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.