cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

When you're 15, what's it like to covet a 1948 Oldsmobile? | Hagerty Media

My nephew Lucas just turned 15 and is effectively the middle child of four boys, the two eldest being fraternal twins. For the most part, his brothers are into the usual boy things: sports, video games, their iPhones. Lucas is different. He likes things that are old and mechanical and provide portals into bygone eras.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/when-youre-15-whats-it-like-to-covet-a-1948-oldsmobi...
54 REPLIES 54
Swamibob
Advanced Driver

Great article Aaron! I really love the first pic. Being a life long slot car racer and collector, I do understand what it's like to be the different one in a group. I also like the young man's taste in cars. I do hope he continues down his own road and finds his own old car paradise! 🙂
AG1962
Intermediate Driver

When I was 8 or 9, my friend Chris and I hauled a battery from his place to our barn, where my family’s first car ever, a 1948 Chev Fleetmaster in its original battleship grey, was moldering away in the stall where a tractor had once lived, and draught horses before that. The engine was all clapped out and the car had been retired. My father imagined that someone in our subterranean-conflict-ridden little Scotch-Irish/French Catholic village in the Ottawa Valley had put sugar in the gas tank (as OHCOddball points out below, that would not have harmed it — it was probably just worn out). My mother was both British and Jewish, and Chris’ mother was a French Catholic; we were more or less the only obvious choice of friends for each other. We installed the battery, a nearly dead one from a skidoo, and got the lights to turn on, but the car would not crank (fortunately!). I later dreamed and sketched fantasies of replacing that non-functioning engine with something mechanical that I could (sort of) understand, a steam engine. My parents’ marriage crumbled in 1972 under the mock-sophisticated, selfish and ultimately naïve constellation that was supposed to be the Age of Aquarius, and our childhood idyll vanished, along with that Chev. I wanted a 1948 Chev very badly for a long time but like the author’s nephew could never find one I could afford to buy or to fix. Mainly I wanted that earlier, easier time back. Here’s hoping your nephew either finds or figures out what it is he really wants, and gets it if it is worth having!

OHCOddball
Intermediate Driver

Sugar in the gas tank won't hurt anything. It's an old wive's tale. It is not soluble in gasoline. It would take a lot to clog up anything and it certainly won't ruin the engine.
AG1962
Intermediate Driver

Good point! It was my father’s imagination, not real info. Post edited to reflect—

okfoz
Intermediate Driver

Oldsmobile's first year for an airbag might have been 1974, but the first year for an Airbag was 1973, the Chevy Impala had it as an option. Although it was a limited production of 1000, and they were sold only to Fleet customers.
Utopia1
Intermediate Driver

Kindred spirits. Growing up before the internet I knew nobody else who liked cars like I did. My dad had a flailing interest but nothing like myself. Zero friends in elementary school had an interest in cars although high school was better. It wasn't until college that I really met others like me - although it did help that I took a program that was focused on the auto industry. This led to livelong friendships and not a bad career either. All because of a love of cars that started almost from the time I could walk. I hope your nephew keeps his interest because I know the wait can seem like forever at that age but makes it all the sweeter when the time comes.
Omole
New Driver

Don't know much about a 1948 Olds, but the month I turned 15 I purchased a 1950 Olds 88 for $300. That was in 1958. Considering what other cars teens drove back then, I consider it to be one of, if not the original, muscle cars. Big OHV V-8 and a B&M 4 speed Hydromatic in 1950.
Ddinunzio22
New Driver

That’s pretty cool. I think that working on “old cars“ looks a little different than when I was doing it 30 years ago. Bringing something back from the 50’s or 70’s in today’s world will take a huge investment (for your nephew) just for a rolling chassis. My son is following similarly, but different. He’s a Mustang fan, so we were looking for some thing that was 15 to 20 years old… About the same as I was doing in the late 80s when I found my 70 Challenger RT for $2000 (before prices got ridiculous). He’s been working part time for a couple years now and just bought himself a 2000 Mustang GT convertible for about $4k. He put a new top and wheels on it, then spent about 8 hours learning how to buff the paint and restore the interior. It runs decently, so he can drive it right away and upgrade stuff as he goes. I think it would be hard to keep a teen motivated if he had to work on it for 1-2 years before enjoying it a little. I’m so looking forward to us driving to cruise-ins together this summer before he goes off to college!
HASCpres2019
Intermediate Driver

