Olds Ad Slogan for 1937. "A beauty in armor."
I bought this car 4 plus decades ago because I just had to have an "Antique." It started as an eight cylinder 1937 4 Dr. Touring Sedan. style chart Then my thoughts were to restore it to original and did so to the best of my amateur ability in those earlier years. It was straight, solid and all there. I never lost interest but other priorities took center stage: raising a family, remodeling our home, and making a living just to name a few. Through the years I swore never to get rid of it. About 20 years ago my then 24 year old son and my "motor head" neighbor convinced me that to rod it was the only way to go. I first found a donator car ( a 76 Nova with a 305 V8 and a Turbo 350 trans for $300.) I took the front clip, complete drive train, wiring harness, 10 bolt rear, and anything else I thought I might possibly need. All that was left was the unibody.
I had the clip and rear installed, had the 305 bored .040 over with 9.5 to 1 TRW’s, 270H Comp Cam, Crane high intensity lifters, GM performance Camaro heads, Edelbrock intake and 600 cfm carb. I used Hedman headers and had a custom exhaust done with 2.5" pipes and Dyno - Max Super turbos.
1937 Radiator Badge
To personalize the car I made some body modifications. Chrome bullet blinkers, circa 1940 were installed below the headlights on the side cowls. I cleaned up the rear trunk deck, cut in a license plate pocket that I got from the "bone yard", removed the original tail lights and installed a pair of 37 Chevy sedan’s instead. I lowered the running boards so the line flows better with the fenders, removed the rubber, filled them and made them "smoothies." I stripped the many layers of paint, primed it and sent it to a pro to have it done right, and had it painted Ford’s 1996 Medium Willow Green Pearl Metallic. Its wheel base is 124" and its ride is smooth and comfortable.
I dressed the Chevy small block as if it were an Olds by painting the block gold, using Chrome valve covers with ’57 Olds "Golden Rocket" valve cover decals , and a K&N Air cleaner with a nice big ’70 Olds air cleaner decal.
The interior is a mix of original and new.
The dash is stock. I made walnut inserts and installed instruments by "Classic."
The steering column is a late model Olds tilt with a "Grant" Banjo Steering Wheel.
I installed an Airtique heat and air unit, a Kenwood stereo and Blaupunct & Pioneer speakers. All interior Dash knobs were refitted with the original ’37 ones.
The seats( front and rear) were taken from the "bone yard" out of a ’89 Grand Prix. I used "Rod Doors" panels and covered them in the same GM material to match the seats. The headliner is from J.C. Whitney and the carpet is from a local carpet store.
It rolls on SSIII 15x7 Olds 442 Chromed Rallye wheels with 195R65’s up front and 225 R75’s in the rear.
With the restoration of the 70 Cutlass Supreme under way, and the addition of the 455 to it, the removed numbers matching 350 Rocket engine was not going to be far away or neglected. At last the 37 is truly all Oldsmobile because I replaced the 305 Chevy with the freshened up 1970 350 Rocket. Still working on minor mods and tweaking to get everything perfect. It took some doing to get it in but where there's the will there's a way.
3/10/13 update - Wheels and Tires
For awhile now I've been unhappy with the look of the car and could not put my finger on it. While at a local Cruise night I saw a 40 Buick Coupe with Torque thrust wheels and Wide Whitewalls and thought it really made the car "Pop". I decided to go one better and questioned; what if I purchase new Olds SSI's with Wide Whitewalls? It took a year to pull the trigger but here is the result.
6/19/15 update - Carburetor.
I've never been happy about the performance of this 350 ever since it got transplanted into the '37. It was a true work horse when it was in the '70 with the factory drivetrain. I scratched it off to a few variables: the major one being the transmission. John maintains that the rebuilders of it did a crappy job when I first built the car. I've tried to compensate with timing and carburetors. As I look back, I have had the original Rochester on it ( now in the Starfire ) , a 750 cfm. Edelbrock ( now on the shelf ) , a new out of the box Summit 600cfm.? dual feed carb ( as well now on the shelf). I have become a true believer in Holley for fuel delivery. John once again opened my eyes to the difference in performance. There is no comparison. .
It all started with the double pumper he donated to the '70's 455 big block. Prior to it , I was using a 800 cfm. Edelbrock and thought it was great. The 600 cfm. Holley double pumper took the car to a whole new level of performance in crispness and response. As well, the need to crank the car over repeatedly to prime the Edelbrock to start is a thing of the past. One or two squirts from the peddle and the Holley starts on first crank.
