Friday, November 18, 2011

More Reynolds Racers: A red '59 Invicta

This is one that started it all, and the one we know the least about. Pete Reynolds had only been the dealer for about a year, having taken over from his father, Irv Sr., and had developed a friendship with a fellow named Bill Trevor. In many ways Trevor is the key to it all, because in addition to being the Buick instructor at the GM Tech Center in Burbank (itself sparkly new, having been completed in 1955), Trevor was a weekend warrior.

There were dozens of them, car crazy guys who worked a weekday job to support their families but lived at the dragstrip on the weekends. Trevor had his hat handed to him more than once by a white haired driver named Lennie Kennedy that they nicknamed "Pop." He realized that if anyone ever put Pop behind the wheel of a serious ride, that there were races to be won.

So Trevor worked on young Reynolds. "If you want to try it," he told Pete, "I know the just the driver." Pete thought it was a promotional opportunity for the dealership and soon an introduction was arranged. Pete and Pop hit it off pretty well.

The 1959 Buick models came out in late 1958 and looked like nothing anyone had ever seen- longer, lower and wider with enormous Delta-wing fins. They looked like they were moving even when they were standing still. Perhaps that was the final jolt Pete Reynolds needed, because shortly after that he selected a Tampico Red Invicta Coupe with a red and white interior and made a phone call to Pop Kennedy.

And the first race car was a very successful one at that. Called the "winningest Buick of all time", this car accumulated an astonishing 132 trophies in its career before being retired in 1961. On its first run, the Tampico Red finned beauty turned a 15.0 at 90 mph. With milled heads and a 4.44 rear end, the time dropped to 14.70 at 93 mph.

Unfortunately, in those days, the crew were too busy making history to record it. We don't even have pictures of this one, just one grainy photo from a newspaper. And it's an early one- built before they fitted the grille medallion! But what a beautiful car it must have been. On the Reynolds books as a demo, upon retirement it was sold as a used car. We'd love to have this one back!

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