Blue skies for blue convertible: 1962 Oldsmobile

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When Scott Phillips was in high school he drove a very-used Oldsmobile F-85 Sedan, which became abandoned when he left to attend George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

As graduation from the university approached in the spring of 2001, Phillips thought a graduation present to himself would be in order. He began shopping for an Oldsmobile F-85 Sport Convertible.

“I looked online,” he recalls, “and found the car in Tucson, Arizona.”

A friend who lived in that area agreed to inspect the convertible. The car, with 108,500 miles on the odometer received a thumbs up and Phillips became the owner of a 1962 F-85 Oldsmobile sport convertible, thanks to the generosity of his wife, Amanda, and his mother, Nancy.

At that point, all Phillips could do was sit back and anxiously await the truck that was to deliver his graduation present.

The 15-foot, 8.2-inch long Oldsmobile F-85 soon arrived. The 2,790-pound convertible rolled off the truck on its 112-inch wheelbase. When new the base price was $2,760. Optional extras on the 1962 Oldsmobile include: AM radio, backup lights, power steering and 15-inch wheels.

The F-85 left the factory in Kansas City wearing a Mirror-Magic coat of Cardinal Red, one of 15 available colors. Years passed and by the time Phillips got the car it had been repainted Wedgwood Mist. Of the five basic interior colors Phillips chose a matching blue, rejecting gray, green, fawn and red upholstery.

Since the F-85 was driven primarily in the Arizona desert there was barely any rust to battle. Phillips says under the rear seat was a small spot of rust, which was quickly eliminated.

Phillips points out that the heater core in his car was by-passed since day one. He has rerouted some of the plumbing under the hood so the heater can heat now.

At the beginning of the 1960s, General Motors fielded a number of upscale compact cars including the Buick Special, Pontiac Tempest and Oldsmobile F-85.

Not long after Phillips got his F-85 he discovered that under the engine hood was a two-barrel carburetor atop a Buick engine. He located an Oldsmobile engine and began spending years attempting to return the engine to like new performance. Eight years later, Phillips found one of the 3,098 F-85 215-cubic-inch Jetfire engines manufactured in 1962. The cylinder head, block and manifold were all of aluminum alloy.

Phillips credits Gary Phares, an instructor at Northern Virginia Community College, with helping him rebuild the engine. The two had the help of shop assistant Alex Sellwey.

“The cylinders were bored .030 over for rebuilding,” Phillips says. The number eight cylinder was sleeved.

“The pistons, pins and rods were hand balanced by me within one gram of each other,” Phillips says.

According to Phillips, “The original three-speed automatic transmissions were dogs.” He knows that his didn’t shift very well. He remedied that shortcoming by installing a floor-mounted four-speed Borg-Warner T-10 transmission.

Phillips credits Jim Noel who rebuilt the turbocharger and single barrel side draft Rochester carburetor with their smooth performance. “That was no small feat on this setup,” he says.

Because the F-85 spent most of the time in the dry desert most of the bright work remains unblemished. Phillips did have the chrome exterior mirror replated, but most everything else is original.

In 2009, Phillips declared the restoration of his car complete. Since then he has driven his car several hundred miles to Oldsmobile gatherings and his car has always performed perfectly.

“It drinks premium-grade fuel,” he says. “It’s finicky.”

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