As any good hot rodder would do, the engine's performance was stepped up via a Schneider c
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 from 303 to 324 ci in 1954. John has dressed this powerplant w
"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 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.
The Rocket V-8 was enlarged from 303 to 324 ci, and the 170hp 88s were equipped with a two-barrel carb while the 185-horse Super 88s came with a four-barrel. John's Olds is powered by the 324-inch version assembled by Woody's Automotive (Omaha) with a Schneider cam, topped with an Offenhauser intake supporting Rochester Tri-power dressed with polished Edmunds air cleaners, and Mooneyes valve covers. Modern electrics, like the polished alternator and Ron Francis Wiring kit, make sure the entire package performs to modern-day specs. The original '54 Hydra-matic trans was built by Auto Trans (Bennington, NE) and used along with a stock converter and driveline.
John drove the '54 for several years in original condition and couldn't make up his mind on whether to restore it or turn it into a mild custom. We have to say we are glad he opted to customize and agree that was two years well spent.
The custom door panels were made by Al LaMontia (aka Dad) at Cornhusker Upholstery in Omah
The stock '54 dash is painted in an almond color and fitted with '54 Olds 98 gauges. The s
All of the interior stitchwork was handled by Dad in almond Ultra Leather over stock front
Hidden behind the glovebox door is an Alpine stereo installed by Stereo West of Omaha. Als
We would be remiss if we didn't show off the trunk via the handiwork of John's dad who is