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1960's Oldsmobiles

parmparm Posts: 724
edited March 2014 in Oldsmobile

A dealer has what appears to be a very nice 1965 Oldsmobile 98 convertible listed for sale at $21,000 (see link above). I talked to the dealer about this car and it reportedly is very nice - and the photos I received bear this out. Naturally, the dealer feels this is one of the nicest, if not THE nicest '65 98 convertible in the county. And, I have no reason to doubt him at this point. Everything, with the exception of the clock, reportedly works.

However, I'm thinking $21K is way above it's market value. I don't have the book in front of me now, but last night I looked up this car's value in the latest issue of the CPI (Cars of Particular Interest) book. As I recall, CPI shows an excellent 1965 Olds 98 convertible to be around $10,000.

I mentioned this to the dealer and he told me that CPI was consistently low on their values and that if I was using CPI as a basis for my values that I would never, ever buy a car - the implication being I would not be able to find anyone willing to sell a nice car that cheap.

I don't want to bash anybody here (ie, the dealer). But, I would appreciate some informed feedback about a reasonable value for this car.

Gentlemen, the floor is yours . . . .



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,121
    Personally I think anything with fender skirts is ugly. But that's me.

    And think he is reaching for the sky price wise. No A/C either looks like.

    You asked!
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    In talking to the dealer, I believe he mentioned the car has A/C. Plus, the photos I have of the car show dash vents which further suggests the car has A/C. Finally, the view of the engine shows what appears to be the A/C compressor. Therefore, I'm pretty confident this car has A/C. However, it's odd that the ad for the car doesn't show A/C as one of the options.

    By the way, I now have the latest CPI book in front of me and it shows a value of $9,700 for a 1965 Oldsmobile 98 in excellent condition. I must admit that given the apparent very good condition of this car that $9,700 may be a bit low. On the other hand, a '65 Olds 98 likely flies below the radar with respect to it's market appeal. So, perhaps $9,700 may be about right.

    The fact that this car is being offered by a dealer no doubt ads an appalling mark up to the asking price.

    I suspect he'll eventually find somebody willing to pay an exorbitant price for this car - which doesn't give me much in the way of leverage to negotiate a price down to around $10,000. So, here we go again. Good thing I can't afford to spend $21K. Otherwise, it's possible that after looking for such a long time that I might be tempted to just cave in.

    I hope Mr. Shiftright can shed some light on a fair value for this car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    He obviously doesn't want to sell the car and is either totally oblivious to the marketor putting you on. Move on to something realistic. He'll get tired of buying that car a birthday cake every year.

    CPI is an excellent guide book. If CPI's excellent price is $9,500, and this car you are looking at is absolutely the best '65 ever seen on the face of planet earth, then maybe you can go over top book on it to perhaps $12.5K

    Even IF he finds somebody someday somewhere to pay him $21K, this certainly does not establish a new market price for the car, because for every super high aberration we see, we will also see a super low aberration. Essentially, market value is the aggregation of any number of legitimate SELLING prices, recorded by reliable sources.

    CPI gets info from dealers AND auctions. Real people paying real money. It's good data. CPI is an excellent book and I know it is accurate for MOST cars---especially domestics of that type (CPI is a bit light on muscle car data).

    I bet when this dealer wants to BUY a car he doesn't badmouth CPI !!

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Couldn't resist the Rod Stewart reference. The story on this car is that the dealer purchased it locally (ie., local to the dealer) and that the dealer had been trying to buy it for several years from a gentleman who is a car collector of sorts and was this car's second owner. The owner is reportedly getting up in age and wanted to "thin the herd". That's how the dealer came to buy the car.

    Mr. Shiftright. I agree with everything you said about this car's inflated asking price. It's been my experience (albeit limited) that when there's such a large gap between what someone would be willing to offer and what someone is asking, the seller usually is unwilling to knock much off his price.

    Perhaps it's a pride thing. Or, perhaps this dealer paid way too much for the car to begin with. Though, he made sure to tell me he was an expert with regard to classic car values. So, you'd think he would have bought it at a wholesale price (if there really IS such a thing in this market).

    I know CPI doesn't just make up it's values. But, where do these people/sellers live who are willing to sell the cars I want at these prices? I sure as heck can't seem to find them.

    Conversely, the values from Old Cars Price Guide are at the other end of the scale. Not surprisingly, the dealer I talked to said Old Cars was pretty accurate.

