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Museum Find: 1961 Olds Starfire Convertible


If this Olds was good enough to be in the Petersen Automotive Museum, then it has to be worth taking a closer look at! It was originally destined to be fully restored by the museum, but for some reason they decided to sell it instead. It’s said to be all original, from the Twilight Mist Poly paint to the fantastic interior! At first I didn’t believe the paint was original, but I don’t see any of the typical signs of a respray and it has lots of imperfections that come from age and use. You can find this beautiful convertible here on eBay in Santa Monica, California with a BIN of $29k.


I’m a little curious as to why the museum decided to let this Olds go rather than restore it. Is there some rust or structural issue they aren’t telling us about? Or did they just decide it was too original for a complete restoration but not nice enough to be put on display?


The Starfire really is a great machine! The styling is incredible and the 394 V8 is a powerhouse, with 330 horsepower on tap. This one is said to run and drive nicely, so perhaps with a little work this could be a nice weather cruiser. I’ve seen a few of these rare Oldsmobiles, but haven’t ever had the pleasure of driving one. If you have, we sure would love to hear more about the experience!


  1. John M

    Gorgeous color. I don’t think this needs restoration to be a daily driver

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  2. JW

    My dad had one of these but a gold hard top. That car hauled butt, wasn’t quick off the line but bury that speedo and it would hold it there all night long. Nice looking car.

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  3. Poppy

    Looks like someone spilled a bottle of “patina” on the front of the hood.

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    • Biggles21

      Its a reflection

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      • JW454


        If you look at pictures 5 and 7 in the Ebay ad you’ll see the spot on the hood is a rust spot where the paint was sanded off and some filler was added.

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      • Alan (Michigan)

        Reflection of paint that used to cover that spot?

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  4. Alan (Michigan)

    Wow, a lot to love about this car.
    But a lot to be concerned about as well.
    The ask price is pretty close to what I think a decently restored one should be worth. Desirable as an original paint unrestored car, but with so many cosmetic deficiencies that most buyers would balk. Fixing those, including the missing rear window, and problems with the convertible top would certainly run thousands of dollars. And how many of the paint and dent issues could be addressed before the claim of “original paint” would be questioned?
    Nice, certainly. But the current bid is about where I think it should end, $20K give or take a few.

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    • Eric Dashman

      Agree 100%. There’s too many cosmetic issues with this car for me to believe that it’s a 40,000 mile car. I’ll bet it’s 140K.

      I love these Olds Starfires with all of that stainless trim, but this is a $17-$20K version at best. Why is that engine so clean? Bidding is over $20K already and reserve is not met.

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      • JimmyinTEXAS

        I am voting against 140K miles. 3rd picture, underneath the car, not a 140K example. Underside of the hood also looks pretty nice. Interior is crazy nice, easy to replace. But if your gonna do that get some new carpet while your at it. Really bad about the hood taking a hit and one shot of the rear bumper looks to have a little frosting, but that could be shadow/reflection. I agree 20K seems about right. I’m hoping the reserve isn’t much higher and someone can get some good cruising out of this beauty…

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  5. Howard A Member

    I think the ’61 Olds was the nicest of the GM ’61 lineup. We certainly didn’t see any cars the likes of these in the mid-west, usually wagons and 4 doors. But always liked the style. 40K miles, isn’t exactly a museum car, somebody drove it for a while, but just an outstanding car. This car should be in parades with the homecoming queen in the back.

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Howard. I can just imagine what the homecoming queen of ’61 would look like today. The car would look a lot better…. LMAO!

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  6. Len

    I think Poppy is right about the patina on the hood. It is in every pic from every angle. Cant be a reflection. Looks like fire damage or excessive heat related.

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  7. Mike

    The paint problem on the hood is severe. Could there have been an engine fire? This is my favorite early 60’s Olds model.

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  8. Steve

    My college room-mate had one of these back in 1961, and I drove it at that time. It handled better than typical full sized cars of the day, and had much more power. I loved the car, but remember that my experience is now 55 years old.

