A Seldom-Seen Buick Light

Do you recognize this interesting and hard-to-find light we picked up the other day?

It is a reverse light for some 1958 Buick models, and it would have been found in the back bumper, directly under the tail light, as seen here on a Roadmaster 75:

Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My Dad always referred to 1958 Oldsmobiles as “Christmas trees” due to all of the chrome ornamentation, but the Buicks of the same year are similarly bedecked. Just check out this beautiful chromed-up Buick station wagon:

Photo credit: CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz — photo credit is required if this image is used anywhere other than Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ’58 Buicks had dual headlights and an incredibly unique grille:

Photo credit: Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was described as consisting of chrome squares, like jewels, set in four rows that extended all the way across the front to the outer extremities of the car, accentuating the lowness and breadth. Each chrome square was composed of four triangular surfaces designed to reflect maximum light. I have heard it called a “drawer pull” grille, but I see what Buick was going for; it does remind me of a diamond tennis bracelet.

Believe it or not, the Roadmaster wasn’t even the Buick with the most sparkle that year; that honor went to the extra-long and luxurious Limited which was adorned with 15 vertical louvers on each rear fender. The Limited was nearly 19 feet long and weighed around 4700 pounds.

All ’58 models, the Roadmaster and Limited (as well as the Century, Special, and Super) were powered by a 364ci V-8. All series except the Special had a Quadrajet carburetor. Powertrain options included the Flight Pitch Dynaflow, standard on both the Roadmaster 75 and the Limited. Marketing focused on flight (it was the rocket age after all) and used phrases like, “It looks and feels like flight on wheels,” and, “The air born B-58 Buick.”

If it seems like something is missing, despite all of the dazzling chrome trim, your mind may be registering the lack of ventiports. That feature, practically synonymous with the Buick, was absent in 1958 and 1959. Ventiports reappeared in 1960, this time with the Electra being the top-of-the-line model and sporting four on each side.

This 1960 Electra was graced with four ventiports to distinguish it from other models.