Great story and somewhat familiar. I was only ten when I first became attracted to old cars. I still have my first scrapbook (1958). I met and became friends with a local classic car collector, who mentored me into the hobby (obsession ?). He sold me a 1939 LaSalle sedan for $75 (1961) which dad reluctantly towed the five miles home behind his two cylinder John Deere. There have been many cars and adventures since then. I'm looking for a local kid with similar youthful eccentricities to help along the way. One of my grandkids seems to have wheels in his genes, but he's only 18 months old and I'm 72. Don't know if I'll live long enough to help him into cars !
edddurst-gmail
Intermediate Driver

Aaron. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but, I'll be more than happy to donate $50 toward your nephews first automobile purchase.
EventHorizons
New Driver

I know that using logic in an emotional argument is doomed to failure, however in over 20 years of marriage I have never stopped trying!

Ask any actuary. The largest, by far, factor affecting safety of a vehicle is how the vehicle is operated. I would far and away rather have my 16 or 17-year old kid driving a '48 Oldsmobile (even without seat belts) then a 2015 Mustang! No question. Add in seat belts (which would be a non-negotiable item) and I wouldn't even bat an eyelash at sending him off.
GRP_Photo
Advanced Driver

Seat belts are definitely required. My father bought a new Ford in 1950 and wouldn't even put his family in it until he put in seat belts. Back then, you had to do that yourself.
Bunka
Intermediate Driver

My wife insisted that I install seat belts in our Porsche 356 before we went on a trip to visit her sister. Went to Sears & Roebuck, bought a set of seat belts, drilled some holes and installed them. Fast forward 43 years and I was checking some work being done on the Porsche. The shop informed that they welded up the holes I made for the seat belt mounting. Then they asked me why I didn't just use the factory installed mounting. If I had been in an accident, the holes I made would not have held.
Jnick
Intermediate Driver

I say let him make the choice, Oldsmobile or cell phone. I would gladly trade air bags harnesses ABS for a bit of old fashioned attention!
Mikeintexas
Pit Crew

Need lots more like Lucas to help keeo our obsession alive! Thanks for great article.
Figuero
Intermediate Driver

I wonder how safe a 47 year old air bag would be....Might be worse than no air bag at all.
GRP_Photo
Advanced Driver

If I recall correctly, the first air bags weren't very safe when they were new, but all I know is what I read and heard at the time. I was driving a 13-year-old van back in '74. It would be another 10 years before I could afford a new car.
Tinkerah
Instructor

I'm terrified of all steering wheel mounted airbags, even new ones. I'm so short that unless it's tilt-able and I put it all the way down the damned thing is aimed right at my throat.
gdelfium
New Driver

God bless this young man. He reminds me of . . . me!
Wascator
New Driver

Great! When I was 14 I fell for a 1951 Buick Special. It was in decent shape, but wow! a straight eight! $400 wasted, according to
My Dad, who reluctantly paid. Now I’m 62 and still own it. It’s given countless hours of pleasure, even when I was only dreaming what I would do to fix it up if I had any money!
YardDogDoctor
Pit Crew

I'm 68 now but as a young man of Lucas' age I had scrapbooks full of cutouts from dealer brochures and magazines, models of cars all over my room, and hand sketches of what I would build. My Dad was an Auto Body specialist who wanted me nowhere near cars. I had 4 sisters and no brothers and I lived in a community where I was the only boy my age. But the dreams I put together in my mind back then drove me to do things that others would never attempt. From car and home projects to career choices and challenges. For Lucas and HIS dreams I wish nothing but the best. Aaron, great writing and an opportunity for all of us in the hobby to realize what we need to do for the dreamers coming behind us.
SuperCommando
Pit Crew

Mom needs to relax. Not being a car person, she would have no way of knowing but any kid as car-crazed as this boy is going to be extremely cognizant of everything going on relating to driving and cars. He already sounds like an old soul. I was exactly the same. My own mother asked me how I knew how to drive a 4speed manual at 16, and well, I just knew. plus watching many many TV shows/movies (no videos then) with driving sequences, and practicing/playing on any of my dad's various Fiats from really age 6 on up.
Utopia1
Intermediate Driver

Exactly!  I learned manual trans from watch and mimicking the actions of the school bus driver.  Dad was shocked when I drove his 5-speed F-150 across the yard when I was 11 with no issues.

JohnGalt
Pit Crew

Have him check out my friend's 47 Olds with a 47 IH nose project.
https://www.facebook.com/jim.hardaway.1




-Nate
Intermediate Driver

Bad link .

