16 March 2012

Our Cars: Jonathan Klinger's 1964 Buick Electra

‘Fate’ brought Jonathan Klinger and his ’64 Buick Electra 225 together


Jonathan Klinger has been interested in cars since before he attended his first Kindergarten class. He was fascinated with anything mechanical – especially if it had an engine – and one of his earliest memories is of his grandmother allowing let him to start her 1981 Chevrolet Malibu when he was only 4 or 5 years old. By the time Jonathan was a teenager, he was “bitten by the old car bug and never turned back.” He went on to graduate from the Automotive Restoration Program at McPherson College (McPherson, Kan.), where he also received a degree in business management. Jonathan was the development director for McPherson’s Automotive Restoration Program prior to joining Hagerty.

Employee: Jonathan Klinger

Title: PR Manager

Years at Hagerty: 4

Car: 1964 Buick Electra 225 Sport Coupe

Why a ’64 Buick Electra? I didn’t seek this car out; fate brought it to me. My family bought it from an elderly family friend in 1996 when I was in 8th grade. It had been sitting untouched in her garage since the fall of 1968 after her husband passed away unexpectedly (she never drove). It was a time capsule, having racked up only 19,000 miles in the four years it was driven when new. It literally had not been touched in 28 years. To get it running initially it only took a new battery and a new set of points. It still had a full tank of gas and, believe it or not, we ran that tank of 28-year-old gasoline until it was empty. It smelled horrible, but it ran. After that tank I changed the fuel filter, and I’ve never had to pull the tank out of the car. All the power accessories (windows, radio antenna, lights, radio, heater and factory remote trunk release) worked as new. In no time I also had the factory cruise control working and air conditioning blowing cold. 

Repairs and modifications: While it was in excellent original condition and took very little effort to get it running initially, it did take some work to get it to where it is today. It has had a major tune-up that included changing all fluids and a new set of radial tires with appropriately sized white-walls. The engine ran decently, but it had excessive blow-by and every gasket and seal leaked, so we decided to completely overhaul it despite the low mileage. I rebuilt the engine during the winter of my sophomore year of high school with the help of my uncle, and it has run flawlessly since. The paint is about 70 percent original. With the help of another uncle we fixed every little “character mark” and scratch. The interior is original with the exception of the headliner, which I replaced. The biggest headache I have had is with the factory air conditioning system.  I converted the system to R134a Freon, doing everything by the book and sparing no expense. But I have constantly battled the front seal in the compressor.

Hobby activities: I am a member of several national clubs, work within the hobby and am fortunate to attend several national events a year. For fun, I simply enjoy driving my old cars and love attending local cruise-ins.

Interesting car story: Shortly after we bought the car, I was home alone and couldn’t resist the temptation to drive it. Remember, I was only in 8th grade, so I had no business driving any car, let alone a classic. When I pushed on the gas pedal, I remember it felt like the front end was about to float off the ground. Needless to say, the drive was a short one.

Favorite drive: I road-tripped this car three times from my hometown in northern Illinois to McPherson. I’ll always remember the thrill of driving on the open interstate through the rolling hills of Iowa and the vast Kansas wheat fields.

Best and worst moment (in the hobby or with this car): The best moment is just simply driving this car. It rides so smoothly – virtually no rattles or strange noises. When I’m lucky enough to find a decent AM radio station playing ’50s and ’60s music, I feel like I’ve traveled back in time. Haven’t had a “worst moment” yet, thankfully

0 Reader Comments

Join the Discussion

Can't read the image below? Click this link to load a new one.