Gary Andresen's '55 Olds 88


I bought my '55 Olds 88 2-door Hardtop about four years ago from a guy in Eureka CA who stored it in his garage eleven years earlier. Everything was there, including a fair-sized dent in the right-rear quarter panel. The car was complete and had about 135,000 miles on the odometer. The guy wanted $1,500 for it, but to insure it got a good home with someone who would bring it back to it's original glory this third owner of the car agreed to sell it to me for $1,000

The car had been stored about two-blocks from the ocean, but luckily he had sprayed white enamel paint in all the right places so the car was literally rust free. I wasn't expecting a badly oxidized car with a case of mildew that would literally curl the hairs in your nose when I arrived to pick-up the car, but figured I was re-doing everything anyway, so who cared.

The first three years were spend tearing the car apart, and scraping buckets full of accumulated crud from under the car. Although I didn't take the body of the frame, everything was sandblasted and painted black underneath the car and in the engine compartment. I found a guy who works in a body shop and does stuff on the side to return the exterior to its original grandeur. He did a couple of friend's cars and they came out beautiful. All the chrome and stainless was redone, with new glass all around, except for the rear window.

The original plan was to rebuild the engine and transmission, that is until my brother-in-law called me one day and said, "Hey Gary, guess what I found?" And what a find it was. A '69 Olds 455 and TH400 transmission that had been completely redone, but not stock as the guy had put them into a '47 Chevy for weekend racing. The engine was balanced and blue printed, with a mild cam, fed by dual AFB carburetors atop a nice Offenhauser intake manifold. MSD ignition to provide the needed spark, etc. They were installed in the car but never raced, as the brakes had not been completed on the car when the builder fell on hard times and needed some money. Sounded real nice, so I bought it for $1,600. There was a guy who tried to push me aside with the offer of more money, as he wanted the engine for a drag boat, but the seller had a lot of integrity and stuck with the deal we had made over the phone. (When I was in college I had a '55 Olds Super 88 2-door Hardtop with a '58 J-2 engine and B&M hydro. This car was definitely a sleeper and provided many happy times. Consequently the 455 Olds engine was something I just could not pass up.)

Although my original '55 was white and black, I returned this one to its original white and turquoise color. The guy who did the upholstery followed the original patterns, but the combination of two shades of gray Naugahyde and pleated gray material came out great. It is definitely a show-quality job.

I had the car for a few weeks with the interior partially done as the upholstery guy was doubling the size of his 2-1/2 car garage, which he works out of. Must say that my latest little sleeper would embarrass my original one.

The pictures here were taken with my inexpensive camera on a winter day about a month ago and the angle of the sun was horrible. Pulled my trusty 35mm camera out of mothballs for some nicer shots, but El Nino had screwed things up pretty good around here, so guess that will have to wait a while. Will update the photos when better ones are available. Even though I have only been able to take my "88" out about five times, to date, it has been GREAT. People are used to seeing lots of '55-'57 Chevrolets here in California, but not Oldsmobile's. Would love to hear from you.

Gary's Email: gandresen@gmail.com