I’ll never forget the day I ruined my ’90 Honda Accord. I was in a hurry, I broke a bolt off in the head…it’s a long, sad story, and it ended in the death of my car. Afterward, when I told my father, he did what every good dad does and gave me some advice: don’t rush. Since then, I haven’t hurried through any car work, and I never regret taking my time.
If you’ve ever worked on a car, especially your own, you’ll know how much more relaxing and fun it can be when you stay out of a hurry. This must have been John’s attitude, because he spent six years restoring his 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
Scrolling through the dozens of pictures he’s posted of the build, you tend to lose scope of the time involved, the six birthdays celebrated and Christmas trees put up while the Olds sat patiently in the garage. But make no mistake. This was no small, quick job.
John started with an old, rusted beater. The Cutlass had been sitting since 1992 when he bought it. It was pitted and faded, but the frame was straight, and the body was in fair condition. John added some fresh gas, replaced the spark plugs, and the engine fired right up.
Speaking of the engine, he didn’t mess around. Under that hood now prowls a 455 big block from a 1969 Toronado. John tore it down to the block, rebuilding everything. He balanced the crank and rods, added a massive Crane cam, and bolted on an Edelbrock Torker intake manifold. Then be bought it a nice hat: a 750 cfm Edelbrock carburetor.
Transferring all that power to the drive shaft is a Turbo 350 transmission, upgraded with a B & M shifter kit. Further back, it carries a 4.11, 12 bolt posi from a 1969 Chevelle to put all that power on the road.
So when it’s moving, you’ll have a hard time seeing it. But when it stops, you’ll notice the stellar body work. John added a custom T-top roof with the kind of precision you seldom see on do-it-yourself builds.
With the drive train complete and the roof happily breezified, it was time to start on the rest of the body. It was stripped of all paint and rust, filled and sanded thoroughly, and dipped in midnight. Nothing but the blackest of slick and shiny blacks would do, and by the time it was fully reassembled and ready to roll, it embodied “mean.” The looks alone made it well worth the time invested, and then there’s that big block…
The danger to such long rebuild is that cars, no matter how skillfully restored, are not invincible or immortal. There’s always the looming threat of an accident or that things will simply wear out, and then where will all of your time and money have gone? I have a feeling, however, that should this Olds meet such an unhappy fate, John would still be there, and would patiently rebuild the whole thing again. Sometimes the process is the project.