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Old June 16th, 2008, 05:53 PM   #1
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60 Olds Convertible

Hi guys and gals
I am in the process of buying my very first Oldsmobile. It's a 1960 Dynamic 88 Soft-top. The car has had a 350 Chev/Turbo 350 combo inserted to replace the original engine. It seems the owner never got around to checking on hooking up the original gauges to the donor engine.
Is this a relatively easy process or I am destined to rely on aftermarket gauges under the dash?
Also the speedo needs connecting. Is this something that just requires an aftermarket speedo cable?
Any help greatly appreciated. The car is currently in Florida.
I'm based in New Zealand and want the car to use for family stuff as I have a 50's style Model A roadster that we cannot fit comfortably in for road trips and hotrod events. And something cool for my darling wife to drive when I'm in the roadster.
Cheers
Dale

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Old June 16th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #2
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Hi Dale -

Things might be fairly easy for you with a copy of the Shop Service Manual for 1960. Both original printed and on CD are presently on eBay. If the 1960 manual is anything like the 1961 manual you should be able to get things wired up pretty quick.
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Old June 16th, 2008, 11:36 PM   #3
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Appreciate your comment.
Cheers.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:24 AM   #4
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That's a real shame (& a BIG red flag) that some dope replaced the Olds engine with a Chevy. The fact that none of the gauges & speedometer work suggests to me that somebody did this conversion on the cheap. If it were easy to get all this stuff working, they probably would have done it before putting the car on the market.

There are a lot of pitfalls lurking in an engine swap of this nature. This is not a drop-in to do on a weekend over a few cases of Bud Light. Others here are likely more savvy with this sort of thing than I, but you're likely looking at a different engine mount setup, a different or relocated crossmember, & a new or altered driveshaft.

Those are some of the bigger issues. You've already described some of the smaller ones. Here's another: The Jetaway Hydramatic used on the older Olds had a gearshift indicator sequence of PNDSLR, not the standard PRNDSL that would be on the current transmission. If nobody bothered going through the trouble of hooking up the speedometer, I'd be astounded if somebody spent the cash to fix a little detail like this.

Come to think of it, the speedometer could be wildly inaccurate once you figured out how to connect it, because the speedometer drive gear in the trans very likely doesn't match whatever rear end is in the car.

I don't want to be a crepe-hanger, but I'd be very suspicious of the workmanship that went into swapping in a Chevy motor. Even under the best of circumstances, this is an ill-advised conversion for this vehicle. Clearly it was not done by someone with a knowledge & love of vintage Oldsmobiles. Unless that person happened to drop many tens of thousands of dollars turning this car into a Foose or Coddington-inspired rod, a well-restored convertible of this era will almost always have a higher value & greater potential for appreciation than a Chevy conversion, especially one so half-baked that the gauges & speedo aren't hooked-up. I can only imagine what else may be wrong.

Tread VERY carefully. Have you seen this car in person? Is it possible for you to post a few pics of the car? Are you planning to buy it from one of those classic car dealers? If so, given that you're out of the country, the guy must be foaming at the mouth over this.

If you haven't already done so, it would be well-worth your money to have the car inspected by a disinterested third party. I've used this outfit before:

http://www.i-van.org/

It was the best $150 I ever spent. These guys are all AACA judges & have a keen eye for trouble spots.

Without seeing pics of the car, what I'm about to say is based on a little bit of fact & a lot of conjecture: If you are truly unfamiliar with these cars, you probably would be better off waiting for a well-restored car, or even a tired, relatively unmolested driver. The '60 Dynamic 88 convertible is not particularly rare- Olds built 12271 of them, & there are decent ones to be had if you're patient. You will come out far ahead in terms of money, time, & aggravation. If it's already a done-deal, I hope you stole it for a terrific price- I can't imagine the cost of shipping a car to New Zealand.

I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers, but over the years I've seen so many nice folks get burned with cars- I'd hate for it to happen to you!

