As any good hot rodder would...
As any good hot rodder would do, the engine's performance was stepped up via a Schneider cam, an Offy intake, a trio of Rochester two-barrel carbs, and Edmunds air cleaners. All the engine work was performed by Woody's Auto.
John LaMontia has always had a passion for cars, especially early Olds sedans. John grew up around cars, watching his dad, Al, build cars, and having his dad quiz him about every car's make and year-now that's becoming immersed in a hobby at an early age.
Al LaMontia had a '49 Merc that he spent 12 years restoring, but earlier he had a '50 Olds slantback. John tells the story that when his dad was his age he drag-raced a '55 Olds hardtop. In fact the photo shoot for John's '54 took place at the very location where decades before his dad had drag-raced his '55 Olds hardtop.
It's best to read in John's own words how he came about as the proud owner of his '54. "About eight years ago, my dad was driving down Farnam Street in Omaha, and noticed a front fender of an Olds. He turned around to take a look; it was a 1954 Oldsmobile sedan. It was all original and unmolested. On the seat was a sign that said 4,700 original miles.
"It took me about a year to put the deal together. The owner wanted what he paid for the car l0 years prior, $12,000, but he let the car weather outside and didn't keep it in running condition. I bought the '54 because it was an Olds and it was so original with extremely low miles, and I paid $5,800 for it. I arranged for a flatbed to pick it up and deliver it to my dad's house.
The Rocket V-8 was enlarged...
The Rocket V-8 was enlarged from 303 to 324 ci in 1954. John has dressed this powerplant with lots of polished aluminum and chrome along with the obligatory enhancements to the electrics with an alternator and creature comfort via Vintage Air A/C.
"We took out the old spark plugs, drained the old oil, put fresh oil in each of the spark plug holes, and let it sit. The gas tank was destroyed during the cleaning process. I came across a stainless steel tank, but in the meantime, I was eager to see if the engine would run. After several taps on the key, we primed the two-barrel carb and began to crank. It fired on the second try. It sounded super quiet and smooth for sitting for 10-plus years.
"I drove the '54 for several years in original condition. I couldn't make up my mind whether I should restore the '54 or leave it original. Once I made up my mind, it took me about two years to finish. My dad and I worked on the Olds together and he designed and upholstered the interior. I am currently making more upgrades under the hood and updating the dash cluster."
The '54 Oldsmobiles were restyled, featuring a longer and lower body over a 122-inch wheelbase and along with the iconic wraparound windshields and rear windows made for a strikingly good-looking car for its day. The stock-appearing body is wrapped in PPG paint by Chad from Kuehn Auto Body, of Stanton, Nebraska, who also performed the body prep. The tri-bar headlights are from AutoLoc in Portland, Oregon, while the taillights are '54 Olds but from a 98 model. All of the brightwork was handled by Omaha Bumper and Auto.
The steering wheel, although...
The steering wheel, although repainted, is original '54 Olds.
Inside the Olds, almond-colored Ultra Leather was stitched by none other than John's dad, who runs Cornhusker Upholstery, also in Omaha. Al stitched the custom door panels in Ultra Leather and over the bench seats and the well-trimmed trunk. The stock dash is outfitted with '54 Olds 98 gauges, an Alpine stereo by Stereo West (Omaha), and a RideTech (Jasper, IN) airbag suspension system controls what's found inside the glovebox. Fitted to the underside of the dash are both the Vintage Air (San Antonio, TX) controls and vents. The steering column and wheel are both stock early Olds items but painted in a matching PPG Almond.
The stock front and rear suspension and braking (11-inch drums at the corners) system are augmented by a RideTech airbag suspension system with Foose Legend wheels (Huntington Beach, CA) measuring 20x8 all around and wrapped with 245/35ZR20 and 265/35ZR20 Nittos.