- - Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thaddeus Csaky found himself in need of some basic transportation in the autumn of 1977.

He found a car that fulfilled all of his requirements at the Cuccia Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealership on West Street in Annapolis. It was a 1977 demonstrator with 5,940 miles on the odometer. He paid $5,887.65 for the white Oldsmobile Cutlass ‘S’ four-door colonnade sedan after trading in a 1972 Chevrolet on which he was allowed $1,000. He drove the Oldsmobile off the lot on Oct. 11, 1977, never thinking that it would become a part of the Csaky family history.

Thaddeus Csaky died in 1983 and his widow died in 1989, at which time their son, A.S. Csaky, inherited the Oldsmobile. After driving the car home to the District, he looked it over and “I loved this car right away,” Mr. Csaky says.

A year later Mr. Csaky, a film maker, headed west. “I decided to try my luck in Hollywood,” he says. With the car overloaded and towing the biggest U-Haul trailer available, also fully loaded, Mr. Csaky fired up the 231-cubic-inch V-6 engine, and its 105 horsepower successfully delivered Mr. Csaky and his belongings to the West Coast.

“I can get up to 25 miles per gallon on the highway if I’m lucky,” he says.

After three years in California, Mr. Csaky’s work brought him back to this area. For this crosscountry trip, the then-15-year-old Oldsmobile was packed along with his other belongings in the moving van. He flew to the District to greet the truck when finally it arrived.

As the car approached 20 years of age, it began to exhibit some small rust holes. That was the same time that some ne’er-do-wells unsuccessfully attempted to break into the car with a crowbar, doing some damage in the process.

In August 1998 Mr. Csaky took the car to Giant Auto Body to take care of a little rust and some body dings and be repainted.

“I never thought that the work would be so massive,” he remarks. The patch job quickly turned into a full-tilt restoration. “I got a tremendous education,” Mr. Csaky says.

The car was stored outside at the body shop and the rear window seal leaked, which resulted in 2 inches of water in the trunk. “I never thought the restoration would be a lifetime project,” he comments.

All the body work on Mr. Csaky’s father’s car was completed last year, followed by a repaint in the same white color that was applied in 1977.

“I love the front of the car,” he says. The eight-plus-eight grille louvers captivating him as they did 70,155 others who bought the same model Oldsmobile in 1977. That same design theme is carried through to the two-piece taillight assembly.

Remarkably, the original rubber strips in both bumpers have survived with no damage.

Inboard of the taillights is a decorative strip containing red reflectors and backup lights.

Despite being classified as an intermediate-sized car, the Oldsmobile weighs 3,690 pounds, supported by a 116-inch wheelbase.

Mr. Csaky realizes that the restoration process is never done, but is pleased with the process so far. With 121,000 miles on the odometer, the car drives as if it were new, he says. “It’s so much fun to sit in the car and float,” he reflects. “The car actually floats.”