A/C Equipped Survivor: 1961 Olds F85 Deluxe Wagon

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Station wagons and early F85 Oldsmobiles have a sweet spot in my heart, so it would only make sense that I would be head over heels for this F85 wagon. Very original and ready to drive, this air conditioning equipped car is a real treat. The current owner offers a wealth of information on this wagon, as far a pros, cons, maintenance, and future needs. Offered for $8,000, these F85 wagons aren’t all that common to see, especially with air conditioning and in this survivor grade condition. Take a look at it here, based out of West Allis, Wisconsin.

Although station wagons may be a bit boring to some, and lack “cool” features, the interior of this Olds is anything but boring. The bright, crisp, and colorful interior is in excellent condition, and reflects little in the way of age. Although appearing nearly perfect, there are some imperfections that need to be noted. The passenger side of the carpet suffers some wear, and potential mouse damage. Beyond that concern, the seats, door panels, dash and steering wheel are phenomenal!

Even the cargo area is scuff and damage free! With all of the great pictures the seller took of this wagon, they unfortunately did not take any detailed pictures of the engine. The 215 aluminum V8 is mated to a 3 speed auto, and is believed to have 51,000 original miles. This wagon is air conditioning equipped, but the compressor has been removed to aid in steering box maintenance. The seller explains that the a/c compressor is in good health, as well as the engine. Although according to the seller the transmission slips from 1st to 2nd when driving the car gently, but when you hit the “go” pedal, the transmission shifts fine. The transmission issue, as well as the steering box concerns need to be addressed by the next buyer. While the car is drivable as is, fixing these issues would really improve the car and the manner in which it drives.

The lovely white over maroon paint has a lovely shine to it, but there are a few areas where the paint has given up the ghost. There is random peppering on the roof section, and the front edge of the hood also suffers with some missing paint and mild surface rust. The quarters, rockers, lower edges of the doors, tailgate, and lower front fascia are all in great condition with no evidence of rust, rot, or blistering. Depending on your flavor, and storage, this wagon could be enjoyed in its current condition for quite a while as a fair weather driver, or it would certainly be a great candidate to give a respray to as well. What would you do with this stylish air conditioned wagon?

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Comments

  1. L.M.K.

    Haven’t seen one of these in wagon form in many years….

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  2. Coventrycat

    I love those wheels!

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    • jw454

      Coventrycat, I like them too but, I think the center hub goes on first and the wheel last so only the hub cover comes through the wheel. That’s what it looks like to me.

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      • Greg Howes

        Those are spider hub caps. Not sure about this exact one, but most are two piece items that have a plate that is anchored to the wheel by the lug nuts, then the chrome cap is anchored to the plate with small hex head screws. This one looks like the cap is anchored by the lug nuts. Rather then put snow tires on my daily driver wheels, I have snows on cheap steel wheels and install pointy spider caps – mine cover the lug nuts too. Looks good and cost a fraction of the cost of nicer wheels. They have a nice 50’s rod vibe.

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  3. Mountainwoodie

    What a beautiful car. My neighbors had one in all red in the late sixties and early seventies. Perfect size for me.

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  4. boxdin

    Love these wagons, and 1961 was olds best looking year for both F85 and bubble top full size. That concave grille is sweet !

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  5. Neal

    Well, I’ve always enjoyed looking out for those early Mopar wagons, but here is a sweet little project with all of the fixins, no structural rust, and it drives too. Wish I had some $, time, and space in the garage. Seems like a real fair deal! Someday.

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  6. Howard A Member

    My brother had this exact car and he lives in S. Wisconsin. I thought it may have been his, which he sold about 15 years ago. It was not this nice and did not have a/c, but this exact car. He bought it in the late 70’s, I believe, and used it as his DD for several years, until he moved to a rural area, and wasn’t feasible for the commute, so it sat in his barn for like 20 years. He had thoughts of restoring it, because it was a neat car, V8, compact wagon. After sitting all that time, the engine was stuck (very common with 215’s) and he advertised for months and nobody wanted it. Finally, I believe a man down south bought it just for the engine, and probably scrapped the rest. Great find. Amazed it’s worth $8g’s, and I think it is.

    2+
    • Jim Morris

      Hi Howard, this 6 degrees of separation thing is getting out of hand!

      I’m the seller, and your brother Bill works with my best friend Tom. When I read your response, I called Tom to tell him of it, and he said that Bill had called him to his office about an hour before, when mine appeared, to show it to him.

      I also worked at the same company as a contractor years ago, at the time Bill was driving his to work. At that time it had a radiator issue and I offered him a used radiator but if I remember right he decided to lay it up about that time.

      A few years back Tom and I went out to Bills place (which happens to be just down the road from a venue that my girlfriends band plays at) and I remember sitting in the kitchen with him and his wife just chatting about many interesting things. If memory serves me right, your S-I-L works as a historian with the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I am in the Wisconsin Society of Automotive Historians, and we are an affiliate of that group.

