Black Beauty

By Cruising, Larry D'ArgisClassic | Winnipeg Free Press, July 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

Black Beauty


Cruising, Larry D'ArgisClassic, Winnipeg Free Press


Prize-winning '62 Oldsmobile Starfire is the real deal

The Olds Motor Vehicle Company began building automobiles in Lansing, Michigan in 1897, and entrepreneur Ransom Eli Olds had a winner with his simplistic, 1901 single-cylinder, curved-dash runabout.

In 1908, Oldsmobile was purchased by William C. Durant and became part of the new General Motors Corporation. It was destined to become a builder of quality, medium-priced cars that earned a strong following among car-buyers.

For decades, Oldsmobile went on to offer many new and exciting features. The Hydra-Matic automatic transmission was introduced in 1940, and many regard the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 as the first U.S. performance car. A new high-compression, overhead-valve Rocket V8 engine provided the muscle to match the car's "Futuramic" styling, and the Rocket 88 became a favourite on the fledgling NASCAR circuit.

Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire model in both hardtop and convertible to tackle the personal-luxury market in the early 1960s. Fully loaded with all of the available options, it included leather-clad bucket seats with full centre console and full-length aluminium side trim that seemed like a custom add-on, making the Starfire stand out from all other Oldsmobile models.

Don Scharf of Winnipeg grew up with Oldsmobiles. "Throughout the '50s and '60s my dad Elmer drove Oldsmobiles, and the most memorable to me was his '62 Starfire hardtop," he said, recalling that his father "didn't bat an eye as he tossed me the keys to the Starfire" when he was 16 and asked to use the family car.

Since then, Scharf has acquired several prime Oldsmobiles, but not a Starfire. That changed when he found a stunning black '62 hardtop online at the Volo Auto Museum just north of Chicago in 2010.

An original Southern California car with under 40,000 original miles, it had undergone an extensive restoration and was presented in flawless condition. "It was $2,000 to fly there to look at the car in person, or $2,000 to have it transported to Winnipeg, so I bought it and had it shipped home," Scharf said.

The car had been restored by Jay Wight at Custom Painted Vehicles Inc. …

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