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1962 Starfire Convertible Project


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Way back around 1981, a Wedgewood Mist '62 Starfire convertible on a local used car lot caught my eye & first got me interested in vintage cars. Unfortunately, my parents failed to share my high school enthusiasm for this tired, 19 year-old convertible & quickly torpedoed my dreams of leading the Homecoming parade in my big blue Starfire with the cheerleading squad stuffed into the back seat.

One day, the car was gone, & I never found out what became of it.

Fast forward 25 years to late 2006 & I find a twin of my long-lost high school car....on Ebay. The car failed to sell, but the owner was nice enough to hold it for me while I bought a plane ticket & flew from Chicago to Missoula, MT to check it out. It certainly wasn't without issues, but most importantly to me was that it was extremely straight & almost rust-free.

The car eventually wound up in my hands. I cleaned it up a bit, dealt with a few minor problems, & enjoyed driving the car to the local cruises during that first summer. To be quite honest, I really enjoyed having a beater '62 Starfire convertible, which ultimately made the decision whether to restore it somewhat difficult. I could park it anywhere, my kid could eat ice cream in the back seat, and friends could pile into the car for a fun ride after a cruise- all without worrying about damaging or dirtying anything.

Over the first winter that I owned the car I planned just to fix it up a bit to make it more safe & reliable. I rebuilt the brake booster, sleeved the master cylinder, & tended to some minor brake work. I also ordered a new set of springs, as the car looked like a low rider next to my other cars.

The tipping point came when I began work on the dash. Nothing worked. Among other things, I had a frozen speedometer with a broken cable & an inoperable fuel gauge. Removing the cluster led to the removal of the clock, radio, front & rear speakers, & most of the remaining dash chrome.

Several months and a lot of money later, I sat there looking at all the repaired components & a box of show-quality chromed pot metal.....and I found myself with a quandary: did I REALLY want to go through the work of reinstalling all of that stuff on a tired old car?

Anyone familiar with these cars knows how unforgiving they can be. Imagine spending a whole evening installing a speedometer only to find out you need to spend two more evenings repairing all the vacuum leaks you caused by fooling around under the dash. All the while you're laying on your back on disgusting old carpet with your head wedged next to the brake pedal while disintegrating insulation rains down into your eyes.

Faced with this appealing scenario, I found it much easier to tackle other projects and let the car sit in limbo.

Meanwhile, the owner of the shop that did the restoration of my '61 Starfire approached me several times about starting on this particular car. His late wife once had a Wedgewood Mist '62 Starfire coupe, and he has long told me that his all-time favorite Olds is the '62 Starfire convertible.....in Wedgewood Mist. I have no doubt about the results once I turn him loose on this car.

Finally, given where things appear to be headed with our economy & with my profession as a health care provider, I have a sinking feeling that if I don't restore the car soon, I may not be in a position to do so later.

So, after a lot of deliberating, & despite my decade-long claim that I would NEVER tackle another body-off restoration, I've decided to pull the trigger & fully restore it. I recently stripped out the interior & the car went into the shop Thursday morning. The plan for now is to lift off the body, do whatever metalwork is necessary, paint it, & set it back on the restored frame. Major mechanical work, chrome, stainless, & upholstery will all happen later as the budget allows. Like my '61, I'll probably wind up doing most of the reassembly myself.

It should be an interesting project, & I will periodically post some pics of the progress. I hope everyone enjoys following along!

Chuck

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Edited by Starfire61 (see edit history)
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Starfire61, I share your passion. Not with Oldsmobiles, but with '50's Fords. Thank God we all have different taste about our favorite cars. Otherwise, everyone would have a '57 Chevy. It warms my heart to see someone enjoying his cruise in a restored Lark or a Valiant. When I go to meets, all I see are the premium cars because all the four door sedans were crushed decades ago.

Restoring a car that is forty+ years old is insane. Parts haven't been in production for decades, they are nearly impossible to find, and they are expensive. If anyone wants to restore as an investment, forget it. Put your money in the bank.

But how many can really appreciate owning and driving a '62 Oldsmobile Starfire? Most people don't have a clue about how cool this car is, and has been, all these years. It is a money pit, but nothing is more rewarding than to drive your labor of love when it is done.

Many owners keep their car in the garage, and only visit it to put more wax on. I drive mine every chance I get; it's that fun. If you can get past the worry of a possible stone chip in your paint, then you can enjoy cruiseing.

I have a buddy who owns a Stingray. He won't bring it out of his garage because he lives on a gravel road. We joke about buying him 'tire condoms' just to get it onto pavement. He never enjoys his vette, is worried that someone might notice it's there in his garage, and will probably pass on, leaving it to a kid. Not me.

I would love to see pictures of your Olds. It looks like your restoration is coming along well. Keep your eyes on the prize, and work on it when you can. Hopefully, we'll pass eachother on the road someday. I'd love to see another restored Starfire. - Dave

Here are some great cars we see around my neighborhood.

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Each and every time I drive my 62 Olds Dynamic 88 I hear it telling me, "I was made to be driven!" It is such a joy to take out on the highway and put the pedal to the metal.

These cars are meant to be driven, seen and enjoyed; by both the owners and the lookers!

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I think I already have enough on my plate without getting into that thing. Oldsfan & I have traded a few emails about it, & we're both thinking that it's an old custom job as opposed to a flower car.

I would think that a flower car would have an open rear compartment, while this thing looks like it has two trunk lids spliced together end-to-end. Just how would you put in the flowers? How do you even open the trunk? I'd be curious to see just how it's all put together, & whether the rear compartment is finished, as it would be with a professional car. Unfortunately, the seller didn't post any pics with the trunk open....& probably for a good reason.:D

I emailed the seller to at least get the tag information. It started out as a KC-built Starfire coupe in January of '62. The original colors were a white roof over a Sahara Mist body with a fawn interior. Were this a car that Olds put together for the '62 show circuit, I would think they'd have used a Lansing-built car.