-Nate
sticksandstones
New Driver

This young man is a perfect candidate for the Auto Restoration program at McPherson College. Have him check into it, may be a pathway for him to care about better grades now. My son had a similar passion at that age, we embraced the passion and he it a 2020 grad.
Volks3333
New Driver

Okay uncle, please start a GoFundMe page so we can all give this kid the money he needs to get the car he wants. I'm in for $50 like someone else said above and I'm sure we can get him the car.
Chevelle_man
Intermediate Driver

what an awesome idea!
mwmyers91
Intermediate Driver

There is still hope for the world
Ricco
New Driver

Wonderful story I would help this young man in a heartbeat.
Maestro1
Detailer

My heart goes out to him and Blessings to you Aaron.
My Father who was a car nut gave me a book on Norman BelGeddes, the famed industrial designer when I was ten years and sweeping floors in the family Mill while going to school. The pictures of
cars trains and planes reinforced my life long passion for autos. I am 83 years old and still active in the Hobby.
KBetts
Pit Crew

"I don't have children by choice..."
We were told shortly after my wife and I were married that we likely couldn't have children. But then we were surprised by my now 37 year old daughter five years later. She took to my love of cars like a duck to water. Like me, she is much more of a driver than a collector. Her eye for design far surpassed mine yet we would share car magazines and pick favorites. Over the years her knowledge got to the point we would try to spot the make of cars at night by their headlights and taillight beams. She loved going to the races or to the track. I sold my dirt bike when it upset her so much that she couldn't come with me. When she turned 13 she scared me to death when she said "I'm going to be driving next year.....!!!!!!!" I'd forgotten that where we were living (Alaska) she could get her learner's permit at 14. She did great and has almost zero problems in the 20 plus years since. Is it possible a love for cars contributed to a love for driving and so few problems? I'm not sure, but what great fun and great memories I treasure.
I have two pre-school granddaughters that seem to be following in their mother's foot steps as they always ask to go riding in Grandpapa's truck or Mustang . Maybe I'll take them to a car show post-pandemic. Good times ahead.
drhino
Advanced Driver

Like many others who have commented here; I see some of myself in this great young lad. I had subscriptions to (first) Car Craft and Hot Rod; then Motor Trend; finally R&T and Car and Driver. Model cars everywhere, posters, etc. Always into Motorsport when everyone else followed stick and ball stuff. Heck, I’m still on the fringes, even of our hobby. Motorcycles, MotoGP, F1, preservation, etc.

Tell Lucas that passion is the essence of life. Keep it, nurture it— it may evolve; but those who let it pass are always worse for it.
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

Sounds like a young man with his priorities straight. There seems to be no reason why he couldn't pick up a car that needs work and spend a year + getting it in driving condition, while getting an irreplaceable education on maintaining these great old cars. Man, that 78 Eldo sounds liker a sweetie! Sorry, but where is his father here? Mother needs to cool her jets!
Punk
Detailer

I loved this! Also, it was like looking at my one and only son! After two girls, 'the boy' as he is affectionately known, came along and immediately fell in love with all things moving. The bigger the better. Trips to ride tourist steam railways were frequent, and he has constructed a model steam powered garden railway in my garden. And cars? Like his dad, he loves old sports cars. Its as if nothing has been built since 1990. His first love was an MG TF. He was crushed when I, like Lucas' mom, told him that was not an ideal first car. He currently is 21 and has an RX7 convertible and an Opel GT. OH, and he still loves trains. And typewriters, and all that same stuff that Lucas loves. I wonder where he got that?
Gary6
New Driver

Looks like a meeting of the like minded here.
I am a 75 year old that has been really into cars and all things mechanical and electrical since I was 7. I built an oak framed "go cart" when I was 10 and the next year a scooter that I powered with the 3 1/2 HP Briggs and Stratton that I "borrowed" from my Dad's snowblower.
The first car I owned was a Ford Mainliner that blew a rod in front of our house ... the driver was so incensed he threw the keys to a bunch of us that had been attracted by the melodic percussive sound of a connecting rod pounding on the block.
Next car was the love of my life ... a well abused 55 Chev Belair 2 door hardtop... stove bolt six ... three on the column. I completely rebuilt that car and put 150,000 miles on it. Then onward and upward. 68 Mustang GT Fastback, 69 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV (That I still own), several family grocery getters then a 94 Toyota Supra Turbo ( That I still own).
I do understand Lucas's passion, hope it stays with him and gives him the lifetime of pleasure the car hobby has given me. BTW if I see the Go Fund me with a legitimate purchase for a Lucas in mind I'm in for $25.
stevedale
Pit Crew

