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Keeping the Family Cutlass

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Jonathan Arnold, an estimator at Vinnie’s Collision Center in Elyria, Ohio, has a long history with his 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

He received the car when he was 15 years old from his father who had bought it brand-new in 1975. For seven years, Arnold has put in the work to restore the car to the way it looked nearly 40 years ago.

“I fully disassembled everything and pulled everything off,” Arnold says. “I sanded underneath the car and all of the surface rust with a portable blaster, cleaning it up and filling in the pits.”

“Most of [the dents] I could get with a hammer and dolly and lightly pull and beat on them,” he adds. “There was one I had to use a stud gun to get it.”

He primed it with Omni primer, and sprayed the car in a black PPG basecoat and PPG 4000 clear coat.

The next step of the restoration was the hunt for window accessories. 

“These [model years] were used for demos and being cut up, so people weren’t saving the parts,” Arnold said. “It was hard to find parts for it and the aftermarket isn’t really making things for it.”

NEW OLDS: Jonathan Arnold restored his father’s Cutlass to like-new condition, then modified it for more fun on the street. Photo courtesy Jonathan Arnold

The car has a vinyl top with quarter windows that have a plastic, chrome-like molding. Arnold had to go through multiple swap meets to finally find replacement chrome in the original packaging.

He also needed a couple of emblems to finish the car’s exterior, and was lucky to find some at a swap meet, though they needed to be re-chromed.

The vehicle needed only minor engine work, and was still pretty much full of the stock components, Arnold says.

“The motor is a 350ci V8; I did some minor head work to it, adding a small cam just to give it a little bit more rumble,” he says.

To keep with the theme of more rumble, he added dual exhaust. He also put in a limited-slip differential to get the two-wheel burnout he wanted.

The $15,000 put into it not only gave Arnold a car with a new look and improved performance, but it also helps maintain a family tradition.

“My grandfather worked at a dealership back in the ’50s,” Arnold says, to show just how deeply Oldsmobile attraction runs in his family.

When Arnold isn’t getting his restoration fix (he says he’s moving on to another vehicle the first chance he gets), he’s taking his Cutlass for joyrides and occasionally to car shows, though it’s more for Sunday drives and enjoying the weather.

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