Fire chief carries torch for car
Four years after he bought his dream car and began process of making it roadworthy again, Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee is burning up the road in his 1972 Buick Riviera.
Steketee always has loved that year’s Riviera.
The car has its original black paint. Its carpet has been replaced with an original castle blue. The top is vinyl.
“This is the first Riviera I’ve ever owned,” Steketee said. “I didn’t know if I’d like driving it, but I do.”
The car’s ride is smooth, and the exhaust system makes just the right sound for him.
To get that sound, he took the car to Dave’s Muffler in Newton to rebuild the exhaust system.
“I wanted to be able to hear it,” Steketee said. “I wanted to make a statement.”
He also made a statement by installing a black light under the dashboard on the passenger side.
He first spotted the car he now drives at the scene of a fire on Les Fleming’s property.
After the fire, Fleming showed him the car and said, “This is what you saved.”
Steketee offered to buy the it, but Fleming wasn’t ready to sell.
“It sat there for 30 years, and the packrats had made it their home,” Steketee said. “I didn’t find any packrats in it but found a skeleton.”
He and friend did much of the work on the car.
“Most everything I just cleaned up and put back,” he said.
He had to buy a gas tank online and have it modified.
Other parts he was able to buy at Hillsboro’s Carquest.
For the old leaded-fuel engine, he uses premium gasoline and adds Marble Mystery Oil to the tank.
The heater and windows work. A air conditioner is next, but it’s not going to be needed until summer, Steketee said.
A new paint job will be the car’s next major project. Paint jobs start at $10,000.
Steketee is pleased with the results.
“It’s really nice,” he said. “In a way, I’m like, what do I do next?”
Last modified Nov. 17, 2022