The world of restomodding is something like walking a tightrope. There have been a lot of advances in automotive technology over the years, but trying to incorporate them into an older car without wrecking the aesthetic can be difficult. But some people have worked out the right formula for these kinds of things, and the folks at Icon are absolutely obsessive about it. It gets especially interesting with the Derelict series of cars, in which the exterior gives the appearance of not having been restored at all, but nearly everything else about the car has been changed and modernized.

The car started life as a 1948 Buick Super Convertible. It was found in barn in Pennsylvania and hadn’t been registered since the ’70s. The Super had been a thoroughly mainstream car for Buick in its day, a full-sized but not excessively expensive car that sold in huge numbers. So even today it isn’t especially rare, and when Icon CEO Jonathan Ward found the car while actually searching for a different Buick, he bought it right away, despite not having a buyer lined up yet. The modifications have been extensive, to say the very least, but the car still looks every bit like a barn find.

Continue reading to learn more about the Buick Super Convertible by ICON.

  • 1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON
  • Year:
    1948
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    638
  • Torque @ RPM:
    600 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    150 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON Emblems and Logo Exterior
- image 565679

The body of the car is largely unchanged in its Icon version. It’s still wearing its original paint, such as it is, complete with all of the wear and stains. It is this defining feature that sets the Derelict series of cars apart from other restomods. It’s not a rat rod either. Very little of the “wear” on the car is artificial, and it has the look of genuine wear because that’s precisely what it is. When the car was first brought into the Icon shop, the body was removed from the chassis, and Icon had a whole new chassis custom built by Art Morrison. The wheels are new, but are custom made to look period, and the hubcaps are reproductions as well, complete with laser-etched Buick script. There is even a spotlight, which would have been on the car originally, but it is now made from an LED motorcycle headlight. It’s amazing the lengths that Icon went to to keep the car from looking like it had been restored.

Interior

Great lengths have been taken with the interior of the car as well. It might look a bit too new in comparison to the exterior, but the leather upholstery actually came from a source that makes upholstery for home interiors. That means that the material isn’t treated to be UV resistant, and will age faster than regular automotive upholstery usually would, and will therefore come to match the exterior comparatively quickly. The windows have been converted to power windows, but Icon has used actual Buick switches from the ’50s in order to make the addition seamless. Likewise, the steering column and wheel are new, but great lengths have been taken to make the wheel look correct and to hide the column. The speakers for the new stereo system are a mix of period correct (in appearance) and hidden behind the perforated leather in the front doors. The head unit, which is obviously not going to look period correct, is hidden behind a panel that looks like the original AM radio. It’s a logical place for it, but it must have taken quite a bit of effort to get right.

Drivetrain

1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON High Resolution Exterior
- image 565677

Open the hood on the Super Convertible and you will immediately see that at this car is far more it’s letting on. Gone is the original Fireball straight-8 engine, and in its place is a supercharged LS9 V-8 out of the ZR-1 Corvette. The 6.2-liter unit produces “just under 700” horsepower, and is connected through a 4-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Ward said that most restomod builders, when using this engine, will convert the lubrication system rather than deal with the complexity, but he elected not to. That means that this is a 1948 Buick Super with a dry sump, hardly something you see every day. Parts of the aesthetics of the original engine have been reproduced, and the valve covers have lettering on them that comes from the original engine. But the mechanical workings of the car are thoroughly modern, with the brakes and suspension being upgraded as well, and monster six-piston calipers with 13-inch rotors are now on the front wheels. The chassis is stiff compared to the original, which had so much flex to them that they were known to sometimes break windshields. Handling is vastly improved, and the car is now much more of a sports car in disguise than the top-down cruiser it was originally intended to be.

Prices

Icon hasn’t disclosed a price for this car, but it’s impossible for it not to have been an absolute fortune. Not only are all of the new parts expensive themselves, but the design effort that went into the car is tremendous. Everything had to be digitally scanned, and CAD designs of the new engine from GM had to be used to make it fit just so in the engine bay. Just the work that went into reshaping the front seats in order to give them an armrest is said to have taken over 100 hours. The cost of the actual 1948 Buick donor car was almost certainly one of the cheaper parts of the project. Bloomberg gave the price of $1 million for a similar project from the Derelict line (see the Competition section), and it’s a good bet that the Buick came in at a similar price.