I learned of the 4160 Holley from Peter. He has one on his '66 Mustang and he's very happy with it. The 4160 is a four barrel with vacuum secondaries. There is no need for a double pumper on the 'Stang' or my 350 it would be over kill.
I bought two used 600 cfm. series 4160 Holley's to rebuild and play with. Enjoyed researching, learning, rebuilding, and fine tuning. The newer of the two went into the '69 and now performs flawlessly. The older of the two has been my latest challenge and required many attempts and redo to get it right. I've learned it's an earlier model that has been refined through the years. I spent $40.00 for it rather than $400.00 for a new one so I guess it was worth me doing the refining, not to mention the mental therapy it affords me.
As of last night I think I got all the bugs out! If it doesn't rain today a test drive is in order.
Peter showed me an article about the importance of the right torque converter and its effect on idle and launch. I stated earlier how unhappy I am about the performance of the 350 which ran like a raped ape when in the Cutlass. I think I've found the reason why. The stall of the different tranny is too low for the improvements made to the engine. The stall rpm is too low and as a result the rpm of when the tranny launches is nowhere near the power range of the engine. Also I've learned that it shows its mismatch as well in the idle of the car. When in Park or Neutral the engine runs beautifully. As soon as it is put into gear it drops at least 400 rpms and struggles to stay running and not stall. They claim that's a clear sign of the wrong torque converter. Don't know if I'm up to resolving this issue at the present time. Something I might learn to live with by merely turning up the curb idle until it maintains an idle when in gear. I drive this car under ten times a year. I can compensate.
4/23/16 Added the 'Oldsmobile' trim molding. Don't know it's origin. Anyone know?
Within hours of posting the above question on ClassicOldsmobile.com, members responded. The trim piece is that of a rear quarter script for the 1962 88 or 98 model.
5/19/17 The transmission issue has been resolved. Took the car to Fisher Trans in Fairfield, NJ. Tranny was removed and repaired. They found a bad bearing that was causing a whining sound, the torque converter was rebuilt to a 2000 rpm stall, and finally all the external leaks were corrected . No more oil soaked garage floor and smoking from tranny fluid burning on the headers when driving.
I'm getting it ready for the NAOCA meet in Reading PA. on 6/24/17. Fresh spark plugs, oil change, new Summit 600 cfm carb, and tuning. The next month will be spent cleaning and detailing.
11/4/17 The NAOCA was not what I expected. Thought that the turn out was moderate and the judging field to be poorly set up. Having said that, it was an enjoyable trip for the four of us: Peter and his Dad Bernie, cousin Kenny, and me. I drove the Starfire with Kenny as co-pilot and Peter drove the 37 with his Dad as passenger. The morning drive out started in rain. There went all of the time and effort in the cleaning and detailing in preparation for the event. The trip went smoothly with no mechanical issues.
The 37 was entered in the Modified Class and won a First Place Trophy. At first I was ecstatic, only to find out later that the method of judging was P. C. They awarded a Best in Class trophy and three or so First Place 'runner ups'. Come on !! We're adult men. First, Second, and Third Place, etc. ! We can take it.
Took a wrong turn going home which lengthened the trip. All went well. When I was putting the car in the garage I noticed it sounded loader than usual. Upon inspection I found a quarter sized hole in one of the mufflers. They have since been replaced with the exact make and model.
11/17/17 I stated earlier that I put a new Summit carb on the car in preparation for the Reading , PA. trip. An explanation is in order. I have in storage a few Holleys, Edelbrocks, Rochesters, and most recently the Summit Racing model ( which I understand is a remanufactured older discontinued Holley model ). The Summit works fine out of the box yet I can't get passed not having a true Holley atop the motor. The used Holleys ( which I rebuilt ) were working flawlessly in the '37 and '69. A month before the Reading event, I started the '37 and something wasn't right. It just struggled to stay running. I concluded it was carb. related and put the Summit on to insure no problems for the trip.
Fast forward to today and thoughts of why the Holley mal-performed got me into the mode ... Gotta know why!! I learned that there were two versions for handling the internal accelerator pump passage and required the appropriate metering block gasket. I had the wrong gasket to do the job and was sealing the passage with an 'o' ring rather than with the correct gasket.
The gasket to the left is what I needed and the one to the right is what I used .............. Live and Learn.
I will soon swap out carbs again and see how it performs. Must admit I'm convinced it will respond flawlessly.