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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

Oles Garage Car Collection 2024


The classic car hobby has always been strong in my family, as far back as my Grandfathers on both sides: Stanley Oles Sr. and Clayton Burr. Today, I am happy to share these cars and experiences with my Father Stanley and Uncle Jim, as well as my son Clay and the rest of our family. Although the majority of these cars are owned by Jim, he is generous enough to share them with us. This up-to-date post outlines the classic cars that are currently in our family, as well as car models we are thinking about acquiring in the future.

FRENCH CARS

1935 Citroen Traction Avant Cabriolet

We have enjoyed our Traction Avant sedan immensely over the last few years. The thought of having the same driving experience but with the roof removed was tempting. Unfortunately, Traction Avant Cabrios are extremely rare in the US - I never actually saw one in person. When we caught wind of the Citroens from the Mullin Collection going up for auction, we were extremely excited to see that this example was available and we were lucky enough to acquire it. With a rumble seat in back, a fold-down windshield, and many cool period accessories like the wheels, fender guards, and banjo steering wheel from Quillery, it is a very stylish addition to our collection.

1973 Citroen DS Cabriolet

Can a car be classified as art? No matter where you stand on the subject, the Citroen DS always enters the conversation, having been featured in MoMA and numerous other art displays. The DS was produced from 1955 to 1975. It's incredible to imagine a car like this parked next to our 1957 Traction Avant in the Citroen showroom! The car had clean, futuristic styling and next-level tech and ride comfort with its remarkable suspension design. The coach-built Cabriolet models such as this turn the sedan body into a long, flowing, graceful 2-door design. With its cloud-like ride and its roof open to the heavens, this car is truly like driving a dream.

1973 Citroen SM in Metallic Blue

This example is the 3.0 liter 5-speed, the most desirable spec for the SM model. Jim is the third owner of this car (2nd owner had it from 1975 to 2017 when we acquired it). We fitted the "euro" front light bar as well as the French RGB alloy wheels. The car was resprayed once in its original Blue Metallic color, with its original natural brown leather interior still intact. Stan and Jim added cooling upgrades as well as a custom fuel injection system that mimics the original Weber carbs, run by a Haltech ECU and an iC7 Digital Dash display to keep tabs on vital information.

1972 Citroen SM in Black

This is a 2.7 liter 5-speed, sporting a set of the RGB alloy wheels. The car was originally metallic brown with a natural brown interior. Currently it is vinyl wrapped black (a tribute to the SM that Jim owned in the 70s). A unique feature of this car is the factory-equipped metal sunroof. Future plans for the car include a full respray as well as a fuel injection setup similar to the 73 SM, as well as a euro front light conversion with square LED lights to mimic the factory setup under glass covers.

1986 Citroen 2CV Charleston

After borrowing Citroen expert Andy's 2CV for a week, Jim wanted to add a 2CV to his collection of classic French cars. This example was one of the last French-built examples of the Charleston trim level. The car was fully restored in Holland, and then it was imported to the USA through 2CV expert Erik deWidt at Classic Motorcars International. It is sporting a new galvanized frame, as well as new interior and a long list of refurbished parts. With its clever fold-back roof, this will be a fun little summer runabout with classic French styling.

1957 Citroen Traction Avant

This car was imported to the US in 2009 by fellow Chicago Citroen enthusiast Gary Bartholomew. After spending some time in Arizona, it now finds itself back in Chicago! Although the paint and interior are in good condition, the car immediately received some mechanical attention under our care including upgraded CV joints, a power disc brake conversion and rear drum upgrade, plus an electric power steering conversion and a Holley Sniper EFI conversion with custom intake manifold. The car also sports a self-contained air conditioning unit in the trunk area.

1991 Citroen XM

It's always cool when you can complete a "Then and Now" set in a car collection. In this case, "Then" is the Citroen DS. The DS passed the torch to the CX, which updated the styling but kept the sophisticated hydro suspension. The XM followed, adding some computer-assisted refinement to the suspension and some fancy Bertone bodywork. This car was a bit of a gamble, since the motor broke its timing belt and bent a valve. The car sat around for a few years before we picked it up in Ohio. The interior is in great shape, so the majority of the sorting the car needed was mechanical. A rare sight on American roads, this car adds a bit of modern Euro flair to the Oles fleet of cars.

1988 IES Gringa

The IES Gringa was an all-fiberglass bodied pickup produced in Argentina using a Citroen 2CV engine and transmission with a unique transverse leaf spring front suspension and a solid rear axle. It's a tiny little pickup, and a quirky addition to our collection. Perhaps one day we will park it alongside a Mehari, the other fiberglass-bodied Citroen creation that was a bit more Jeep-like.

GERMAN CARS

1957 Mercedes 190SL

This car has the longest history with the Oles family, having been acquired by my Uncle when he was 15 and restored by him, my Dad and my Grandfather. An interesting feature of this car is the set of shell-backed sport seats shared with the 300SL. After spending a brief period in the 70s with an early turbo setup (!), the car was converted to EFI in the 00s.

1954 Mercedes 170D Pickup

We imported this rare Mercedes pickup from Argentina where it was routinely used as a work truck at a vineyard. The Mercedes 170 line of vehicles were produced after WWII in various forms including sedans, convertibles, covered work trucks, ambulances, and this rare pickup, which we believe this to be one of only 80 or so produced. It's a simple design with a hard-working Mercedes diesel power plant. This is a series II version, identified by the windshield wipers which were moved from above the windshield to a position on the cowl. Mechanically, the truck is in good, running condition. Currently, we are tending to some cosmetic issues.

1978 VW Beetle Convertible

This is a low mileage example (currently reading 13K miles) that was acquired from Jim's neighbor who was the second owner. While the paint and interior were in excellent original condition, we added upgraded suspension, disc brakes in the front and Pedrini Alloy wheels from a Porsche 914. This car is a fun, reliable summer cruiser with a working original 8-track player.

JAPANESE CARS

1990 Nissan Skyline R32 GTR Bee-R 324R

This car was factory tuned by Bee Racing in Japan and fitted with the full Bee-R 324R conversion which mimics the styling of the R34 GTR with some unique touches. Upgrades include a carbon fiber hood, bigger Tomei twin turbos, titanium exhaust and AEM standalone ECU.

1992 Nissan 240SX

We swapped the motor in this car to the JDM SR20DET turbo setup with many upgrades including a custom oval exhaust (for ground clearance), Haltech ECU with iC7 digital dash display, Touge Factory Air Cup front suspension lift, plus a custom stereo, JDM OEM Type X Kouki wing and Shine Auto body kit with Car Modify Wonder Lotus Vented hood and many other upgrades. I am so pleased with the new paint work from Speakeasy Customs. After working on this car for the last 6 years, it is now EXACTLY how I want it.

2000 Acura Integra GS-R

This is the third Acura Integra that I have owned, including a 1992 GS Leather and a 1997 Type R. This car is often considered the pinnacle of front wheel drive performance, created during the golden 90s era of Japanese cars. Great steering feel, 8000 RPM redline, and the perfect, flickable chassis combine to form an iconic car. This example has been passed down to my son Clay because I think it is an excellent platform for developing driving skills.

BRITISH CARS

1998 Rover Mini Sportpack LHD

There are several BMW-era Minis in the Oles family (Supercharged Coupe, Supercharged Convertible, Turbo Clubman), but we have never owned an original BMC Mini. I had the opportunity to experience my friend Jeff's Cooper and it sparked an interest. The original Minis were produced between 1959 and 2000. The last of the line were the MK7 Minis, made between 1996 and 2000. They had some modern refinements including driver side airbag, side impact protection, 1275cc Multi Port Fuel Injection and 13 inch rims on the Sportpack option. We sourced this car from Mini expert Cooperworld in the Netherlands so that we could get a left hand drive example. With its Porcelain Green Leather interior, this car has some real curb appeal! Summer driving weather can't come soon enough!

AMERICAN CARS

1982 Chevrolet Corvette

My Father has owned this car since 1990, so we have quite a history with it in our family. I remember taking this car to prom, as well as many memorable road trips to the Bloomington Gold car show. The car is almost completely stock, right down to the factory Cross Fire Fuel Injection. Other than needing a new fuel tank a few years ago, this is the easiest to maintain car in our fleet by a long shot. You can't beat an American V8 for reliability.

PROJECT CARS

1972 Citroen SM in Beige

This car was pulled out of a field in southern Illinois where it sat for 10+ years. Thankfully, although the paint and interior are in rough condition, the car was stored elevated off the ground which helped prevent rust in the chassis. Surprisingly, with some maintenance, the car starts and runs, with functioning suspension lift! Unfortunately, after repeated drives, the car still smokes heavily so it will probably need an engine refresh. Future plans include a full restoration as well as an EV conversion featuring the new Ford EV crate motor.

1960 Triumph "TR10" Estate Wagon

Jim and Stan's father Stanley owned one of these when they were new. My father learned to drive in it when he was 16! Very few (1500?) were imported to the USA under the established Triumph nameplate. The car was known as a Standard 10 Companion in the UK. This particular car spent most of its life in Utah until a Triumph enthusiast brought it to NY in 2015. He collected parts for the car, including a rebuilt Spitfire engine and disc brake front suspension, but he did not start in on the restoration. I could not find a TR10 for sale on the open market, so I contacted owners in the registry on the Triumph forum. We cut a deal with the previous owner and shipped it back home to Chicago, where we immediately began to disassemble the car and inventory the parts. The body shell and assorted bits are currently being stripped before bodywork can begin.

SCHWINN BICYCLES

Schwinn Stingray Fastbacks: '64 Violet, '64 Black, '70 Sky Blue, '72 Campus Green, '76 Candy Red, 1976 Hurricane, 1964 Jaguar MkIV, 1950 Black Phantom, 1976 Swing Bike

I have always been into bikes, from my first Stingray that I still own (72 Campus Green) to my college years working in bike shops to the current crop of Stingrays that I restored over the COVID lockdown. I find that bike projects are economical, fun and very rewarding. They are my favorite bikes to ride around the neighborhood, and they ooze style from their sparkly banana seats to the many chrome details.

FUTURE ADDITIONS

American Muscle

The 1965 Shelby Mustang above belongs to my friend Adam and I absolutely LOVE it. I spent about 10 years searching all over the US to find one of these cars. For one reason or another, it never really worked out. It would be nice to have another classic American car in the collection, whether it is a Mustang, another Corvette (1957!!!!) or some kind of Muscle Car. I never get sick of American V8s, especially ones with fire-breathing horsepower.

Something Italian

For whatever reason, we have never had any Italian cars in the family. My Dad and Uncle used to repair Maseratis in the 70s, and the SMs do have a Maserati V6 under the hood. But it would be nice to have something Italian in the garage - maybe an Alfa Romeo, a Lancia, a Maserati Merak (for the SM connection) or something cute like a Fiat 500.

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