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'62 F85 convertible questions.

Old May 10th, 2019, 10:49 PM
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'62 F85 convertible questions.

After years of casually looking, my near dream car has come up for sale. A 1962 Oldsmobile F85 convertible with a 4 speed not needing complete restoration, or major repairs. I am by no means new to cars, or vintage cars as I have owned and repaired, restored and DRIVEN many. However I am new to the type. I have learned to go and ask the experts on the gotchas and places to look for problems. I have found the most convenient place to find these sort of people is online forums, so here I am.

I have scoured my reference books and the internet, so I have gotten started up to speed, but I need more. What are the places to look for problems on a '62 F85 convertible? I have learned that there can be cooling issues and that the rear quarter panels seem to be prone to rot. What other weak spots?

The particular car I'm interested in has a 4 speed tranny and I'm wondering what the factory accessory code is for that option if it existed. The seller says it's factory, but I want to confirm as there have been some mods to the car and I wonder if the trans has been grafted from some other car. I looked everywhere on the internet for another photo of a 1962 Olds F85 with a 4 seed and couldn't find one. For sure the car has had these mods-
  • Conversion to four wheel disc brakes including dual circuit master cylinder.
  • Ford 8" positraction rear end.
  • Five lug wheels and tires.
  • Aftermarket dual exhaust.
  • AM/FM radio.
  • Chrome plating of items under the hood.

The rest seems to be stock, just the way I like it. I prefer 100% stock as I'm all about history and not so much Hot Rod, but these mods are functional and discrete and some can be easily reversed to stock. It is supposed to be 88K original miles and second owner, so that opens another question-

How long do these motors last and how long does one expect from an original clutch? Can I assume 75% or more worn out? Should I care? If I really want a 4 speed (I do) should I just suck it up and be happy it runs? How hard is it to rebuild the engine, clutch, tranny, etc?

Lots more questions to come I'm sure.

Thanks in advance for the help on my quest!
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Old May 11th, 2019, 02:22 AM
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I'm always nervous about cars with this level of modification. I've found that most people do a half-fast job with things like this. At a minimum I've found that when they put things back together they tend to leave out fasteners that they deem " unnecessary, which at a minimum leads to a lot of squeaks and rattles. Also, the factory tests their configurations for hundreds of thousands of miles under the full range of load and driving conditions. Mods like this certainly do not get such rigorous testing. I'm not saying that the car was necessarily assembled poorly, but only you can judge the quality of the work and the soundness of the engineering behind the use of non-original parts. And naturally, you will need to know EXACTLY what year and model everything came from if you ever want to be able to buy replacement parts. New paint and chrome can hide a multitude of sins.

The engine is the easiest part of this car. The 215 spawned the small block Buick engine series as well as the Rover aluminum V8, so parts are easy. The trans (assuming it is original) is a T10, and parts for that are easy also. Clutch longevity depends on how it was driven.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 08:34 AM
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Good to know about the engine and transmission. I looked up the T10 and indeed it is common and easy to get rebuilt. I hear you on the mods. I really wish it were 100% stock too. However I greatly prefer mechanical mods like these over body and interior mods. Mechanicals are much easier to reverse, but still can be costly.

The photos I saw seem to show the rear end install to be pretty professional and sanitary. The exhaust system... not so much. I have seen no pictures of the front disc conversion though. People go nuts about changing out wheels and tires on cars and the I think it all started with that. The owner had to have certain wheels that only came in five lug, so might as well upgrade to disc brakes over drums and while we're at it, limited slip rear end would be nice too...

My main concern with the rear end is how they handled the parking brake adaption. Are there common conversions done for disc brakes and 5 lug hubs on these cars? My guess is it's been done lots before and whoever did this work wasn't the first.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 01:08 PM
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For 1962, If it is a Michigan built car and a factory installed 4 speed it will have 384 beside the ACC on the cowl tag. I think another plant had this same code but there is also at least one plant that spelled out "4 speed" beside the ACC line. Also if the car was built before "I think" June, it would not have come with a 4 speed. The 4 speed was only available late that year. Also, IF he has the metal Protect-O-Plates it will have 4S on it for 4 speed and then also have the cowl tag body number on it.

If the engine has never been rebuilt, the 61-63 cams like to go flat somewhere around 60K to 100K miles. I was told this many times but not seen it myself till lately. The past year I have had 3 of these 215 engines with a flat original cam and all with less than 100K on them.

They only made 473 Cutlass Convertibles with a 4 speed.

Here is a picture of a 4 speed Michigan cowl tag with the 384 on it.


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Old May 11th, 2019, 01:25 PM
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OK. Great information and why I join places like this. You have confirmed that the car has been retrofitted with a 4 speed. It's ACC code is S-582. Also, this car is not a Cutlass. Were 4 speeds only offered in the Cutlass and the Jetfire? This car's trim code is 983. Do you know what these numbers tell about the car as it left the factory?

