98 Years Young: All-original 1911 Olds goes on display

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The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pa., is currently showcasing an original and unrestored Oldsmobile seven-passenger Touring Limited. The car is believed to be the only completely unrestored and original example known to exist.

There have been four owners since the car was new with the most recent owner, Jack Rich of Pennsylvania, acquiring the vehicle as part of the Helen Swigart collection auction conducted by RM Auctions in Hershey in 2007 for $1.65 million dollars. Rich fell in love with its condition and importance, and vowed to purchase it, his intensions being to keep it preserved and keep it in Pennsylvania.

Upon its purchase, the car was carefully transported to Rich’s private collection, where over many months it was painstakingly documented and inspected in order to formulate a plan for its future. It was Rich’s stance that the car should never be restored, but because it is a mechanical item and not a static piece of art, it should be brought back to a running, driving example.

The Limited’s power plant was seized tight, owing this condition from being filled with water and mud from the 1936 flood. The engine was carefully removed and made to turn free over a period of many months. After disassembly for inspection, only the most necessary internal components were replaced, enabling reuse of the major items, including the original cast iron pistons. In keeping with the terms of originality, it was decided that an electric starter was not to be retrofitted. The original leather cone clutch was still in fantastic shape, and was retained.

A careful chassis and upholstery cleaning was performed, being careful only to remove excessive grease and river silt. Pounds and pounds of the river dirt and mud that was removed from the car was sifted through screens, in order to separate and save the many loose items that had fallen off the car over decades. The original shreds of what were once tires were saved on the original Continental rims. New rims were made to carry the new Old Stock Firestone tires that Mr. Swigart had purchased in 1963. In July of this year, the once-again mighty Limited had awoken from its long sleep, firing to life and driving on its own for the first time since the late teens!

The car was debuted at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and will be on display at the AACA Museum through Oct. 13.

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