He wasted no time, enlisting his friends at the shop to go all out on the stock-looking car. They went to work, removing the door handles, emblems, and trim. In quick time, they replaced the tired transmission with a 700-R4 and fit front and rear airbags and solenoids from UDS. Just like Jack had done four years earlier, the primitive rear suspension was upgraded with a four-link setup from Thornbeck Bros. Under the hood, Erik fitted a four-barrel intake and carb to the stock 371. Determined to get the Olds finished and out on the road, Erik, Alex Horta, and Chris Mageno sailed through the bodywork and paint prep. The plan was to shoot the smoothed and soothed Oldsmobile an original GM turquoise and be driving the L.A. boulevards in time for the long days of summer.
With the car already scheduled to roll into the paint booth, Erik began to second-guess his vision of what the big, beautiful Olds should be. He studied the huge blank canvases that made up the exterior surfaces of the prepped and waiting car. Visions of Larry Watson–style patterns flashed across his mind. The massive hood and roof and side panels were calling out for scallops and ’flake. After a brainstorming session with Edgar, the two brothers formulated a plan.
The new vision was this: The Olds would be completed as if it were a fresh-off-the-showroom-floor car that was taken directly into a custom paint shop for a completely wild and off-the-hook paintjob. Just like they used to do, the brothers had an all-star team in mind who they knew could make it happen.
Starlite brought in David Garcia, of DA Designs in Whittier, California, to assist them with laying down the panel graphics. Without drama, Garica manned the spray gun, flaking, and candy paneling the roof and body of the car. Manuel Cisneros of Cisneros Pinstriping came up from San Diego to lay down the miles of pinstriping and silver leaf.
Chuy’s Upholstery in Carson stitched together the semi-stock-looking interior and Chito’s Glass in San Pedro handled the rubber, glass, and stainless. The Starlite boys restored and reinstalled all the trim and door handles. Sticking to a showroom floor plan, they likewise restored the engine bay, trunk, and interior to stock appearance. The complete paint, body, and interior overhaul took just eight months. Erik adds, “I’ve got to mention Jorge Nunez. He helped me wet-sand that car four times! He was the only one who stood by me on that one.”
Erik took the wheel of his finished Olds, and looked at the Space Age dashboard in front of him. Back in 1960, Detroit had been going lunatic futurist in their designs. It’s hard to imagine any full-custom interior being any more out-of-this-world. The stock front grille and the whole rear end of the car look like something straight out of a custom shop in North Hollywood, not an assembly line in Michigan. From that point on automotive styling would be going the other way. Erik shifted into gear and his vision in shades of blue motored smoothly toward Pacific Coast Highway.
Jack hadn’t been standing idly by while Erik’s Olds had taken form. His original idea of fixing up his Starliner for a quick sale was nixed in favor of keeping the car and really going all out with it. With every layer of prep and paint that Erik achieved, Jack became more and more inspired to turn his dormant Starliner into another Starlite stunner. He liked the early ’60s mild-custom look, and wanted to keep that long-stock profile, but his big Ford would feature some custom styling.