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