    How can two, supposedly reputable, publications be so far apart on values for the same car?????
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Too bad, could be a great choice. Good styling, great color combination (although a black interior can fry you with the top down), excellent drivetrain, plenty of bells and whistles and, most important, it appears to be the proverbial "clean unmolested original".

    No one is nuts enough about Oldmobiles, especially 98s, to pay twice what it's worth. It would be interesting to see what a comparable '65 Starfire is worth. Built on the "smaller" shell and a genuine luxury/performance car comparable to a Grand Prix with base 421. They have a small following, which would help resale down the road.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    parm --- now listen to me carefully here and I'll FOREVER solve your problem about your difficulty in finding cars at a good price.

    If you are running into cars that do not conform to the price guides or auction results, the reason is simple:

    The people asking these prices DO NOT want to sell the car! They are just trolling for suckers or they want the attention of admirers or they want control over the desires of others (ego trip). It could be some kind of "self-inflation" also.

    Anyone with any sense who wants to sell a car, house, boat, etc., prices it realistically in the range of the active market. You start a bit high and then lower the price until someone buys it.

    But if you don't really want to sell there is no motivation to lower the price until it sells. You can sit on it for 20 years.

    "Fair Market Value" is legally defined, by the way, as what a *willing* seller offers to a *willing* buyer, with no distress for either party.

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    As an appraiser of commercial real estate, I'm pretty secure in my knowledge of what "market value" means - which my industry defines as follows:

    1. buyer and seller are typically motivated;
    2. both parties are well informed or well advised, and acting in what they consider their own best interests;
    3. a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market;
    4. payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and
    5. the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.

    Problem is, most sellers don't bother to put in the time and effort to become "well informed" - though you can't convince them of that.

    The only disagreement I have with your last post is that the aforementioned '65 Oldsmobile 98 IS for sale. It's gotta be. That's what the dealer is in business to do. Yet, here it is, for sale by a dealer who's fairly well-known on a national basis for $21,000. This kind of takes the self-inflation ego thing out of the equation.

    I guess the bottom line is that once a car gets into the hands of a dealer, the market can pretty much abandon all hope that said dealer will sell the car for a reasonable price. Most successful dealers can probably afford to sit on a car indefinitely until the right uninformed buyer comes along.

    And, so it goes.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,153
    ...if enough people sell enough overpriced products to each other, somebody somewhere will make some money! If that makes sense :-P

    The sad thing is, there probably is someone out there that will pay a ridiculous price for that car. If they're asking $21K for it, but it's really only worth $12.5K at best, if some poor sap comes in and gets them down to $15-16K, he thinks he's making out like a bandit, because he got 'em down $5-6K. I think sometimes a really high price like that will throw off some people's sense of what a fair price truly is.

    Here's an example...I know a guy who bought an '82 Corvette Pace Car for $18000. Turned around and traded it for $12,000, on a '73 Benz 450 convertible that cost $15,000. Net effect, that Benz cost him $21,000! He recently sold the Benz for about $7-8000, but got out just in time, because the tranny blew soon thereafter! Now I have no idea what that 'Vette and Benz really should have gone for, but I'm pretty sure he paid more than a bit too much in either case!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    Well, sure, as a real estate expert then you know all about this business of selling to sell.

    Of course, selling real estate is somewhat different, since location is a big factor. In cars, it is all about condition. Most of the time, a car is much easier to price accurately. There are more points of sale as geography isn't much of an issue. Another issue with dealers is that they can easily finance a car, so that they can sell to a person who is only looking at monthly payments, not overall price. In other words, they can sell the car to someone who can't afford it.

    The only way to tell if the car is really for sale is to make a cash offer, one that is market correct and fair to buyer and seller. If the person refuses a market correct price, the car isn't for sale, it's just trolling, like the seller who puts a ridiculous reserve on his car at auction and then drags the car from venue to venue, hoping for an emotional or naive bid.

    I know exactly what Duffy did to price the car, the same thing he always does. He goes to the notoriously over-inflated "Old Cars Price Guide" (also called in the trade "The Dealers Wish Book", and picks the highest number for the car, the #1 show quality, absolutely perfect restoration price, (which this car can't match because it's been driven 44K).

    Lo and behold, the #1 price for a '65 Olds 98 in the current issue of Old Cars Price Guide is............TA-DA! $21,000! What a co-incidence.