Chuck

Last edited by Starfire61; June 17th, 2008 at 12:47 AM.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 01:34 AM   #5
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Chuck
Your comments are invaluable and also a huge wake up call. Thankyou for being upfront about the potential problems and the more I read them the more I realised that the $10k (was $13k) price tag is probably that for all the wrong reasons.
It is at a dealers but being sold on behalf.
Here are pics. Have not seen the engine mounts or X member. Your shifter/rear comments make very good sense.
I may go back to them and say I'm only interested if they get everything working to see if they lose interest in me.
Thanks so much once again. You may have just saved me a lot of money my good man!
Great to see there's still good guys out there willing to help fellow carguys out!
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Old June 17th, 2008, 04:48 AM   #6
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Dale, that is a beautiful car and the engine bay has been well detailed and looks to be well maintained. I guess you can sense our bias against non-Olds drive train swaps into Oldsmobiles. Sorry, it is hard to overcome those natural tendancies. I agree that if the seller really wants to move the car and has the knowledge they would fix those small items for you. Many mid to late sixties B bodies (like your 88) had a cable to the driver's front wheel which drove the speedometer, not sure about 1960 models though. This would be a positive for you as it would be easier to get the speedo hooked up than if it were driven off a gear in the transmission. We have some members that may be able to fill us in on that fact. As for the other gauges, if the oil gauge is of the direct mechanical type, not a problem. For coolant temperature, you could either get an original sender to drive the gauge and mount it on the chevy engine (wherever that would be), or get an aftermarket gauge with a sender, mount the sender and place the gauge in the stead of the original. This second solution would require getting under/behind the dash and could be difficult. Is there any kind of gauge for electrical system? Gen light, or a gauge or what? This may be difficult too. All these would not be impossible to overcome but just items to consider.
We can appreciate the fact that you are in kiwi land and US made car parts, especially for these older Oldsmobile may be hard to come by. This may explain the engine transplant. We can share some resources for parts that will most likely ship to you. We hope the best for you and will be here to help you out if you buy the car. Good luck and again, nice car.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 11:47 AM   #7
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Thanks Dan.
I have put a few questions to the dealer and am awaiting their response.
Thankyou once again for all the great advice.

Cheers
Dale
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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #8
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Dale,

I would tend to agree with some of the other comments about cars with an engine swap. Those things rarely work out well due to motor mounts being in a different place requiring "jack leg" modifications which may result in interference with other things beneath the hood. I made the mistake of buying a car (a '58 Mercury) which had been subject to an engine swap. Because of sentimental reasons I didn't dump the car, but it ended up costing me around $8,000 to get things back the way they were originally.

As for the question about the speedometer, the car originally had a long cable that ran from the transmission to the speedometer. It shouldn't be to difficult to acquire an cable and simply change the drive gear on the transmission end of it, in the assumption the keeper is compatible. Otherwise you might just have to determine the year of the transmission and come up with the longest cable you can find that will reach the speedometer. Speedometer ends of cables were pretty much the same regardless of year or make.

Personally, I would recommend you find another car to buy. One with at worst case only some restoration issues.

Jim
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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #9
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Dale,

I just noticed a couple of things in the pictures of the car you posted. I think the dealer is less than honest. That car still has U.S. Florida plates on it. Is it still here in the U.S.? Either he bought a pig in a poke so to speak or someone else did and are now trying to dump it. It also appears to have an incorrect ignition switch as well as having potentially suffered frame damage from at sometime taken a pretty good hit in the rear given the attitude of the rear bumper or it might just have a real bad case of rust going on with the frame.

There may be a lot more problems than meet the eye with that car. I would definitely stay away from it.

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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:33 PM   #10
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Cheers Jim.

I am already looking for another car.

Anyone out there with a cool 59 or 6o 2 dr they want to unload to a poor flightless kiwi?

Thanks again.
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Old June 20th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #11
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Have found another 'original' beauty guys in New Jersey!

Awaiting a report via I-VAN.

Thanks again for your help on here.

Regards
Dale
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Old June 20th, 2008, 02:23 PM   #12
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That's a beauty, Hope this ends your search, keep us posted and welcome to the site. You will always find help and support along with some fun on this site
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Old June 20th, 2008, 04:00 PM   #13
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Looks nice, Dale. I'm glad I could help you out, & I hope you get a good report on the car. Please keep us posted. Good Luck!

Chuck
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Old June 20th, 2008, 05:31 PM   #14
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WHOA! Rated X car pics. You might want to remove the "trucker mud flap" logos from the fender skirts before letting your kids see it.

Really though, it is a beautiful car! Too bad the previous owner didn't put a 455 in it.
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Old June 20th, 2008, 05:31 PM
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