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Patinated Perfection

Written By: Emily Pogue

Smooth chrome. Flawless fenders. A shiny new paint job. Most rebuilds of classic cars involve restoring the car to immaculate condition. Not this build. This 1951 Buick Riviera two-door special is turning heads for all the right reasons and without the pretense of typical perfection. But don’t let the patina fool you. Underneath the flat, clear coat are upgrades and tech that will knock your socks off.

As co-owners of Dakota Muscle Cars in Sioux City, Brent Elsen and Mike Ohrtman have been the creative and technical directors behind their fair share of classic comebacks. From full restorations to everyday maintenance, their 15 years in business have produced many happy customers. So when tasked with finding a big, comfortable, road trip suitable car with plenty of patina for a repeat customer, they didn’t have to look far to find the diamond in the rough.

Dakota Muscle Cars had previously worked with car enthusiasts and owners David and Mary Hixson on four other vehicles. This build, they learned, would be a bit different.

About a mile away from their shop, Elsen found a ‘51 Buick Riviera two-door special that had been sitting in pieces in a storage unit for over 20 years. With all the original sheet metal, and ticking the boxes for size and comfort, Dakota Muscle Cars began the restoration and rejuvenation of this classic car.

They began with a custom chassis built by Art Morrison and powder coated by Trail Performance. The chassis sits on air ride suspension and a RideTech RidePro auto-level control system which means this car glides across the road at whatever height you’d prefer. A custom Be Cool radiator was added, Wilwood brakes were installed to slow the GM LS3 495HP engine with a 4L70E transmission when necessary, and 18” Raceline wheels grip the pavement for a nice ride with amazing control.

Dakota Digital created custom gauges for this rare find; all of the original switches were retrofitted with microswitches so that creature comforts are delivered while still using the vintage air controls. The interior, a distressed burgundy ultra-leather, was done by Darren Carlson. They customized and fully finished everything under the car.

The exterior is really the stunner.

“The hood had a layer of rust on it,” explains Elsen. “Underneath that rust, we had the original paint. Once we removed and sanded the rust off lightly, the original paint was there. It’s really unbelievable how good that looked.”

While there were a few areas that needed some repair and faux patina to match, the majority of the exterior was unbelievably gorgeous and in great condition. With a flat clear coat to maintain the amazing patina finish and rough cut polish of the original chrome, this rare car is full of character and class.

What more is there to love about this vintage vixen?

“It’s a blast to drive,” Elsen answers. “It turns heads everywhere because it appeals to a younger crowd and an older crowd. It’s not just appealing to one generation.”

Check out this incredible rebuild at Winterfest of Wheels in Sioux Falls held January 31-February 2.




January 31-February 2, 2020
Sioux Falls Convention Center

FRIDAY: 5:00pm to 10:00pm
SATURDAY: 10:00am to 9:00pm
SUNDAY: 10:00am to 3:00pm

ADMISSION: $11.00 for adults. Weekend passes available for $17

Tickets can be purchased in advance at J & L Harley Davidson for a discounted price!

Profits go to Cure Kids Cancer

Children 12 and under FREE! if accompanied by adult.

  • No Entry Fee for Participants
  • Ditch Your Man Room for Shopping         
  • Magazine / TV Featured Vehicles
  • Special Guest Appearances 
  • Rarely Seen Collector Cars
  • National Winners / Title Holders
  • Secured Trailer Parking
  • Raffle Drawings 
  • Commemorative Awards for all Accepted Entries
  • Proceeds go to Cure Kid's Cancer 
  • Winterfest of Wheels 2020

Schedule of Events

T-shirt and Raffle Tickets sold from opening to Sunday at Noon

Friday, January 31st    5:00-10:00pm

  • Opening ceremony with special guests: 5pm
  • Live Band: 5:30-8:30 pm
  • Engine Assembly Demonstration  
  • Celebrity Appearance: Minion, Troll and Pikachu Characters all days


Saturday, February 1st     10am-9pm

  • Coloring Contest: 11am-2pm Awards at 2:30pm
  • Celebrity Appearance Minion, Troll and Pikachu Characters all days
  • Engine Assembly Demonstration  
  • Zoo Express: 1-4pm
  • Model Car: 10am-Noon Registration, 12-4pm Contest, 4:30pm Awards
  • Twister, Balloon Artisan: 11am-3pm


Sunday, February 2nd     10am-3pm

  • Celebrity Appearance Minion, Troll and Pikachu Characters until 1pm
  • Engine Assembly Demonstration - 1pm
  • Twister, Balloon Artisan
  • Raffle Ticket Drawings at Noon
  • Be sure to check out all the vendors inside as well as the vendors outside the exhibit hall open during all show hours!
  • “Ditch Your Man” Room
  • Art For You
  • Swap Meet & Memorabilia


For additional information, see Winterfest of Wheels online:

Facebook: Winterfest of Wheels

Twitter: @wintrfestwheels



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