Aug. 2, 2011 at 2:56pmOldsmobile Down Under

Car collectors are the same world over.

Recently, I was contacted by the son of Mr. Peter Gifford of Dunlop Australia who restored ACM’s 1926 Oldsmobile Holden 4 door touring car in the late 1970’s. After several fun email exchanges between son Michael and Peter’s wife Connie, I received a package in the mail with photographs of the car’s restoration, along with documents, and the Canberra collector license plate which was on the car in many of the photos included with the package.

The following letter from Mr. Gifford was enclosed:

“Six months ago an old friend rang me and said he had seen the car in a museum in America. This of course started my son Michael tracking this information until finally locating it. It is a credit to those people who have owned the Olds since I sold it in 1981 to Darrell Cawthorn in Sydney.

I bought the Olds in 1975 as a pile of rubbish in a backyard for $100 and certainly not a complete car. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the car in that state. After six years of restoration, and countless miles of chasing parts (there was no eBay back then) it was complete.

I still think it was a great achievement to do this restoration in my shed. I took a night class on panel beating so I could do all the bodywork myself. I also made some new panels when the original ones were too far gone. I taught myself to spray paint too. The body paint is a GM colour called Chamois. I won a best restoration trophy 1981 with the Antique and Classic Car Club and I still have that trophy.

I believe the car to be a very early 1926. It still has some characteristics of 1925 such as round fuel tank, as late 1926 models have an oval tank. However, 1925 Engines had angled sparkplugs and engine numbers starting with "D". 1926 engines stared with ER.[ACM’s engine number is ER1596]. The chassis and the engine used in the restoration were of the same car. What made this restoration difficult was the fact that there was not another one to look at for ideas. To date, I have not seen another 1926 Oldsmobile.

Knowing where the Oldsmobile is after all these years is pleasing to me. I had visions of it sitting in some ones shed rotting way. ~Peter Gifford”

Connie also wrote: “[Photo]Sitting in front of the wheel is [our children] Michael and his sister Melissa. I forgot to tell you the new spokes were turned by a high school teacher named Greg Hyde. I had them done as a present for Peter. The coachwork was done by Wally Brown. All the bodywork, painting, wiring and engine work by Peter. The only reason we sold the car was that with 2 small children we were short of money. Peter still has an interest in vintage cars. Great to hear from you. Have a Great Day, Connie”

Harold LeMay purchased the Holden around 1985, just a few years after Peter sold the car in Australia. How or when the car left Australia is unknown but I suspect it was exported to Vancouver Canada where Harold purchased some of his cars. If it was not for the rescue “from a pile of rubbish” to running car by Peter Gifford, and Harold LeMay finding the car in Canada, we would not have the car here today to enjoy and tell the story.

Even though Peter and Harold never met, and lived in different parts of the world, they were not so different in their love of cars.

Renee Crist, Collection Manager ACM

For more data on this Holden and about Oldsmobile in Australia click here.

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