Great story, Aaron! Am glad your nephew has someone like you in the family that "gets" him better than most. I was a university teacher for quite a few years and there was always a student (often more) who were pushed into college rather than allowed to explore other experiences (like working on cars). I don't think this existed during my younger years but wish I had known about the school that teaches how to restore vintage vehicles..... wow.... that would have been a game-changer for me! So -- am glad for your connection with your nephew -- maybe send him some information about that school (can't remember the name of it but it has been featured in Hagerty's communications).
steve
Supraman
New Driver

McPherson College.  When I was in high school, I thought fixing up old cars was just something guys did on the weekend for a hobby.  I had no idea there was any real money in it.  I too was brainwashed into believing that the only way to get ahead was to get advanced degree and work in an office.  I've made a little money and have bought and restored a few cars, but otherwise have been miserable five days a week for 30+ years.  You get so far in and its hard to go back and start all over again, especially if it means sweeping the shop floors.  I wish I had known when I was young.  Lucas is lucky that today there's an internet and professional video programs of Pebble Beach on satellite tv.  We had magazines back then but as I recall the articles were about the cars and not about the careers and businesses built to take advantage of a rich man's hobby. 

BPatLeMays
Intermediate Driver

Sounds like Lucas needs to visit the LeMay Family Collections, where we have not only about 300 of the roughly 2500 cars the LeMay collection, including a Tucker on display, but also dozens of vintage outboard boat engines, motorcycles, and tube radios, among other collections.
OHCOddball
Intermediate Driver

It's OK for a kid to dream of the cars he/she would like to own. In the meantime, keep encouraging the hobby, even if it means the kid will buy a 12 year old Toyota Corolla. After all, you have to learn on something and you need that daily driver anyway.
stevemqueen
Pit Crew

Cool story about the cars, but even cooler that I had that exact same Tyco racing set and probably the same age as the kid in the picture.
Bird52
Pit Crew

I had a 1958 4 dr. Pontiac Star Chief when I was 18 years old. That's way too many years ago.
One day while out driving around a 22 foot box truck ran a stop sign and t-boned me.
Of course the car was not drivable any more, but
I walked away with only a sprained arm from diving to the passenger side. No seat belt either.
The cars of the 50's were very safe as far as I am concerned. Hope your nephew finds what he wants and keeps his dream alive.
chrlsful
Advanced Driver

"...and I'll still B watin..." and thats an uncle's job, no? Love it. So you can identify with him as a younger you. Good on ya mate ! Glad we got "the puter age" now as you can be there for him, thousands of miles away...Hope for the day you can 'do' an actual car together but realize that might not happen. See how you can do other things as close to that as you might.
Thanks for sharin~
TG
Advanced Driver

Most of my thoughts are already pretty well captured in the comments... with one exception
I never actually knew how tchotchke was spelled
Supraman
New Driver

What to impress upon Lucas' mom is that far, far safer than any airbag is a car that the kid buys with his own money and spends time working on every day for a year or two to get it on the road. She buys him a typical late model first car and he'll assume there's another one where that came from if he wrecks it or puts off doing the timing belt. He makes 20,000 submarine sandwiches and then rebuilds an old car himself and he's not going to take ANY chances with it.
carguy3
New Driver

Nice article, I was 15 fifteen when I rebuilt my first GM transmission, that was back in 64 never stopped repairing ,I made my first field machine from a 1950 Olds. 4 dr. haven't stopped working on cars, worked on all my friends from school rides, rebuilt 25 autos and trucks, still cant stop.
-Nate
Intermediate Driver

? You made a Doodlebug out of a '50 Olds ? .

-Nate
Elanfhc69
New Driver

Oh, that’s the grandson I should have! I so understand how it is to be enthralled with all things automotive from days gone by...I’m 70 now and my Dad was a brilliant mechanic, welder and fabricator and was working as a line mechanic at The GM Plant in Van Nuys, CA when I was born in 1951. He inherited the car gene from his father and passed it to me - so, girl with a car gene. Weird. All I can say is if he finds his way to SoCal, I have a 1957 TR3 I would love to teach him to drive. He’s my hope for the survival of all our vintage and antique cars going forward.
Vern
Intermediate Driver

Wow! Awesome car! Good luck to your nephew in eventually getting one of his own! It may come sooner than he thinks, especially if he keeps a keen look out. He may find a gem.