Monday, January 12, 2009

Cars Part 9: 1983 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Brougham Sedan

1983 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Brougham Sedan—My grandmother lived in southern Indiana.

She was quite the character, and we loved her dearly.

She liked a nip every now and then too.

In order to fool her visiting nurses and other nosy local and un-approving family members, she would mix up a clear glass pitcher of Old Crow bourbon and water, and store it in the refrigerator.

She would call it her iced tea, and, as far as we know, none of the do-gooders ever discovered her secret.

We visited Granny often, and would re-supply her with iced tea mix.

We figured there was no reason to deprive her of one of her last earthly pleasures.

Granny was getting on in years, and was getting a little forgetful and feeble.

In order to protect her from herself, Dad took a pair of bolt cutters and snipped the battery cables on her car so she couldn’t venture out and hurt herself or others.

As her condition worsened and she got more senile, Dad figured she no longer had any use for her car, so he offered it to me.

Dad and I went down to Granny’s place, with a wrecker following, so we could haul Granny’s car back to Indianapolis.

When we threw open Granny’s garage door and hooked the tow truck up to it, streams of mice flowed from the car.

The car was towed back to Indy, and once it was safely in my driveway, I discovered several mouse nests in the engine compartment.

The car had been sitting for a long time.

It was gonna take some work on my part to get it drivable again.

The car was a 1983 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Brougham sedan.

Brougham means the car had some cheesy and fancy options on it that made the car more comfortable and cooler.


It had a 305 CID Oldsmobile small-block engine, which was a real lump of shit.

It wouldn’t get out of its own way.

This generation of car and its engine was GM’s initial attempt at reducing polluting emissions.

It was a dismal failure.

There were miles of rubber vacuum lines, electrical switches, bogus sensors, and an early on-board computer that one would need an engineering degree to figure out.

It couldn’t be figured out, because it never worked…even new from the showroom.

I replaced all the dry-rotted vacuum lines the best I could, and installed a new carburetor.

The carb was a special, year-specific job, that had some kinda bullshit automatic, electrically operated choke system.

It sucked major ass also, never worked right, and was prohibitively expensive.

With all this clusterfuck of first generation pollution control devices, the engine ran extremely rich all the time. So rich, in fact, that I went through several catalytic converters in the time I drove it.

Early one morning, I stopped at one of the convenient stores of Speedway to fill up before going to work.

As I drive away from the gas station and motor down the road, I notice a reflection of light on the pavement beside my moving vehicle.

“What the fuck?” I’m wondering…

Then, it hits me.

The son of a bitch is on fire under the hood, and I have a full tank of fuel on board!

Holy dog shit!

I immediately pull over and grab my little halon fire extinguisher, which I always carry in my vehicles because I drive highly flammable junk.

(Now…I ain’t no boy scout, but I believe in being prepared. I have seen too many people standing helplessly on the roadside watching their cars burn to the ground because they have no way of putting out what began as a small fire. Being helpless blows, and I vowed to never get in that situation.)

Anyhoo…I get my little inferno put out, and discover that some of the rubber vacuum lines are what had caught fire.

I was late for work that day.

Later, I would replace some of the burnt rubber vacuum lines, and get the car running in an almost acceptable manner.

I could never figure out a way to get the engine running as it should, so I drove it as it was for quite a while.

About this time, I started religiously reading Car Craft Magazine and the humorous rantings of David Freiburger.

Freiburger made the building and restoring of vintage muscle cars sound interesting, fun, and cool.

I wanted me some of that, so I began searching for a suitable project car.

I’d like to kick Freiburger’s ass.

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