Holley's Oldsmobile - Down With The Details
Holley's Olds Comes Together
From the January, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Cameron Evans
Illustrators: John Balow
Last month, we showed you how the body and paint turned out on Holley's Oldsmobile, which has been touring the country both with the Holley truck as well as with Year One. This time around, we'll look at some of the details that make this car a showstopper. John Balow's Muscle Car Restoration really did a nice job!
Though Balow's Wisconsin shop concentrates on bringing cars back to their original condition, this Olds was a different animal. Many more aftermarket parts were involved in terms of suspension and brakes, and the gauge cluster you see here isn't something you'll find on a row of resto cars. Read these captions carefully, as Balow went to great trouble to point out the stuff that will help you install parts on any vintage vehicle. Trust us, you'll learn from this one.
The power steering box was...
The power steering box was restored by Steer & Gear, and improved with their Firm Feel system, which amounts to setting the box up to police car specs. The result is better response to driver input and a firmer, more modern feel than you normally associate with old musclecars.
After the chassis is completely...
After the chassis is completely finished, including running all brake and fuel lines, the painted body is lowered into place and fitted to the chassis with new rubber isolators and mounting hardware from Year One. Notice the exhaust system next to the lift--the pipes will be slipped in between the body and the chassis before the two are permanently re-attached.
A complete suspension kit...
A complete suspension kit was supplied by PST. This included new tie rods, ball joints, idler arms, and new urethane bushings for improved performance. Rather than just paint everything chassis black, MCR primed the tie rods, A-arm shafts, and other components with DP50, then finished them in stainless steel paint for contrast. The stainless steel paint gives a long-lasting, durable finish, and adds a nice detail to the undercarriage. Front and rear sway bars, part of a G-Max kit from PST, were installed to further improve the car's handling characteristics. With the Firm Feel steering box, PST's urethane bushings and sway bars, the Hotchkis rear suspension components, and the Baer brakes, the Cutlass is going to handle more like a modern sports car than an old musclecar.
The original A/C system was...
The original A/C system was completely rebuilt, with every component either being restored or replaced. Again, a lot of the components won't actually be seen once the car is finished, but it will all perform exactly as new.
Nothing from the original...
Nothing from the original brake system was retained. Baer Brakes provided the power booster, master cylinder and disc brake kit, while Fines Lines is responsible for the replacement stainless steel brake and fuel lines.
The wiper motor assembly is...
The wiper motor assembly is a very visible element of the engine compartment, as it's mounted top and center on the firewall, and it just doesn't look right if it's simply repainted. Year One supplied a correctly restored wiper motor (PN 2513N) and washer pump assembly.
The Pat Musi Racing Engines-built,...
The Pat Musi Racing Engines-built, 632-inch raised deck Merlin puts out 758 hp and 780 lb-ft of torque. Holley's Commander 950 electronic fuel injection system utilizes a custom-built 2,000-cfm billet throttle body to feed the monster. It also has Powermaster's 168-tooth, XS Torque starter for Chevy Staggered Mount (PN 9512) and its Polished Delco One Wire 140 Amp Alternator (PN 67294)-- that alternator is an important item, as many forget just how much demand that EFI can put on an electrical system.
We've received a lot of mail...
We've received a lot of mail about the choice of engines here (and all admit that some of that's justified), but Holley's catalog of engine parts had a big-block Chevy (though it has no GM parts) working as a rotating catalog better than an original Olds motor (Remember, Holley owns Lunati). We have a story upcoming on this engine soon.
A Turbo Action-built TH400...
A Turbo Action-built TH400 and 3,500-rpm-stall converter replace the original TH350 and will be plenty capable of handling the big Rat motor. Year One supplied a new trans mount specific to this car (PN JJ689) to make it all come together.
There are some excellent tips...
There are some excellent tips to be learned here as the engine is being lowered into the chassis. First is the use of sheets to protect the frame's finish. Also notice that the HPC-coated headers have already been bolted to the exhaust pipes and are in place, and rubber bungee cords are employed to keep them pulled back out of the way. Installing the headers before the engine ensures the HPC coating isn't scraped, nor is any of the paint on the chassis, engine or firewall. Plus, it's just a whole lot easier!
Cooling is amply handled by...
Cooling is amply handled by a custom Griffin Pro Series aluminum radiator (PN 6271AM) with a Flex-a-lite dual-mount fan and shroud system (PN 220R) pulling air across the fins.
Never try to restore or re-use...
Never try to restore or re-use an original gas tank when a reproduction is available--it's just not worth the hassle. Year One supplied the gas tank (PN FA46), the fuel sending unit (PN 2114N), the pads, straps, and J-bolts.
The gauge cluster is a work...
The gauge cluster is a work of art. Muscle Car Restorations milled a new cluster housing from a 3/8-inch billet aluminum plate and mounted a full complement of Auto Meter's carbon fiber-faced gauges in it
Small holes for turn signals...
Small holes for turn signals and the high-beam indicator lights were also included in the panel.
After the gauges were located,...
After the gauges were located, a matching burled wood-finish, thin metal applique was glued to the aluminum, and the holes were die-cut in the applique.
The wiring harness came from...
The wiring harness came from Year One (PN L15660) and included a new fuse panel. The dash harness was installed on the dash panel while the dash was still out of the car--by far the best, and easiest, way to install a new dash harness.
The result is a totally trick...
The result is a totally trick gauge cluster that looks like the factory designed it.
The headlight buckets and...
The headlight buckets and surrounds were completely disassembled, and the headlight trim rings and bezels were sent to Iverson Automotive (along to be restored with the rest of the car's stainless and aluminum trim).
The entire grille area was...
The entire grille area was treated as a subassembly and built on a workbench, then installed on the car as a complete unit, just as the factory did it 30 years ago. Working this way throughout the course of a restoration saves a tremendous amount of time and effort.
The taillight lenses and new...
The taillight lenses and new wiring harnesses came from Year One, while the light buckets and bezels were sent to Paul's Plating for a fresh finish (724-538-3403, www.paulschrome.com).
Again, bead blasting and painting...
Again, bead blasting and painting the buckets silver would get the job done, but it wouldn't be right, and it wouldn't last.
The rear bumper was restored...
The rear bumper was restored to concours quality by Keystone Automotive Keystone (612-789-1919), where they do bumpers, and only bumpers. This specialization ensures the bumpers are straight, free of waves and grinder marks, and perfectly plated. Again, this work is up to concours standards, where it must be absolutely perfect.
The trunk was finished with...
The trunk was finished with a rubber trunk mat from Year One (PN BM672), which had to be installed before the Custom Auto Sound CD changer could be bolted in place. Notice that even the spare tire hold down bolt has been restored, and detailed with rubber coating at the hook end to protect the floor bracket's paint. A new convertible top well and liner from Year One will hide the new top lift motor and lines.
2401 Dutch Valley Dr.
7213 45th St., Unit E
Steer & Gear
Custom Autosound Manufacturing
808 W. Vermont Ave.
1535 Owens Rd.
Griffin Thermal Products
HPC--High Performance Coatings
Holley Performance Products
1801 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Auto Meter Products, Inc.
413 Elm St.
Pat Musi Performance
Muscle Car Restorations
Performance Suspension Technology
PO Box 129