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'59 Olds found in NY garage


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Hey everyone!

I'm new to the forum, and this is the first Olds I've ever owned. While I know my way around Chevys & Pontiacs of this era, I admittedly know little about Oldsmobiles. This past few weeks I had been on the hunt for a '59 GM driver, and I came across an ad in Hemmings for a 1959 Olds 88 4 dr hardtop for $4000 which was close to my house and advertised as being in excellent condition. I tried several times to contact the seller, and after not hearing back from them, I gave up and kept looking.

A week or so later I get a call from an elderly woman who told me the car was still available and had been bought new by her father. She explained that it had been sitting in her garage since the mid '80s. She also told me that she had gotten many calls but didn't want to be bothered with sending photos, and no-one local had yet to come look at it.

I went and looked at it that night and as the garage door slowly opens, I see this 59 Olds sitting on four flat tires and covered in dust. It's a 'Super 88' sporting a 394cid engine, 4 bbl, power steering and power brakes. The car has original paint, old clean spare tire, original embossed 'Oldsmobile' rubber floormats, even the four T-3 headlights appear original. The garage floor had been painted twice since the car was parked, and they simply painted around it. I left a deposit, and picked it up the next night.

The car is in such remarkable shape, especially for the northeast that I didn't even try talking the woman down, I gladly paid the $4k. I haven't tried starting it just yet, but I'm not expecting any problems once a few precautions are taken. Anyway, just wanted to share my story. It's by far the nicest most original car I've ever owned, and for me this has been a once in a lifetime experience.

If I may use this opportunity to ask, what battery can I use that will fit in the original tray? A 24 is too wide. A group 56 & 29NF will fit, but I'm not sure of the cranking amps required for the 394. Any suggestions are appreciated!

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Edited by 59Super88 (see edit history)
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Welcome to the wonderful world of Olds! It does indeed look like a good find.

I can not answer specifically your battery question, but do know there is no extraordinary cranking capacity requirement for the 394 c.i. engine.

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Great find! Hard to imagine original upholstery in such fine condition from some 52 years ago.

As for the battery question, the rule of thumb for Cold Crank Amps back in the day would have been a minimum of one CCA per cubic inch of engine displacement. Interstate Battery should still be producing batteries in the correct case an crank amp rating for roughly $125 maybe a bit less. You might also check with a CarQuest store if you have one in your area as they still catalog batteries under their brand name for most post War II vehicles. Their prices may be a bit higher than Interstate's.

The correct group size for a correct battery is Group 59.

Jim

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)
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nice find! in a pinch any larger battery that just fits in the tray will do. remove the spark plugs and pour in 'mystery oil' in the cylinders and let it soak for a week. pump up the oil pressure with a drill motor or hand crank (if you can) to give the bearings a head start... then hand crank the engine over. good luck on reviving the car!

Edited by mrspeedyt (see edit history)
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I think you did 'the right thing' by paying asking price here- car is in great shape.

IIRC, (not sure if your car wears them) '59 Olds had a 'turbine-ringed' trim ring that went with those caps (optional?) - I saw a set of the 'poverty caps' with these trim rings maybe 15 years ago in a 'yard and haven't forgotten them- thought they were pretty cool. Good luck with it!

> They're shown here : Directory Index: Oldsmobile/1959 Oldsmobile/album

When shined up- the vanes reflect in the hub caps- simple but flashy, esp with a colored rim.

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Your '59 needs a Group 60K battery which to my knowledge is only available reproduction meaning $$$.

Some of the guys with 54-64 Olds (and Buick/Cad/Packard that used the 60K) have been using a Group 51. It's actually a Honda battery but is available in both F & R top post configurations, fits in the tray and has enough oomph to start and run these old beasts. And best of all is commonly available.

Here's a chart that may help finding a battery that will fit. Even though the 51 is smaller LxW it is very close to the same height as the 60. The 29NF is almost a perfect replacement size-wise, but I'm not sure of availability. *EDIT* a little googling shows the 29NF is pretty readily available. I'll have to keep that in mind for the 64 Starfires.

BCI Battery Group Size Chart

Edited by rocketraider (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

Again, doing some catching up; congrats on the '59, keep us posted.

Regarding the 60K battery, I was able to find a "modern" AC/Delco equivalent for my '62 D88 wagon, as I did not want to spend the big $$ Glenn was referring to with the repro "authentic" look battery for that car (I do confess to having one of those for the '62 Starfire).

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ACD makes a modern 60K? If they do, won't catch me paying $$$:eek::eek: :eek: for a repop anymore.

I think earlier cars trays are a little more forgiving on size than the 63-64 with that battery recess in the splash apron. That's why I paid the money for the repop- because it would fit. Not because I thought it was the best battery for the job.

I bought an NOS Delco Group 89 for the Hurst several years back and went ahead and activated it, thinking car would be done and on the road quickly. Now I'm beginning to think that even with a Battery Tender it will be spent before it ever gets put in the car :( .

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Glenn, yes, exact same fit in the battery tray, dimensions are exact. Bought it about 3 years ago for about $70 at Ohio Auto, which is an AC/Delco distributor out of Canton, Ohio. The smart thing to do, unless you're anal like me and want to have the show-quality stuff like I do for the Starfire.

BTW, an update, kind of a "bad news/good news" type of thing. Couple weeks ago, discovered that the day of reckoning for the Slim-Jim in the Starfire had arrived; was starting to think there were issues last year, came to a head when I got back from Spring Carlisle.

Well, swapped out the one in the Starfire for the one sitting on the floor at my mechanic for the '62 D88 wagon, which is awaiting the engine to be put back together and in. So, a setback for the wagon, but was able to plug it in to the Starfire, and it runs like a top now. Guess I'm looking for the silver lining here; hopefully the people down at Canton Transmission can still do the Slim-Jims like they did about a dozen years ago on the SF...(probably about 40K miles later, you know i drive it about 3K a year)...

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So it is a 60K? I know a lot of folks are using 29NF Ford style batteries since they'll also fit. Better a Ford battery than a Honda, eh?

I dread the day I have to find somebody to do a Slim Jim. I had a Turbo 400 done in 2000 and there was only one guy in that shop that knew anything about those, and that trans had only been out of production 14 years at the time.

It amazes me that a trans guy can go thru an electronically controlled transmission and make it work, but says he can't do anything for a fluid coupling job. Pfft.

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Glenn, went out and took a look at the newer series AC Delco that I have on a trickle-charger. I do not see anywhere where it says "60K" on it, but I do know it is the exact dimensions as the reproduction one I have for the Starfire. Looking at the numbers I did find on the battery, I do see "008084", and "037P"; under the bar code, there are the numbers "36666 90561". It is a 6-year battery.

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  • 6 months later...

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