It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to discover that Kevin Petitt, the owner of this ’64 Olds 88 Holiday Coupe, is an automotive painter by trade. Hanging out as a kid with your dad at custom paint shops, then working in one after college is likely to have that effect on a guy. He now works painting Hayabusa-engined three-wheelers for a living (check out www.tanommotorsusa.com), making painting his own car more fun than a work-related chore, for sure.
The Olds came into his possession via a straight-across trade for a Dodge truck he’d built. Or as he puts, “I built a rusty turd of a ’37 Dodge truck with junk parts I had laying around and cheap parts I could find. I had $3,500 in the truck and decided to sell it. The owner of my Olds at the time wanted a rat rod bad and loved the look of my Dodge so he had to have it. There is an ass for every seat. So before he could change his mind I had the Dodge on a trailer and made the haul from Virginia to Kentucky to make the trade straight up.”
The Olds was a garage-kept-since-new, 60,000-original-mile granny car, to which he had installed hydraulics, 13-inch wires, and put an awful paintjob on the roof. “The paint on the body was in decent shape and went well with the original aqua color interior so within a couple weeks of having it in my hands I ripped the hydros out, installed air ride, painted the roof pearl white, and fitted black steel wheels with wide whites. I drove it that way for a couple of years before painting it the way you see it now.” That air suspension consists of 2500 Dominator airbags all round, with the chassis notched to allow full travel, yet lay frame with the ’bags deflated. The suspension is otherwise stock, as is the running gear, though Kris Abe assembled the 394 motor with a custom grind cam and 3x2 Offenhauser intake with a trio of Rochester 2G carbs. The valve covers are Offy, and a PerTronix ignition provides the fire.
Just as it was with mild customs back in the day, it’s the paint that makes this car such a standout. Once the emblems and side trim were shaved and he’d tackled the bodywork, the paint was, as Kevin admits, the most challenging part of the project. He wanted to come up with something that would look period correct for a ’60s mild custom but with a modern twist. He says he couldn’t have pulled it off without Darren Wenzel’s help, as he “pulled out just about every paint technique they would have used back in the day from his bag of tricks. A lot of Larry Watson influence went into the paintwork.” Using pearl white, aqua, purple, and cashmere as the main colors, the results speak for themselves, and we can only imagine the hours he has invested in masking, let alone the money invested in fine-line tape!
Working for two years on and off on the Olds, all the while trying to keep it on the road at the same time, brought it to the point you see here, with Kevin “glad that there are people out there who appreciate the hard work that went into it, and the fact that it’s not a lowrider but a ’60s mild custom”. He says it has become something of an attention whore, even taking a Top 5 award at the pre-’62 Jalopyrama in Maryland last year, where it received a ton of attention all day. He’s not afraid to rack up the miles under those Astro Supremes either, with trips from Northern Virginia to Austin Texas for the Lonestar Round Up already undertaken. After all, that’s what they’re for, right?
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1964 Olds 88 Holiday Coupe