The senior Brucker kept the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 for only six months before selling it to Leo Gephart, a classic car dealer in Phoenix, Arizona. Gephart paid $3,500 for the crates, and when he owned it, the Oldsmobile F-88 chassis arrived separately. The chassis, in fact, came with a Corvette Blue-Flame six-cylinder engine complete with three sidedraft carburetors.
Gephart also said that after he'd owned the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 for a while, he traded it to an Oldsmobile dealer in Ohio for a brand-new GMC "dually" pickup. The dealer, whose name Gephart couldn't remember, intended to assemble the F-88 and use it to publicize his agency. This, though, didn't happen either, and the dealer soon sold the Oldsmobile F-88, with Gephart's help, to Ed Lucas, of FEL Classics in Troy, Michigan.
Lucas operates a restoration/sales facility and frequently participates in auto auctions. He's emceed a number of prestigious concours d'elegance, including Amelia Island and Meadow Brook. Lucas said he received the car as a rolling chassis with the fiberglass body set on it, but it hadn't been assembled or painted. The rest of the car came in crates.
The fiberglass body was complete when Lucas got it, but the doors, hood, and decklid were separate, and the main body section wasn't trimmed. Yet the Oldsmobile F-88 came with all its original hardware, plus an extra windshield -- plus, for some reason, an unchromed grille for the 1954 Oldsmobile Cutlass Motorama fastback coupe.
"There were almost enough parts to do two F-88's," Lucas said. "If you bought another chassis." Lucas said he did some of the assembly work, then traded the unfinished car back to Gephart for a collection of Duesenberg parts. Gephart went to Ed Lucas's shop in Michigan accompanied by Lon Krueger, a respected professional auto restorer who owns and operates Sun Valley Classics, in Tempe, Arizona.
Krueger recalls that this trip took place in 1980, and he remembers seeing the partially assembled 1954 Oldsmobile F-88, along with the crates, in Lucas's shop, but didn't think much about it at the time. After some time, Krueger got a call from Gephart. Gephart asked if he might be interested in purchasing the Oldsmobile F-88 so the car could finally be put together properly. Krueger pondered the offer and ultimately traded a car and cash for the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88.
"When I got the car, it was very complete," says Krueger. "There was very little missing. But the car had been all taken apart. A lot of the stuff, including blueprints and copies of the parts list. . . were inside the wooden crates." Some of the crates measured 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 x 8-1/2 feet, notes Krueger, and all were addressed to E.L. Cord. "I have the end plate off of one of those crates at home," he continues. "When I uncrated this stuff, none of these other previous owners . . . had ever taken anything out of the packing straw."
"Okay, so now I owned the car, and I stored it at my home in Scottsdale, unrestored, in my garage. It sat there for probably six or seven years. I didn't start working on the car until 1988. I brought it down to my shop here in Tempe and began to restore it."
Restoring the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 wasn't going to be easy. Continue to the next section to read about how the cars seventh owner, Lon Kreuger, went about decoding the F-88's body parts.
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