1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible
By Vern Parker
Brian MacDonald was a 17-year-old junior in high school when he purchased his first car – a slightly used 1971 Oldsmobile. He was unaware at the time that it was going to be the first of five Oldsmobiles that he would come to own at one time or another.
Years later MacDonald's work took him to an American embassy in Africa. While assigned there he met another American and happened to mention his fondness for Oldsmobiles.
His new found acquaintance said that he had a 1964 Oldsmobile/Cutlass convertible waiting for him back in the United States.
That remark sparked MacDonald's curiosity. “I asked him what sort of shape it was in, and he told me it had been fully restored.”
The 330-cubic-inch V-8 engine had been rebuilt as well as the automatic transmission. A new white convertible top with a plastic rear window had been installed after necessary body work was completed and a fresh coat of Viking Blue paint was applied.
MacDonald learned that his compatriot was thinking of selling the 1964 Oldsmobile in order to begin another restoration project.
After viewing photographs of the Oldsmobile convertible MacDonald says, “I thought about that 1964 convertible for the next two-and-a-half years.”
After completing his overseas assignment MacDonald returned to the United States and settled in Ashburn, Virginia, about an hour and a half drive to where the Oldsmobile was garaged.
In September, 2014 he, and his wife, Liane, went to see the car. MacDonald reports, “She loved it as soon as she saw it too.”
The car had been idle for two years so a new battery was installed and air was added to the tires before the obligatory test drive.
“Once I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It was even nicer than the pictures,” MacDonald recalls.
After cash and title were exchanged MacDonald settled into the driver's blue vinyl bucket seat and, while gripping the two-spoke steering wheel, pointed the 16-foot, 11-inch-long Oldsmobile toward home with his wife trailing him in their modern car.
Happily, the trip was uneventful.
The 3,263-pound convertible rolls comfortably on 14-inch tires mounted on a 115-inch wheelbase. “It's definitely a cruiser and is really comfortable to drive,” MacDonald says. The engine delivers 290 horsepower to the rear drive wheels.
Records that came with the car indicate that a few years ago the rebuilding of the engine included new pistons, cam shaft, rings, lifters, water pump and harmonic balancer.
Oldsmobile manufactured a total of 12,822 models like this one. Each one carried a base price of $2,984. This particular car is equipped with power assisted brakes, steering and convertible top. The windows, however, are manually raised and lowered with hand cranks.
The two front bucket seats are separated by the console which is secured on the driveshaft hump in the floor. That is where the gear selector lever is positioned as well as the tachometer. The blue interior of the Cutlass, MacDonald says, “while original, still looks great.” The carpeting, seats, side panels and dashboard exhibit no signs of wear or fading. Even the lap belts are in good condition.
MacDonald says the man who did some of the restoration work on the car removed the original trim that runs down the sides of the car and patiently tapped out all the accumulated dents before remounting them on the car. Most of the chrome trim on the car is original and has been replated.
Acquiring the Oldsmobile near the end of the local car show season left MacDonald little time to prepare his car for display. He did manage to enter his car in a small car show and was pleasantly surprised to be awarded a trophy.
“It's a really fun car to drive,” MacDonald says.