'56 BUICK CENTURY PROVIDES FLASHBACK TO GOOD OL' DAYS

June 18, 2002 12:00 am
Art Brock of Wallowa displays his 1956 Buick Century during the Mountain Cruise car show in Joseph. The car placed second in the unrestored division. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).
Art Brock of Wallowa displays his 1956 Buick Century during the Mountain Cruise car show in Joseph. The car placed second in the unrestored division. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

JOSEPH — A near-half-century-old Buick Century was dusted off to be shown the first time at Saturday's Mountain Cruise car show. After having been in mothballs a quarter century, it won a trophy.

After visiting last year's show in Joseph, Art Brock of Wallowa went home and started up his 1956 Buick Century for the first time in 16 years.

His late brother Ray bought the car new, Christmas week 1955, off the showroom floor at Nuss Motors in Enterprise. The Buick/Pontiac dealership was in the red brick building now occupied by Family Video at the corner of River and North streets.

Art Brock and others reminisced this weekend about the neon sign with the Pontiac Indian that at night illuminated part of the main drag, back then.

Those were the good old days still celebrated through nostalgic events like Saturday night's '50s dance, held in conjunction with the car show. Even Wallowa County experienced good economic times for several years then.

The Brock brothers and Art's twin sister lived in the days when cars were christened with names, and clearance lights were set in the recesses of the four fender ports of big Buicks like this. Other models had only three.

A 1957 Enterprise High School graduate, Brock has recounted to his children Brenda, 32, and Bryan, 35, what a great time it was to go to school then. "We had a good time," he said.

That year, 1957, was also the year when Ray Brock bought a new model car. The '56 went to his father Sid who drove it around town until 1977, when he got a different vehicle.

The '56 became Art's. It was stored in a shed at his father's Enterprise residence on Greenwood Street. Art would come by and run it two or three times a year until 1980. In January 1986, the elder brother, Ray, died at age 50 from a heart attack after pulling a woman's car out of the ditch on a snowy road. He was operating a Courtney Motors wrecker.

That year Art built a garage at his Wallowa residence, drove the big Century down there to store it and had not started it since.

Everything but the tires was original on the old Century. The same Buick floor mats were there that Irv Nuss' dad threw in as part of the deal. In the jockey box was the original cleaning cloth, and there in the holder was the parking meter money, reminiscent of that failed experiment to control Main Street parking in Enterprise.

The Buick's pristine interior is like new. Brock explained that throughout the decades, the seats had been covered with thick clear vinyl, which he cut off for the show.

Art contacted General Motors and secured the original coral- and-white paint mixture. When he repainted his Century, he removed the port lights placed there by his brother when still a teen.

Now the old Century was as original as it could be.

"There's not many like these around," said a car show participant voting for Brock's Century — especially a local car, bought from a local dealer and still here in the same local family, after all these years.

Brock's car placed second in the car show's unrestored category.

Reach Gary Fletcher at 541-426-3255 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it