Antique cars have long appealed to Clayton Miller of Woodbine, Md. “I was fooling around on the Internet earlier this year,” Miller says, “when I saw a two-tone blue 1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 four-door sedan.”
The car was offered for sale by a broker in Clearwater, Fla. The odometer had recorded 62,044 miles. Miller telephoned the broker and was so impressed by his description of the Cirrus Blue over Artesian Blue four-door sedan Oldsmobile that he bought it sight-unseen on Feb. 10, 2010.
“That was a mistake,” Miller now admits.
The Oldsmobile, one of 59,728 such models built, was trucked to Miller’s home and arrived the day after 2 feet of snow had clogged his driveway. Miller cleared a path through the snow to an outbuilding where the Oldsmobile could be stored.
A few days later Miller had his initial inspection of the car. “It didn’t look bad,” he says. What did catch his attention was a spreading puddle of transmission fluid on the floor. Closer inspection showed the fluid was leaking from a power steering box.
The rear main seal in the 324-cubic-inch V-8 engine was also leaking. This car that had sounded so good in the advertisement suddenly had flaws cropping up both fore and aft. The four-barrel carburetor was in need of repair. Miller says the tube under the manifold that feeds fuel to the automatic choke had dissolved.
Miller notified the broker of the defects. Miller instructed the broker to get a local shop to fix the problem and to take care of the cost. As it turned out, according to Miller, the broker never contacted the repair shop.
Since then, Miller himself has paid for the mechanical repairs, as well as having a new tinted wraparound windshield installed. Glass in the front doors, including the wing vents was replaced.
Before Miller purchased the Oldsmobile he was sent photographs of the bottom of the car where the dual exhaust system appeared to be flawless. Once Miller inspected the system he discovered that it had been wrapped with aluminum foil tape and then covered with aluminum-colored paint.
The broker also admitted that there was a small dent in the front “fish mouth” bumper. Miller found the bumper consisted of five pieces and each one was dented. Miller sent all the pieces off to be repaired and replated in Elizabeth, Tenn.
The two-tone blue upholstery nicely blends with the exterior colors. Miller’s 1956 Oldsmobile came well-equipped with: heater, seat belts, AM radio, trunk light, engine light, turn signals, dual mirrors, power brakes, backup lights, dual exhausts, power steering, power antenna, glove box light, day/night mirror, padded dashboard and E-Z-Ray tinted glass.
Part of the appeal of the 3,768-pound 1956 Oldsmobile was the new (at the time) 12-volt electrical system. The 15-inch tires support the car on its 122-inch wheelbase.
While seated behind the big steering wheel adorned with a 360-degree chrome-plated horn ring, Miller must be cautious because the gearshift pattern is different from new cars. From the left, the Oldsmobile’s shift patter is: Park-Neutral-Drive-Super-Low-Reverse.
Bringing the 240-horsepower Oldsmobile up to the condition it was purported to be in when Miller purchased it cost him about five months of his time, not to mention the extra money.
“I’ve been liking four-door cars for the last 10 years or so,” Miller says. “They are easier to get into and out of.” — Vern Parker, Motor Matters
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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010