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    Thread: The car that started it all is now mine! ('65 Cutlass work log)

    1. Member sicklyscott's Avatar
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      04-16-2018 09:35 AM #1
      The year was 1991, I was an 11 yr old boy who loved anything with wheels. Trains, bikes, scooters, you name it, I was obsessed with it. My father was a social worker and my mother a substitute teacher. My brother was 14 and for all intents and purposes, he doesn't matter much to this story . It was around the end of June and my mother and father called us into the living for a "family meeting", which to this day I only remember happening twice, this event and when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The topic was "Your mother's going to get her driver's license". Yes, my mother who was 43 at the time never had her license. She never drove, had no real desire to drive I thought, and this was normal. Well she decided to go to work full time and hence needed transportation. What this really all meant though was it was car shopping time!

      With the family income being low and my father's commute was a lovely 3 miles round trip he could pretty much pick up any beater and make it work. He was / is a pretty handy guy when it comes to cars, used to tinker with an old Mustang in his 20's, rebuilt the heads on his brother's C3 Corvette, etc. Certainly no stranger to points and carbs, in fact he still prefers that to this day. He wanted a classic. Originally he was shooting for another Mustang (my mother's father killed his while borrowing it one day) but similar to today, the good ones were over priced and the more budget oriented ones were rust buckets. Then one day he came home and said he found it, a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible for $1500. "Wait, that's not a Mustang!". There's a little more to the backstory here.

      In the summer of 1965 my father and his immediate family were vacationing down the shore. My grandfather was going to meet them Friday afternoon, the rest of the family spent the week there. He pulls up in a gift for my grandmother, a brand new 1965 Cutlass Convertible. Dark blue with a white top, an ultra-high compression 330 V8 with 315 hp, and a 2 speed automatic. They only owned the car for a couple years but from the stories I keep hearing from my grandmother, she LOVED that car. Every time she sees the Cutlass she tells me about how great the heater was and as long as the sun was out that top was down. Her poor sons would freeze in the back seat in the middle of winter just so my grandmother could get some sunshine. Here's an old picture we found while going through my grandfather's stash:





      Just for a second, give that scenario a thought. In 1965 the Cutlass wasn't exactly the top choice for cars. It wasn't the 442, it wasn't a pony car, it wasn't something completely luxurious, it was a Cutlass. Similar to what a 2 door Honda Accord would be in today's age. No one specifically cared for them. They were really nothing more than "regular cars". Anyway, back to 1991.

      On a hot sunny Saturday afternoon my father took my brother, our neighbor's son and me to go take a look at this heap. One of the doors was from a '64 and was in primer (trim holes on the top body line, not on the bottom of the door), rusty rear quarters, paint flaking off the hood, it had lambs wool seat covers and a hard time starting. Nonetheless we all piled into the car, put the top down and went for a test drive. This was the first time I road in a convertible, and probably the first time in a v8. Compared to our '85 K car this thing moved! The 3 of us in the back seat were smiles from ear to ear. We were sold. My father worked out a deal, the '65 convertible plus a '65 2 door hardtop parts car for the price of $1200. If I remember correctly he paid for it in change that he was saving up for years. A few days later and the car came home (along with the parts car that my father absolutely hated!). Here's a picture of me sitting behind the wheel after it's first wash:



      What isn't pictured was the parts car it came with. My father handed me a box of tools and just said "take it apart". If I had to pick a single moment that started my car obsession, it was that. For 2 weeks we wrenched on that thing removing fenders, trim, doors, seats, when the dragged it away it was a frame, an engine block and a bare shell.

      The stories I have with this car are enough to publish a book out of. I won't bore you all here with them but one might pop up from time to time.

      After my mother passed away in 1999 my father decided to do something nice for himself (he truly deserved it!) and bought a 1964 Corvette Convertible. It was all original, 77k miles, beautiful car. He never drove it. He was always worried about, any damage to the body and it would lose value. I kept telling him to sell it and buy something he could enjoy. Fast forward to around this time last year, he finally saw the light. I sold the Corvette for him and he picked up his dream car, a 1963 Buick Riviera in black over white interior. (It is such a beautiful design and if you don't know much about it, look it up. The car design itself has an interesting story behind it.) He decided he no longer had time for the Oldsmobile and wanted to pass it on to me and watch me enjoy it while he could.

