Herman Miller's 1955 Oldsmobile
1955 Oldsmobile Convertible owned by Slo Poks of Vancouver member Herman Miller of Vancouver, Washington. Given a mild custom treatment, Miller's Olds was featured in Rod & Custom September 1959. That iteration was nosed, decked, and shaved for door handles. Minor side trim had also been removed, before Herman scrapped the stock grille in favor of a 1956 Chevrolet Corvette grille. A striking Candy Apple red paint job made the car stand out in a crowd. The paint also gave name to the car, which was shown as the "Candy Lady." Inside, it was dressed up with a matching white and red custom upholstery. The trunk was upholstered to match the interior. Peter Sukalac shot the car for Rod & Custom magazine, and according to him, "simple changes prove best design." Total build cost was supposedly $1400.
A Stunning Custom
Herman drove the car every day while striving to keep it in show condition. He also raced it at the strip, running it in the C/Stock class. Turning 88, the car did well at Shelton, Bremerton, Dalles, Scappose, and Medford. In 2021 fellow Slo Poks member David Donaldson told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that the car truly was a stunning custom. "Years before I was a member of the POKS, I was a junior high school kid who used to see her at the downtown Shell station ...a bunch of us kids would be mesmerized by that car! You could visually dive into the paint job just like a lake of water." According to David, the car won trophies everywhere she went, "including the Oakland Roadster Show."
According to rumors, the car was damaged while being trailer-ed one time many years ago, the tow vehicle supposedly blew a tire and both cars ended up off the road badly damaged. David Donaldson had heard that the Olds had been somewhat resurrected over a number of years and was back on the road. "Unfortunately, it has lost all of her custom details and splendor, and she is painted a regular red."
In September of 2021 John Hagensen told Sondre Kvipt that the car was never wrecked, and that it was a story that had circulated for years. "I have owned the car since 1972, and it still retains all of its customizations. We are just finishing updating to an Art Morrison frame with modern suspension and a 455 Olds engine." The car went through several owners after Herman before John got it. "Probably around 2 years ago I was trying to determine the significance of "DEAD ASS" painted on the dash, and found Herman's phone number on county records. I kept getting hung up on calling, and finally wrote a letter with my contact information. Herman called on a Saturday several weeks later, stating "I think you have my old car" and both he and his wife talked for over an hour telling me all about their memories of the car, which were detailed and vivid. I thoroughly enjoyed that conversation. The next evening I got a call from Herman where he started by saying "I think you have my old car." He then told the same stories and his wife did the same. After a total of 3 or 4 calls, I received a call from the couple's daughter asking why they were calling me. She informed me they both had significant memory issues but remembered everything about that car. We became friends. Herman's wife Rosemary passed just after that and, upon Herman's passing away this last January, his children gave me pictures and memorabilia related to the car, including 68 trophies."
Back on the Road
Hagensen planned to have the car back on the road before the end of the year. "It will appear as it did in 1959," he told Kustomrama, "with the exterior and interior just as it was, but the suspension and running gear is now all updated."
Magazine Features and Appearances
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