Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco

Better Built Buick – Fred DeFalco’s ’54 Buick Century

Anyone who is a fan of a particular car – ’55 Chevys, for example – can look at a heavily modified example and pick out the changes. But if you’re looking at something different, like Fred DeFalco’s ’54 Buick Century, you may need to spend hours to discover all the modifications.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco

Fred had always wanted a Buick and once he found an original example after lengthy internet searches, he reached out to the crew at Church Rods and Relics in St. Charles, Michigan, to produce the custom touches that would challenge the staunchest Buick enthusiast for hours.

Let’s start with the body, where modifications abound beneath the two-tone green Glasurit paint. Rocker panels were lowered. The top fins were extended. The rear bumper was lowered and the front bumper was pushed forward. Both were smoothed and tucked.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco


The Buick rides on a custom-built chassis with a Mustang II front suspension riding on RideTech air springs. In back, a Ford 9-inch rear houses 3.73 gears. Wilwood disc brakes front and rear handle the stopping demands, while EVOD 19×7- and 20×8-inch wheels complete the package.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco
Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco

Under the hood, a 383c.i. stroker small-block Chevy cranks out 525 horsepower, thanks in part to Inglese eight-stack injectors feeding fuel to the engine. Custom billet valve covers highlight the heavily customized engine compartment. Exhaust gases pass through Sanderson headers to Magnaflow exhaust pipes. A 700R4 automatic transmission, topped by a Gennie shifter, handles the gear-changing tasks.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco

The full custom interior bears little resemblance to the stock configuration. Gone are the full-width factory bench seats that could handle your grandparents and four friends. Now a plush four-passenger interior features a custom designed dashboard, full-length one-of-a-kind console, and luxurious leather seating. The front seats were rescued from a Lexus 300. Everything was carefully stitched in green leather by Don’s Upholstery.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco, custom rod

The custom dash houses Classic Instruments gauges as well as the Vintage Air controls. A custom Greening Auto Company steering wheel tops a Flaming River steering column. Door handles and pedals are the work of Eddie Motorsports, and there are plenty of other custom-machined trim pieces by both Greening and Church Rods and Relics.

Jaded Buick, 1954 Buick Century, Fred DeFalco

Like many customs, the Buick has a name: Jaded. A close look at the right side of the dashboard shows the name displayed in custom script. But don’t be misled, the name is inspired by the colors, not Fred’s attitude. “Building cars is exciting and creates a lot of personal satisfaction,” Fred says. “But the people and friends I have made are the real deal.”

Photos by John Jackson

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.