    And then, when someone balks at this price, I betcha he drags out OCPG and points to it; however, when someone wants to sell their '65 Olds to him, I betcha he drags out CPI and points to that.

    I have friends who have been in business selling old cars for many years, and it's just part of the game.


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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    I guess the answer is, there is no answer. Sometimes the seller wins and sometimes its the buyer. Or, most likely, it's somewhere in between.

    Gee, pretty profound, eh?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,121
    I'm thinking about selling my Miata. :)

    That way you could win!
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    I laughed out loud about your Miata. I have a daughter who just turned 14 and guess what she wants? That's right, a Miata.

    So, stay away. Stay far, far away. ;-)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,121
    She could want a Jetta! :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    How do you win with a dealer? You outwait him is all you can do, or you tempt him with a real hard cash offer.

    Dealers need to know buyers are serious before they deal.

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Here's a 1964 Olds 98 convertible for sale at another dealer in Iowa.

    I've talked to the dealer and this car is in the process of receiving a new paint job (the attached picture reflects the car prior to the new paint job).

    The dealer has sent me additional jpg photos of the car, but I don't know how to attach them to a post in this forum.

    The photos show a rusty-like area along the inside lip of the passenger door. There may be others as well, but the dealer says the body is in very good overall condition and that the reason for the paint job is that the quality of the paint is less than he likes to see. I asked the dealer to send me new photos when the car returns from the paint shop.

    The interior is recently redone (in red) and the black convertible top and boot are new. The car has all the options you'd expect for an Olds 98, but lacks A/C.

    The dealer is asking about $12,000 which, according to the CPI guide, is at the high end for this car's value. For a '64 Olds 98 convertible, CPI shows an Excellent car to be $12,125 and one in Good condition is $7,350.

    Obviously, I'd have the car inspected before I plunked down any cash but, in the mean time,

    should I be leery about a car with a new interior, top and paint? My concern is the dealer may be trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

    Furthermore, I'm assuming a paint job done by a dealer would be as inexpensive as possible. I don't want a car that looks good for the first 6 months then have the paint begin to flake off - which was the story on the first car I bought when I was in high school (a '72 Grand Prix).

    Any thoughts about this car and 1964 Old 98's in general would be appreciated.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    Well what you seem to be getting here is what we call a "cosmetic" or "sympathetic" restoration. In other words, the mechanics and chassis remain unrestored.

    For a CPI excellent rating, a car would have to be better than a cosmetic restoration but not quite a show car.

    Given your discription and my suspicions, I'd say the car falls in the Good category, like a Good +, so $9K-10K seems more than fair for the car.

    Also you have to keep in mind that while the value of this car will not go down, it's not going to skyrocket either. Probably it will keep up with inflation as long as the condition remains the same, so you should be able to sell it in a few years if you wish for what you paid if not a bit more. Not a bad deal if you buy it right.

    As for the car itself, it's not a Chevy or Pontiac, which seem to be more popular with buyers and onlookers, but it's every bit as good as either of those others in terms of ride and performance (monster engine GM cars excepted).

    Styling is, well, to each person's taste.

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  • Sorry if I step on any toes here...

    Every time I see a classic car at a dealer, it is grossly overpriced. I have seen cars listed as 100% restored the have merely had an Earl Schieb and some Armor All. (Drip trays underneath and all)I even saw a 66 Mustang, "90% restored", with a cracked head, 100,000+ mile motor and suspension, original tired interior and chrome, and about a five year old paint job. Condition is usually listed at least a catagory better than the car really is. Most "show cars" are merely nice daily drivers.

    OOOOOOOPS! I'm ranting...........

    I agree. This guy is trolling for suckers.
  • I did have a 67 Delmont 88. I literally got it from a little old lady in 1983(Well, my Dad did - he was the mechanic for this lady for years and she couldn't drive any more). It had a Super Rocket 425, 11.25:1 compression, A/C, power drum brakes (really scarey),P/S, and 32,000 miles. All for $200.00!! It was a platinum color (I don't know the name) that looked really nice. No one had EVER been in the back seat!!!! Being 19 years old, I fixed that problem in a hurry!

    It was pretty fast once it got off the line. Insane top end, especially for those fade-o-matic brakes.

