- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

The thought of "BUYER BEWARE" never crossed the mind of the teen-age Jim Turner as he cruised the streets of Kerrville, Texas, riding shotgun in his pal Flack Young's nearly new 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 hardtop coupe.

The two high school buddies spent many carefree hours in the saffron-yellow Oldsmobile.

Two decades later Mr. Turner was a national bank examiner with the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington.

In 1991, the memory of that 1967 Oldsmobile resurfaced. After years of searching for a good car to restore, he discovered one in New Mexico that was red with a black vinyl top and a red interior.

"The car looked good in pictures," Mr. Turner says. The seller made several claims as to the authenticity of the car. Satisfied, Mr. Turner purchased it in July 1997.

Delivered on the back of a truck, the Oldsmobile looked good from a distance of 50 feet. However, closer inspection revealed that almost every detail of the car was misrepresented by the seller, Mr. Turner said. Mr. Turner had the car appraised to show the difference between what was claimed and what was actual. Taking the seller to court, Mr. Turner won a judgment in May 1998.

Since then the car has undergone the next best thing to a frame-off restoration.

Researching the history of the Oldsmobile, Mr. Turner discovered that it was sold new in Indiana and purchased later by various owners in Ohio, Missouri, New Mexico and Virginia. Mr. Turner says the records show that he is the 16th owner. His car was built Sept. 10, 1967, one of the last of the 1967 models.

From May 1998 until March 1999 the Oldsmobile was transformed into the car that Mr. Turner remembered from his youth in Texas.

As the car came apart, the various imperfections became readily apparent. "It had a 1965 dashboard," he says. It had been wrecked and the right front fender had been replaced.

Evidence indicates that the four-speed factory Hurst shifter is bogus. "I suspect the original transmission was an automatic on the steering column," Mr. Turner says.

After the 3,684-pound, 17-foot-long Oldsmobile underwent a complete physical examination, Mr. Turner decided to turn it into the car of his youth. "I wanted something I could drive," he says.

The one positive thing it had going for it was that it was a rust-free car .One of the first things Mr. Turner did was to remove the incorrect 400-cubic-inch V-8 occupying the engine bay and replace it with a correct 455-cubic-inch V-8 engine fed by a single four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. The air cleaner above the carburetor is decorated with a decal that proclaims: "Oldsmobile Ultra High Compression 4-4-2.Use premium fuel."

Mr. Turner concedes that the daunting task of breathing new life into the Oldsmobile required multiple skills and was much larger than one man could do alone. He received much detail help from Paul Frederick and Mike McNery.

Parts came from across the country. The special chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes came from Detroit while the unique mufflers were found in Oregon. A shop in Houston replated the chrome parts.

"Everything is new now," Mr. Turner says, "or like new."

There was never any doubt in Mr. Turner's mind that his Oldsmobile was going to be painted saffron yellow highlighted with painted black dual pinstripes. Taped versions would not do.

After a correct 1967 black dashboard was installed, the remainder of the red interior was discarded in favor of a black headliner above, a black carpet below and everything in between black as well.

The dark interior is illuminated by a pair of round courtesy lights, not much smaller than the rectangular backup lights in the rear bumper.

On the package shelf by the rear window is the single rear speaker on the right and the similar grille on the left which is a rear window defogger. Up front is a tinted windshield.

When Mr. Turner settles into the driver's bucket seat behind the three-spoke steering wheel, he has a view not seen in recent years a double row of function louvers, a dozen in each row marching down the engine hood.

The 350 horsepower is transferred to the pavement via the 7.75x15-inch redline tires. Power steering and power brakes help keep the car under control as it rides on a 115-inch wheelbase under control.

In order to keep the high-powered engine running properly, Mr. Turner fills the 20-gallon tank with a blend of 110-octane Sonoco racing fuel with premium pump gasoline.

The Rallye Pack option on the 4-4-2 dispenses with the idiot lights and substitutes a tachometer, oil gauge, temperature gauge and amp meter.

Mr. Turner has improved on the original by adding a power trunk release and, for safety's sake, two outside mirrors. Another safety feature was borrowed from a 1971 Cutlass disc brakes. There's no sense in going fast if you can't stop. The car now features Positraction.

With almost 146,000 miles on the odometer, Mr. Turner says: "It's like a new car. It was a money pit for a while, but that's part of the hobby."

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