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tigersdad

1955 Oldsmobile Starfire

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I posted an inquiry about the 1955 Starfire Convertible under the Oldsmobile Forum, but thought I might get some knowledge from the General Forum: My questions were the following: Did the car have a Continental Kit as an option or was it aftermarket? The particular car I'm looking at also has dual tailpipes in lieu of a single tailpipe and was the original upholstery leather or vinyl? Thanks for the help from all the experts out there!

Regards,

Jay Kingston

1931 Cadillac

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Waiting for the Olds experts but until they show up maybe I can help.

By 1955 all car makers offered continental kits as a dealer accessory. A few cars came with them as standard equipment, Lincoln Continental Packard Caribbean and believe it or not, the top Nash Ambassador.

So, it could be a factory approved dealer installed genuine Olds option. Or it could be an aftermarket kit.

Vinyl did exist in 55, it was invented in the late 20s. When it was first used in cars I don't know but some type of vinyl or artificial leather was in cars in the late 40s.

Whether your car came with leather I don't know for sure, but chances are good that it did.

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The fellow who had my 1931 Pierce restored it in 1959-60. When I got it, it had dark green naugahyde interior. I asked him why he didn't do leather when he restored it. He told me that he figured the vinyl would wear better (he drove the heck out of it), it wasn't a cost issue, because in 1960 he could have bought leather cheaper than the high grade naugahyde he used!

I wouldn't pass up a '55 Olds convertible, if all that had been done to it was add a continental kit and some skirts. Now, if it's had body cut and customized, that's another story, but what you described on the car sounds like bolt-off stuff.

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I agree with TRIMACAR as far as bolt-on / unbolt stuff

My 1927 Chevy Capitol AA Roadster (which I got in a swap with TRIMACAR back around 1977/1978 ?) came with a Leatherette seat - I'm pretty sure it was original, but cannot swear to it !

Edited by Marty Roth
crs (see edit history)

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Thanks guy's for all the help! I did find out that leather was original to the car for the seats and dash board and that the dual exhausts did not come out until 1956 on the Starfire. I'm still on the hunt. PS: Marty.......Beautiful '41 Cadillac!

Jay

1931 Cadillac Town Car

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Marty mentioned leatherette, which was widely used on cars in the 1920s and earlier.

Some sort of imitation leather has been used on cars since the early 1900s at least. A little quick research says leatherette and other earlier types were apparently a cotton fabric coated with an oil, lacquer, or varnish based mixture applied to the cloth backing and embossed with a grain by metal rollers. Automobile tops were (I guess) prepared similarly but using a rubberized surface material. Flexibilty and durability were the problem with these materials in cars, and the use of Naugahyde and others with PVC plastic (vinyl) as the facing material was a big improvement in durability, beginning in the late 1930s and exploding in the 1950s. Maybe trimacar can add a word on this.

To Jay, it is likely your Starfire seating surfaces are real leather and the sides, door panels, and all other materials are vinyl, although I do not know for certain. Todd

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Yes, Todd is correct. Early cars had tops of what is loosely refered to as "oilcloth." A woven fabric, but coated or impregnated with material so that it was waterproof. At the time, there was also a "top dressing" that was sold, which would somewhat renew weathered and sun ravaged tops.

The woven fabric was cotton, and that is the reason that so many original tops are in tatters. With even the slightest storage issues of the car, the cotton will rot, and the only thing then holding the top together is the coating. Anyone who's fooled with an early, original, ragged top, knows that the material tears like paper, again, due to rotten cotton (not to be forgotten, as when the cotton bolls get rotten, you can't pick.......).

With leather, early cars had leather everywhere, and scraps would be used for welting, bottoms, small trim and such. As the years passed, it became cheaper to use leather facings for contact parts (i.e. butt and back) and vinyl elsewhere. Most modern cars with expensive leather interiors have, in fact, very little leather, just those contact parts mentioned.

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Dave and Todd,

Thanks a lot for the information. The more I read this forum, the more I learn about the old cars. I'm 50 now and have loved old cars my whole life. My first old car was a 1930 Model A Coupe, with the trunk still in tact. Hadn't been turned into a rumble seat. I was in my early 20's. I feel like I may know a lot, but then I come across people like the two of you and learn even more! Thanks for all the help and insight to these beautiful classics!

Regards,

Jay

1931 Cadillac Town Car

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Well Jay, lots of cars out there, lots to learn. With the Model A in your past, your Cadillac at present and looking at a possible future 1955 Starfire you have excellent taste in cars. If you are looking to buy the Olds and have any authenticity questions post a few photos for us. Good luck, Todd

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Thanks, Todd, will do! Also, have you thought of the name of the movie Rusty is looking for? Just giving you a bad time because it is now driving me nuts!! I'm going to call my mother-in-law who lives in Woodland Hills, CA. Seems all the neighbors are in the movie industry. Someone should know.

Jay

1931 Cadillac Town Car

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Hi Jay, nope, I am at a halt on that for the moment, will be interested if this "Inman" can help, I would now like to know!

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