It's disappointing that it's not factory correct, but still it's pretty cool. If they used all the factory parts for the conversion, I might be OK with that. From the experience of watching my brother convert his '68 El Camino from automatic to 4 speed, I know it's a bigger PITA than it would seem. I did come to the conclusion a while ago that I need this car to be a 4 speed and a convertible. An automatic just won't do. If I can't get the F-85 in a 4 speed convertible, then I will buy a different vintage car.

Just as an aside, I know they also offered a 3 speed in the F85, was it a floor stick, or on the column?
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Old May 11th, 2019, 01:50 PM
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582 is power convertible top. With not having a transmission code it would have been an automatic or a manual 3 speed on the column. The reason the 4 speed had a code was because the body plant had to cut the floor pan and install a larger transmission tunnel for the 4 speed to fit. The automatic and 3 speed used the standard floor.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 05:05 PM
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Back to the issue of potentially flat cam lobes, what are the symptoms? Lower power? How could you tell if you were test driving, or inspecting a car?

This is not an issue I have ever encountered in cars. I would image that the engine might not idle very well, or have poor acceleration. Maybe even stalling? Just guessing.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 06:17 PM
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All of them I got had already stopped running by the time I got them. I would think it would start by making a tapping noise like a lifter not pumping up and would get worse over time till it bent a pushrod. If it runs good I would not be to worried about it, the cam is not all that hard to change. As far as cooling issues, I find that the majority of the time it is because the radiator is bad or was re-cored with a cheep core with less capacity.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by jensenracing77 View Post
All of them I got had already stopped running by the time I got them. I would think it would start by making a tapping noise like a lifter not pumping up and would get worse over time till it bent a pushrod. If it runs good I would not be to worried about it, the cam is not all that hard to change. As far as cooling issues, I find that the majority of the time it is because the radiator is bad or was re-cored with a cheep core with less capacity.
Do these engines have hydraulic lifters? I hope so.
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Old May 11th, 2019, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Daiv8or View Post
Do these engines have hydraulic lifters? I hope so.
Yes
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Old May 11th, 2019, 07:30 PM
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I have seen the rust issues in the rear quarters and I suppose the usual places for '60s cars, but is there any places I should be looking for sure for rot, or rot repair? The car I'm interested in I don't know where it is from originally. It's being sold by a broker and the owner is supposedly only the second owner. The car has supposedly been in Texas the last 15 years. However the undercarriage photos show surface rust that I just don't see on California cars where I'm from. It makes me think I should look very carefully should I journey to see it. Here's a sample. These pictures also show the disc brake mod a little and the Ford rear end.-






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Old May 12th, 2019, 07:12 PM
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I had a 62 converible in 1968, and it was a troublesome car both the motor and the automatic trans. when equipped.They overheat very easily, they do not like bumper to bumper traffic, the factory put in two row radiators and should be at least three or four rows. I was told that you are supposed to use antifreeze in them and only distilled water, no tap water. I don't know if it was true but I was told from the factory the water passages were coated with something, and when you used tap water it ate it away. The biggest pain in the butt is the hood does not open high enough,l and I can't tell you how many times I had hit my head on it. I only kept the car for about six months and traded it in, it's too bad it did not run as good as it looked. I talked to a guy that was a mechanic when they were new, and said they were coming off of the trucks with bad automatic transmissions.
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Old May 12th, 2019, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by San Fernando Olds View Post
I had a 62 converible in 1968, and it was a troublesome car both the motor and the automatic trans. when equipped.They overheat very easily, they do not like bumper to bumper traffic, the factory put in two row radiators and should be at least three or four rows. I was told that you are supposed to use antifreeze in them and only distilled water, no tap water. I don't know if it was true but I was told from the factory the water passages were coated with something, and when you used tap water it ate it away. The biggest pain in the butt is the hood does not open high enough,l and I can't tell you how many times I had hit my head on it. I only kept the car for about six months and traded it in, it's too bad it did not run as good as it looked. I talked to a guy that was a mechanic when they were new, and said they were coming off of the trucks with bad automatic transmissions.
Thanks for the perspective from "back in the day". Being an old car enthusiast, I often forget that these works of art in my eyes were once just ordinary consumer products with some being much better than others. It's fun to read old drive reviews and Consumer's Reports from back then. Many of our favorites get "black *****" from those in the past.

