new here with a '73 Custom Cruiser

Discussion in 'The Welcome Wagon' started by jaunty75, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    Hello,

    I'm so glad to have found this forum. Thanks to Stickman at classicoldsmobile.com who recommended you.

    Three days ago I completed the purchase of a 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser with 102,000 miles. I purchased the car from the family of the original owner, and he kept the most meticulous records you could imagine. I have complete service records from the beginning through 2005, when the car was parked to begin a formal restoration. Unfortunately, the owner contracted cancer in about 2007 and never recovered, finally passing away last summer. So the car's interior is partly disassembled, and some trim is missing from the outside, but it is driveable as I had to be able to drive it onto the car carrier for the 90-mile trip from where I purchased it in Charleston, West Virginia to the my house in southeast Ohio. Then, of course, I had to be able to drive it off the carrier and into my garage. So, after having sat for five years, it runs rough, but I'm going to tune it up and put fresh gasoline in.

    The car had a complete, $5,000 repaint back in 2005, so the finish is absolutely gorgeous. I've attached a couple of photos below of the car as it sat in my garage Friday night and Saturday morning. The car is a bit dirty from sitting in the former owner's garage for five years (I'm told it was never out of the garage after the repaint), and I'll get it cleaned up. You'll notice, too, that the front bumper is missing. That's because he sent it out to be rechromed, and it's still in the wrapping it was put in by the chrome-plating shop when they sent it back. So it's been wrapped up for five years waiting to be reinstalled, and all I need to do is do it.

    I do have one immediate concern, and I'm hoping maybe anyone else with a clamshell tailgate can help.

    The electric rear window works just fine. It goes in and out of the roof quickly and smoothly. The power tailgate, though, is stuck about 4 inches below the fully up position. I checked the fuse, and it was blown. I put a new fuse in, and it blew immediately, although I don't know if it blew as soon as put the key in the ON position or not until I actually moved the dash switch. Anyone ever have this happen and/or have an idea what the problem might be?

    I haven't had a chance to go through the wiring and check for shorts or bad grounds or anything, and I don't yet have the service manuals for the car, but I'm getting them.

    As I said, the rear interior trim had been removed by the former owner, probably as part of his restoration, so I have easy access to the tailgate motor. If nothing else, I thought I could hook a battery directly to the motor just to get it to go up because, until I can get it fully up, the car is not weather tight.

    My great fear is that something is wrong with the motor itself as I imagine getting a replacement would be next to impossible. How durable are these motors? If the problem does turn out to be the motor, how difficult is it to just remove it and operate the lift gate manually. As I recall, a power tailgate was an option on this car, so they were sold with a manually-operated one.

    I could go on with this car, but I'll stop for now. Thanks.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  2. tbirdsps

    tbirdsps New Member Charter Member

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    :Welcome:Jaunty. Good luck with the tailgate. Nice color.
     
  3. jeffreyalman

    jeffreyalman New Member

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    good morning and welcome. I have a 76 CC and have had a little trouble with the power tailgate.

    My car had been tapped in the rear before I got it and the tailgate rubbed the rear bumper trim.

    Once it was dead, but a minute later it was ok, so I imagine someone replaced the fuse with a breaker that reset.

    I have never had any more trouble with it, and I use it regularly (rear has been fixed so it no longer rubs)

    You will most likely hear from members here as we have a very high clamshell activity level.

    Good find!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  4. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    Thank you!

    The color is called Honey Beige.

    Here's the original window sticker. That hand-written math at the bottom is from back then. Apparently, the dealer discounted the price to an even $5K.

    It is relatively lightly optioned. Crank windows, AM-only radio, no power locks, no cruise control, no tilt steering. But it does have the power seat, which does work.

    It also has the anti-spin rear end, superlift shocks, and heavy-duty cooling system, as though the owner planned to tow a trailer. However, I can't find evidence in the records that he ever bought a trailer hitch or that there ever was one on the car. Hmm.

    How common was an engine block heater? What would it look like? Would there be an electric plug sticking out somewhere?

    Thanks.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. jeffreyalman

    jeffreyalman New Member

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    engine block heaters were not all that common, my Dad was a Cadillac dealer in the 70s - 80s in Pittsburgh and to tell you the truth the only time I ever saw one was on a diesel. The car came with an extension cord, and there was an outlet under the hood (I forget where)

    Cadillacs were marked up 23 + 2% back then, Oldsmobile was not that high a markup, in other words dealer cost of that car was probably around $4700 or so...
     
  6. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    Thank you.

    A bit more background. What interested me in this particular car (two weeks ago, I didn't even know it existed, and now it's in my garage!) is that I learned to drive on a car like this. My father purchased both '71 and '73 Custom Cruisers when I was in high school. The first one was one of the earliest "post-strike" cars built after the great GM strike of late 1970/early 1971. I remember that car, which was special ordered before the strike but didn't arrive until after, was overall fine, but it had one peculiarity I'll always remember. Whenever you closed any of the doors, it sounded like you had just dropped a large can of nails. I remember reading reviews and articles back then that this was common for post-strike GM cars.