Competition

Ring Brothers 1970 Mustang Dragon

1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON
- image 678063

One of the more famous restomods out there, this 1970 Mustang built by Ring Brothers fetched $330,000 when it sold at auction. The car obviously takes a different approach than the Derelict car, in that it is made to look like a brand new car, and both the interior and exterior flaunt more modern design elements. The engine is a 427 crate engine, and the car is both a sight to behold and quite a thing to hear as well.

Icon Derelict DeSoto

1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON
- image 678062

A hybrid of the Chrysler Town & Country and a DeSoto sedan, Icon stuck a Hemi V-8 out of the SRT-8 Challenger into this car to make restomod. The car first debuted in 2011, and is the reason why so many people started paying attention to Icon’s Derelict series. It’s a hell of a car, and thanks to the wagon body of the Town & Country, it’s pretty practical as well. Hot Rod Magazine said the cupholders sucked, but that it was an otherwise excellent car.

Conclusion

1948 Buick Super Convertible by ICON High Resolution Exterior
- image 565683

Cars like this one are how you get the best of two different worlds. It’s great to have a frame-off restored classic car, done up all perfect to beyond the original factory standards for quality. But the problem with a car like that is that the restoration turns it into a museum piece. You can really use it at all if you want to preserve its concourse-ready level of fit and finish, and it goes from being a car to being an investment. But this is a car that you wouldn’t be afraid to use, terrified that something would happen to the paint or that it would get rained on or something. Restomods are always built to be more usable, but one that’s made to also look used is the most usable of all.

  • Leave it
    • * Eye-wateringly expensive
    • * Sometimes it’s okay to look nice
    • * Takes forever to build

Source: Boldride

Press Release

ICON is proud to present the latest in the eclectic and diverse series of one off custom vehicles from it’s Derelict Line, this magical 1948 Buick Super Convertible.

Discovered in a garage in Pennsylvania, last on the road in 1973, ICON transported this streamlined wonder to it’s Chatsworth headquarters for transformation into a modern and highly capable daily driver. The process started with the team liberating the body from the original chassis, to laser scan the body, thereby allowing CAD design of the modern chassis and mechanical systems. A year and a half later, (and over 1400 internal man hours...), it looks like nothing was done! But that is half the fun with the Derelict designs, which seek to celebrate the original patina and romance of age, while fusing these honored elements with state of the art engineering, to transcend the vehicle into something that can be driven daily with pride.

This vehicle features a one-off Art Morrison chassis with independent front suspension, four link rear, coil over JRI shocks al the way around, 20:1 rack and pinion power steering, 638 HP / 604 TQ 6.2L GM LS9 (air-to-liquid intercooled, dry sump...), Supermatic 4L85E automatic transmission, Strange 9” rear end, stainless fuel and exhaust system, and much more. Custom 18” 6061 billet wheels finished in a distressed dark red powder coat with spun stainless hub caps acid etched with the vintage Buick font. ZR rated BF Goodrich G-Force tires make sure all this power makes it to the tarmac.

Further, albeit more subtle, modifications continue into the interior. Electric power windows, power seat and top, all modern wiring harness and gauges hidden to appear as stock.The original AM radio center dash speaker has been modified to articulate down when touched, revealing modern touch screen web-enabled audio system, NAV, Bluetooth, reverse camera and more. All Focal and Audison system components for sound quality, with front speakers behind perforated leather, and rear speakers hidden in 300SL speaker housings.The bass is in the truck, integrated. Front seat now has an articulating center console with cup holders and iPhone dock, seats are stuffed with Tempurpedic foam, finished in red Moore & Giles hides. Carpet is Rolls Royce Wilton wool, and the soft top is skinned in Mercedes tan canvas.The entire underside of the vehicle has been coated in heat cured polyurea, and Dynamat sound deadener products are everywhere possible.

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