Not your father's car show

Jim Peek, with the 1968 Oldsmobile 442 that has won two best-in-show awards at annual Washington and Oregon Oldsmobile shows held in Centralia, Wash.  - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Jim Peek, with the 1968 Oldsmobile 442 that has won two best-in-show awards at annual Washington and Oregon Oldsmobile shows held in Centralia, Wash.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

In 1968, the Oldsmobile advertising campaign for the 442 boldly stated, “This is not your father’s car.”

The auto-maker aimed for drivers in their 30s and early 40s who were fairly established and more inclined to purchase a powerful – but comfortable – muscle car.

In Jim Peek’s case, the 442 really was his father’s car.

The elder Peek, then age 40, visited an international car show at the Seattle Coliseum in the fall of 1967, and somewhat impulsively, decided to order one.

“I think it was his own sort of mid-life crisis,” Peek said of his father Don’s decision to buy the high-octane muscle car. “He just came home and said, ‘I bought a new car.’”

In 1964, encouraged by Pontiac’s success with the GTO, Oldsmobile began to offer full-size muscle in its mid-size Cutlass.

The top engine available from Oldsmobile was dropped into a Cutlass model with heavy-duty suspension and a larger radiator -- the “police pursuit” package. The 4-4-2 signified the engine’s four barrel carb, 4-speed manual transmission and dual exhaust.

Later, as automatic transmissions were an option, the 442 stood for the 400-cubic-inch 350-horsepower V8 engine, the four-barrel carb and dual exhaust.

“The engines are bulletproof,” said Peek. “They run like a top.”

The cherry-red speedster saw Peek through high school -- he took his driver’s test behind the wheel, received his first ticket in it, drove it on his first date and later to the prom.

But when he went off to college, Peek returned the car to his father in favor of a brand-new Volkswagon beetle. The automobile sat in the driveway of the family home for nearly 20 years, until Peek got a call from his mother.

“She told me that dad was looking at a new car, and the dealer was going to give him 500 bucks for it,” said Peek.

“I went over right away.”

Restoration began immediately, though there was nothing about the process that was immediate.

“It was with the paint guy for 18 months, the engine guy for about a year,” Peek said.

The “engine guy” turned out to be a race mechanic for an Oldsmobile team that won 69 NHRA-sanctioned events in the 1960s and ‘70s – racing the exact same year and model auto that Peek has now.

Along with every other part of the car, the engine and paint have been restored to original factory condition.

Even the 8-track cassette player that sits below the dash is stock, and Peek has nearly 200 8-track tapes in his collection.

But for his regular Sunday drives to Port Townsend or Seabeck, he opts for the well-hidden CD player.

“The 8-tracks do sound pretty horrible,” said Peek, who still has his very first 8-track tape -- Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?”

“The CD player quality is just so much better.”

A good cause

More than 100 classic cars will be on hand for the 1st Annual Bainbridge Island Classic Car Cruise-In at Strawberry Hill Park Sunday Aug. 17, with car collectors and casual enthusiasts displaying their four-wheeled pride and joy to raise money for Bainbridge Island Pee Wee Association -- namely the basketball and football programs.

The $10 entry fees and raffle ticket purchases will go to replace equipment on a regular basis, pay for clinics for Pee Wee coachesand other necessities.

The show, which will be held on the football field, runs from 9 a.m. to noon, with dash plaques offered to the first 100 cars.

There will be trophies awarded to best in show, best muscle car, best hot rod, best convertible, best truck, best motorcycle and best original (restored or not).

“Everyone’s car is their own classic,” Peek said, “and there are so many cars on the island that have been handed down from generation to generation.

“My son will eventually get this car -- in about 50 years.”

A barbecue lunch and snacks at the Strawberry Hill field Snack Shack will be available, and a raffle will be held.

“We really couldn’t do this without the support of the Bainbridge Park District,” also citing the support of Liberty Bay Auto Center and Rolling Bay Automotive. “We really appreciate their willingness.”

For information, contact Jim Peek at 855-9400 or email

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