By Brian Earnest
When Russell Breutzmann decided it was time to get his first hobby vehicle — not something just to drive to and from work, but something to have some fun with on weekends — he figured it was safer to buy a car that was already in the family.
Now 13 years later and counting, the 1967 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible he wound up with has turned out to be a pretty cool deal.
“The car had belonged to my wife’s cousin and I talked to him at a family picnic and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m thinking about selling it.' My son [Curtis] was there with me and we talked about it and went a week later to see it and liked what we saw,” said Breutzmann, a resident of Lake in the Hills, Ill. “We negotiated a price and we bought it and took it home and we’ve had it ever since.
“When I was a kid I had a ’52 Olds and then a ’56 Olds when I was in college. I figured I’d just stick with Oldsmobiles.”
The huge, red convertible was hard to miss at the family get-togethers, and the Bruetzmanns figured it would be a fun car to have for cruise nights and occasional weekend shows. It hasn’t disappointed them.
“The top goes down in May and goes back up in October, maybe September,” Russell laughed. “Once or twice I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and I’ve had to pull into a gas station under a canopy and put it back up, but otherwise the top is always down.
“It’s old-style driving. It has a big steering wheel — lots of turns lock-to-lock. Before we had the brakes done [stopping] was a little dicey, but that’s up to par now. Its just a big cruiser. It rides very nice. It’s just a different driving experience than a modern car.”
There were 140,000 miles showing on the odometer when the Bruetzmanns bought the Delta 88 13 years ago and became owners No. 3 and 3a of the car. They’ve added about 26,000 miles since then. The previous owner had done plenty of good work to keep the car rolling and in prime condition.
“The car had never seen snow. He had the engine and transmission rebuilt at 110,000 miles,” Russell noted. “It ran well. He used it and did a lot of driving with it. It was not a trailer queen, that’s for sure. The interior was redone just before we bought it in black vinyl to the GM pattern. The [power] top was in good shape and it works well. We looked at the transmission and listened to the engine and drove it and everything was fine. I have not done anything major to it. We’ve done the usual things — fuel pump, starter, brakes, carburetor.”
The convertible was offered under the Delta 88 menu, which was one step up from the Delmont 88. The higher-end Delta 88 Custom line was new for the model year. Four models were offered as standard Deltas, while two were available as Customs.
All of the 88 Oldsmobiles were given fresh looks for the 1967 model year, with more curvy “Coke bottle” figures and fewer straight edges. The hoods were longer, the decks were shorter and the roof lines were more racy and fastback-like. Standard trim consisted of Deluxe armrests, carpeting, lamp package, molding package, foam seat cushions, special wheel covers and Deluxe steering wheel. Interiors were vinyl, cloth or leather.
The standard engine for the 88s was the 330-cid V-8 that produced 250 hp. For buyers who wanted a little more oomph, the 425-cid two-barrel V-8 rated at 300 hp was also available and went into Breutzmann’s 4,100-plus-lb. convertible.
“We’ve had it on the expressway and it will keep up with traffic 70 mph, no problem,” Breutzmann pointed out.
The first owner of the Breutzmann’s 1967 Olds was from the Baltimore, Md., area. He bought one of the 14,471 Delta 88 ragtops GM built for the model year. In addition the 425 engine, he went for a model that was equipped with cruise control, air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo, but no power windows or seats.
As the third owners, the Breutzmanns have been averaging about 2,000 miles a year of seat time in their Delta 88 droptop and don’t have any qualms about piling up some more. You get the impression that 200,000 miles is definitely in their future.
“One of [Curtis’] sons just loves driving in the car. He’s 6 and we’ve got a booster seat in there and he gets a big kick out of it,” Russell said. “My daughter’s kids are 3 and 6 years old and they enjoy getting rides in it, too.
“It’s still in good shape. Mechanically it needs an exhaust system … and we’ve got some road rash on it, but that’s not a big concern to me.”
Russell has had the car out to plenty of local cruises and weekend gathering over the years. He’s seen plenty of other nice Oldsmobiles, but none like his. “I have seen two or three 98s of the same vintage at cruise nights here, but I have not seen cars similar to mine — a convertible and that year,” he said.
For now, the big convertible will continue to sleep over at Curtis’ house. As long as he has a key and the freedom to do some top-down cruising whenever the spirit moves him, the senior Breutzmann is happy with the arrangement.
“When I was working, I would take it to work two or three times a month,” Russell said. “Now he does the same thing… But I drive it more than he does. With his kids and family, I just have more time than he does, but the car stays at his house. One of his priorities when he got a house was to have a three-car garage.
“We’ve got two pickup truck loads of spare parts that we got with the car when we bought it,” he added. “We need to get rid of those. They are all stored at his house and his wife wants them gone.”
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