Randy Jones says he grew up in the shadow of his father, James, as his dad worked on the various cars that filled the Jones family garage. He also seems to have inherited his father's interest in Oldsmobiles. This '35 L-35 Olds convertible is the rare jewel in the long list of Oldsmobiles he either has owned or does own.
Most of his other Olds have been muscle-cars, and while cooling down in the pits waiting to get called to the staging lanes for another pass with his '65 Olds 4-4-2 convertible, it occurred to him that there were many other good ways to enjoy cars. He drove out of the pits in the middle of the event and hasn't been drag racing since.
After attending a hot rod show, Randy's conversion was complete. His first rod was a '35 Olds two-door sedan, purchased from a co-worker's brother for $300. After that, he bought and built a '35 coupe. The search for a convertible took 15 years. At the time, Randy didn't know how extraordinarily rare these cars were. Less than 1,000 L-35 (inline eight-cylinder) convertibles were built in 1935. Now, Randy knows of only four still in existence.
Eventually, a friend heard about one in a junkyard in South Dakota. Unfortunately, he couldn't remember exactly where in South Dakota it was. After countless phone calls, Randy located the car just outside of Sioux Falls. By the time he got there, the owner had changed his mind about selling the car, so Randy made the 1,000-mile trip back to Ohio with an empty trailer. After some time had passed, he called again to follow up on the car. The owner had passed away, and the car was for sale.
When he bought it, the Olds had already been hot rodded with a Ford Flathead drivetrain and a straight-axle, but had not been driven since 1955, had a bunch of broken or missing pieces, and was coated in rust.
After finishing the frame and chassis, he sandblasted the bare shell of a body, tore out the original wood, and added lots of new sheetmetal, including a new floorpan and crossbeams. Otherwise, he kept the body mostly stock looking, and the Flathead was replaced with a '69 Chevy 402 tied to a Turbo 400 transmission.
It took Randy a long time to find and build his dream car, and despite the Oldsmobile's rarity, he refuses to stop driving it. In addition to local cruising, the convertible goes to plenty of East Coast shows every year, and never on a trailer. By the time you read this, the odometer will probably have spun past 23,000 miles.
A lot of friends pitched in along the way, and Randy especially credits his father for providing him with the knowledge and patience he needed for this buildup.
Although James isn't around to see the finished product, you've got to believe the old Oldsmobile man would be impressed by this remarkably rare ragtop.