      The car has been with my father for the last 27 years. It has had the interior redone, top replaced, engine rebuilt, suspension redone, painted...and all with change. Every major system has been refreshed except electrical. But as old cars do, it has deteriorated over time. Rust is starting to show again in the usual places, it could use a new top, transmission could use some work, etc.

      It is now my time to continue on with this car. I've started this thread to start documenting the preservation of it. This will not be a restomod (not yet at least), it will not win any shows, and I don't plan on taking it to Barrett Jackson. All I'm looking to do is have it around for my daughter to take to the prom (if she wants) and for my family to just cruise in.

      Here's how she was delivered to me this past weekend. First priority is wheels and tires (on order) and a good cleaning. I'll have to plan for some body work in the near future and there's some rust on the frame that I need to solve (might end up with a frame off at some point).







      I am honestly overwhelmed with emotion. I'm just hoping I can keep this thing on the road for the next 50 years.
      The car that started it all! A work log and tale of tears (from my wallet)
      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...lass-work-log)

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    3. Member 4.OMG's Avatar
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      04-16-2018 10:39 AM #2
      Nice car and cool story. My father was an Oldsmobile man, too, and had a number of nice Cutlasses in the '70s and '80s.

      My $0.02 is to keep the rally wheels-I don't know why but they just look "right" to me on and Olds.
      Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows lit up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.

    4. Member Deserion's Avatar
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      04-16-2018 11:25 AM #3
      Thanks for sharing!

      Quote Originally Posted by Ralphie Parker
      Some men were Baptists. Others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man.

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      04-16-2018 12:14 PM #4
      Excellent.

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      04-16-2018 12:34 PM #5

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      04-16-2018 01:10 PM #6
      congrats, looks to be in really good serviceable shape.
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      04-16-2018 01:12 PM #7
      Kid I grew up with on my street had a dad that would randomly pop in and out of his life. He had a succession of early 70s cutlass convertibles. I remember seeing him show up in 4 or 5 different ones over the years and it gave me a lifelong appreciation of them. People who like cutlasses really like cutlasses.

      BTW - anything but color matched OG wheels is sacrilege
      Expose your cracks and love will fill them.

    9. Member sicklyscott's Avatar
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      04-16-2018 01:26 PM #8
      Thanks for the kind words! Once the Miata is done I'll be moving on to this.

      Quote Originally Posted by MAC View Post

      BTW - anything but color matched OG wheels is sacrilege
      Going to go with a set of Oldsmobile Super Stock 1 wheels, more "period correct" though they didn't come out until '66. The color matched centers were later on. They do look good but these need help and I'm upgrading to 15".

      The car that started it all! A work log and tale of tears (from my wallet)
      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...lass-work-log)

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      04-16-2018 01:36 PM #9
      Read the story, got A Christmas Story reference, this thread delivers!

    11. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      04-16-2018 01:43 PM #10
      I love a good story to go along with a cool car.

      That's why I'm not as attached to my Beetle as I'd like to be. I would consider selling it if the price were right. Now, if I found dad's '48 Studebaker or '63 Nova? Being dad's old cars you can bet your ass I'd keep them forever!


      Take good care of that Olds. Well, I don't have to tell you that, you'll do just fine without my so-called 'advice' on the subject.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
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    12. Member sicklyscott's Avatar
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      05-18-2018 09:28 AM #11
      It's been a long couple months. I ordered new wheels and tires for the Olds way back in February from Coker Tire. I was going to go with Oldsmobile SSI's, they were an option on the '66, no real good looking wheels for the '65 model year. Coker said they were back ordered and should be in by April. No big deal, it's cold. Right? Well April turned to June quickly and the sales rep even said "Good luck, I wouldn't really expect them until the end of the year.". Ok then...