    Anyway, he traded that on a well-optioned '73. It was maroon with a white top and woodgrain side, and that car was purchased shortly after I turned 16 in February of 1973. So I did all my learner's-permit driving in it, although I ultimately took my driving test in our other car, a '71 Ford Pinto that my father used mainly as his commuter car. It was much easier to parallel park in!


    Here's a couple more neat pieces of documentation that I got along with it. One is apparently the "broadcast card" and the other the buildsheet, although I'm not 100% sure on the latter. Those penciled-in notations on the buildsheet were made by the original owner who apparently noted each option or feature on the car.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  7. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I've been under the hood, but I haven't looked closely for it. Of course, it might be gone by now, too!


    I can see a heater on a diesel, but on a gas-engine car that would spend most of its time in West Virginia and not in Calgary, Alberta or some place like that? It would seem unnecessary.
     
  8. jeffreyalman

    jeffreyalman New Member

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    from what I remember, it was a flat gray 3 wire cord almost like a dryer cord but for 110v

    would love to see some more pics
     
  9. wixom61

    wixom61 Well-Known Member

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    Hey Jaunty, Welcome! Love your wonderful find! That is so great to have the documentation for your '73.

    The tailgate problem is most likely a grounded wire, or a shorted motor.
    Since the panel is already removed, go to the motor assembly and try to trace the wires back a little ways.
    You can take the motor out, and raise the gate manually, but there will only be a counter balance torsion bar to help, and it has no latch. the motor is the only way of holding the gate up.

    I just bought a new motor on ebay for very cheap. NOS in the original Delco box. I bought it as a spare, but I will go ahead and change it out and give you my old one. It works just fine.

    Go ahead and jump your motor to see if it works, and we will go from there. If it is shorted, the you can have mine.

    Once again, welcome to the group. I have a soft spot for Olds CCs, As I drive a '71 Olds 98 coupe as my daily driver. In much the same color, beige.

    David :tiphat:
     

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  10. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    OK, I've seen that three-wire cord. Which two wires do I touch to make the motor move the gate up?

    I'll take some more photos of that area as well as the car in general and post them.

    You'll note from the photos I did post that the roof rack is not fully installed. I have all the pieces, but like everything else with this car, it's like the original owner left his garage one day back in March 2005 to eat lunch and never came back.

    Just to give you all a sense of how much emotional attachment was bound up in this car by the family (wife and three daughters) of the original owner, they actually took a photo of me being handed the keys by the former owner's widow last Friday night when I went down to complete the deal and have the car loaded onto the trailer. This car has to be restored properly to its original condition just to honor this fellow's memory as much as anything else!
     
  11. wixom61

    wixom61 Well-Known Member

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    You know what, Buddy? You are such a great guy to recognize how much this vehicle meant to this family, and what an honor it is to this man's legacy. They loved him, and he loved this wagon, so you are wonderful to finish this car's restoration with him in mind.
    He would be so happy to know that. :162:

    I am in the middle of a redo on my Estate Wagon, and if I were hit by a bus today, I would want another wagon lover to carry on with the work, and finish it.

    David :)
     
  12. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    David,

    Thank you. You could quickly become my new best friend!

    I wondered about this. I can always jam a screwdriver in to hold it, right? :)

    Wow. Cool as heck. I'll see what I can do with mine and let you know. I'm hoping it's just a short or other wiring problem and not the motor itself.



    Thank you.



    P.S. You guys have cooler emoticons here than they have at classicoldsmobile.com! :2_thumbs_up_-_anima
     
  13. jaunty75

    jaunty75 Middling Member

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    Thank you. I understood them completely, and I told them it would be an honor to complete the restoration. All three daughters had learned to drive on this car. This man had purchased only two new vehicles his entire life. One was a '65 or '66 Pontiac GTO which he had fully restored before he passed away and which the family kept, and the other was this car. Every other car he had ever purchased was used.

    One other tidbit on the sale process. The sale was being handled by one of the sons-in-law, and he told me that one of the inquiries they got on the car after they'd advertised it was from someone who just wanted to know about the engine. That scared them, as the last thing they wanted, if they could control anything about it at all, was for someone to buy it just for to take out the engine and throw away the rest. I assured them I would NEVER do that! :disagree:
     
  14. wixom61

    wixom61 Well-Known Member

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    You are the perfect owner for this wagon.
    Many of these wagons and full-size cars were sourced for their engines and junked.
    I am sure the family is so happy that you ended up with this treasure.

    David :)
     
  15. silverfox

    silverfox New Member

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    :Welcome:to the wagon train, jaunt. Great story and a great wagon. I'm mostly happy that a guy like you took ownership of that wagon. You are right....the old guy deserves to have that wagon brought back to its original glory. When you get it all done I would hope that you will drive it back to WV for another photo op with the family. That would make them very happy.
    As for the gate,,it's not a big problem. Wix has already chimed in and, being the kind of guy he is and a true car guy, he has offered you help and a motor if you need it. Chances are that you may not need it. Wix just had that whole area apart on his wagon and likely knows as much as anyone about your problem. Take a look at what he is doing to HIS wagon. It's a lesson in art.
    Keep us posted with pix on your resto, jaunt...we love tracking builds and restos!
     

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