1938 Oldsmobile Street Rodder Magazine

19 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 1938 Oldsmobile Street Rodder Magazine отключены
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Revisiting Oldsmobile’s Date With Deco

When viewed through a 68-year prism, the ’38 Oldsmobile, with its streamlined nose, looks rather progressive. In fact, its lifespan very well may be proof of the company’s fleeting enlightenment; Oldsmobile, a company more conservative than cutting-edge, abandoned the icebreaker-style grille after only one year’s production. Surely Oldsmobile’s handlers at the time believed the stuffy, if not fussy, beak on the following year’s model would delight accountants and insurance salesmen alike.

With few exceptions, Oldsmobiles from the ’40s onward remained pretty buttoned down.

It’s partially for that conservative image that made Kevin Dagel take some time to warm up to the idea of building such an orphan-especially a touring sedan version of one. He was … set on building a ’62 Olds, a sort-of spacey looking car from a brief period when the company reinvented itself as a progressive marque, when his dad suggested he build this particular car. Considering the car’s relative completeness and solid tin, he knuckled under fairly easily.

While Oldsmobile’s corporate conservatism probably spelled the company’s demise, Kevin’s conservative building style preserved the car’s integrity and contributed significantly to its appeal. First, he didn’t try to make the car into anything it would never comfortably be (hot rod, race car, show car); instead, he built upon the ’38’s open-road cruiser presence. Second, instead of eliminating the elements that define the car-specifically its trim-he embraced them, which admittedly led to painstaking finding and fitting expeditions, as ’38 Oldsmobiles aren’t exactly everywhere. He also maintained the Olds lineage with a later 403ci engine, and he carried the bloodline all the way back to the W-27 Olds-coded rearend

Technically the chassis is pretty conservative too. While he employed a triangulated four-link to bind the axle to the car (Olds used an oddball trailing arm design in 1938 that’s tough to work around), Kevin maintained the car’s stock front suspension all the way down to the drums and knee-action shocks instead of succumbing to the Thou Shalt Mustang II edict. He achieved that gnat-squashing stance with Fatman Fabrications dropped uprights and Air Ride Technologies air springs (although he admits to coveting Fatman’s disc brake conversion after a close encounter down a hairy mountain pass).

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The means by which Kevin modified existing parts to achieve his goal also matches the way in which he built the car: largely by himself. Everything but the final prep and paint, plating, and trim happened in his garage. The results are indeed broadly appealing: the car’s style is consistent and it has the right stance, which appeals to the hot rod and custom crowd; the car is also largely intact and tasteful, which appeals to the Oldsmobile club.

In fact, Kevin snared a Best of Show trophy at the Oldsmobile Car Club of America meet in Edmonds. That’s more impressive than winning a custom-car trophy since restorers typically don’t even acknowledge defiled tin.

If only Oldsmobile would’ve dared to embrace the cutting edge, maybe we would see more Oldsmobiles on the show grounds. Had they done so, we’d probably still see them on the showroom floor. For now, though, we’re just happy seeing early Olds tin on the road. provided it’s as nice as Kevin Dagel’s ’38.

Facts FiguresKevin DagelKirkland, Washington1938 Olds F-38 touring sedan

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