Many times, past experiences in life tend to influence the path your future follows. For Al Eaton of Manchester, Connecticut, watching his dad race Midgets around a dirt track combined with his mom's daily driver, a hopped-up 1935 Ford coupe, obviously fueled his interests in hot rods. Growing up, he worked with his dad building two complete homes and garages, which gave him the knowledge of woodworking that sparked a fascination with woodie wagons.

His first experience started in the deep end of the pool with a clapped-out 1940 Chevy woodie, which had been left for dead in a field so long it had a tree growing through its roof. The wagon was so bad, he remembers duct-taping it together with his son just to get it on the trailer in one piece. After dragging it home, he began learning about the structural needs of the car while rebuilding it as a two-door phantom wagon complete with suicide doors. The first effort came out so nice it was featured in STREET RODDER back in 1997.

As the years passed, the Chevy moved on to new owners, giving Al the opportunity to start canvassing the area for a new project. Wanting to take on another wagon and already having experienced building a phantom-styled car before, he focused on locating something quite different this time. While driving by a friend's house with his wife, Gail, Al spotted by chance an old sedan sitting in the back of their property. Stopping to take a closer look revealed a rarely seen 1933 McLaughlin Buick four-door that had been parked there for decades. A closer inspection showed the car was missing half of its interior, and its exterior was deteriorating from sitting in the elements. Within the car, Al saw the makings of an amazing wagon with its regal hood, cowl, lights, and flowing fenders. A deal was made, and the car was hauled home to begin its five-year metamorphosis.

Setting a game plan, Al disassembled the sedan, keeping only key components for the build. After deciding to retain the stock wheelbase, the original chassis was stripped and then boxed for additional strength while also being treated to custom owner-fabbed crossmembers. To dial in a low stance, a Fatman Fabrications four-link matched with Firestone 'bags, antiroll bar, and ACDelco tube shocks help suspend a GM 10-bolt rearend filled with 3.73:1 cogs in place. To bury the nose in the dirt, a Fatman Fabrications IFS with Firestone 'bags combined with ACDelco tube shocks and an antiroll bar get the job done. Adding plenty of stopping capability is a GM power master cylinder that pushes fluid through stainless lines to clamp down on 10-inch GM discs at each corner. A final bit of elegance comes from 17-inch chrome wires from Wheel Vintiques with custom caps and wearing Firestone Firehawk rubber.

Since Al drives his cars throughout the season, performance and dependability were of the utmost importance when he selected his powertrain. He chose a 1997 Corvette LT1 V-8 linked to a matching six-speed TREMEC trans to handle gear changes. Spent gases exit through Sanderson headers to a 2-1/2-inch steel exhaust matched to AP Exhaust Xlerator mufflers keeping it all legal.

When it came time to create and design the body, Al searched endlessly to locate a source for bird's-eye maple and structural wood. His quest led him to Bill Kraemer Veneers in New Albany, Indiana, for the bird's-eye maple and to Harris Enterprises in Manchester, Connecticut, for the structural wood. With everything needed at hand, he first incorporated a 2-inch chop to bring well-balanced proportions to the body and then laid out a structural wood base to work with. After sculpting the body and sanding it to perfection, it was time to have the sheetmetal massaged back to its original glory. T&J Autobody of East Hartford, Connecticut, got the nod to bring the vintage panels back to life as well as lay down a lustrous coating of PPG Honda black. Once the wood was treated to just the right amount of polyurethane, making it look like glass, Al began work on final assembly.

Accents like the original headlights and grille were treated to decadent plating by Paul's Chrome Work perfectly with the classic Model A bumpers anchoring both the front and rear of the car. For a comfy business office, a set of Cadillac CTS seats were modified and brought to Ken's Upholstery in Ellington, Connecticut, to be covered in butter soft beige leather while the floors were treated to matching Cadillac wool carpet. A Lecarra steering wheel helps navigate the course while VDO gauges sit in the factory dash with custom bird's-eye maple inserts, and Vintage Air keeps the interior comfy. The completed wagon is nothing short of a masterpiece, and it's a wonder why Buick never offered one like this to the public. To see Al and Gail laying down the miles on the open road only proves to us their work was worth it.