February '17

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FEBRUARY 2017 THE SHOP 65 HOT ROD & CUSTOMIZATION ALL OVER THE BALLPARK Big 1970s Oldsmobiles, in-between-sized 1980s models, higher-tech 1990s models and New Millennium specialty editions are also getting more popular each year. Rothe thinks that interest in Oldsmobiles started jumping after General Motors dis- continued the brand in 2004. Companies that serve the Oldsmobile niche range from Kanter Auto Products and Fusick Automotive—which sell parts for all kinds of 1930s-1990s models—all the way up to the legendary Mondello Performance Products parts and engines, which can add $40,000-$50,000 to a restored Oldsmobile's value. Robert Rovegno of Kanter Auto Products ( says Oldsmobile is the third most popular engine line his company carries parts for, behind Cadillac and Buick. "The 1954-and-up V-8s are popular," he says. "The 324-, 371- and 394-ci V-8s are our best sellers as far as engine parts and kits go. The 400- and 425-ci engines are getting more popular, but have a way to go before they catch up with the early Rocket V-8s." Kanter can supply parts for 1937 to 1982 six- and eight-cylinder Oldsmobile engines. "Olds always had the reputation of being a hot motor," Rovegno explains. "We get an unusual mix of customers wanting to tweak their Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 and they're dif- ferent than Cadillac and Buick customers." Rovegno says that pistons and main bearing sets are the most purchased Oldsmobile engine parts. He stresses that the pistons are desired because of their high quality and the fact that they are coated, while the mains are popular because they are almost impossible to find elsewhere. As far as ways to market to Oldsmobile owners, Rovengno underlines that quality is the key to success. Fusick Automotive Products (www. provides thousands of Oldsmobile parts to restorers. The East Windsor, Connecticut company has 10 full-time employees and sells Olds, Buick and Cadillac pieces. According to Jason Jutras, who has worked at Fusick since 1998, the com- pany's parts applications cover Oldsmobiles from the mid-1930s to about the mid- 1970s. Jutras says that the owner of the company started it as an outgrowth of his restoration of a 1952 Olds 98. "He needed some parts for that car and wound up buying a whole parts car and a lot of other stuff that the guy who owned the car had," Jutras explains. "He had to do that to get what he needed, but then he began selling the extra parts and that's what started the whole thing." Although parts for obsolete Oldsmobiles may seem like a small niche in the market- place, Jutras says business is pretty good. "We're keeping busy," he notes. "We do well at Olds meets, because we're a little more geared to Oldsmobiles. We also attend the spring and fall Carlisle, Penn- sylvania meets and the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We do a May meet in Long Island, New York because it's close to our headquarters. Walk-in traffic in the showroom is good, too." The Fusick office is in a large warehouse loaded with an array of parts. "I really don't know the total number of parts, but we sell thousands," he says. "The orders go all over the ballpark with a lot of Cutlass owners and a lot of '60s, too." Power window, power seat and convertible top switches for classic Oldsmobiles and other vintage GM cars are in Fusick's massive inventory. The most valuable specialty cars in the Oldsmobile niche are one-of-a-kind creations like the Commotion Hurst Olds racing car built by Motion Performance.

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