Cheiftain (red)
This red and white cruiser, found in Remsen, IA, was the first car Ennis worked on for Rich. “I learned Ennis specialized in ’57 Pontiac restorations so I called and we met,” explained Rich. “I was very happy with how it turned out.”
1951 Studebaker (light green)
This beauty belongs to Dee. “I was never too crazy about them, but she liked it,” said Rich. Rich put Ennis on the hunt for the car, and he ended up finding it in Oklahoma.