The Vault

Golden Touch – ‘49 Olds 88

Anne Grinney-Colomban Car Feature Tags: , ,
1949 Olds 88

By Pekka Polvinen

Finland is a small Nordic country with a bunch of enthusiastic and skilled pinstripers. Kasi-Pasi Korhonen is one of those. His specialty is working with gold leaf. It is thus no wonder that his own ride is a prime example of his skills in this field of art.

A few years ago, he had sold his 1956 Oldsmobile and started to look for a 1949 fastback body. It took a while until a suitable candidate surfaced in the US. This specific car was offered by someone who had bought it from an estate sale. The previous owner had passed away in the course of a restoration process and quite a bit of expensive work was already done, like all the brightwork as well as the 1953 Olds drivetrain. The car was shipped in a container to Finland in the spring of 2011. Shortly after its arrival, Kasi-Pasi tore the car down and started its transformation.

Some of the work carried out by the previous owner seemed to be OK whereas some things caused a real headache. The front coils had to be from a wrong car, as the car had a gasser stance with front end ten inches higher than stock. The doors did not fit properly and some metal cutting and welding was required to get them right. Also the entire front end sheetmetal had to be taken off and reworked, and some of the emblems and trim seemed to be from the longer wheelbase 98 body.

Kasi-Pasi pays great attention to detail and the entire instrument panel was broken down to nuts, bolts, and needles before restoring and putting it back together. The body itself required less work once the doors and the fenders and hood were correctly adjusted after some precision metalwork and welding. Also a one-inch strip of metal had to be added into the rear fenders to align with the fender skirts. In spite of all that, the amount of body work was very reasonable as the body was not rusty.

The Oldsmobile is a mild custom and it may be hard to see the minor modifications. An obvious one is the taillight body. Kasi-Pasi wanted a more streamlined look to fit the flow of the body line and thus the upper sections of the taillight housings were fabricated. The car was already painted black in the US, but because of all the minor modifications and need for show quality outcome Kasi-Pasi prepped the body for a new layer of black acrylic. The scallop-style graphics and pinstriping were then added, carefully laying leaf gold under the lacquer. Gold makes a great contrast against deep black and that color theme goes through the entire car. The dash contains beautiful details where this approach has been applied.

The drivetrain was in good condition; just the carb needed some additional attention but the engine and gearbox seemed to be OK. The lowering of the body was done through airbags in the rear. Kasi-Pasi built his own system through acquiring a compressor and some other parts from a construction company. The industrial unit serves its new duties with Air-Lifts six-inch bags pretty well. The system is neatly hidden behind a panel in the trunk. At front the odd non-original coils were cut a few times until the correct ride height was reached.

Once all done with all new NOS wiring (that previous owner had mounted backwards!) and loads of detail work throughout the car, it was time for the first car show in the spring of 2015. That one and every show since has brought some prizes, but that doesn’t mean the car is show-only. On the contrary, I have seen this car almost weekly at the local supermarket parking lot and at local events.

Kasi-Pasi says, “This car needs and gets driven. Almost every day!”

Special thanks to Marko Tuunanen, Mike’s Garage/Mikko Lassila


Owner/Builder: Kasi-Pasi Korhonen

Location: Finland

Vehicle: 1949 Oldsmobile 88 2-door fastback

Body Modifications: Nosed & decked, minor trim shave, rear fenders modified, 1-piece windshield

Paint: Black acrylic

Upholstery: Gold Naugahyde w/tuck-n-roll black fabric

Engine: 1953   Oldsmobile 303

Intake & Carb: Stock 2-bbl Rochester

Exhaust: Dual 2¼” w/cutouts & Smithy’s mufflers
Ignition: Mostly stock (radio button starter)

Transmission: Stock Hydramatic

Rear End: Stock (3.30 gears)

Suspension: F- Cut coils (2.5” drop); R- Air bags

Wheels: Stock 15×6 steel w/1955 Oldsmobile covers

Tires: 7.10-15 bias-ply WWW

Dashboard: Stock w/hidden radio

Steering Wheel: Stock (restored, gold leaf added)

Taillights: Custom

Club affiliation: Greasers


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *