Monday, October 8, 2012

Reynolds Buick Hosts Their 95th Hi-Perfromance Anniversary

As seen in The GSX-TRA, National Publication of the GS Club of America:

From the late 50's through the mid-seventies, Reynolds Buick-GMC of West Covina, CA was literally the "Fastest Buick Dealer on Earth." In the early postwar years in Southern California, the drag strip was the place to be. Young men with octane in their veins broke away from their weekday jobs to race on the weekends.  As it happened, a chance conversation with a Buick Factory Representative inspired what ultimately became a very successful partnership between Buick dealer Pete Reynolds, engine builder James Bell, and legendary racing driver Lennie "Pop" Kennedy. 

Together, and with the cooperation of the factory, they created a series of Buick drag racing cars that won many races, set records, and not only became part of the racing lore of Southern California, but also helped Buick to create some of its finest cars of all time. 

Irven Reynolds Jr, known to all as "Pete" joined the family dealership in 1950 upon graduation from the University of California-Berkeley. Pete assumed the helm as dealer in 1958 and steered the course of guiding the dealership through the postwar era. It was Pete whose friendship with Buick's Bill Trevor led to an association with Lennie "Pop" Kennedy and legendary engine builder Jim Bell that created some of the finest Buick racing cars of all time. Bill knew "Pop" from racing against him and told Pete that if we wanted to sponsor a car, that he knew just the man to drive it.

Starting with a virtually stock bright red 1959 Invicta, known in lore as the "winningest Buick of all time", the Reynolds-Kenne-Bell association was instrumental in establishing the reputation of the Buick nailhead engine as a performance powerplant and were so influential that Buick Headquarters not only touted their successes, they supplied prototype parts to Reynolds for evaluation. This partnership fielded several cars- the 1959 Invicta, a nearly identical 1961 Invicta, a very early 1965 Gran Sport (which was rolled and replaced with second '65), 1967 and 1968 GS 400 coupes, and the most famous Reynolds Buick racer of all, a white 1970 Gran Sport 455 Stage 2 which survives to this day in the collection of Guy Parquette. 

In the fall of 2010. Reynolds Buick-GMC-Isuzu celebrated its 95th Anniversary with a very special Open House featuring entertainment, prizes, burgers, and two legendary Reynolds Buick race cars which traveled across the country for the event. It was an opportunity for our employees and our customers to come together with their families and share food, fellowship, and some rare glimpses into Reynolds Racing lore.

We won't pretend that we didn't have our doubts early in the day. It drizzled. It rained. It poured at times. And then, in the early afternoon, it stopped. The skies cleared and our hearts lifted. It was going to be a beautiful evening for the Open House. As the parking lot dried, an army descended to set up the event. By early evening, guests were arriving and everything was exactly as we had hoped it would be.

As has become a Reynolds tradition, guests were serenaded by the Michael Peters combo. Some even got up and danced under the moonlight sky. Dinner  was provided by the legendary In-n-Out truck, whose annual visit is always eagerly welcomed. After dinner, door prizes were awarded. The showroom and lot were full of employees, customers, their families, and guests.

Some very special guests this year arrived by trailer- two very special Buick drag racing cars that were very successful for Reynolds Buick were remembered this year with a very special display.
Jack Mancini of North Kingstown, Rhode Island brought his specially prepared 1965 Reynolds Buick Gran Sport Tribute Car. This beautiful racer is a recreation of our second 1965 Gran Sport that Pop Kennedy raced so successfully, and is an exact replica in every way of the actual car - right down to the correct vintage tachometer on the steering column. It was created by Mancini's shop, American Muscle Car Restorations, and stands as a three dimensional tribute to Reynolds Buick and their rich racing legend. Jack and his wife Karen attended the event along with renowned Buick GS expert Jimmy Shiels who assisted in the restoration of the car.

Another very special guest was the actual 1970 Reynolds Buick GS 455 Stage 2 race car that was well known all over Southern California dragstrips. We were fortunate to have not a recreation, but the actual car, which has been restored by owner Guy Parquette of Mosinee, Wisconsin to the exact specifications of when Pop Kennedy ran 10.89 at 126.85 MPH. There were more than a few goosebumps when the car was unloaded from the trailer and fired up in our back lot, almost 40 years from the day since it first arrived here. We were thrilled to have the car home for a visit and would like to sincerely thank Guy and his wife Colleen for bringing it.

As our 100th Anniversary approaches in 2015, we're looking forward to hosting an even grander event for Gran Sport and Buick performance fans. You can follow us on Facebook  or visit Reynolds Buick Racing  for the latest information.

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