      Next stop was Wheel Vintiques, turns out they make the wheels for Coker. Coker buys in bulk. They only make an order when there's demand with a few extra sets built in. I was quoted 4-6 weeks from WV, not bad. They should be here mid-May. I call them up after 5 weeks to ask for a status update and was reminded of the 4-6 week build time. My response, "Great. They'll be ready in a couple days then". To which I got this response, "Oh, no sir. We don't work on the weekends. We still have 3 more weeks left to deliver your wheels.". Tell me how that makes any sense. The guy was basically telling me it takes them 28-42 working days, not 4-6 weeks of elapsed time. Why don't they just then say 6-8 weeks build time?

      So I headed over to Summit, ordered a set of American Racing Torque Thrust Vintage wheels with grey centers in 15x7 and 15x8. Still a good vintage look, "ok" backspacing though I would have liked it to be a little different, and a bonus of an aluminum wheel vs. the steel chrome wheels i originally planned. These should be lower maintenance, a bit lighter, and I don't run the risk of rusty or pitted chrome.

      I got the car registered yesterday, mounted the new wheels, and took it for a spin around the block. God did I miss the sound of a cammed V8. I can't wait to start driving this thing. The wheels made a huge difference in looks. I absolutely love it!








      As it turns out this car has been in at least since the early 80's. In the mid-90's one of the local towns started a cruise night once a month. We met a guy who owned the car in '83-'84 as a college student. He explained all the little dents he added to it and even showed us some sticker outlines on the bumpers. He still lives in town and has reconnected with me. I'm hoping to get some pictures from him. He's now a certified Oldsmobile nut.
      The car that started it all! A work log and tale of tears (from my wallet)
      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...lass-work-log)

    13. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      05-18-2018 09:40 AM #12
      It’s a bummer you couldn’t get the wheels you wanted, but I agree those look really good on there and I’d be afraid of the chrome trying to rust, too. You can clean/wax them to protect them, but that and keeping it in a garage is about all you can do. Getting lighter wheels is a good bonus as well!

      I don’t remember if you mentioned it or not. Is a full brake job next? If it runs halfway decently now that you have tires/wheels, a full brake job (including metal and rubber lines), repacking the front wheel bearings and possibly replacing the rear axle/diff seals would be all I’d need to start seriously driving it. Well, I’d add a Pertronix ignition module so you don’t have to mess with points, too.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
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      05-18-2018 11:00 AM #13
      In for updates on this one...

      My dad has a cream puff 67 Cutlass Supreme convertible with the 330 "Jetfire Rocket" in it. The keen eyed will spot Pontiac Rally II's, but I had some custom center cap inserts made to accept Olds emblems.



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    15. Member sicklyscott's Avatar
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      05-18-2018 11:03 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Air and water do mix View Post
      It’s a bummer you couldn’t get the wheels you wanted, but I agree those look really good on there and I’d be afraid of the chrome trying to rust, too. You can clean/wax them to protect them, but that and keeping it in a garage is about all you can do. Getting lighter wheels is a good bonus as well!

      I don’t remember if you mentioned it or not. Is a full brake job next? If it runs halfway decently now that you have tires/wheels, a full brake job (including metal and rubber lines), repacking the front wheel bearings and possibly replacing the rear axle/diff seals would be all I’d need to start seriously driving it. Well, I’d add a Pertronix ignition module so you don’t have to mess with points, too.
      In the end I'm not upset about the change in wheels. Still period correct, still look good. However as you can see in the pictures it makes the top look like crap.

      Motor was rebuilt 20 years ago or so and is using HEI, no points left. Different valve seats, slightly lower comp and some other goodies thrown in it (Edlebrock cam, intake, etc.).

      Front brakes are now disc, that was done maybe 5 years ago. It consisted of new front lines (hard and rubber), new master cylinder with 2 channels, front spindles etc. Rears I think were done around the same time but it's a good point, i'll have to check the lines.

      Maintenance wise all the fluids need to be changed. The trans takes a little bit to select a gear (reverse, drive) but shifts great (I think it's a low fluid issue). Rear end probably hasn't been touched in the time my father owned it. I'd like to replace the radiator with an aluminum piece as my father was always fighting over heating issues with the new motor. Maybe a conversion to an electric fan.

