ABA Banking Journal - November 2011 - (Page 44)
First person | steven buster
California banker brings Patton’s command car to street
If a machine-gun blast, an air
horn, and a siren are the response to your friendly wave on a California road, and the driver’s wearing the uniform of a three-star general and accompanied by a woman in nurse’s whites, chances are you’ve just seen Steven and Blair Buster out for a spin. Buster, president and CEO at $2.9 billion-assets Mechanics Bank, Richmond, goes in for atypical hobbies. While in working in England for another bank, he went fox hunting. When in Singapore, he bought a Harley and participated in a ride that included the Sultan of Brunei. Some weekends you’ll find him with cronies firing cannons—real ones— using old bowling bowls. Ten-shun! Steve and Blair Buster by Gen. Patton’s Command Car. Buster also owns Buster also has a keen interest a pair of Swiss “Pinzgauers.” Read about them at http://tinyurl.com/pattoncar. in military vehicles. In 1995 he acquired a 1942 WC-57 Dodge Buster says his research indicates Command Car—or most of it. The vehicles somewhat resemble old Jeeps, Patton, known never to hide his but are about one and a half times the size. They were used on battlefields by presence on a battlefield, didn’t folgenerals to get close to the action and to rally frontline troops. low the other generals’ lead. Indeed, After the war, the command car had been sold at auction to an Idaho while the cars were designed to farmer. He removed the rear bodywork to refit the vehicle for hauling. The put the brass in back, Patton typiback section, badly rusted, remained on the farm after the rest was sold. cally rode shotgun, often standing After buying the car, Buster tracked down the original rear end on the farm. up with the windshield for support. “We purchased it knowing extensive renovation would be required. Never (The 1970 movie, “Patton,” depicts do that!” says Buster. “It took seven years by my restorers, who worked him doing that in an early scene.) weekends. We had a great relationship. They sent pictures and I sent money. Buster takes the command car out More and more money.” In the end, Buster put more than $35,000 into his several times a month. The machine project, getting a museum-quality restoration with only two assemblies that gun is a replica of the original 30 aren’t vintage—the brakes, which weren’t great on the original, and power caliber gun mounted on the vehicle’s steering, so his wife could drive it. running board. Using an oxygenAlong the way, Buster discovered this wasn’t just anybody’s command car. propane mix, the replica simulates It was one of 11 used during the war by General George S. Patton, Jr., who, the blast of the real weapon. coincidentally, came from California. “I feel like I brought a piece of “Patton was such a colorful character,” says Buster. history back,” says Buster. Many generals eventually avoided the command cars, Buster says, because —Steve Cocheo, executive editor German pilots targeted them when it became known they carried “brass.”
44 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | november 2011
Restoring “Old Blood and Guts’ ” wheels
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