As many of you already know, I’m a huge fan of the restomod. What’s not to like about the classic looks of an old school car mixed with the modern amenities and power of something from the new school? I recently came across this particular example and I feel like it perfectly represents everything that’s so appealing about a restomod in the first place. It’s called the Buick G54 and while it was technically built a few years back, it’s still relevant thanks to the incredibly high-quality craftsmanship, the amount of work that went into it, and the overall idea behind it.
Merging an old school classic car with the drivetrain from something modern is not a new concept. However, these builds usually have two somewhat similar cars being merged together. But with the Buick G54, that’s not the case. That’s because while it looks like a mint condition 1954 Buick from the outside, underneath is the drive train from a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, specifically the G55 AMG. That means that sitting under that gorgeous hood sits a supercharged 5.4L AMG tuned V8 which is good for at least 500hp.
As cool as that is to have a G-Wagon motor in this old school classic, what takes it to the next level is the way in which it was done. The build quality of the G54 is second to none. It’s so good that to the uninformed, it would look like it came that way from the factory, even though it left the factory floor more than 70 years ago. That’s thanks to the incredible handiwork of Troy Trepanier and his shop, Rad Rides. Troy is one of the most respected names in car building and he’s one of the few craftsmen that could pull off a masterpiece of this caliber.
The whole process started with a wrecked G55 AMG. It suffered extensive damage and was deemed totaled by the insurance company. However, the owner, a Utah resident by the name of Hal Wing, ended up buying back the car with the intentions of doing something with the drivetrain. Hal wanted to merge the drivetrain with something, but he wasn’t sure what. He ended up talking to his friends in the car community where he was told: “there’s only one guy that comes to mind that can pull that off.” Troy was that guy, and after a few conversations, Hal decided to let him pick the car this G-Wagon drivetrain would become one with. Which is where the 1954 Buick came into the picture.
When you see the quality of the G54, it should come as no surprise that the build took a long time, a really long time actually. Some reports indicate that it was upwards of 5 years to create the end result you see here. Apparently, the biggest obstacle Troy and his crew had to overcome wasn’t making sure everything fit correctly like one might assume. Instead, it was the wiring of all the electronic aspects of the Mercedes to make sure they would work correctly. Just the wiring alone took more than 6 months.
Because neither Troy or Hall was willing to sacrifice anything this build had to be perfect in every way. For example, the seats came from the G55 which means they are electronically adjustable, and there was a sensor that kept faulting which would prevent the car from starting. That’s right, a seat sensor was holding up the entire process and that is just one of the hundreds of electronic nuances that come standard in a Mercedes that had to be figured out. All the gauges, shifter, and anything else you find on a Mercedes interior were used as well, and that meant even more wiring hurdles to overcome. But yet when you look inside, there’s not even the slightest sign of wiring, not a connector or harness in sight.
The Buick G54 is truly one of a kind, no matter where or which way you look at it. Even the badging on the car is unique with Buick’s tri-shield emblem and Mercedes’ three-pointed star perfectly combined to create one badge unlike any other. The wheels are custom built and styled after the classic 90’s Mercedes five-spoke rims that have the perfect touch of the Buick center caps. Troy even came up with an AMG-like Buick logo to paint on them to make it seem even more authentic.
When you see a car built with this level of craftsmanship you might immediately assume it was meant to be parked inside a showroom and never see the open road. And when you look at the engine bay that looks more like a work of art, and you can’t see any of the wiring or plumbing you might even question if it runs or not. However, that’s not Hal or Troy’s style. When commissioning the build, Hal specifically said that he did plan on showing at a few prestigious events such as SEMA and the Detroit Autorama, but the car would be driven, which is a motto he followed with all the cars in his extensive collection.
Unfortunately, Hal has since passed away but his memory and reputation will live on in the automotive community, as well as his loving family, all of which are major automotive enthusiasts. While it ended up being a much bigger headache than originally expected, the Buick G54 was a special car that represented everything Hal loved about cars. Because of that, his family decided that it needed to be on display for the world to see, so they ended up donating it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles California where it remains still to this day.