This 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass F85 project started with a $200 car that had the engine in pieces in the trunk. It was a 330 cubic-inch engine with a Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, and it was the original engine to the car, but it had a chip taken out of the bottom of one of the cylinders. The transmission was also still there, but full of water. Robert Mansfield of Kingman, Arizona, purchased that $200 Olds F85 back in 1989 and it’s been a work in progress ever since.
“I did feel that it was a good deal,” Robert explained. “There was no rust on the car, the body is solid, and what I liked and still do like about the car is that it has a full frame.” Robert’s original plan was to rebuild the car to give to his daughter so that she could drive it to school. We all know what projects do to timelines, and this one was no different, Robert didn’t have it on the road until his daughter had graduated from high school.
Back when he first built the car in the early ’90s, he rebuilt the original motor, bored it .040 over, and put in a mild street cam. He also used the original transmission. He dumped the water out, put in a new filter and new gaskets, and drove with that for ten years. While the daughter he bought the car for didn’t get to drive it in high school, his three other kids did, and that daughter ended up driving it during her last year of college.
Unfortunately, in 1999, Robert blew the transmission by shifting it a little too hard at around 6,000 rpm. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer that year, and he had to put the car on hold again. Life happened and the car ended up sitting in the back yard for twelve years. During the time it sat, he accumulated parts for it including gauges and a 455 cubic-inch Oldsmobile motor that he is running in the car now. “In 2012 I decided to build the big-block,” Robert told us. “It was go big or go home.”
The current build features that same 455 cubic-inch Oldsmobile big-block, but now it is bored over to 461 cubic-inches with Edelbrock ported heads, a Comp Cams camshaft, pushrods, and rocker arms, and an Edelbrock Victor manifold. It’s fueled by a Holley 850cfm double pumper and also features a 4.11:1 geared Ford 9-inch rearend. “I have always wanted to build a drag car, but did not because my family came first. Having four kids gets expensive,” Robert told us. “So now they are all married off and I had the time and some extra cash.”
The rebuild of his car started with the interior, where he pulled the dash and the seats to put in a set of Procar seats form Jegs. Two sets of RCI 5-way racing harnesses keep the occupants secure, and a roll bar kit that he bought and had a friend install offers plenty of protection. During this phase of construction he also did a complete rewire job on the dash and engine bay. He added some Stewart-Warner gauges and installed toggle switches, doing away with the factory cylinder and key.
Instead of door panels, he used aluminum sheets that he cut and swirled with a Scotch pad to create the look he wanted, and did the same thing with the firewall. Robert also installed a B&M shifter and built an aluminum cover for it, “it just did not look good without something over it,” Robert detailed. The next step was to remove the gas tank and install a fuel cell in the trunk along with an electric fuel pump.
As the project sits now, Robert drives it to local shows and has actually earned two trophies for his efforts. “I love driving it because it sounds so healthy,” Robert told us. “I do have mufflers on it, but they are just little ones so my neighbors don’t complain too much.” He is still up in the air as far as paint is concerned. He has people at shows tell him to leave it as it is, but right now he is thinking a flat white paint job, like how it looked when he first got it.
As far as finishing the project, it pretty much just needs bodywork, paint, and the interior to be completed. That being said, in true classic car fashion, Robert admits that it will never really be done. “I was the kid who never glued my model cars together so I could change them whenever I wanted to,” Robert explained. “It gives me something to do.”
What do you think of Robert’s Olds project – are you a fan of his drag-car design or would you keep it stock? Paint or Patina? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.