Custom Cruise Friday
One of the main goals of the Custom Cruise Friday series is to showcase the automotive history in the city of Edmonton. Don Wheaton has been around as long or longer than many other dealerships in the city and has played an important role in most of that ingrained history. This week’s featured vehicle is among the rarer cars that have ever been profiled, a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442, owned by Dennis Holowach. Unlike some high-performance muscle cars of the era, this Olds 442 has only two owners. Adding to the car’s mystique is the fact that the original owner purchased it brand new in July 1969 from the Don Wheaton showroom.
Coming home again
Holowach recalls that the first owner of the 1969 Cutlass 442 bought the car from Don Wheaton shortly after graduating from law school at the University of Alberta. Once the car was finished being restored, one of the first stop Holowach made was a surprise visit to the original owner. The unexpected visit was reportedly quite the treat for the now retired barrister and his wife. When they sold the car to Holowach about 12 years ago, it wasn’t in the best shape. To see the Cutlass 442 in its original condition undoubtedly brought back a flood of memories from a vastly different time.
When the 1969 Olds Cutlass 442 was sold the first time at Don Wheaton, the “Muscle Car Wars” would have been hitting its crescendo. The 442 would have been considered a top-of-the-line model, regardless of which manufacturer’s badge was on the car. Furthermore, at the time of sale, this particular 442 was about as fully-loaded as a car could get. Yet the person who ordered the car chose not to take delivery, opening the door for the new lawyer and subsequently Holowach.
“Back then you could order whatever you wanted from the factory and it would come that way,” Holowach said.
What did the Cutlass 442 come with in 1969?
Holowach went right to the source to find out as much about the car as he could during the lengthy restoration process. The list of included accessories and options reads more like a catalogue than simply a list of what was included with the 350-horsepower car. Some of the features are:
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- 400 cu.-in. Rocket V-8
- Bench Seats
- Four-speed manual transmission
- Rear window defogger
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- Engine block heater
- Lighted vanity mirror
- Eight-track player
- Power Antenna
Sharpening the Cutlass 442
Once Holowach decided to get going with restoring the 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442, he had his work cutout for him. New quarter panels were needed as well as new floor pans and new glass all the way around the car. The aforementioned visit to the original owner did more than provide a trip down memory lane for the retired couple. It also provided some answers Holowach and the team had during the restoration of the car. One of the most curious issues came from some interesting damage to the roof that was revealed when the original steel was stripped away.
“(The wife of the first owner) drove the car to Alaska,” Holowach said. “Before leaving they installed a roof rack on the car to hold a spare tire and it caved in the roof a bit.”
Holowach was also very careful to match the original colors of the car during restoration. The main color is called Trophy Blue and the hood stripes are Crimson Red.
A rare find
For one reason or another, there are very few examples of the 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 remaining. Most versions that are still driving are usually a year or two older than Holowach’s car. Make his car even more special is the combination of the front bench seat with a four-speed manual transmission. Buyers were more likely to opt for bucket seats and center console with the manual gear changer.
“The ’69 is a hard dog to find,” Holowach said. “There just aren’t a lot of them out there.”
Do you have a special project in your garage? Is your dream car coming together and you are getting ready to take it to a show and shine? We want to tell the story. Send a few photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton brand manager, Melina Kawecki by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Owners can also contact the dealership by calling 780-439-0071.