Cruising down the road one day last week, I was minding my own business, and there it was – a strikingly beautiful 1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 decked out in lipstick red and snow white. What was I to do? I couldn’t just drive on by without stopping, so I took a hard left to pay my respects to one of my favorite Oldsmobiles.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like the 1955 Oldsmobiles as well, but this is one where, in my opinion, the second of a two-year run had subtle refinements in styling over the preceding year.
Pulling into the lot where the ‘56 Olds sat on a trailer, I saw three men standing next to the car. As I approached, one of them called out, “Hello FIN MAN!”. At first, I didn’t recognize Phil Carrico, whom I had done a story about his 1932 Chevrolet Confederate Coupe in August of last year. Phil is the one who found the Olds for sale in St. Charles and took his friend Randy Gower out to look at it last February. When former owner, Mike Klecz, took the tarp off the stunning red and white Olds, Randy said, “I’ll take it!”
You’re likely to see a number of ‘57 Chevys at local shows and cruises, but it is rare to see a 1956 Oldsmobile – and that is but one thing that makes this car so appealing.
In the old car hobby, popularity equals price. At the top of the list are the convertibles, sometimes double the price of the next highest in popularity, the 2-door ‘hardtops’ (or pillar-less coupes). Next down the line are the 4-door ‘hard-tops’ (sans post), followed by the 2-door sedans (posts), 4-door sedans (posts) and finally the station wagons (of which there are certain exceptions).
Today pillar-less ‘hardtops’ are, for all practical purposes, a thing of the past. We’ve all become accustomed to the four-door sedans which the manufacturers have softened the stigma by using the term “Sport Sedans.” We’ve become so used to the style that hardly anyone even thinks twice about the subject. But, after all, when you reach a certain age, climbing in and out of the back seat of a 2-door car becomes increasingly difficult. So, what we have in this Olds is a strikingly handsome, flashy car that is cheaper to buy than the same model in two-door form, but provides much easier entry and egress when you want to take the neighbor couple out for a nice steak dinner – and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Randy’s Olds had a factory price of $2,586 when new. Add a few popular accessories, freight and dealer prep and the final total could have topped $3,000 dollars, equivalent to $28,896 in 2020 dollars.
The CV-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Randy’s plans to get the Olds back on the road, but he still hopes to have it road-worthy before the year is out. I, for one, hope to see it in tiptop shape at a local show or cruise for the 2021 season! Best of luck Randy, we hope to see it all put together in the near future.
And finally, I want to give a shout out to Randy Gower II, Randy the first’s son, who was a huge help in getting this Olds put together. The two Randys have worked hand-in-hand through the years as they each pursue their own goals in special interest cars and trucks.
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