Custom Cruise Friday
Restoring a classic car is almost never easy. Problems love to surprise owners and restorers around every corner. Parts can be hard to come by. And, finally, people still need to live their lives. Of all of the car restoration stories that have been told within annuls of the Custom Cruise Friday series, few have been it for the long haul like Jim Boomer and this week’s featured car, his 1938 Oldsmobile Opera Coupe. After purchasing the car from an acquaintance in the early 1980s, Boomer slowly and steadily worked on the car as well as vigorously raised and supported a family before finishing the car in 2008.
“You have 25 years of just you are to like (the car),” Boomer said. “And, I did.”
When Boomer bought the 1938 Oldsmobile in 1982, he admittedly underestimated the amount of work that needed to be done. During the intervening quarter-century, Boomer and his rotating class of helpers and tradespeople, did major overhauls, replacements or restorations to just about everything. The engine, transmission and radiator needed major work. All of the glass needed to be replaced. Of course, several decades of Canadian winters took a toll on the upholstery which was redone.
“It was one I should have walked away from,” Boomer said. “There was so much work to be done on it.”
The 1938 Oldsmobile Opera Coupe has a straight six-cylinder engine which is mated to a three-speed manual transmission — “three on the tree” as it’s known in the automotive world. This is not a souped-up hotrod by any means. Though with the addition of radial tires, Boomer has made a safety conscious choice that also makes a difference for comfort. It’s takes a bit of effort to get the car up to near modern highway speeds, though the car is much happier at slightly lower speeds.
“It’s a local car,” Boomer said. “It’s a ’38 car and it rides like a ’38 car.”
Getting it right
Painstaking attention was paid to the details of the 1938 Oldsmobile. This meant Boomer had to search far and wide for a radio. Of the 25 years it took to restore it to show condition, 24 of those years were spent looking for the right car radio. Salvation finally came when the proper component was found in New York. However, before the comparatively primitive sound system was installed, the radio itself had to go through a restoration process of its own.
“If you want music you get CFCW,” Boomer said. “If not, no music.”
Forging more than metal
Right now Boomer is serving as the vice president of the Edmonton Antique Car Club. Boomer’s organization is different from other similar clubs in the area. This group is more about sharing the experience of owning classic and restored cars. They routinely go on tours and aren’t necessarily chasing trophies anymore. Although, in the first show that Boomer entered with the 1938 Oldsmobile, he took home a first place trophy.
“The best compliment (I’ve received) was from my biggest critic, my wife,” Boomer said. “My wife says, ‘I never envisioned that car turning out as nice as it did.”
About the journey, not the destination
There can be no discounting the monastic patience Boomer showed while restoring the 1938 Oldsmobile. As much as he loves and enjoys the car. Boomer loved and enjoyed experiencing the process of restoring and owning a classic old car. Over the years he’s made several new friends, learned some new skills and just as important taken in some lessons of things to avoid. Driving a car that is nearly 80 years old comes with more than a few challenges — and more than a few breakdowns.
“Sitting on the side of the road you meet some of the nicest people,” Boomer said. “They’ll stop and go out of their way to help you.”
Do you have a special project car, truck or other vehicle. If you love it, we want to love it too. Send photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager Melina Kawecki by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to tell your story.