I have heard of the overheating and have no issues with yanking the radiator and re-coring to whatever the experts here have figured our. I am also very much aware of aluminum engines and anti-freeze. Never, ever run straight tap water in an aluminum engine. In the past I owned a '62 Dodge Lancer with an aluminum slant six engine in it. Previous owners ran tap water in it and electrolysis rotted the aluminum away around the steel cylinder sleeves. Then some jack *** "fixed" it with JB Weld and put it back together. It lasted long enough to sell it to me. Soon the head gasket went again. Lesson learned. Very expensive repair. To this day I only use distilled water and anti-freeze in all my cars. Tap water varies from place to place, but it has loads of minerals in it and those minerals get deposited inside your cooling system.

As for the automatic, not a problem, because I won't be buying one of these cars with an automatic in it. I really, really want a 4 speed. I might be convinced of a super nice '62 convertible with a 3 on the tree as well, but no automatics.

Good to know about the hood. I'll watch out! Some of my cars in the past have suffered from this as well. My '72 Vega and my '06 Pontiac Solstice had the hoods flip forward vertical and that was pretty nice, the rest are never high enough. I have seen that some Mercedes hinge at the windshield that also go all the way vertical. Nice.
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Old May 13th, 2019, 09:15 PM
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Does anybody see anything in my above pictures of the car I'm interested in that looks out of place, or concerning?
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Old May 14th, 2019, 03:26 AM
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I don't see anything that would worry me. I would wonder about the pinion angle and if the rear end is installed good. Also, did they keep the center CV on the driveshaft or take all that out and use a one piece? I can't see that in the pictures.
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Old May 14th, 2019, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by jensenracing77 View Post
I don't see anything that would worry me. I would wonder about the pinion angle and if the rear end is installed good. Also, did they keep the center CV on the driveshaft or take all that out and use a one piece? I can't see that in the pictures.
Was the factory set up some sort of two piece drive shaft? Here are a few more crappy pictures. It looks one piece to me. All the significant mods to this car happened to the drivetrain and suspension. Everything of concern is underneath. I'm going to see if the broker can put the car on a lift and send me a full set of photos of everything on the bottom of the car.



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Old May 14th, 2019, 07:49 AM
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I just looked up the F85 in my 48 year old Chilton's repair manual that covers all American cars from 1954 to 1963 and there is an exploded view of the 2 piece drive shaft. I would say this car has eliminated that and gone to a more traditional one piece shaft. Is this a good mod? Is it something commonly done? Are there advantages to the more complicated factory set up?
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Old May 17th, 2019, 12:03 PM
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It's all a moot point now. This car just sold and they got full price for it. Ya snooze ya lose I guess. The probability of finding another nice, clean 62 F85 Convertible with a 4 speed is likely next to nothing. I might be able to find a nice one with an automatic eventually though. Anybody here have personal experience with the 4 speed conversion in this car? I imagine sourcing the parts (likely a lot of little parts) is a major part of the battle. Just curious in case another nice convertible comes up.
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Old May 17th, 2019, 04:17 PM
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Yes, finding all the parts can be difficult but they are out there. I have most of a complete manual setup but don't want to sell it. You will find this same thing with others. I do have an extra pedal setup I can sell but by the time you need it I may not have it. The other issue is the floor pan. You have to cut out the transmission tunnel and install the larger 4 speed tunnel. Also, you have to have the front section of the driveshaft cut shorter. Many people have made the swap so there is experience out there that can help. I have not done it myself yet
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Old May 17th, 2019, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jensenracing77 View Post
Yes, finding all the parts can be difficult but they are out there. I have most of a complete manual setup but don't want to sell it. You will find this same thing with others. I do have an extra pedal setup I can sell but by the time you need it I may not have it. The other issue is the floor pan. You have to cut out the transmission tunnel and install the larger 4 speed tunnel. Also, you have to have the front section of the driveshaft cut shorter. Many people have made the swap so there is experience out there that can help. I have not done it myself yet
Thanks for the reply. I know it would be a beast of a project to find all the little parts. I'm trying to asses my options and I think it unlikely that I'll find another 62 convertible with a 4 speed in it that isn't some kind of hot rod. I think it is likely that I will eventually find a automatic convertible that is at the level I want, but I really want a 4 speed, so I need to cogitate. I will start a new thread in hopes of maybe attracting others to the conversation.
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Old May 17th, 2019, 07:41 PM
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https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/...883724258.html

Here is one an auto but looks good. The other problem it is about 3000 miles away. You may need to expand your search. Good luck
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Old May 17th, 2019, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by lshlsh2 View Post
https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/...883724258.html

Here is one an auto but looks good. The other problem it is about 3000 miles away. You may need to expand your search. Good luck
From the ad-

Car apparently came from CA and has been garaged since 1990.
The Craigslist "owner" doesn't even know the history??

Thanks of for the link. I really do appreciate it! I want to keep the links coming. This is a very suspicious ad and I'm not a fan of black cars, so I think I'll let it go. However, I think this ad does demonstrate that finding a '62 F85 convertible with an automatic is a reasonable quest.
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