1959 Olds 98

The history of this Olds


In the summer of 1959, "Jeff," a Colorado rancher and his wife Dorothy were struggling with marital problems. He hoped that the gift of a brand new, smartly-styled Oldsmobile might win back the heart of his lady. So he visited Empire Oldsmobile, Denver's largest Olds dealership, and was mighty impressed with the dramatic "Linear Look" of the '59 models. One of the sleek new Ninety Eight SportSedans caught his eye on the showroom floor. The black beauty with its flashy red, white, and charcoal interior was loaded with air conditioning, power windows and seat, Wonderbar signal-seeking radio with power antenna, Autronic Eye automatic headlight dimmer, power trunk release, deluxe wheel covers, and of course power brakes and steering.

6,808 miles on the odometer
The odometer tells the story: only six thousand, eight hundred, eight miles on the odometer when this photo was taken in January, 2003

Although Jeff knew Oldsmobile's reputation for rugged reliability, the salesman convinced him to opt for a 30,000 mile extended warranty. After all, Jeff hoped the new Olds would be the saving grace of his troubled marriage, and would be the pride and joy of the family for years to come. Sadly, it was not to be. In spite of Jeff's best efforts and the generous gift of the Olds to Dorothy, the marriage failed. Dorothy left the ranch forever and took the couple's children and the Oldsmobile with her.

Shortly afterward, Jeff received a call from the friendly saleman at Empire Olds. Apparently Dorothy didn't want to be reminded of Jeff every time she drove the SportSedan he had given her, so she decided to sell the nearly new car back to Olds dealership. Upon hearing this news from the Olds salesman, Jeff asked him to hold the car until he could rush to the dealership to buy it back. Jeff was heartbroken over the failure of his marriage, and what better way to remember Dorothy than to cherish the car he had given her.

'59 Olds dashboard

The dashboard is sleek, wide, and ultra-modern. Note the aftermarket Rubbermaid floormats. The original owner felt they complemented the interior of his flashy new Olds - I agree!

Jeff found a place to store the Olds in a barn on his ranch, and he occasionally started the car and took it for short drives on his ranch property, no doubt to rekindle fond memories of better times with Dorothy. Since the car was no longer driven on public roads, Jeff never renewed the registration and simply left the original 1959 Colorado license plates in place.

Jeff eventaully remarried and when he died in 1991 he willed the Olds to his step-daughter in Denver. From the summer of 1959 until 1991, the Oldsmobile had clocked a mere 4,500 miles, and due to apparently ideal storage conditions it suffered almost no deterioration whatsoever. When Jeff died, the Olds was nearly as fresh as the day Jeff bought it in August, 1959.


In early 1992, a friend of mine who lives in Wyoming spotted a classified ad in the Rocky Mountain News for an incredibly low mileage 1959 Olds 98 located near Denver, Colorado. The fellow knew of my interest in 1958-59 automobiles, and the ad for this '59 Olds was extraordinary. Here was a top-of-the-line 1959 Ninety Eight with only 4,500 miles on the odometer! Thankfully, the friend thought to call me right away. I wasted no time getting on a plane to the Rockies to look at the car, and my expectations on arrival were wildly exceeded.

Imagine the difficulty of attempting to negotiate the price of an "old car" when you know it's the nicest original you have ever seen. The original black lacquer paint shined like it had been sprayed yesterday, the chrome was perfect, the tires showed little wear, and that SMELL...the fragrance of the interior had (and still has) "new car smell." The interior showed absolutely no sign of wear. Even the unique and extremely delicate Star-Lite foam headliner was perfect. Ask a 1950's-60's Olds afficianado how many 1950's-60's Oldsmobiles he has seen lately with a perfect original Star-Lite headliner and you'll probably get one answer - none! The car was mechancially excellent. The Rocket V8 fired instantly, and I've never driven a 50's GM car with a smoother shifting Hydramatic transmission. Even the factory air conditioner blew arctic-cold.The daughter of the original owner signed and notarized a certificate of authentic mileage, and the deal was done. Within a few days the car was shipped to California to join my collection.

CAR #601

When the Olds arrived in California, I immediately performed routine maintenance which may have been neglected over the years. I rebuilt the Rochester Quadri-Jet 4-barrel carburetor myself, cleaned and adjusted points and sparkplugs, and changed the motor oil. I'm certain that the original factory oil filter was still on the car because of the filter's unique design - I saved that original oil filter. The Bendix Treadle-Vac power brake unit was rebuilt and I replaced all hydraulic brake hoses. I was amazed when I inspected the brake wheel cylinders. Normally on old cars that have been sitting, the hydraulic cylinders are heavily corroded and in need of honing and possibly replacement. But every wheel cylinder was fresh and clean and the brake fluid was not stained with rust. Truly amazing testimony to the quality of the long term storage in the eastern Colorado barn. Other minor mechanical items were checked and dealt with as necessary, but in truth the Olds needed very little to be a reliable, roadworthy automobile.

The original lacquer paint was somewhat dulled, and a well known master detailer in the Los Angeles area worked his magic to bring back the incredible gloss of a fine lacquer paint job. I have maintained the cosmetics myself since the initial major detailing. As I performed minor cleaning of the interior, I became puzzled by the number "601" written in black crayon on the back of the inside rear view mirror.
I almost cleaned off the crayon number on the mirror, but became sidetracked by reading the original Owner's Manual in the glovebox. The original 1,000 mile service certificate was still in the manual, unused. Typed into the manual by the dealer at the time of sale was "Car #601." The mystery of the number 601 on the back of the mirror was solved! Obviously, Car #601 was the stock number of the car at Empire Olds, and neither the dealer's "get ready" prep department or Jeff ever bothered to wipe the crayon numbers off the back of the mirror. Needless to say, those numbers will stay on that mirror!

Home page
photo album
factory literature
King of the Road Home Page
the Home Page for my 1959 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Sport Sedan
an album of detailed photos of the car inside and out
factory literature including paint and upholstery samples, rare factory photos, and original TV spots
my King of the Road Home Page features classic cars and cool stuff about color TV in the 1950's-60's. See the original NBC peacock

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