Monday, March 26, 2012

1956X- A Special Century for Mitchell

 I've written before about GM's Bill Mitchell and how his job was even better than being King, because he got GM to build him special cars whenever the mood struck. Lots of cars surface with claims of Mitchell in their provenance, but this one screams authentic. The car in these photos is a 1956 Buick Century convertible known as the "1956X" with a host of modifications- the owner says it was a car for Mitchell. The first clue that supports his claim is that the building in the background is the General Motors Styling Center- brand new at the time!

Lots of special details are visible in this shot. Start with the special color- Eldorados had metallic aqua in 1956 but Buicks did not. Moldings are Roadmaster in style and the hood and trunk color break is custom. Wire wheels and side exhaust are special touches. Rear CENTURY lettering is unique and name badges on the sides are relocated. Bumpers have color inset and a ribbed and bright applique. Tail lamps are custom.

See the note that says Madler? Neil Madler was a GM Photographer and he took this picture on August 20, 1956. The paint on the other side of this wall was scarcely dry then. This profile shows off the lowered suspension and the custom rocker molding with exhaust outlet. Note hard boot, a'la Eldorado. Wire wheels are wearing narrow whitewall tires, which GM is showing on Motorama cars this season.

Special paint break moldings on the hood as well. Note the 1955 style hood ornaments now on the fender tops and the standard 1956 bombsight is removed. Undercarriage and wheel wells are Dante Red. The highlight of the interior are those special bucket seats with power headrests. The driver's seat swiveled 90 degrees, the passenger seat rotated a full 180. The seats are very similar in style to those in the 1956 Buick Centurion dream car. 

The car exists today in an unrestored state. The seats were no longer with the car when it was discovered but otherwise it is described as being largely intact. We have requested photos of the car as discovered and will share them when we receive them.

Do any of our readers recognize the car? If so, please leave a comment or drop us a line. 

Cross Posted on the Reynolds Buick GMC Blog


  1. fantastic! Not one of his more subtly styled specials, but I can just imagine him pulling up to the Grosse Point Yacht Club in this.

  2. The connection between this Buick and the Cadillac Le Mans of 1961 is undeniable.

  3. I purchased this vehicle in 1963 as a 17 year old and drove it for over 100,000 miles over several years while I attended college in West Michigan. Jim Harger of just interviewed me by phone recently. Jim published an article yesterday verifying my ownership.I was the last titled owner of the 1956x before my Brother sold it several years ago and the last person to drive it. It was my 1st collectable car and led to a lifetime search for other collectables. I own seven collectable cars - 4 here in North Carolina and 3 at my Grand Haven summer place in Michigan.
    Gary Meyer

    1. Do you have any pictures, Gary?

    2. Yes, but I'm not sure where all my 50 year old pictures are . I gave one old photo to Jim Harger via e-mail yesterday. Only a few were scanned before I moved to NC. Many of the photos are in Michigan. I am not planning on returning to Grand Haven until June.

  4. If you are interested in following the restoration of this car, visit the web site shown below for step by step restoration photos and description. Photos are available for 2012 and 2013 - prior two years not loaded as yet but I'm working on it.