Mark Richardson's 1961 Buick Invicta (from November 2002)

One of the cool and unusual vehicles at this year’s Beach Blast 8 car show in Cocoa Beach was Mark Richardson’s 1961 Buick Invicta convertible, based out of Jacksonville, Florida. The unique styling, great stance, “hot” paint, and neat subtle touches all added up to lots of attention for this newly completed cruiser.

The basic body was left stock, with all the chrome shaved for a cleaner look. Super smooth ‘99 GM midnight blue paint was then applied, and really accented by a set of great long lingering flames by Tony Ricardo in Jacksonville. The 6 inch lower stance all around and a set of 17x8 inch Billet Specialties wheels all contribute to a really eye-catching exterior.

Inside Ed Schreck is responsible for the pearl white vinyl upholstery. The front seats were shortened in height (so they wouldn’t stick up past the body lines), and an arm rest was added between the passengers. The console between the rear passengers serves double duty by not only providing cup holders, but more importantly housing extra speakers for the JVC AM/FM CD stereo. The dash was given a custom treatment, with VDO gauges mounted in mirrored plexiglass on the driver’s side, and the “Infected” moniker worked into the passenger’s side. The flaming River stainless steering column is topped with a Billet Specialties steering wheel, which matches the car’s rims. The power top was painstakingly rebuilt and recovered by Hawthorne’s, and for days when you want the climate controlled the car is equipped with Vintage Air. The Hawaiian hula doll on the dash, the surfboard rear view mirror, Tiki head door lock pulls, and the flaming eyeball on the antenna also add nice subtle touches which help give the car a unique personality and flair.

Under the hood now resides a 502 cubic inch HO Chevy motor, which took considerable work to squeeze in. To put it into perspective, the Buick’s frame is 11 inches narrower than a ‘61 Chevy’s. Custom headers which exit through the fender wells were crafted by Charles Holland to get the motor lower, and consist of 2-1/2 inch tubing all the way back. A 700R4 overdrive automatic linked to a stock rear end with 2.73 gears offers good driveability, and allows the combination to get 20 mpg on the highway. The engine compartment was given nice visual enhancements too, which include a Cadillac air cleaner painted to match the exterior, Moon Eyes finned aluminum valve covers, a Be-Cool radiator, and various other polished and plated parts.

Mark and his buddies from the Rascals Rods & Customs car club out of Jacksonville did most of the work, and their attention to detail definitely shows. The car made the Top 20 in Rod & Custom’s Asphalt Ego-Rama, which rated reader submitted vehicles based on styling, braking, acceleration and cost to build. Certainly quite an honor since there were no doubt thousands of entries. It draws just as much attention at the local shows too, and of course has brought lots of fun and joy to Mark.....which is what it’s all about! CN