I was under the impression that Cotner-Bevington only built professional cars off of the Ninety Eight platform, but I suppose anything's possible.

I think it would look nice sitting in Oldsfan's garage....

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  • 3 weeks later...

The shop was closed from Christmas to the Monday after New Year's weekend, so things slowed down a bit on the Starfire. I was able to get over there earlier this week & snapped a few more pics.

Other than a few odds & ends, the driver's-side trim is about all that remains on the car. There's some rust on the front floors, with a few pinholes on the driver's side that will need to be addressed, but things overall are still looking pretty good with the car.

Chuck

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Geez, those shocks look huge. Maybe it's because they're yellow. I don't remember mine being that big.

See that gas hose running through that hole in the frame? It's REAL important that that thing runs back through there when you're done. Trust me. :o

Paul

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Now's the time to do it with everything exposed and accessible. One of the hatefullest jobs I ever had to do on my blue Starfire was run new gas hose thru the rear frame section with the car on the ground and on jackstands.

I don't know that it would have been much easier on a lift. Being a factory air car it had a return line, and trying to snake those two lines thru that frame rail was an exercise in frustration even with the wheel/tire off. I think the only thing that ever made me swear at that car more was when I had to fix the radiator, and had to drop the swaybar to get at a nut on the fan shroud. That and the return line have convinced me to leave factory air cars alone.

I need to replace the ones on the green one. At least it has only a supply line and not a return. Ought to plumb in an electric fuel pump while I'm about it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are some pics from 1-23-10. The frame has been disassembled & is now at the sandblasters, but the body has returned & is being prepped for metalwork.

It still looks pretty good. There's a little more rust & bondo on the driver's rear quarter than I expected, but nothing horrible. The passenger side is considerably better, & all the floors look good with the exception of the driver's floor.

They're hoping to have the metalwork completed by the end of the week.

Chuck

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Edited by Starfire61 (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are some pics of the Starfire as of the end of January. There's been a fair amount of progress since these were taken, but I unfortunately didn't have the camera with me on my last visit.

In a nutshell, the rusted & bondoed area of the drivers rear quarter behind the wheel has been replaced with new metal, and a variety of dents & souvenirs of a long-ago collision have received some attention, most notably on the passenger door.

The rust damage on both rear quarters between the doors & the rear wheels has proven to be more extensive than originally anticipated. Once the outer skin was removed, several layers of body structure were revealed, all containing significant amounts of rust damage. Since these photos were taken, repairs to this particular area of the body have taken quite a bit of time & effort.

The frame proved to be in great condition & required no repairs. Even the '61-2 Olds Achilles Heel at the rear wheel arches (where rust-out is often found) was rock-solid & had no issues. Apparently the guys at the sandblasters commented that this was one of the heaviest frames they've ever had to move- it took four people to lift it. The frame has since been painted & is currently being reassembled.

Hopefully the next set of pics will show a lot more progress!

Chuck

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Some new pics of the '62 Starfire as of last weekend. The repairs to the forward parts of both rear quarters have now been completed.

One of these pics shows a rather convoluted view of the inside portion of the forward half of the driver's side rocker, seen looking forward. Normally hidden by the frame, this part of the rocker had started rusting from the inside out, necessitating a small repair.

Still remaining is the repair to the driver's floor and the aft portion of the passenger's rear quarter. There's also a small rust hole evident underneath the left outer tailight. Once these are fixed, the metalwork on the car should be essentially finished.

Chuck

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Edited by Starfire61 (see edit history)
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  • 6 months later...

I've had this project on hold since early spring due to all the Hope & Change we're enjoying.

All the metalwork on the car has been completed & the body primed. The restoration shop has the body & frame tucked away at their storage facilty, so at the moment there's not a whole lot that I can show to anyone.

I'm hoping to restart work on the car over the winter. Originally I'd hoped to have it ready in time for the OCA Nats in Des Moines, but I don't think it's realistic or prudent to press on with it in the face of big tax hikes and changes in healthcare (my profession) that are coming down the pipe. It's time to pay off some debt & batten down the hatches, 'cause things are going to get ugly....

I'll be sure to post some more photo updates whenever work resumes.

Thank you for your interest-

Chuck

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  • 4 months later...

Work has resumed on the Starfire.

The suspension and frame are essentially completed. Meanwhile, the body is in line to be prepped and repainted in its original color of Wedgewood Mist. Once painted, the body will be mounted back on the frame, and then the car will likely wind up mothballed again for awhile.

Enjoy the new pics-

Chuck

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  • 9 months later...
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Mike, I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. Sorry for not being in touch for awhile- this time of year is always jammed with too many things to do.

Steve, I'd love to have the car finished this year, but I think 2015 is looking more realistic (I hope.) The work on the interior is just beginning, and I haven't done a thing with the engine yet...though the transmission is ready to go. Finally seeing it in paint these past few weeks really has me motivated to bring it over the finish line as soon as possible. I've always liked Wedgewood Mist on these cars- it just doesn't photograph well under the fluorescent lights at the shop, but I'm very pleased when I see it in person. No doubt it will look even better wearing a fresh set of aluminum panels!!! :D

Chuck

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Edited by Starfire61 (see edit history)
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Great thread!! I’ve gotten lot’s of tips on my own frame off restore of my ’64 Electra convertible. I’m doing everything myself though and I am far from a professional. I’ve resigned to the fact that I will have a nice driver (no trailer queen here).

Who ever did the welding of the panels on yours did a really nice job and is giving me something to strive for.

great job,

Can’t wait to see it done!

Larry

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