Here's a story about a 1948 Oldsmobile that has never spent a night exposed to the weather, has never been rained or snowed upon, and still has the frame manufacturer's name stenciled on the undercarriage.
After car production was curtailed in 1942 during World War II, many auto dealers started a wait list for Americans who wanted to buy a car when automotive production resumed.
Mabel Tremain of Wisconsin had placed her name on a list at the local Oldsmobile dealership. In anticipation of the great day, she had a new garage awaiting the arrival of her new brown-over-tan 1948 Oldsmobile Series 66 Club Sedan, with an inline six-cylinder engine mated to a Hydra-Matic transmission with a base price of $1,634.
Tremain ran a seven-day-a-week neighborhood grocery store, and never had time to learn how to drive a car. But she wanted one and convinced herself that she would learn to drive one day.
Her brother and a neighbor drove her around town until 1958 when, with 559 miles on the car, it was parked in the garage. There it sat for decades.
"After her death, an auction was held to dispose of her estate," says neighbor Otis Larson.
On the day of the auction, Larson, with no intention of purchasing anything, stopped by to see what the car would sell for. After watching the bidding dwindle to two bidders, Larson jumped in. "I put in the last bid on a car," Larson recalls, "and I got it."
The auctioneer had announced that they had not tried to start the Oldsmobile, but had only pushed it outside for the sale. Even if the engine was frozen, Larson says, "My reasoning was that it could be saved because it was not worn out and could be taken apart and reassembled."
He towed his pristine prize away not knowing its mechanical health. After removing the six spark plugs on the 238-cubic-inch engine, Larson added oil to each cylinder and then turned the engine over by hand with the fan blade. What a relief! The engine turned freely. Surprisingly, the automatic transmission worked in both directions.
The battery was replaced and the gasoline tank was removed, cleaned, and replaced after a liner was installed. The fuel line was rejuvenated from the gas tank forward. The gas line was blown out and both the fuel pump and carburetor were removed, cleaned, and reinstalled.
Tests showed no braking power at all, so, "the next project was the brakes," Larson says. With the car returned to mechanical health, Larson removed the silent AM radio and had it repaired. The radio was an $84.25 accessory. Other options included a heater, stainless steel gravel guards, and an exterior cadet sunvisor.
About the interior Larson says, "The original wrapping is still around the driver's visor, with complete instructions on how to operate a car with an automatic transmission. There is also a tag with information on how to operate the radio."
Oldsmobile built 15,071 models like Larson's. They all weighed 3,285 pounds and rode on a 119-inch wheelbase. The 6.00x16-inch U.S. Royal tires support the car. "The spare has never been out of the trunk," Larson says. Another testament to the care the car has received is the "A.O. Smith Corp." stencil still visible on the frame. Larson explains that Smith was a Milwaukee supplier of frames to General Motors.
"I put a couple of gallons of gas in it once in a while," Larson says. "There's no power anything. You don't need it with that big wheel." Larson proclaims, "It's a great new old car.