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For Sale: 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible - "All numbers match" - $12,000 - Ellington, CT - Not Mine

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For sale on Craigslist: 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible in Ellington, CT  -  $12,000  -  Call Doug:  860 916 25 eight five 


Link: https://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/d/vernon-rockville-1961/7236566993.html


Seller's Description:

1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible

  • condition: fair
  • cylinders: 8 cylinders
  • odometer: 64672
  • title status: clean
  • transmission: automatic

1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible Nebraska Car 65k miles. Very rare. Sandlewood exterior, leather seats, 394 cu. in. All numbers match.























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Was Oldsmobile even doing "matching numbers" in 1961? Corvettes, yes, but I didn't think any other GM vehicles were stamping the vehicle's serial number on the engine as well.


This matching numbers nonsense is getting completely out of hand.

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Olds numbers did not match until maybe 1968 or so but I see many older Oldsmobile for sale ads claiming their numbers match. If the seller says they do, he never really checked and is just saying so to enhance his sales pitch. It gives the seller less credibility IMO. If I was interested in buying the car I'd ask him to show me what numbers match. 

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9 minutes ago, The 55er said:

Olds numbers did not match until maybe 1968 or so but I see many older Oldsmobile for sale ads claiming their numbers match. If the seller says they do, he never really checked and is just saying so to enhance his sales pitch. It gives the seller less credibility IMO. If I was interested in buying the car I'd ask him to show me what numbers match. 


It's also a big risk to make that claim without evidence. I don't say anything close to "numbers matching" unless I've personally seen the numbers and run them through my own personal BS detector. Admittedly, I'm not the final authority, but in anything even close to borderline I just won't take a chance. I've also noticed that most auction houses no longer make any mention of "numbers matching" at all unless the pedigree is spotless.


That's why it has gotten out of hand. If you're suing people because one set of numbers on a part of the engine that you can't even see doesn't match a different set of numbers on a different part, but the car is otherwise a perfectly functional automobile, it really does seem a bit ludicrous. But that's the game and it can be anywhere from 20-200% difference in value because of numbers. Most guys take it so seriously that they get lawyers involved over it.


Why take the chance by stupidly making that claim? Someone buys this car and finds out that the engine was assembled two months after the car was built. Even though there are no "numbers" to "match" it would be obvious that it's not the original engine, hence not "matching numbers." Now you've got an irate guy who thinks he just lost his shirt and he's calling the lawyers.


There are probably fewer than 50 makes and models where "matching numbers" can and maybe should be a thing. On everything else it's just numerical navel gazing.

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4 hours ago, alsancle said:

"Numbers matching" is very broad and generic. 


Maybe the VIN numbers on his title match those on the car. . . . ?

I have seen and experienced cars where the VIN numbers DONT match between the car and the title!   That is serious. 


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Numbers  matching nonsense to me is in the lexicon of "Barn Find" and holding your finger over the license plate in photos.  Dumba****  in my opinion.  While I would not want a 455 in there, a slightly later 394 would not bother me. 


Bottom line is this was a beautiful 1961 Starfire and could be again but would likely take $100,000 to restore it correctly to a high point car.  This guys likely bought it for $1000 and knows he will never get to it and wants to take advantage of the current asking price craze he is seeing.  Likely wants a more modern driveable car like a C4 Corvette or a Camaro.  


I would love to own this car for $2000.  

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4 hours ago, GregLaR said:

The car looks to be nicely appointed but with that amount of rust, I agree with Terry on the asking price.


1961 Starfires had virtually no options.  They were Oldsmobiles shot across the bow of the Thunderbird, then a nice looking 4 seater personal luxury car.   Starfires directly inspired the Buick Riviera, Pontiac Gran Prix, and others.  But, Starfires had leather interior - power everything.  Again I would love to own a nice project Starfire, as much as say a 61 Cadillac convertible, but this guy is greedy, and isn't likely to find a buyer anywhere close to $12,000.  I suppose there are Olds geeks out there that would spring for $10,000, I don't know.  

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The only numbers that really matter on a Starfire are those on the engine.  The '61 Starfire had a unique cam, heads, valves, & pistons.  Unfortunately, any 1961-2 Olds 394 readily drops in, and even installing a '63-4 engine would likely require a minimum amount of fiddling.


I've seen several 61-2 Starfires sporting non-Starfire engines.  One time a seller insisted that it was an option, and became quite indignant when I told him that it most certainly was not.  Some years ago, I purchased a '62 convertible equipped with a low-compression 394 from a Dynamic 88.  Luckily, I figured this out before buying the car & paid accordingly.


Bottom line- anyone considering one of these cars needs to confirm the presence of a Starfire engine before opening their wallet.  While the correct set of numbers does not verify that internal components remain intact, it nonetheless remains a reassuring sign that the car is relatively unmolested.


Of lesser significance are the numbers on the transmission.  All 1961-4 Starfires came with the infamous Roto-Hydramatic, or Slim-Jim.  Slim-Jims designated for the Starfire wore a unique-colored tag and had a number ending with an "OB" suffix.  All I've ever been able to determine is that there may have been some subtle differences in the Starfire valve bodies when compared to the transmissions used in the rest of the Olds line, but they are otherwise identical.  Given the poor reputation and failure rate of these units, it's typical to find Starfires fitted with a Slim Jim from an 88 or 98.  Unlike the engine, I don't see this as a big deal.  Just be thankful if it works.  


The sale car appears to need quite a bit of everything.  Starfires are complicated cars to restore, with lots of high-end and exclusive bling that costs a bundle to do correctly.

These cars are notorious for frame rust, particularly behind the rear wheels.  Sitting on dirt certainly won't help matters.  The color is called Fawn Mist, which IMO is not one of the more eye popping choices for '61.  Options NOT seen on this example include AC, power vent windows, power antenna, a Wonderbar radio, and Guide-Matic headlight dimming.


Interestingly, the car appears to have its original top, the clue being the silver stripe running along the edges above the side windows.  This seldom-seen and seldom-duplicated feature is unknown to all but the most die-hard Starfire aficionados.


The price seems wildly ambitious, particularly in the face of escalating restoration costs and the generational shift that seems to be enveloping the market.  I take my '61 to a show, and the people most drawn to it are 80+.  No one else even knows what it is...





Edited by Starfire61 (see edit history)
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