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1940 Oldsmobile 4 door convertible


AlexH
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We have a 1940 4 door Olds convertible. I was looking for more information on what it is, i.e. series 90 phaeton? Also wanted to know where to start with a restoration. I know it's pretty rare, possible #26 of 50, but we do have a 1940 sedan that could help with parts, but really don't know where to begin. Anybody in particular that works on just these cars in the southeast? Thanks for any help...<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

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Available for the first time was the 1940 convertible sedan on the series 90 platform. Like most automakers, Olds had a tough time selling it's phaeton, with only 50 leaving the showroom floors. Better hang on to that one!

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I posted my same original question in the oldsmobile general forum and have had some great replies from Paul Hartlieb of the National Antique Oldsmobile Association. He knows of the owner of body number 1 and posted a picture of it restored.

Check it out.

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Oldsmobile used a unique number system for its cars back then. They could be a series 60,70,80 or 90 depending on body size. Their biggest most expensive model being the 90.

Then they added the number of cylinders giving models like the 66,76,88 and 98. The 98 being the top of the line only slightly smaller than a Buick or Cadillac.

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For 1940, the Olds series eighty became the ninety series. The series 90 rode on the "C" body along with the bigger Buicks, Cadillac, and also for the first time the Pontiac's new Torpedo Eight. The Torpedo Eight in 1940 is reference to the Cadillac "C" body, in 1941 all Pontiac's are now called Torpedo's, even the smaller "A" bodies shared with Chevrolet.

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  • 7 years later...

There was an unrestored original one on a used car lot in Valley Stream, NY on Merrick Road ( north side of the road) 40 years ago , sitting out on the front of the lot. Never knew where it eventually wound up. I have a 1940 series 71C Buick Roadmaster conv sedan and it is the same body on the series 62 Cadillac.

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Wow! What a rarity!  An eight cylinder 1940 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser L-Series 90 convertible phaeton, Model 403929, one of only 50 produced for 1940.  At the factory price of $1,570, it was the most expensive Oldsmobile for that year, $439 dollars more than the Custom Cruiser Series 90 sedan at $1,131.  The National Antique Oldsmobile Association is your best source for correct information and help restoring this rare gem.

 

By way of background, Oldsmobile, beginning in 1940, got serious about competing more aggressively in the medium-priced luxury segment, elevating their heretofore eight cylinder Series 80 models to be designated Custom Cruiser L-Series 90.  GM gave each division except Chevrolet the new Cadillac 60 Special-inspired Torpedo C-Bodies for their top or major line offerings.  As noted, Pontiac created its Torpedo Eight, the first time that division was allowed use of the upscale C-Body shared up through the makes to Cadillac.  Pontiac only had use of the C-Bodies for 1940 and 1941, though not the four door convertible sedan, settled back to the A and B bodies thereafter.   Oldsmobile utilized it to upgrade to the Custom Cruiser L-Series 90, which became the 98 or Ninety-Eight dependent upon how much they promoted the car as a true luxury contender.    Buick, already upmarket, created both the Super Series 50 and the Roadmaster became the Series 70.  LaSalle, in its last model year of production, created the Series 52 Special and Cadillac their first Series 62 which would become their most popular mainstay model into the 1960's.  In the 1940-1941 seasons during which these C-Body convertible phaetons (GM title for four door convertible sedan) where available, all were relatively low production models and generally the most expensive style in their model series.

 

Four door convertible sedans, regardless of nameplate, due to the additional engineering, special bracing, heavier frames, unique top mechanisms and side window sets, trim and finishing were always either the most expensive body style offered or among such, considered the most luxurious style.   As such, low production numbers relative to sedans was the norm.   Even for a major company like GM, convertible sedans were a low production style, great for prestige image and to generate showroom traffic and positive publicity when seen at public gathering as VIP transportation.

 

AlexH:  You have a very special car there, take good care of it.  Please keep us apprised of your progress to restore and preserve it.       

