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Bought a 91 Olds Custom Cruiser. Now what?

I bought a 1991 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (sister to the Buick Roadmaster wagon). It has 59,000 miles with the 305 motor. It’s been supposedly sitting for almost 7 years. It’s on the way to the shop for a head to toe inspection. What should I be on the lookout for and what should be done immediately? The one red flag I see is that the exhaust is smoky at startup.

Lucky you! Those are great cars-- we should all curse CAFE and it’s SUV loophole for killing them.

What color is this smoke and how long does it persist for? If it’s just a puff or two of blue smoke, the valve seals are probably worn out, letting oil drip into the cylinders while the car sits. Changing them is generally not that expensive, although that V8 has 16 valves to do, so it might be a little labor intensive. Generally, though, its a problem you can ignore if you must.

“It’s on the way to the shop…” Not driven I trust. Hopefully you had it put on a flatbed truck and not towed.

What has your tech said he would do?

Besides the usual plug replacements, inspections and fluid/filter replacements, I’d check the tires for cracking. If it’s been sitting on all fours all this time, the sidewalls may be cracked.

Inspect and free up all brakes, replace rotors/pads if necessary and hope the parking brake was not left on.
Drain and replace/bleed off the brake fluid.

Inspect all air intake hoses and fresh air vents for rodent home making and wire insulation feasting.

I drove it the 5 miles to the shop this afternoon and it was quite a ride. The oil pressure gage finally dislodged from pegged all the way high to no oil pressure at all (while stopped at a light) setting off an alarm that would make NORAD proud. As soon as I pressed the gas to pull over it went to normal and I limped into the shop.

The plan is to replace the wheels/tires and eventually build something like John Phillip’s Caprice in this month’s Car and Driver.

The mechanic is supposed to go over it head to toe. I figure most fluids need changing at a minimum, belts, hoses, etc.