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    • Loco Mikado

      Most convertibles in the 60’s rode and handled better than their sedan or hardtop siblings. They had a lower center of gravity and stiffer frames because of the reinforcement in their frames and lower bodies to offset the loss of a solid roof and upper body support. I have ridden in many a 60’s convertible in the 60’s & 70’s and when compared to their sedan or hardtop siblings they did ride and handle better in my unscientific “seat of the pants” observations. Even my dad, who was not a GM fan loved the ride and handling of his best friend’s 1965 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 convertible which he bought new, trading in his barely year 1964 Chevrolet SS Impala convertible. The ride and handling of the Impala were also very good but my dad’s friend said the engine never ran right in his opinion. Three days after the new owner bought the car from the dealer to whom it was trade to, the engine blew up. Apparently the engine had a defect from the factory and it was replaced by GM, something they did very rarely at the time. The connecting rods were installed backwards from the factory.

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    The reason the Peterson museum “let this one go” is because they have totally lost their focus! The Petersons had a marvelous collection of VERY special cars, but after they died, a committee of non-car people has taken over and sold off many of the original cars. They have put more effort into a farcical redesign of the exterior of the building than they have into saving the cars that made Peterson Publishing great.

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  10. SunbeamerStu

    My fav car from childhood, and the only car my parents owned that I wished they’d never sold. My sis and I would sit on top of the rear seats (like, on the bodywork with feet in the seats) as we cruised down the I-5 freeway. Different times….

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  11. Vince Habel

    It should have dual exhaust.A 40k car should not have needed a complete exhaust system

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  12. Mark Mederski

    I guess in LA as a car museum you may have limited space, can’t show everything, or even store it. Museum etiquette says it’s OK to sell collections IF you put the proceeds back into collections. Hopefully the money from the Olds will help the Petersen buy a significant race car or hot rod with California importance.


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  13. charlie Member

    The Peterson is like any high end showroom, be it jewelry, or cars – just a few occupying a lot of space. BUT in the basement there are another 150 or so, parked cheek to jowl, which for and extra $20 or so you can be lead on a well informed guided tour of. If you go there, make a reservation on line, in advance for the “Vault” tour, it was, for me more interesting than the glamorous upper three floors. They spent a fortune on the façade last year, and, maybe it will enhance the neighborhood, which is pretty nothing. And, the worst Thai restaurant down the street that I have ever eaten in. They have their own parking garage, use it.

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  14. jackthemailman

    Nice, but way too pricey.

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  15. Candy man jim

    The hood picture spot doesn’t look likes impel photograph reflection-problem as its on multiple photos… Maybe it is but doesn’t look that way to me…

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  16. Clay Byant

    All the small dents around the car demand a complete paint job or it’ll end up looking like the driver’s side front fender which was a poor respray. The paint is off two shades but they didn’t have color matching digital ware probably when it was resprayed. I wonder why the fender code tag is bent up. No big thing but no small thing but the dash cluster looks like they had a dog pawing at it the last 10k miles. They best take the 20k and run unless they meet up with a blind pencil seller down on the corner that’s had a good year……………..

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  17. ROTAG999

    Had a High School friend who had same car but was ugly brown that 394 is a beast, he had trouble with the rear shock mounts breaking off the rearend he drove it that way and you bounced even when coming to a stop at a signal light good times and plenty of strange looks from other motorists, Peace,Love ,Dope i miss the 70’s.

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  18. Wayne Graefen

    Everyone is missing something: ORIGINAL FACTORY INSTALLED TOP. See the inch and one half srtip of interior color vinyl over the side glasses? ’61 Starfire was the ONLY model ever to do this little detail and never available in a replacement top!
    I had a super low mileage one owner ’61 S-fire years ago with the strip.
    However look at the rot at the bottom of the driver’s door hinge pillar — needs further investigation.

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    • Poppy

      Good catch on the door pillar. Neat info about the top too – never knew about that. I also see some crusty looking stuff in the one photo of the right front wheel well with the curb feeler sticking out.

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