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So Steve, would body number one be a blue one owned by Mike Fusick? I also have a sedan in pretty rough shape, but unfortunately am faced with likely having to sell my convertible. The sedan has been outside the last 10 years, but the convertible has been garaged for 50. 
58L-Y8 thank you for the info. I do somewhere have a letter from GM explaining the 26/50 found on the frame along with some other helpful info, but nothing that extensive. I wish I had more time, space, and knowledge to take the restoration on, but am just not thinking it possible at this point.

294B8C72-C829-40B0-9FC1-42A0BEFBE290.jpeg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just my opinion, but if this is your first rodeo and given this discussion started 8 years ago, I would suggest you just get the car to run first.  Then see if you can get brakes accomplished and basics to drive it - at least drive up and down driveway.   You can "hot wire it sort to speak as wiring is a whole project in itself.   Then, see if it is "for you" and while doing so start collecting the harder to find parts you will need.  Also, restorations tend to be money looser's - aka you are most likely going to spend more than it is worth. And we have bought a few things to go through painful restorations to drive it the first time and actually not like the car - it goes away then to a new home (my point is a lot of pain to get to that point). 

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A couple of friends and I call it component restoration. Just begin with the starting, stopping, and steering items and work you way through, never disabling the car for more than a couple of days and don't do the cheapest thing first; stripping it down to the bare frame. If you take it all apart the easy ones have three hundred $100 jobs to get in back together. Most are more.

 

Looking back over the last 50 years I guess I subscribe to the "Live long and prosper" approach to the hobby. I buy a nice 15 to 20 year old car and age along with it.

 

Coolness.JPG.21b350bf99e3f0b263c981af48af1483.JPG

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On 5/16/2020 at 5:30 PM, 60FlatTop said:

A couple of friends and I call it component restoration. Just begin with the starting, stopping, and steering items and work you way through, never disabling the car for more than a couple of days and don't do the cheapest thing first; stripping it down to the bare frame. If you take it all apart the easy ones have three hundred $100 jobs to get in back together. Most are more.

 

Looking back over the last 50 years I guess I subscribe to the "Live long and prosper" approach to the hobby. I buy a nice 15 to 20 year old car and age along with it.

 

Coolness.JPG.21b350bf99e3f0b263c981af48af1483.JPG

I look at it as a worthy challenge to get something to "go" without shredding it into parts.  We have always had a car under restoration for as long as I can remember (one after the next), but the tour cars have a rule that you cannot do a project that cannot be completed in a weekend and they have to be back on the road in very short order if something really goes wrong (longest has been about a year for major mechanical work, but most have been about a month at most)

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As long as people keep advertising cars with piles of parts throw around the interior, pieces dangling, and still sitting on the trailer I can just sit back assured that I will still be able to make a few bucks flipping an old car now and then.

 

I am so glad that I don't have any idea why one would present a car that way.

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Remove a zero and its close.  There was a 42 a couple years ago in PA at auction that I went to see and it sold in that range is I remember. It was an interesting car in that you could smell it a solid 10 ft away, and not in a good way.

 

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46 minutes ago, Roger Frazee said:

My first car, at the age of 16, was a '40 Olds four-door sedan.  I remembered it having suicide doors.  The convertible in the picture has conventional rear doors.  Was the convertible different in that regard or is my memory faulty (again)?

Yes, to the different body on some series but not necessarily just convertibles.  GM introduced the C-body in 1940 which had no running boards and was shared by Cadillac, Buick and Olds, and I think Chevrolet, not sure if Pontiac. 

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17 hours ago, D Yaros said:

Here is another.  Can it be worth what the buyer is asking, given the conditon?

https://www.carsforsale.com/vehicle/details/13014842

 

 

1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight1941 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight

