1962 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88

What can one say about their first car? It was my first car. Not exactly the coolest ride around, but it was a ride.

I didn't get my drivers licence until I was 17-1/2 and even then only drove this, the family car, on rare occasions. I took the city bus to high school and bummed rides from friends most of the time. After I graduated in 1970, I had a summer job at Lakewood Center at the Center Meat Company and got permission to drive my dad's 1963 Chevy pickup with camper to and from work. That summer, or maybe in the fall, he bought a new family car, a 1969 Cutlass, and sold me the '62 Olds for, I think, $300 which also covered a year's insurance.

The Olds was already showing its age. It had close to 100,000 miles on it which, in that era, was nearing the end of its useful life. But it ran and I did lots of work on it to keep it that way. I remember that cyclider #8 was pumping oil and that plug was easily fouled. The rocker panels were rusted so I learned about Bondo and primer. I was driving in North Long Beach one evening and could feel and hear a grinding noise from up front. Sure enough, it was a wheel bearing about to freeze up. Easy fix.

I drove up to Santa Barbara for a family wedding and on the way back it seemed to have some "go" issues. By the time I got back, pressing on the accelerator had little effect. My dad and I diagnosed a transmission issue and, being a poor college student, borrowed some tall jack stands and pulled the transmission. What did I know about automatic transmissions? Not much, but I figured I could save money by pulling it out and reinstalling it after someone else fixed it. Once I had it out, I decided to probe a bit deeper and opened it up and removed the torque converter. One side of the convertor had a massive crack in the aluminum casting so, off the the junkyard for a replacement. I think the part was $17, so, after reinstalling and filling with tansmission fluid, I was $25 or so into the repair. And it worked!

In October of 1971 I had a traffic mishap and the right-rear quarter panel was crushed. Since it impinged on the wheel, a screw jack had to be placed in the wheel-well to push the metal out far enough to make it drivable. A high school friend's dad owned a body shop in Hawthorne and gave me a good price on the panel replacement.

Of course, I had to have tunes so I installed a Craig-Pioneer 8-track player in it. I put some kind of speakers in the rear package deck and, for the time, it sounded pretty good. Since I would play music when parked, I didn't want to run down the battery so I installed a second battery in the trunk and the stereo would always run off that. I installed a 12-volt relay that connected the 2nd battery to the car's charging system when the engine was running. It was primitive but worked great.

All in all, it was a pretty good first car. It was easy to work on and gave me lots of opportunity to do so. I learned quite a few new things owning that car, however, it had to step aside when I bought a 1956 Ford Pickup.

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Updated March 2021.