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A Queenstowner’s painstaking restoration of a classic American car is turning heads.

Dennis Deavoll has spent the past 12 years rebuilding a six metre-long 1946 Buick Special he found in a trailer by the side of the road in Death Valley, California.

Coincidentally, he was born the year the car was built.

“I never thought I’d have to take every nut, bolt and washer off it and put it all back together.”

He designed the striking paint job – “it fades from red to tangerine through the whole body of the car” – and says the Straight 8 cylinder gives it a lot of torque.

Because he likes chrome, Deavoll swapped the small front grille for a larger ’50s version.

The luxurious upholstery is also a feature, while the gauges look antiquey but mask a modern 12-volt system.

A keen motorcycle enthusiast, Deavoll paid $US1000 for the car but has no idea what he’s spent since – “in the end, you don’t want to know”.

On its rear he’s inscribed “in love with my Buick”.

He adds: “If you’re that nuts or committed, like you have to be to do a project like this, then that’s what you are.”

Just a week after it went on the road, it’s attracting a crowd whenever it stops.

“It pays off with every smile you see,” he says.

scoop@scene.co.nz