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October 1, 2014

Die-cast: TSM 1954 Buick Century Convertible

by Mark Savage

1954 Buick Century: When massive was sexy

Back in the day, that’s pre-school days for me, a big gruff Broderick Crawford rounded up bad folks on the TV show, “Highway Patrol,” pursuing evildoers in a variety of Buick Century coupes and sedans. The car appeared as massive as Crawford and you just knew that you didn’t want to mess with this man, or his car.buick

Today TSM (True Scale Miniatures) Models creates a less threatening 1954 Buick Century convertible for us die-cast fans, this one in 1:43 scale and a glossy black with red interior – sharp!

The History

The Century exuded speed and muscle, in fact, its name marked the first Buick to hit the 100 mph mark back in 1936. But the name had gone dormant for a few years when Buick revived it in 1954 for its lineup of light (at the time) luxury speedsters. Century came as a sedan, Riviera hardtop coupe (Crawford’s first patrol car) and 4-door wagon in addition to the convertible.

But the convertible was rarest, just 2,790 being made in the first year of this body style. It packed a 322-cid V8 that pumped 200 horsepower. This was Buick’s Roadmaster engine that just kept gaining power until it reached 255 horses by the 1958 model that ended Century’s run, at that time.

You can tell a 1954 from a 1955 model by its three Ventiport holes in the front quarter panels. In 1955 Buick created a fourth hole. And the cars were long too, a full 206 inches and riding on a 122-inch wheelbase, near that of a full-size SUV today.

But the convertibles were most luxurious with leather seats and power windows and seats along with a few other goodies at the time, like a trunk mat. Today, Haggerty’s Insurance says an average going price for a restored 1954 Century convertible is about $39 grand. Luckily this 1:43 version lists for less than $75.

The Model:

This black beauty reflects the 1950s Buick styling, which was heavy on chrome, featured those portholes on the sides and a stylish plunging chrome side spear that dipped just in front of the rear wheel well and then shot out over it to near the taillights.

The 1:43 Buick comes with a handsome stand and acrylic cover. Love this red interior too!

The 1:43 Buick comes with a handsome stand and acrylic cover. Love this red interior too!

TSM ladles on the chrome here too, along with a well-cast body with defined door and gas filler door seems. There’s chrome on that side spear, door handles, portholes, windshield frame and vent windows, wipers, hood ornament, toothy Buick grille, mirrors, front and rear bumpers and trunk logo. There’s even a chrome strip along the door tops and the seat back tops. Imagine putting your arm on that when the roof was down on a sunny day!

There also are wide white-sidewall tires, treaded but no branding, and twin chrome tailpipes, one on either side, but no license plates front or rear.

I like the oval chrome headlight frames with realistic looking large and small light lenses in front and the dual red taillights look great too.

A well-executed small touch is the photo-etched Century logo behind the doors with a red background behind the capital C for Century.

With a convertible model your attention can easily focus on the interior, this one a matte red that does not look too plastic like, so more realistic. There are tiny silver snaps on the tonneau cover and a well detailed black dash with gauges and a clock that create a realistic appearance.

Most impressive are the dual window and vent window chrome cranks on the door, along with the door release lever and an armrest. The steering wheel is black with a 3-spoke chrome hub with circular horn ring and a shift lever and turn signal lever behind the wheel.

Nothing opens on the TSM model, but the exterior detailing is a notch above many 1:43 die-cast models today. This looks more lifelike than some higher priced heavy metal models. And this is just one of several new 1950s and ‘60s era U.S. cars in TSM’s collection now.

TSM models are available through Replicarz.com, which provided the review model.              

FAST Stats: 1954 Buick Century 2 Door Convertible

Maker: TSM (Truescale Miniatures)

Scale: 1/43

Stock No.: TSM134307

MSRP: $74.99

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