MY OLDSMOBILE 442 COVERTIBLE
written by Richard Coulter
It was the summer of 1972. I knew exactly what I wanted.... a 1969 Olds 442 Convertible.
Remember this was an era before internet and auto trader, safety checks and emissions testing.
If you were buying a used car it was Caveat Emptor ( buyer beware ).
I knew enough not to buy any used cars from car lots along the Danforth. These were the trade-ins that new car dealerships didn't want ( lemons ). New car dealerships didn't want to tarnish their image and therefore wholesaled them to unscrupulous Danforth dealers, Ted Davey comes to mind.
The cream of the crop used cars were sold by new car dealerships, but the prices were beyond my reach. I only had a budget of $ 2700, and anything worth buying was well over $ 3000.
The only option was to buy privately and hope you got a car that the owner had taken care of it.
If you wanted to research used car prices you could find them in the want ads of the Toronto Star.
I read it daily which seemed like an eternity looking for my car and Voila ! there it was jumping out and grabbing me by the throat.
For sale 1969 Olds 442 Convertible asking $ 2800 call AX 5-0816
I called and spoke to the owner who had an Italian accent and lived in the west end of the city. West of Yonge St. The other side of the world to a Scarborough native.
I agreed to meet him at his residence after work. With $ 2700 burning a whole in my pocket, I took public transit because I didn't want him to see my current ride that exclaimed " I'm Desperate".
When I got off the T.T.C bus and walked along his street, I could see it immediately parked in his driveway with the top up.
I gave it a quick look-over, kicked the tires ( why I don't know ) and proceeded to knock on his door.
It was either Sierra or Aztec gold in colour, it had matching gold vinyl interior with bucket seats automatic with console on the floor and power steering, brakes and windows. Olds colour keyed super stock II rims. Black vinyl convertible top.
I slid into the driver's seat and he entered the passenger side. He handed me the keys and said " Start it up " in his thick Italian accent.
With that big Rocket V8 purring away I was anxious to go for a test ride. I asked if I could put the roof down and he said " sure". The roof was attached by 2 mechanical levers I removed my and pushed the power top button.
"Stop" he said. " Before you put the roof all the way down, close the lever or you will not poke a hole in the roof ".
I was impressed with his concern and he seemed to be a person who would look after a vehicle.
I mean Italians drive bulldozers and paving rollers they must be mechanically inclined and care about their equipment.
Next I proceeded to put down all the power windows. All 4 disappeared silently and completely.
When I turned to back out of his driveway I saw the rear mounted power antenna go in the up and ready position
I was sold I just had to have this car, and the test drive hadn't even begun.
The car drove like a charm. You could steer with only 2 fingers on the steering wheel. Stopping with the power brakes was effortless. The 400 THM automatic transsmission shifted smoothly and without hesitation. Even the radio worked.
I could find no faults with this car. Upon returning to his driveway I put up the roof and windows and shut her off.
Now it was time for negotiations.
" I really wanted a 4 speed and a spoiler on the trunk but I suppose this will do " Trying to contain my excitement.
" I tell you what I'll do. I can only offer you $ 2500 that's my whole budget. I'm young and only been working for a short time. What do you say ? "
I fully expected a counter offer of $ 2700 which would be the normal course of negotiations.
" O. K. " he said " $ 2500 it's a deal "
We shook hands . I left a small deposit , we wrote up a bill of sale. He agreed to deliver the car to my home on Saturday and I would pay the balance owing by certified cheque. This would allow me time to get to the bank on my lunch hour the next day.
It seemed to take forever for Saturday to roll around.
He delivered it on Saturday as promised but it was attached to his tow truck. I asked him " Did it break down ?? "
" No, how do you think I'm going to get home unless I bring it on my tow truck ?.
Before I paid him the balance I did 1 last test drive to ensure all was well.
We parted company and I was the proud owner of my first Muscle car convertible. I couldn't wait to pull into the IBM parking lot and show off my latest acquisition.
Don't try to understand car nuts. Just accept them as twisted.