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President's Message

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The Oldsmobile Northern Lights Chapter is a car club dedicated to all Oldsmobiles 1897 to present. Ownership of an Oldsmobile is not compulsory.

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
   

     

Our club is into its 30th year. I was a young man when the idea to try to start an Oldsmobile club came to me. I’ve owned the same car for 42 years, so we’ve been through a lot together. The car was my first automotive purchase. I was 22 when I bought this car. It was almost three years old, but not quite. I remember seeing it in the Calgary Herald auto section as I was living in Calgary at the time. I remember asking the original owner what he was asking for the car. He said he wanted $5,000. I made a trip to the Bank of Montreal at 4th Avenue and 3rd Street across from the Calgary Inn where I worked as a waiter in the banquet department.

The loans officer asked if I’d ever had a loan before. I said no. He asked what I had as collateral. I ask what that was and he said “it’s to show that you have money or assets to pay for the loan.” I answered that “If I had the money or assets to pay for the loan, I wouldn’t be here.” He laughed and asked if I had anything of value. I said that I had a 1976 Honda Civic that was bought new. He asked if that would be on my credit rating. I told him that my dad bought it for me to go to college because he didn’t want me riding a motorcycle. He gave it a $2500 value. It was $4,650 new as it was optioned out. It was a showroom car. He asked if I had anything else. I didn’t really except a stereo. “How much are stereos worth these days?” he asked. I told him that I was at Crazy Eddies over the weekend (an electronics store) and he asked what was the price of the stereos. I said they were about $2500. He did a few calculations and stood up and shook my hand. I got the loan. I thought it funny that he didn’t ask me for the kind of stereo I had. My mother bought me the stereo in 1971 from Sears. It had a turntable fixed to the AM-FM – 8 Track player, 2 speakers and the stand. I remember her telling me that she paid $107 for it. However, the loans officer asked how much were stereos these days, he didn’t ask how much my stereo was worth. I think he wanted to give me the loan.

I went back to the original owner of the car and asked again, what he was asking. He said “$5,000”. So I used my best negotiation technique that I had learned up to that point and said… “OK”. The 442 was mine. As I was ready to drive away the
former owner said to me. “You were the third person to look at the car.” I asked why the others didn’t want it. “They didn’t want the 455.” He said. I didn’t care, I liked the car and wanted it, 455 or not.

A few months later I was looking over the Hurst Dual-Gate shifter and doing a little research on the car. I called the original owner and asked where he got the shifter, because someone told me that that was an aftermarket piece. He said that it was an Oldsmobile shifter and not aftermarket. He also said that the aluminum intake manifold and exhaust manifolds as well as the 3:42 posi rear end were also Oldsmobile pieces. He said when he went to order the car from the dealer, he wanted a few extra “goodies” for it. He told the dealer that he wanted the car with a 455 engine and the extra pieces added.

The factory told the dealership that they would not add these pieces. The original owner told the dealer that Oldsmobile uses the slogan “Can we build one for you?” yet the factory refuses to build it the way he wanted it. He said to the dealer, “either they build it the way I want it, or I’ll go somewhere else.” The factory said “Tell him to go somewhere else then, we’re building these cars as fast as we can.” The dealer told him that if he ordered the car, they would order the parts through the parts department and install them when the car came in. It was agreed that this would happen. The car was ordered in February 1976.

I wasn’t sure if this was true but figured he wouldn’t lie, as I’d owned the car for a few months already and couldn’t very well return the car if I didn’t like the story. In 1987 I called Crowsnest Pass Motors in Blairmore, AB and spoke with the owner, who was also the salesman. His name was Richard H. “Dick” Morgan. He said he remembered the car and I asked “Of all the cars you sold in 1976, how can you remember this particular car?” I asked. “It was the only 442 we sold with a 455. They were difficult to get in Cutlass cars, and there was work that had to be done to the car as well”. I asked him if he had any paperwork to show the work they’d done and he said “It could be.” He said he shut the dealership down after his wife died about 3 years prior, and just “this month, I sold to building.” He said if he comes across the paperwork while they are cleaning up, he would mail it to me in Jasper. He did mail me a new dealer emblem for the trunk, however he died before mailing anything else.

Fast forward to 2018; I was at a car show in Sherwood Park, AB (where I live now). A fellow was really checking the car out. He looks at me and says “I remember this car. It’s from Blairmore, right?” I shook my head in the affirmative. “This was a showroom car. I saw it as it was unloaded off the truck at Crowsnest Pass Motors.” I told him that he was mistaken. I said that the car was a factory ordered car and when cars are loaded off the truck at a dealership, they are usually picked up the next day by the owner. “Not this one. They had to do some work to the car when it arrived.” He went on to say, “The car was advertised in the local paper for people to come into the dealership and see the special 442.” It had a 455, swivel buckets and almost every option available.” I had owned the car for 39 years at this point and never heard this story.

In 1979 the original owner told me he asked for “ special” parts for the car.

In 1987 the dealer and salesman said he remembered the car in part because they had to do some work to it before handing it over to the original owner. Then a spectator telling me more about my car. The stories from three different sources and time, lined up. The fellow at the show said that the car was in the showroom from 9 am – 5 pm and then it was moved to the service bay until the next morning when it was in the showroom again. After a week, he said he never saw the car again until this moment. I was pretty excited about this guy’s story. So much, that I’ve contacted the local paper in Blairmore to see if they have access to the paper from March 1976. I want to see the ad and get a copy if I can. So far they have not answered my emails or Facebook posts. Hopefully soon.

In 1991, I wanted to meet other Oldsmobile owners, so the process started. Hopefully in 30 years from now, another president of the Northern Lights Oldsmobile Club will be writing about the clubs 60th anniversary. Wouldn’t that be something to see. Take care all, Ken

 
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