Fred Mandrick: A Very Olds Man

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 03/2010
  • posted in: Great Garages

A 4-4-2 a day keeps Dr. Olds at play.

Fred Mandrick, of Scottsdale, visits the good, but mischievous, doctor every day. He remembers that crafty practitioner of the horsepower arts, Dr. Olds. With scalpel and stethoscope, he locked himself up in his Oldsmobile garage — “The Vroom Room” — in the mid ‘60s and ‘early ‘70s and delivered some of the most potent musclecars of the era: Cutlass Rallye 350s and sleeper SXs and flagship 4-4-2s: originally, for 4-speed, 4-barrel, 2 exhausts.

These were not, the GM performance people reminded aficionados, your father’s Olds. These cars made the asphalt burn and young ladies’ hearts beat as well as, were you a bit too pedal exuberant, got those nasty sirens and colorful lights moving in your direction.

These days, Fred sees Dr. Olds in his own 4,000-square-foot garage, which includes a 10 car showroom, a workshop, two store rooms, an office, restroom and an RV bay with two lifts for additional storage. In it are his always new Olds babies that take him back to a time when gas was .30 cents a gallon and performance engines came from the factories with massive 4-, 6- and 8-barrel carburetors that went “whoosh” when you wanted to go a little wild.

“The theme is a bit eclectic, but I have managed to acquire some very nice original neon signs from Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Ford, Pontiac, GM Parts and Mobil Gas,” says Fred, who was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester in the muscle-car era. He came to Arizona in 1977 just after high school. “My parents moved here, and I decided to go along for the ride and I am still enjoying this place more than ever,” he says.

“I have tried to buy the best original memorabilia possible,” he notes. These include restored gas pumps, a Coke machine, a candy machine, a Seaburg Model C Jukebox (“Happy Days” are here again) and gumball machines as well as several original dealership materials and posters — some featuring Dr. Olds.

“I even went so far as to have a special powder coat mix made for the Bald Head cabinets in my work shop,” he explains. That Rally Red matches the color of three of his 1970 442s.

“My dad was into buying and selling cars while I was growing up, so we always had some type of performance car around the house,” he recalls. “He worked at Kodak at a time when the guys were paid pretty well, and it seemed that they all liked fast cars.”

One guy bought a black LS-6 Chevelle with a bench seat and 4-speed: “He loved to street race after work, but he had so many tickets he had to sell the car or go to jail. We ended up with that car for a while, and it was plenty fast.”

His love for Olds began when his dad, Fred Sr., was buying and sell used cars. He also bought a new Oldsmobile every year starting in 1965 — until 1970. That year, he bought a Buick Riviera because the local Olds dealer didn’t give him the deal he was looking for. “The Olds dealer was not happy about losing him as a customer, so he made sure dad got the deal he wanted on the ‘71 Toronado.”

His first car, at 16, was a 1970 Cutlass Supreme, with bucket seats and a column shift. “It didn’t have many options, but it was a very good car,” he says. “That is how it started.”

In 1982, his dad, the original Olds fan, found a 1970 442 Rally Red here in the Valley. “Once I saw it, I had to have it. What a screamer it was: lots of street racing off Central Avenue back in the day.”

Those days continue today. Here are Fred Mandrick’s mighty Olds warriors, in his words:

•1975 Hurst Olds — “This car has 1,800 original miles. I learned to drive in 1975. If I could afford a new car, this is what I would have bought. It just took me 32 years to get it. Purchased in 2007.”

•1969 Hurst Olds — “It has 19,000 original miles: original paint, interior and an all numbers-matching drive train. I purchased this from a close friend in Santa Barbara in 2008.”

•1970 442 W30 Convertible — “I restored this car in 1989, sold it in 1992, then bought it back in 2005. This is an original Tucson car and 1 of 264 W30 convertibles produced in 1970.” The W30 option added a variety of goodies to the already potent 455 cubic-inch powerplant; the package included Ram-Air, a fiberglass induction hood and distinctive badging.

•1970 442 W30 Hardtop — “This is a father-and son restoration project recently published in another magazine. My son, Fred, and I began with an original 1970 order form for a car originally built in September of 1969. After noting on the form all of the options we wanted, we began in 2005 in the ‘assembly room,’ my garage, and I was able to present the completed car to him as a Christmas present in 2008.”

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