PART 1 THE HUNT: It all began when I had a great fall, much like Humpty Dumpty. Only difference was that I got a few bucks out of it and a doctor WAS able to put me back together again. So on that note let us began my quest to fulfill my desire for an antique car.
My father was now retired from the Tonawanda NY Chevrolet plant and living in Florida with mom, just 100 miles away from me in St Pete. You see, dad was always farting around with cars, trucks, tractors, airplanes and anything that had an engine. When I was younger, say about 10 years old, I used to watch dad teach my brother Steve how to repair things. Unknown to him at that time, I was always listening, forever taking mental notes and watching from afar. Mom had just graduated from beauty school (that’s what we called it back then) and I was graduating from High school as well. My first car was moms 1969 Chevy Nova that had a big dent in the bumper where she hit a dog on her way back from school one winter day. It was gold (where the paint still was clinging on) and rust from the salt. I loved that car as it was my freedom out of cow country to the big city of Buffalo.
Moving to Florida from New York was a car lovers dream. NO SALTY WINTER ROADS!!!!!! I could not believe how beautiful the condition of the cars in Florida were. It is now the spring of ‘83 when I made my journey down here at the mere age of 22. Broke, scared to death of a new everything, but damn it! I was in Florida!!!! I had my fabulous 1972 Pontiac Grandville convertible to boot!!!!! (2nd car) I had to clamp the top to the windshield with vice grips, but so what? If you live in Florida, who puts the top up?
During the 80’s I was fortunate enough to purchase my first Oldsmobile. She was a 1977 Cutlass 442 navy blue with white racing stripes, 4 speed white buckets. She looked good wrapped around me!!!! This was my discovery of Oldsmobile. To this very day I have dreams of that car still.
Blah blah blah as we take a time capsule to the mid 90’s. As I stated in my opening paragraph, I had an opportunity to purchase a vintage car. Trouble was, Where do I find one? Remember, this was the dawning of the internet, and all our resources were word of mouth, the local paper, the Auto Trader and Heming’s. I knew in my mind what style I wanted. A big fat GM something-or-another. I remember Dad gave me a book called The First 75 Years of Transportation Products, General Motors, which he got from the plant for whatever reason. I thumbed through that book over a few cocktails and there she was, on page 148, My dream car. A 1960 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Holiday Sport Sedan, in white with a copper interior. So where does one find this while living in St Pete Florida? Why, the Antique Auto Trader, of course.
After a quick trip to the local 7-11 for cola to add to my rum and an Auto Trader magazine, you would have found me on my gazebo in the back yard thumbing through this magazine and smoking a pack of Newports hoping for a miracle. I guess my blood sacrifices to the motor gods paid off after all these years. Who would have believed that there was the car of my dreams for sale in Ft Lauderdale??????? (4 hours away). Get this, not only in my price range, not only in the color I saw in dads book, not only the exact body style I wanted, not only with the exact interior color, but with only 17,000 original miles YES GANG!!! 17,000 ORIGINAL MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There had to be a catch somewhere. This was too good to be true.
Well, after a nervous and anxious phone call to the number in the ad, I found that “catch”. The owner was an a**hole. Him, New Jersey middle aged married man living at the in-laws house in a deed restricted community with an unlicensed vehicle, me, an ex New York farm boy turned Florida 4 star Hotel Manager with a few dollars to spend. Talk about personality clash.
I told him, (we shall refer to him as Ron, as this was his real name) I would drive over that Thursday morning to look at the car. I do not think Ron thought I was serious. I also asked Ron to contact me if he sold the car before I got over there.
Being in the Hotel industry, I had a former coworker who was managing a hotel in Boca
Raton, a few miles north. Jerry hooked me up well at his Marriott. I met with Ron that very afternoon. I was very impressed with the Olds, I was quite turned off by Ron. Seems as everything I wanted to test, from the lights to the horn all I got from him was “do not do that” “do not touch that” etc. After about a ½ mile test drive, I had enough of him. I turned around and told him that all to familiar phrase, “I’ll think about it”. I liked the car, but his attitude turned me completely off.
I went back to my hotel room and decided I was going to hit the bar scene in Miami. What the heck? I am single, I am cute, and I wanted some action!!! Plus I had a few grand in my pocket that was for a car I was determined not to buy from this fellow. So off to South Beach I went.
BBRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIINGGGGGGGGGG!!! BRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!!! was the sound I woke up to the next morning. I was hung over like a rack of 38 DD’s In a bra 2 sizes too small. After I kicked my evenings Miami Beach victim to the curb, I answered my phone. It was Ron’s wife. She was politely asking if I was still interested in the car. I asked her if Ron was at home which she stated “NO!”. Well, I was in a totally different state of mind at this early morning hour, so I made an offer to his wife. Mrs. Ron accepted my cash offer of ………………..ready for this…………………….$1800.00.
I was amazed she accepted it and drove over and paid her any cash I did not spend on the Miami beach that previous night. After a quick call to a towing company, She was delivered to my door in St Pete 3 days later…….
PART 2, THE RESTORATION PROCESS:
If you want to hear more, let me know through your posting. I have many more fun stories to tell