      All the rubber seals for the top and windows need to be replaced. That'll be priority 1.
      The car that started it all! A work log and tale of tears (from my wallet)
      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...lass-work-log)

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      05-18-2018 11:14 AM #15
      Thanks for sharing your story with us. Looks like a really sweet ride, and I've wanted one of those since I was a little kid. I'm partial to the 66 myself, but yours has history, and you can't put a price on that.

      Honestly, I love your wheel choice. Looks sharp on there.

      Chris
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      05-18-2018 06:30 PM #16
      Love those old Olds.
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      05-18-2018 10:25 PM #17
      What a wonderful story!
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      05-18-2018 10:31 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by sicklyscott View Post
      In the end I'm not upset about the change in wheels. Still period correct, still look good. However as you can see in the pictures it makes the top look like crap...
      I like the new wheels, too.

      It sounds like it’s fairly well sorted, then.

      Instead of replacing the radiator with a modern looking one you might want to try “Water Wetter”, as I’ve gotten some good feedback. If you’re unfamiliar it basically reduces the surface tension of water, making it absorb heat and expel heat much more efficiently.

      Do the fluids, then perhaps the rubber and enjoy!
      Last edited by Air and water do mix; 05-18-2018 at 10:34 PM.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
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      05-18-2018 11:36 PM #19
      That car looks great. The new wheels look much better than the 70's wheels (which aren't bad, just don't belong on it).

      I also really liked to read what your plans are for it. I hope the daughter takes her date to prom in it.
      Next edit by onebadbug; tomorrow at 10:13 AM.

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      05-19-2018 02:35 AM #20
      If this makes you feel any better, I absolutely love the new rims you put on. They look fantastic.
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      On the bright side, it's an unnatural angle you would never see the car from in real life unless you just had an encounter with a Ford Mustang immediately beforehand.
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      05-19-2018 07:00 AM #21
      Looks fantastic with the new wheels and tires!
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      05-19-2018 08:01 AM #22
      Great story, and great car. Agree with the wheels, they may not have been first choice, but they look good, IMO, and are period correct.

      I had a 67 Franken-Cutlass. Mostly straight, some rust, hardtop two-door. It had a 400 stuffed into it with a four-speed. Flaky period Cragars with big tires of some sort. It was an immensely fun car, and one that I'd love to have back. I'll be watching this thread with fond memories.
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      05-21-2018 09:09 AM #23
      Definitely in on this thread!

    25. Member sicklyscott's Avatar
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      06-18-2018 11:10 AM #24
      Work on the car has been slow, had an incident with someone entering my Jeep in the middle of the day, thinking he was looking for the key fob to steal the car. Ended up injuring my knee while trying to be a hero which slowed down work on the Miata which is now occupying the garage. I digress....

      The Torq Thrust wheels didn't quite work out. There's an issue on the passenger side where the spring isn't seated correctly which effects the ride height. It's enough of an issue that the passenger tire was rubbing on any left hand turns. The SSI wheels I originally ordered and cancelled (or so I thought) made their way to my house a few weeks ago, I decided to give them a shot. Wheel Vintiques did a nice job, the chrome looks good, paint was done well and the welds on the wheels look good. The quality of these I think are great.

      I got home from work early on Friday so I ended up cleaning the top, washing the car and giving it a layer of wax. It desperately needs to be buffed but I'll wait for the garage to be free before I do that.

      I also gave my 3 year old daughter her first ride in a convertible. I don't think she was impressed. It felt good driving her to my father's for the big father's day bbq.

      Next up is to try and clean up the engine bay a bit, new valve covers (the aftermarket chrome ones tend to leak) and rewire the aftermarket gauges (water temp, oil pressure) so that they turn off when the car is off.

      Some pics from the weekend...god I love this car.

      Friday morning started out like this:


      Then the afternoon brought this:






      And then Saturday shaped up to be gorgeous:




      The car that started it all! A work log and tale of tears (from my wallet)
      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...lass-work-log)

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      06-18-2018 11:52 AM #25
      wow, that looks extremely good! You're certainly doing right by it.
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