Craig Suman's 1947 Oldsmobile Convertible (from April, 2002)

There are not too many 1947 Oldsmobile convertibles making the rounds at the shows in the United States, let alone Florida. That can easily be explained by the fact that of the 3,949 produced, approximately 13 are known to still be on the road. Craig Suman was lucky enough to come across this one in the flea market area at the ‘91 NSRA Nationals in Knoxville, and brought it back to his home in West Melbourne, Florida. Though it was a far cry from what you see today, with some determination and a little help, Craig crafted this cool cruiser mostly in his home garage.

Jimmy Turman of Buckman’s Auto Carriage sub-framed the chassis, which now consists of Fat Mans upper control arms, Superior dropped spindles, and a 10 bolt Camaro rear end. Air Ride suspension lets the car achieve a low-slung look, yet can still be raised up for convenient traveling. Craig told us that he wasn’t too pleased with the ride quality after first installing the air bags, but once he learned how to use and adjust it properly he likes it very much, and would highly recommend it.

Power now comes from an ‘80 Corvette 355 motor, topped with a coated intake, Edelbrock carb, and a cool flamed Caddy air cleaner with a unique head figurine perched on top. The internals were blueprinted and balanced, and include a Crane cam, ported and polished heads, and roller rockers. Spent gasses are routed rearward with a set of coated headers, and shifting chores are taken care of by a 700R4 overdrive automatic.

The exterior of the car was given a smooth look by shaving the door handles, removing the belt line chrome, plus the front and rear emblems. The two piece hood was welded together and peaked, then punched with 144 louvers and complemented by a few more matching louvers in the gas door. The windshield posts were chopped 3 inches, and the reconfigured top now uses a mid 80’s Chrysler motor pump assembly to actuate new original style hydraulic cylinders to put it up and down. A set of ‘50 Merc headlight rings were frenched in the front fenders, with a set of ‘54 Buick taillights getting the same frenching treatment out back. The mirrors were donated by a ‘78-84 Mazda RX7, and feature electric adjustment. Once smoothed out, eye catching Hot Red base coat / clear coat paint was applied, accented by ribbed ‘49 Plymouth bumpers (the front requiring the use of two to make things work), and Budnik Famosa style billet wheels (15x6 front, 15x7 rear) wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.

On the inside, the car was given a modern touch while still using some stock elements. The front seats are Ford Taurus SHO units, featuring 11 way power adjustment, and the billet steering wheels sits atop a Chevy van tilt column. The dash layout was kept stock except for replacing the factory radio with air conditioning vents, then adorned with a custom billet gauge cluster housing Moon instruments, and a billet glove box door with Oldsmobile script. The accommodations have been treated to an abundance of tan leather, which also covers the dash and window moldings. The Olds theme was carried over onto the door panels as well, with sculpted rocket ships and chrome Oldsmobile letters, and the owner designed arm rests add even more style. Cruisin’ tunes come thanks to a Sony 10 disc CD player, which is pumped up by a 160 watt amp playing through eight Infinity speakers. Items such as power windows, disc brakes and cruise control lets the time spent driving easily fly by.

And Craig does drive it. Since completion in 2000 the car has logged 25,000 miles on the road. So far it has received a Top 100 by Rod & Custom Magazine, was a Goodguys pick, and an NSRA Rep pick. All this must make the inspiration behind the licence plate, which reads “VISA-MC” seem worth while. Craig had used credit cards to juggle his finances while building the car, but now that it is paid off and on the road all that remains is a cool Olds and a smile. CN