Restored American beauty steals heart

TARA SHASKEY
Last updated 08:55 05/06/2014

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As restoration work progressed on Bryan Rasmussen's gift for his partner, he soon realised the chances of turning the old car over to her was slim to none.

Seven years ago Rasmussen bought the 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Holiday Coupe for his partner, Sheila Murphy, with whom he shares an interest in American cars.

The couple had been trawling TradeMe to find Murphy her very own American classic, when they came across the rare Olds.

"I had never even seen this model" he says. "We were originally looking for an early model Corvette or a Buick."

The pair were both quite taken with the newly imported Chevy look-alike, and so Rasmussen went ahead and bought it.

With the best of intentions, he picked it up from Auckland ready to give it the minor tidy-up needed before handing the keys to Murphy for her to enjoy as her very own weekend cruiser.

But the New Plymouth man admits he got carried away with the car's makeover. He says he was only ever going to "give it a paint, panel-beat it and put some new wheels on it," but instead the modified chrome-laden treasure is now running a 350 cubic inch Chev V8 engine which generates about 350 horsepower while rolling on 20 inch Foose tyres.

Furthermore the brakes were upgraded to discs, airbags were installed, the interior was reupholstered with custom leather, and the front and rear suspension were customised.

And then somewhere along the course of this restoration, which took three years, Rasmussen realised he had fallen in love with the Oldsmobile - and he decided to keep the American beauty for himself.

"It came out so nice in the end, I had to keep it for me," says Rasmussen.

Today he couldn't be happier with the two-door hardtop and says it now draws a lot of attention.'

The proud owner says Murphy was accepting of the change of plans. After all, the Super 88 still remains in the family and is enjoyed by all, says Rasmussen.

"I just owe her a car now. I still haven't replaced it."

Rasmussen and Murphy regularly take part in various events that celebrate American and classic cars.

And they sure have ample choice when it comes to selecting a vehicle to enter. To date, Rasmussen has owned 10 American cars and in addition to his Oldsmobile he has a 1960 Chevrolet El Camino and the well-known 1968 Chevrolet Impala convertible that was featured in the music video for the chart-topping song How Bizarre written and recorded by Auckland group OMC.

Rasmussen isn't sure what sparked his passion for American vehicles but he does know why they keep him excited.

"It's the sound of the V8, they just sound great and I love the over-the-top chrome look. It's very appealing," he says.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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