- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

"Dad had a 1963 Olds Super 88 wagon," Russell Miller said. He fondly recalls many happy hours in the car when his family would flee New York City's summer heat for their cooler Connecticut summer house.
As familiar as he was with the 1963 Oldsmobile of his youth, that was then and 35 years had passed when he began shopping for a 1960-61-62-63 Cadillac convertible.
While searching for a suitable Cadillac his search took him to Loogootee, Ind. There Mr. Miller came across you guessed it a 1963 Oldsmobile. This one, however, was a rare Starfire convertible model.
One look at the familiar dashboard and childhood memories came flooding back. Mr. Miller learned that the original owner had been a preacher. The second owner had repainted the car dusk rose and had overhauled the 394-cubic-inch, 345-horsepower "Fire-Swirl Combustion Chamber" V-8 engine before deciding the time had come to find it a good home.
Mr. Miller became the third owner of the 4,293-pound Oldsmobile in April 1999 and arranged to have it trucked to his McLean home. He recalls the 17-foot, 10-inch-long car being rolled off the truck on its 123-inch wheelbase in a driving rain.
The new owner replaced the convertible top to complete the cosmetic restoration. A total of 22 snaps hold the boot in place when it is covering the lowered convertible top.
Much mechanical work was required to put the car in excellent condition including securing the A-frame bolts.
Hidden from view at each wheel is a drum brake, The handsome full wheel covers do not have traditional openings through which valve stems usually protrude. Instead, the wheel covers, mounted on five springs must be pulled away (with difficulty) from the wheel to access the valve stem.
Inside the most expensive Oldsmobile offered in 1963 the driver sits in a bucket seat behind a stylish two-spoke steering wheel with inset chrome-plated horn buttons.
A primitive dial-your-speed cruise control apparatus is mounted on the wraparound dogleg to the left of the driver.
The tilt-away steering wheel is a factory-installed option that was produced by the General Motors Saginaw Steering Gear Division. Pulling on a small lever near the turn signal stalk permits the steering wheel to be adjusted to any one of seven angles.
The floor-mounted console houses the tachometer as well as the electric window controls and courtesy lights. The gearshift pattern, operated with a T-stick handle, has gear positions front to rear of:
Park.
Neutral.
Drive.
Second.
Low.
Reverse.
A factory-installed air conditioner makes for pleasant summer cruising while listening to the transistorized radio tweaked with the reverberation option. Front seat belts were an extracost option. Forget the back seat.
The thirsty engine necessitated a 21-gallon fuel tank since mileage figures on the highway are 12 to 13 mpg and in the city about 7 mpg.
Twenty-two quarts of coolant are needed to keep the car content. Opening the trunk is easy: simply open the glove compartment and press the vacuum-operated trunk release. The antenna on the right rear fender is power operated as well as the "Pedal-Ease" brake pedal.
The powerful Oldsmobile, with Starfire ultrahigh compression requires almost 43 feet in which to turn around. The W-I-D-E car has overlapping wipers to clear the big windshield. The plastic rear window has no wiper.
Only 4,401 Starfire convertibles were built by Oldsmobile in 1963, each one carrying a base price of $4,742.
Even though the Oldsmobile isn't the car he set out to get, Mr. Miller is pleased.
It reminds him of his youth in his father's Oldsmobile and besides, it's a convertible.
"There's no point in taking it out if the top isn't down," he said.

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