You are looking at a super rare 1941 Oldsmobile 98 4 door convertible Sedan. This is a solid car with very minor rust that has been in the same family since the early 60's. The present owner started doing a brake job to it about 10 years ago and it has been setting on jack stands covered up ever since then. He has collected a lot of new old stock parts for the car, many of them were not really needed, but he has them anyway. There were only 125 of these beautiful cars built of which 6 were shipped outside the country. You can own this very rare car and all of the NOS parts that go with it for only $50,000 or make the owner an offer he can not refuse. We offer a 90 day lay away on many of our vehicles. Just break the cost of the vehicle into 4 equal payments 30 days apart, and then you can take possession of the vehicle. I might consider a possible trade, what do you have? What are you looking for? Lets talk!!! I sure would love to make this Classic yours. What can I do to make that happen? If this Classic is the vehicle of your dreams then the best time to buy it is BEFORE someone else does. NOW is the time. The customer who looked at it yesterday and said I will buy it tomorrow MAY come back and buy it today while you are waiting to buy it tomorrow. Do not wait another minute. Give me a call right NOW so we can make this beauty yours. RIGHT NOW. You will be GLAD that you did!!! We specialize in Father and son restoration projects. We are located in the north western part of South Carolina 20 minutes south east of Greenville 100 miles SW of Charlotte and 150 miles NE of Atlanta. Drop by any time and take a stroll through our "Field of Dreams." You may just find that car of your dreams. I hope to see you soon. Give me a call at 1-864-862-4423 so we can talk person to person about this making this car yours. We ship all over the world at your expense. We always have dozens and dozens of collector cars available for sale at all times. Visit Classic Cars of S.C. Inc. online at www.classiccarssouthcarolina.com to see more pictures of this vehicle or call us at 864-862-4423 today to schedule a look at this classic. We have shipped to just about every state in the US and 33 foreign countries. I would much rather talk than text, however, if you must, you may text me at 1-864-313-2908. I look forward to seeing you soon. In the mean time, Have a GREAT day! 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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48 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

that has been in the same family since the early 60's.

 

The price could be based on storage. Even a kid with a changing voice could buy an early '40's Olds in the early '60's.

010.thumb.jpg.edf052bfd2c6423b88f2ab1da6ec3a99.jpg

 

To add to their collection.

 

001.thumb.jpg.cd4d4041cd5784b4154c238b6971c305.jpg

 

BTW, those cars are sitting right where my garage sits today.

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  • 3 months later...
On 4/23/2020 at 2:47 PM, Steve Moskowitz said:

I believe Mike now owns it but it was restored by Don Spieldenner from Fremont, Ohio who did a lot of great Oldsmobiles in the 70's

Don and his wife Sarah were Olds people all the way! They became friends of my parents.

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On 4/23/2020 at 11:38 AM, Walt G said:

There was an unrestored original one on a used car lot in Valley Stream, NY on Merrick Road ( north side of the road) 40 years ago , sitting out on the front of the lot. Never knew where it eventually wound up. I have a 1940 series 71C Buick Roadmaster conv sedan and it is the same body on the series 62 Cadillac.

This is the car on Merrick Rd in the lot!!!!!! We passed by it several times a week. He thought it was too far gone to restore (you should have seen the basket cases he restored years later!). My dad had a few 1941's at the time and told his friend Bob Hellstrom about it. Bob bought it, took it to CT, and did some work to it. I don't know what condition it was in when he sold it to Jim Harnsant in Michigan. He had it for many years. I believe he worked for Oldsmobile. That car was recently put up for sale. Dusty Gray with a red interior, Tan top.
I still have my father's 1941 Phaeton which is Dusty Grey, red interior with a Gray top. It's in Amityville.
You may remember my father, Carlo Cola, from the AACA. We did the Garden City Easter Parade every year, many shows at Salisbury/Eisenhower Park.

Olds Phaeton on lot VS.jpg

Phaeton Jim H.jpg

41 Olds Phaeton me.png

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Yes, Indeed I do remember your Dad , Carlo Cola - he was the "Oldsmobile man" car collector here on long island and in the NY Metropolitan area. WOW. Thanks for the history of this- way cool indeed. Brings back so many memories. Great to know that the car got saved. WONDERFUL! made my day to read this.

Walt

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43 minutes ago, rocketraider said:

Wow. Don and Sarah, Jim and Carlo. Some of the first people I met during my stint as an OCA Zone director. Fine people.

