The 1931 Buick "Seabiscuit"
Owner: Bud and Barbara Rex
In the beginning, before "Seabiscuit," Charles Howard was the Western United States distributor for Buick cars for many years and owned 12 dealerships. Interestingly one Howard auto dealership was located on NW 11th and Burnside, Portland, OR which became Braley & Graham in 1931.
Mr. Howard owned the Ridgewood Ranch, a 16,500 acre timberland in Ukiah, California, where his avocation was raising race horses. Howard acquired this 1931 7-passenger phaeton and kept it on the ranch. He drove his children to the school they attended in Willits, California. Some of the family believes this car was used by he and his second wife, Marcella, on their honeymoon.
By 1938 his horse Seabiscuit was renowned for his prowess especially after winning the prestigious "match" race with a top rival, War Admiral. Seabiscuit retired to the ranch and later died in 1947. Only Howard and a now-deceased son knew of his burial place on the ranch.
The Buick was stored in Seabiscuit's red barn. The family often used the car in the fall as a hunting brake. They drove through the woods with the top down to hunt deer. Live 30-06 and 7.65 mm ammunition was found in the car when stripping out the upholstery when beginning the restoration in 1980. Frank Springer, who was doing some welding on the car, thought for a moment that he'd been shot when one of the shells exploded when his welding torch touched it.
Mr. Howard died in 1950. The ranch was sold to lumbermen Welch & Welch to pay estate taxes. They logged all the timber and then declared bankruptcy! The Buick was moved to Portland by Welches' attorney, John Casey, as part of his attorney fees.
In 1976 Bud Rex bought a tired, dirty, black Buick with red wheels. The car was driven on some tours for a couple of years before being disassembled and restored. Bud had wanted a 1931 open Buick as his Dad's last Buick before his death was an I931 roadster.