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Stories from Steve: An Almost New ‘48 Olds

Mabel Tremain from Mauston, WI, was the first owner of this beautiful original automobile. There seemed to be two sides to Mabel. From a published article in the local Madison newspaper, it appeared that Mabel was a great American entrepreneur. She had a small grocery store in Mauston during the war years. With most young men serving their country in WWII at that time, she worked 7 days a week to keep her store open. During the war, she decided it was time she learned to drive. She built a garage onto her house and went to her local dealership, Kastner Bros Olds, to buy a new car. Of course, there were no cars being made during the war, so she put her name on a list of people interested in buying a new car when they became available. She was so busy keeping the store open, she never learned to drive. When she was called in 1948 to pick up her new Oldsmobile, she couldn’t drive it home. For the next 10 years, her brother or a friend drove her around town. She never got her license, never drove the car, and in 1958 parked the car for good in her heated garage. At that time, it only had 559 miles.

Earlier in this discussion, I mentioned that maybe there was another side to Mabel. About two years after I bought the car, I was able to contact a distant relative of this American entrepreneur. This relative felt that being in a highly competitive business environment made Mabel rough on people, especially her own family. This relative left me with the quote “she was a very driven person – very unpleasant even to her own family – basically business was her life.” She may have been the classic example of a life dominated by a passion for success. I just do not know.

As previously discussed, this Oldsmobile sat undisturbed until she passed away in 1977. In 1978, the car was presented at her estate auction and purchased by Otis Larson, a Mauston resident. He titled the car in 1979, drove it very little, and showed the car only once.

In 2003, Otis wrote an article about the car and its history. He titled the article “An Almost New ’48 Olds.” We have his original draft and the portion that was used by Vern Parker who wrote for “Motor Matters.” It was published in the Wisconsin State Journal in January 24, 2004. An interesting quote from his first draft is, and I quote, “This car was always stored inside, taken out for a run once or twice a year, and now registers 711 miles – I don’t believe it was ever driven in the rain.” The following year, Otis sold the car at the ’04 IOLA Old Car Show to collector Glen Weeks. Glen then trailered the car to the KRUSE Auction in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for their January 7, 2006 sale. Mike Leith, a prominent collector from North Carolina, purchased the Olds, now showing 715 miles.

Mike’s automotive group kept a log of ten different times they started and drove the car over the next five years resulting in 764 total miles. At this point, I received a call from Mike’s curator, James Pierson. He explained that Mike felt the excellent condition of the car could be compromised on the open road and it would be sold at the Raleigh Auction on June 24, 2011.

I arrived in Raleigh, inspected the car, bought the car, and now feel it is one of the finest automobiles in our collection.

Written by founder Steve Ames, 2003

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