 

Then there was Don O'Connor and his 64s. The man I went to with questions and frustrations when my first Starfire was beating me up.

My father was NAOC member #6, I think. Started by Hank Pickney and his brother in CT. I remember the first meeting at their house. 1971-ish??
Bob Hellstrom from CT was there. Guys like Al Sandy, Don Spieldenner, Russ Yoder...we always had someone from out of state visit the house for dinner as they passed through NY. Spieldenner had a big trailer with his and his wife's name on it. 
Mike Fusick and my father got along great. I think my Dad would send him parts to use as a mold to reproduce, and give him a few free for doing it.
Dad got me a 62 Starfire HT for my first car in 1978. 2 years later he got my brother a 62 Starfire Conv. Then he got another Conv and gave it to my brother and I got the first conv. Then he bought Tommy a 71 442 Convertible that he beat the hell out of. Hey, it was 1981.
 

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8 minutes ago, GregLaR said:

What is a realistic figure for this car in restored condition?

 

olds.thumb.jpeg.513eb6d8c19149ad46ffaae3cc50fd61.jpeg

That’s a great question that I wish I knew the answer to. Definitely depends on the potential buyers’ willingness to outbid each other. It would make a great hot rod, but bring so rare may mean to some it must be redone as original. Luckily this one is complete and has a bunch of extra parts from a ‘40 sedan as well. I think Mike Fusick owns the only other one known to exist and it is redone. We would have to ask him what he would sell his for I guess. Not my area of expertise at all, so any other input would be welcomed. 

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I am by no means an authority on these cars, but it appears to me that the market for them has softened considerably.    Whether this is due to simple economics or something more insidious like generational shift remains an interesting discussion.

The '41 Phaeton previously mentioned as being for sale was initially listed at almost $130K.  Several months later, the car is still for sale with an asking price under $60K.

https://www.gatewayclassiccars.com/DET/1555/1941-Oldsmobile-98-Phaeton

 

Then there is the '41 Buick Roadmaster Phaeton discussed on another thread that failed to meet reserve at this year's Indy Mecum auction.  High bid was $28K.

https://www.mecum.com/lots/SC0520-414249/1941-buick-roadmaster-convertible-sedan/

 

Perhaps it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but the no-sale prices on these '41s may be a barometer of what someone would be willing to pay for the '40 being discussed here.  I'd imagine restoration costs for one of these would be frighteningly expensive.  Someone with deep pockets could probably buy both '41s and have a his & hers pair for less than the cost to acquire and restore this '40.  Nonetheless, it's a fantastic car, and I hope it finds a good home with someone who gives it the care it deserves.  Good luck with the sale!

 

 

 

 

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IMG_4783.JPG

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On 5/18/2020 at 11:27 PM, deaddds said:

Remove a zero and its close.  There was a 42 a couple years ago in PA at auction that I went to see and it sold in that range is I remember. It was an interesting car in that you could smell it a solid 10 ft away, and not in a good way.

 

Don't want to hi jack this thread, but here is a recent picture of that '42...

 

 

IMG_0850.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/1/2020 at 12:04 AM, John Cola said:

This is the car on Merrick Rd in the lot!!!!!! We passed by it several times a week. He thought it was too far gone to restore (you should have seen the basket cases he restored years later!). My dad had a few 1941's at the time and told his friend Bob Hellstrom about it. Bob bought it, took it to CT, and did some work to it. I don't know what condition it was in when he sold it to Jim Harnsant in Michigan. He had it for many years. I believe he worked for Oldsmobile. That car was recently put up for sale. Dusty Gray with a red interior, Tan top.
I still have my father's 1941 Phaeton which is Dusty Grey, red interior with a Gray top. It's in Amityville.
You may remember my father, Carlo Cola, from the AACA. We did the Garden City Easter Parade every year, many shows at Salisbury/Eisenhower Park.

Olds Phaeton on lot VS.jpg

Phaeton Jim H.jpg

41 Olds Phaeton me.png

The Oldsmobile Convertible sedan was on a small lot in Valley Stream on Long Island. Great photo.

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