      We looked at the car in the barn. I was just interested in it as a parts car for another ’61 wagon I had at the time, but his was a 2-seat and I was needing mainly 3-seat items.
      As far as value, I could only find 2 sales in the past couple of years, and while each presented better, they were actually lesser cars and the sales were for more than double my price.
      Thanks for the reminiscing, it made me exercise some old brain cells.

      3+
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Jim, what a small world, indeed. I’ve learned to keep my big mouth shut, as I found, this innernet [sic] thing is pretty big. This could go under a new BF’s heading “stories”. Correct on all counts. I’ve had so many experiences, I’m bound to get a story turned around, but I had the gist of it. You know, Jim, all those years we had gatherings at my brother’s place, I’d go and look at that Olds wagon, hoping someday to restore it, but I, and my brother, at the time, had bigger fish to fry. Your car looks great. While I don’t have the resources to actually buy a car through Barn Finds, the memories that some these cars generate, are priceless. Can’t go wrong here, folks.

        1+
  7. Bruce Fischer

    If its a wagon you got to LOVE it!Bruce.

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  8. Phyllis Lovell

    I will LOVE him and SQUEEZE him and name him GEORGE…ok maybe not George.

    2+
  9. Doug

    I had a 63 Olds F85 wagon with the 215 V8 – it ran well, got good mileage, had plenty of go – until the Achilles heel showed up – the trans went away, and would have cost more than the car was worth to repair…. The shop owner, who had done work for both my Dad and myself on other cars previously, said that the auto trans in these cars was a poor design and prone to slippage and premature failure due to GM wanting them to shift gently.

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  10. Jim Morris - seller

    I have updated the page with the underhood pix ( I forgot to link them).

    Greg H., you are correct these are the 2-piece caps.
    The center bullet and 4 smaller bullets are attached to a plate which is then anchored to the wheel plate with small hex head screws.

    1+
    • dr fine

      Am I seeing a robot with a glowing red nose reflected in the chrome bullets? Is it taking the picture? Where can I get one?

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  11. Greg

    Very cool ! I have a 62 Pontiac Lemans convertible that I restored, and recently bought a 62 Buick Skylark convertible with the 215 V8. Still working on getting her running. Boy, this Olds would round out the collection! It’s a beauty.

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  12. jesus bortoni

    Absolutely gorgeous and the seller has been very straight in the offer. The price is actually very good and if I had the money and the gonads as well as the time I’d be all over it.
    I know everyone will scream but I would pull the motor and trans and store them properly for future use. At that point the idea would be to go through this baby with a very fine tooth comb and take out all of the issues and cosmetic points. Paint (of course), interior, suspension, brakes, steering, exhaust, etc.
    Once all of that were done, detail the heck out of the engine compartment and install a SBC and a THD 400 or any combination that would NOT require cutting or reshaping any metal.
    THEN, it could be a real daily driver! Everything would be there to revert back to the 215 and transmission (if needed) but it would have the wherewithal to be driven safely with out a worry. I’ve always been crazy about about these cars, ever since they came out, and the fact that it’s a wagon makes it even more desirable! Can you imagine sliding up to a Cars and Coffee meet? It would blow people away.

    1+
    • Greg

      Jim’s right. That little 215 v8, and especially with air conditioning, makes that small engine bay full. It would be next to impossible to put in something physically larger. And Jim, I’m just curious. When you say supercharger and injection, are you talking about the Jetfire setup, or something from Rover?

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      • Jim Morris - seller

        Actually I was planning on using GM’s 3800 supercharger of the late ’90’s (Gran Prix GTP, Bonne SSEi, etc.). The physical interchangeability between the engines would help with the swap, and I was just starting on what the best fuel system would be, TBI, carbs, etc.
        Here is my ’92 Olds Custom Cruiser with an Olds 455 /TBI installed, using (mostly) all stock parts.

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  13. Jim Morris - seller

    Your plan sounds good, but can’t be done without significant body and chassis mods. Perhaps you are not aware of how small these cars actually are.
    To put in that driveline would require maximum bashing of the floorpan to get trans clearance, rework the propshaft tunnel because the two piece CV shaft will no longer fit, and you would have to clean off everything from the firewall because the SBC comes all the way back to it, with no wiggle room.
    The added weight of the SBC will make it handle like a pig.
    Even putting a TH200 behind the 215 require floor modifications.
    My plan is putting a 231 supercharger and injection using all factory controls on the 215, now that would get attention and be just as fast.
    Thanks for looking at it.

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    • Greg

      I hadn’t thought about the GM 3800 supercharger. Great idea! And your Olds with the 455, absolutely beautiful 👍

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      • Jim Morris - seller

        Hi Greg, thanks for the nice comment about the big wagon, I forgot to reply back then, sorry.

        Here’s the rest of the ’92 Olds with the 455:
        http://s564.photobucket.com/user/jetfire88_photos/library/Hurse
        When trying to do a project to a higher standard, it at least doubles the time and money:

        When the ’92 is finished, then I start on my ’60 ‘bird (I’ve attached a pic of the concept), only then do I get to the ’61, and that’s a long time/dollars away.

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  14. chad

    i like the size, am lookin 4 something like it (’79/86 fox-bodied LTD wagon)
    Rover liked the motor, bought the prints & continued it on for yrs…

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