American iron: ’39 Oldsmobile
January 10, 2014
Wally and Cherie Oliver have a great love for things of times past, like vintage cars and clothing.
In fact, they previously owned a '39 Mercedes Benz and enjoyed cruising around in era-correct attire.
But Wally sold it when they moved up to the foothills three years ago, mainly because he was concerned that the low power of its 45 HP engine would severely impair its performance on our hilly roads.
However, he did not lose his desire to own a 1930s car with sweeping lines and started looking for one to replace the Mercedes.
Unlike some old-car lovers, Wally does not limit his interest to cars produced on just one continent.
He loves cars that he considers of high quality and with beautiful lines no matter where they are made
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However, like many car lovers, he does feel that the poor quality and performance of the '70s American cars "almost destroyed the American Auto industry."
But when it comes to collector cars, he says, "Old American cars were as good as European ones, maybe better. American cars were cheaper, better built and had better performance."
So when it came to finding a classic car for the foothills, Wally started checking on American ones.
After searching on the Internet, last October he found one that looked interesting on eBay.
It was a '39 Olds Series 70 four-door sedan. It was described as being in very good, unrestored condition.
The Olds sounded like it was a solid, sound car in decent shape, but there are many horror stories about buying cars sight-unseen on eBay.
Since the seller was located Sacramento, a reasonable traveling distance, he drove out to see the car.
Wally found the Olds to have been accurately described. It had been repainted some time before, but the paint was a pleasing light green that looked right for the time the car was manufactured.
The original engine 229.7 CID flathead six-cylinder engine had been replaced with a later 238 CID engine that had bigger displacement that boosted the horsepower to 100.
Since it was a flathead six of the same outside dimensions as the old one, it didn't alter the appearance.
Other than modern shocks, everything else was original, including the Bedford cord interior with radio, heater and clock.
Even the wheels, hubcaps and chrome rings were stock, sporting wide-whitewall tires. Since it was a California car, rust issues were minimal.
The only problem was a little rust on the rear valance panel and was not obvious.
Although there were a few issues, like the speedometer not working, these could be handled without any huge expenses.
It was just the type of car he was looking for and at a reasonable price. He agreed to meet the seller's reserve and the deal was made.
Since purchasing his Olds, Wally and Cherie joined the Roamin Angels Car Club.
Although he has not gone on any runs with the club, he hopes to once he has the Old's minor issues remedied.
Willy and Cherie will don 1930s attire from their collection and take to the hills in their merry Oldsmobile, a solid piece of American iron.
Contact Ron Cherry at http://www.rlcherry.com. For information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, go to http://www.roaminangels.com, call 530-432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, P.O. Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road Fridays at 6:30 a.m.