    I drove it until it had over 100,000 miles on it. It did start to go through a phase where putting a new part on the car made something else break. The new water pump broke the master cylinder, the M/C broke the starter, the starter broke the battery, etc. Then someone did a hit and run in a parking lot (crease in the drivers door), and someone stole my stereo and TRASHED the dashboard. I could never find a Delmont in the junkyard (pre internet days - I did find a hood), so I lost interest in it and sold it for $300.00.
    You don't get deals like that anymore.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    '64 Olds has a very funky three speed pre-Turbo Hydramatic automatic. The "slim jim" doesn't have a good reliability record and shifts like it's broken even when it isn't.

    I had a '63 Starfire with the same drivetrain as the 98, represented to me as recently rebuilt. For the price I paid it really didn't matter, but that was a really nice car with an unfortunate transmission. I'd had the same tranny in a '62 Grand Prix and '63 Ventura so I knew what I was getting into.

    The only car I ever drove that was happy with the slim jim was a '63 GP 421. The 421 apparently had enough torque to smooth out the transmission's weirdnesses, or maybe it had shorter gears, or both.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,153
    ...for sale around the corner from me. It's a 4-door pillared sedan, in kind of a bluish-green with matching cloth interior. Nice looking car! It's been for sale though, since, like last October or so, so evidently the owner either wants too much for it or there's something wrong with it. I've seen it in various spots in the yard, so it does move. Either that, or it's towable!

    Neat looking car...almost makes me wish I needed another vehicle!
  • I thought they were pretty good looking myself. Long squared off hood and the swoopy rear roofline. Ant the classic Olds wheel well lines. There weren't many around (hmmmmm, maybe no one else thought they looked good), which made it interesting. When you went to a parts store you had to say "not Delta, DelMONT", about three times.
    Anyway, I really liked it. I replaced it with a 73 Buick LeSabre - talk about BUTT UGLY.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Can you expound on the "slim jim" transmission? Not having driven a car that has one, what makes it so funky? Does it feel like the bottom is going to fall out when it shifts or something? Does it shift too early, too late?

    Also, what's the significance of the term "slim jim"? What does this mean?

    Bottom line - does it make the car a real pain to drive and enjoy?

    Inquiring minds need to know the answers to these burning questions.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,153
    ...but I think the "slim jim", or, Roto-hydramatic, was a lightweight, 3-speed version that wasn't nearly as durable. The "real" Hydramatic was a fairly heavy, bulky 4-speed unit. It took up a lot of room, which meant for a large driveshaft hump.

    I think all the Oldsmobiles got stuck with the slim-jim, and all the full-size Pontiacs save the Bonneville were inflicted with it, for a few years. I guess it was finally replaced by the Turbo Hydramatic 350/400.

    Also, I think you could push-start the old 4-speed Hydra, but not the 3-speed slimjim...something about the pump being in the rear instead of on the side, or something like that?
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    in a 64 Grandprix. The thing would wind out the long first gear, sounding like it was slipping or something, and then drop in the next gear with a huge RPM drop, finally going in to third, or high. It had a torque converter instead of the fluid coupling of the older 4spd hydramatic. The torque converter was supposed to make up for the first gear punch of the 4speed, but in reality it didn't work. The torque converter was smaller than most, and knocking out the 1st gear also saved room, which is why they called it the slim jim. It made for a smaller hump on the front floor. The performance was the thing-the long wind out in first,then the awkward shift and RPM drop was not good for performance. My Grandads 64 Granprix seemed almost crippled by this transmission. I always wished it had a regular Hydro, or better yet, a 4speed manual.
    I saw an interesting car at a classic car dealer in Portland the other day-a 62 Olds Starfire-nice looking car with that way fancy interior and all the chrome, in great original condition. But, it had a later model Olds V8 and Turbo 400 transmission. Looking under the hood, it looked as though it came that way. You know, that's an interesting swap-makes a lot of sense. All the style of the original, with a much better drivetrain that most people wouldn't even notice.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,121
    No car ever built was more difficult to install front shocks than a full size '64 Oldsmobile!

    A nightmare like none other.

    And, yeah, the slim jims left a lot to be desired.

    I would avoid a car with one.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    There are several drawbacks to the slim jim (which, as Andre says, got the name because of its size).

    The biggest drawback is its shifting characteristics. On step off the transmission revs like it's slipping and needs a rebuild. As far as I know the slipping is that tiny torque converter slipping to get the car rolling.

    The car starts to move, rather reluctantly as I recall. There isn't that feeling of smooth torque you get from a Turbo 400. Instead there's this kind of rubber band feeling to the power delivery, similar to early Dynaflows from what I've heard.

