Mike Leetch never met his grandfather, who died of a heart attack when he was young, but he does have a memento of the man: a picture of him standing in front of a yellow 1955 Buick. When Leetch first saw the picture, he says, he immediately fell in love with the car.
“I love it for its Art Deco look,” he says. “When it’s shined up, it can really turn some heads.”
Leetch has been a lifelong tinkerer and builder of cars. In college and again in graduate school, he built and sold two Volkswagen dune buggies for tuition money. The first car he drove was a 1963 Buick that was given to him by his grandmother. However, Leetch says he wasn’t much interested in that car when he was younger.
“I was in college when I got it, and I didn’t want anything to do with a big sled like that,” he says. “I practically gave it way for nothing.”
He continued working on cars throughout his adult life, though he says the responsibilities of being a father of three slowly drew him away from the hobby. However, he was always on the lookout for a ’55 Buick.
Leetch was at a swap meet three years ago when he found a Des Moines seller who had a picture of a fully restored orange 1955 hardtop Buick Century four-door. He knew he had to have it. It was in an affordable price range, and his kids were almost done with school, so he made the purchase. The car was already fully restored by the previous owner, who had bought it in an estate sale. The car still had the original interior, dash, instruments, motor and transmission. Even now, three years later, the car only has 83,000 miles on the odometer.
Leetch has entered his ’55 Buick in many different regional car competitions, including the Goodguys show at the state fairgrounds, the Brick Street Classic Car Show in Adel and a car show in Bloomfield, where it won a “Best Sunday Driver” award. Despite the attention his dream car gets, Leetch says he’s happy just to meet people who are as passionate about cars as he is.
“Showing cars isn’t really about the cars themselves,” Leetch says. “It’s about the people you meet.”
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