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Home/News and Feature Articles/*Featured Cars and Trucks/ Oldsmobile Featured Cars/


Scott Nelson's beautiful Olds Ninety-Eight is a low-mileage survivor. Originally sold in Carthage, Illinois and spending most of its life there, it had only 42,000 miles at the time Scott bought it in 2010.

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The car was originally two-tone bronze mist/polaris white, but it was repainted all white some time in the 1990s.

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1959 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight SceniCoupe - Scott Nelson is King of the Australian Road
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By Society Staff – reprint with permission only

The great Harley Earl was nearing the end of an illustrious career as the head of GM's Color and Style Department, and the 1959 models were to be his swan song. Key styling cues, such as tailfins and copious amounts of bright work, were attributed directly to him. His retirement would see the end of instructions like "I want to see another 100 lbs. of chrome on that by the time I get back" (referring to the '58 Olds) and "oblongs are more attractive than squares".

The '59 Olds, and, in particular, the 98 series were to be the beneficiaries of his parting will. The car was the longest and widest ever offered by Oldsmobile, and it sported fins that started at the front tip of the front fenders and ran all the way back to the pod tail lights. This style was dubbed "the linear look". With literally hundreds of individual pieces of bright work adorning this full-sized car, it was assured to stand out.

Fast forward now to 2012 and to sleepy Adelaide, South Australia, where a car like this still causes a stir. Scott Nelson's 1959 Ninety-Eight Holiday Sceni-Coupe was built in Kansas City and delivered to Newell Motor Sales in Carthage, Illinois where it spent most of its life being used sparingly by its careful, original owner.

The sales invoice showed the original list price as $4,086, but, by the time option boxes were finished being ticked, the price soared, settling in at $5,177.65. This is one highly-optioned car, and, after a huge amount of work, everything once again is in good working order.

Sometime in the 1990s it was freshened, and, in the process, it lost its bronze mist/polaris white color scheme as the entire car was repainted in polaris white. The original trim of leather cloth and vinyl remain intact, which is testament to the car's low mileage. Age is taking its toll, though, and the interior will need a spruce-up some time in the near future.

By 2004, the car ended up in a dealer's lot in Georgia with 42,000 miles on the clock, where it was spotted, online, by a man of great taste from Adelaide. He bought the car sight unseen just going on the photos alone and was not disappointed when the 98 was unloaded in South Australia. With some minor changes to comply with Australian laws, the car was easily registered and remains left-hand drive.

In 2010 it was once more offered for sale, and this is where Scott came into the picture. He had recently sold a '64 Ford Thunderbird, and he was looking for a full-sized American classic, preferably with fins, and certainly with a heap of chrome. On a plane flight back from looking at a couple of '56 Lincolns and thumbing through a magazine, there it was the Olds. As soon as he saw it, he bought it warts and all. There is an old saying that one should not buy a car at night, but buy a car at night is just what Scott did, and he has no regrets.

Not much was working on the car when he got it, and what was working didn't work all that well, which is often the case for cars that are rarely driven. Sometimes under-use is as bad as overuse. Over the six-year period between the car's arrival in Australia in 2004 and Scott's acquisition of the car in 2010, only 2000 miles had been added to the odometer.

Problems included an absent first gear, decidedly scary brakes, motor running rough, and a funky fuel gauge with a warning from the prior owner that a reading of one-quarter actually meant empty. But none of this mattered to Scott as he boldly drove the car, with his Ray Bans on his head and his arm out the window, the 100 km (about 60 miles) to his home. He was king of the road!

His first stop in his hunt for the many things he wanted for the car was eBay. First gear is now back, and the brakes are renewed. The heater and air-conditioning work, electrical gremlins have evicted, and carburetor, heads, transmission, exhaust and more repaired or rebuilt. Missing moldings were found and fitted, and questionable chrome has been redone. Along the way, he found some real gems, including an NOS grill, an NOS tail light lens, and even an NOS clock. Gotta love that eBay!

This is the only '59 Olds soaking up real estate on South Aussie roads at the moment, and most locals have never seen one let alone know what it is. The odometer is about to roll over to 50,000 miles, and the car runs sweet and strong and has never let Scott down. He is still king of the road with his Ray Bans on and his arm out the window speeding along those Australian highways.

Fins and finned taillights pretty much reached their peak in 1959 as far as General Motors styling went.

With swept back wheel openings both front and back, a '59 looks like it's moving even when it's standing still.

The interior is original and in good shape, but Scott says that time is taking its toll, and freshening will be required in the near future.

Oldsmobile's version of the lap of luxury for 1959.

The 394 V-8 ran rough when Scott bought the car, but a carburetor rebuilt and other work has it running smoothly once again.

Even the air-conditioning works.

A '59 Ninety-Eight cuts a fine profile as it sits along an Australian highway.