Rod & Custom Feature Car
Robert Bennett
San Diego, California
1954 Oldsmobile Holiday 88 Custom Roadster

Owner contact info:

GM muscled up the Oldsmobile frames for 1954, and Robert found out that hardtops had the same beefy X-member and 'rails as convertibles, which worked to his advantage when he removed the top, since the job didn't require a bunch of mods to the stock frame. Billy Rounds at National Spring shop in Santee, California, cut a coil from the front springs, and flattened all five rear leafs and reversed the eyes on the main leafs for a mild drop. The stock knee-action shocks were rebuilt at Five Points Classic Auto Shocks in Santa Ana, which specializes in old-style shock absorbers. Firestone airbags and Monroe shocks were added at the rear. The '68 Cougar 9-inch holds 3.00:1 gears. Stock 11-inch drum brakes are retained all around, using a '92 Trans Am pedal assembly.

The 350 Chevy small-block was built by "Builder Joe," who has a small shop in Lakeside, California, and has put together all of Robert's engines in the past. Offenhauser finned valve covers top the heads, and a painted and pinstriped Olds-style batwing air cleaner tops the Edelbrock 650-cfm carburetor and manifold. Rick at La Mesa Muffler built the straight lakes pipes, running directly from a pair of Hooker headers (no cutouts here). "Animal," a local transmission builder (who has since passed away), assembled the column-shifted Turbo 350 automatic with a shift kit. The driveshaft is from San Diego Driveline.

Body & Paint
Robert did the majority of the preliminary prep work and hacked off the roof. Jeff Dodge at Rods and Customs Unlimited in La Mesa, California, continued with the rest of the bodywork and sheetmetal customization-including the 4 1/2-inch chop and the filled window channels. Other modifications include the filled cowl and peaked hood. All doors and panels have been shaved and the headlights were frenched. Among the few remaining bits of body trim are the NOS rockets on the fender skirts, which Robert discovered as an aftermarket accessory from the Fifties. The chrome was done in Tijuana, Mexico; "old-school," Robert says. The Olds was painted seafoam green at Dalton & Sons Autobody and Paint in Santee. Manuel Cisneros from Cisneros Pinstriping and Signmaking finished up with the extensive pinstriping. The interior 'striping was added by Mello, a local brush.

Wheels & TiresWide whites are essential to the look of a late-Fifties custom; these are G78-15 Cokers on painted stock rims. The Stardust Moon discs were chosen because they complement the rounded lines of the body, and the concentric circle pattern resembles the stock Olds spinner wheel covers.

In the early custom days, Southern California enthusiasts took their cars to Tijuana for custom upholstery. Jose Santana, a retired TJ upholsterer now living in San Diego, agreed to stitch some old-style 2-inch tuck 'n' roll into white marine vinyl with aqua green inserts, covering those stock seats and inner panels. The steering wheel, column, and steel dash are also stock. Since these photos were taken, the original gauges were rebuilt to function and the underdash gauges were removed. There's no sense in having a stereo in an open car with open pipes-and no sense having A/C in an open car with San Diego's perfect weather.