    You don't stay in first that long because first is short, around 2.94:1 IIRC. First in a "normal" three speed auto is around 2.5:1, much like a manual three speed, with second around 1.5:1 and third 1:1. So a slim jim's first is maybe 20% shorter (lower numerically) than usual.

    That's where the second drawback shows up. The transmission lurches into second and since second is a normal ratio, about 1.5:1, you've got a ratio spread the size of the Grand Canyon. The result is like if you short shifted a four speed from first the third. The engine lugs, even the big torquey 389s and 394s that were bolted to this transmission. Not only does this sound really uncool, but unless you've retarded the timing the engine will seriously detonate. And since virtually every 389 or 394 has a high compression ratio and/or carboned up combustion chambers, this means you have to back off the initial timing even more than usual for a '60s car, which kills power and economy.

    I ran across a guy who collected Olds and he showed me what happens when you floor a slim jim (I never did since I bought my cars to eventually sell and scattering a transmission wasn't a good business move). He took me out in his 98, floored it and the car just died. I don't know if they all did that (sounds incredible) but then I find it incredible that GM would have unleashed this pig on the American public and that the American public would have responded by buying boatloads of Pontiacs and Olds.

    Every full size Olds from '61-64 used the slim jim, which Olds called Hydra-Matic just like the earlier four speed automatic. Every Pontiac during those years used the same tranny, called Roto-Hydramatic, except the Bonneville and Star Chief (the long wheelbase cars) which continued to use the old four speed Hydro.

    The 394 that Olds used in those years was a very nice, torquey engine. My Starfire convertible felt very strong once it got into second and it had a shipping weight of 4300 lbs. If the Turbo 400 or even the old Hydro bolts to that engine then the '61-4 Olds is worth considering. They're nice looking, well-equipped cars and cheap. My favorite is the '61 with tail fin stabilizers on the quarter panels. The '62 is cleaner but still has enough kitsch to let you know it's Space Age.

    If that swap isn't possible, or you don't feel inclined to do it, I'd approach these cars very carefully. Even if the slim jim's quirks don't bum you out, it may make it harder for you to sell the car. Anyone who doesn't know about them (and that's 99.99999% of the old-car buying public) will think the transmission is about to blow up.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,422
    You know, I forgot about that unit myself. Yes, it is a caution, no doubt about it.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,121
    Good post. Pretty much says it all.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,153
    ...that swapping a different tranny in where one of those Slim Jims currently resides might not be that easy.

    I remember from the old issues of Consumer Reports that I used to read, that the different B-bodies had differently-shaped floorpans, depending on the transmission they used. It's not like they just designed them all the same size to accommodate the largest of the, they wouldn't make it that easy! If a car got a smaller transmission, then the floorpan was shaped accordingly, to yield a bit more room in the passenger area.

    So I don't think you'd be able to swap in the old 4-speed HydraMatic, since it's a bigger unit. I don't know about the TH350/400 does that unit compare to the SlimJim, in terms of physical size?

    One exception though, might be the Pontiac Catalina. If the Bonneville and Star Chief/Executive used the big 4-speed Hydramatic, then I wonder if the Catalina, since it's the same body, used the same floorpan? The Bonneville was on a wheelbase about 3" longer, depending on the year, but they tacked that length on in back, behind the back seat. In fact, a Bonneville has no more room inside than a Catalina, just a longer trunk.

    Were the Olds and Buick C-bodies, in convertible form, like this too? I know the C-body sedans were a lot roomier than the B-bodies, because that extra wheelbase corresponded to more legroom in back. But recently, I remember looking at a '67 Olds 98 convertible, and it didn't look any bigger inside than my Catalina, which is on a wheelbase about 6" shorter. I'm guessing that, to save money, there was more commonality between a B- and C-body convertible than a B- and C-body sedan or hardtop. Maybe that's one reason why GM was able to have such a vast array of convertibles in the '60s! I guess one way to tell would be this...would the B- and C-body 'vert use the same roof?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    That's a good point. It's not that difficult to fabricate a transmission tunnel--I probably couldn't do it but I've seen it done by other amateurs--or perhaps you could adapt a larger tunnel. But it's more than the average hobbyist wants to get into.

    Come to think of it, Carnut said he saw a '62 with later running gear. That doesn't tell us how hard it was to do but it must have been fairly easy. No one is going to put a whole lot of work into a '62 Olds.
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