Rod & Custom Feature Car
Donnie Baird
Burbank, California
1963 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88

Donnie's Dynamic 88 rides on a mostly stock chassis, from the factory Pivot-Poise front suspension to the four-link rear. The springs and shocks have been replaced, using Doetsch Tech shocks, and Firestone airbags set up by Rick Bentley.

It was a running car when he bought it, but Donnie transplanted a '77 four-bolt main Chevy 350 into the engine compartment in place of the tired Rocket. The Holley 650 four-barrel was topped with a retro chrome air cleaner that suits the theme of the custom. The same goes for the Bellflower tips at the end of the exhaust, with 12-inch glasspacks announcing the custom's coming. With the 700-R4 trans installed, Cannon Engineering (North Hollywood, California) shortened the Olds driveshaft running to the stock rearend.

Wheels & Tires
After the paint, the wheels were the most important part of a late-'60s custom. A front-row car most likely would've had wires, which were typically more expensive, and prestigious, than Cragar SS wheels or Astro Supremes. These vintage 30-spoke Cragar Star Wires are out of production, but Donnie searched eBay and finally found a clean set of 14x7s with 3 inches of backspacing. He matched them with P195/75R14 pinner whitewalls from Kumho Tires.

Body & Paint
While other enthusiasts were moving toward ponycars and musclecars, the '60s custom guys were going bigger, wider, longer, and lower. The Olds Dynamic 88 two-door hardtop is a body style right out of that tradition, and most of the bodywork was done by Donnie at his shop, Imperial Customs, in Pacoima, California. "The key to success is letting the car dictate the modifications," he believes. In this case, the car was dictating low-key sleek, and the owner obeyed with shaved doors and quarters, nosed hood, decked trunk lid, and front fenders molded into one piece. The headlights were recessed behind the custom tube grille created by Jay at BYC Choppers in Pacoima and Jimmy White at Circle City Hot Rods in Orange. The side mirror is from a '60s Thunderbird. The paint, described in the main story, is a combination of pearls and 'flakes, shot by the owner in styles popularized in the 1960s.

Donnie wanted to have the black upholstery redone at a pro interior shop, but he blew his budget before he got that far and ended up doing it himself-and it's not a bad job, either. He kept things stock and understated, so it didn't pull attention away from the elaborate paint on the outside. The factory bench was covered with white pleated vinyl, along with the door panels and steel dash. The carpet was kept black to let the vinyl stand out and to match the style of the era. Finally, a few Auto Meter gauges were added below the dash.