King Ranch

“El Kineño”

The “King Ranch,” was a 825,000 acres, 1,289 square miles, cattle ranch in what’s now called Kingsville, Texas. We are talking a ranch with a bit more surface area than the state of Rhode Island!

The King Ranch was founded in 1853 by Richard King, and Is the most famous ranch in all of the American West.

But before Ford built the King Ranch branded F series pickups a Buick wore the name.

This unique Buick Roadmaster was commissioned by a seven-term Congressman named Richard M. Kleberg, Sr., to serve as his hunting rig and luxury off roader.

Kleberg, approached Buick and Harley Earl about a vehicle he could use on the ranch. And with the amazing Harley Earl on the job the “El Kineño” was born. This very custom 1949 Buick convertible had every feature you can imagine for the time. The car had two spare tires, six shotgun sheaths, its own PTO driven winch, a two-way ship to shore radio, heavy duty suspension, and over built cooling system. It even had a seat on the front fender for someone to rope and shoot from.

Starting with a 1949 Roadmaster, the guys at Buick cut the frame 5 1/4 inches to 121 inches and 213 inches from bumper to bumper. The whole body was 6 inches taller over a factory Roadmaster. The height and ground clearance increased, and with all of this custom work the car dry tipped the scales at 5,464lbs.

Everything on the car was for extreme duty on the Texas planes. Running heavy shoot peened nickel chrome moly steering and suspension components, A 32 quart cooling system to combat those hot Texas days, the radiator was almost double the capacity of a standard Roadmaster.

The rear body work was constructed of 20-gauge steel for strength and durability. But to keep this beasts weight down the hood, doors and decklid were all made of aluminum. But Of course, it was quite thick aluminum to avoid dents and make it more durable.

The Roadmaster was loaded with everything a hunter could ask. Forks on the front fenders to hold deer or other game, chrome tiedowns on the bumpers and running boards to keep them secure. Three rifle cases live in specially-designed holsters on each fender and the windshield could folded down so passengers could shoot from the front seats. There is actually a bullet hole in the drivers side deer fork from one of the hunting excursions. The braver hunters could sit on the front fender shooting seat, the only seating position in or on the Buick to have a seat belt.

The interior was beautifully appointed with chrome grab rails, seats upholstered in brown leather, painted pony-skin rugs, and hand tooled silver engravings. What is hunting with out a few drinks? Both rear door panels were stocked and carried aluminum tumblers wearing the famous W brand that still appears on the the Ford F-Series pickups today.

I have seen this beast of a machine while it was at a local restoration shop a while back, it is quite beautiful and HUGE! It’s hard to appreciate its size from just pictures.

The mighty Buick is back in running order after being parked for many years, but kept exactly like it was from its last hunting trip and now resides at The King Ranch Museum.

~Blanton Payne


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