Leo Biller’s 1970 Olds Cutlass
Earlier this year, Leo Biller’s 1970 Olds Cutlass SX convertible was a Canyon Lake Car Club “Car of the Month.” According to Leo, the SX model was made for only two years and is the same platform as the 442, including the 455 cu. in. 365 hp motor. The SX was an attempt to “hide a performance car in luxury clothes for insurance purposes.”
The SX came with air-conditioning and all the power options, including steering, brakes, windows, door locks, seats etc. The SX registry indicates that, in 1970, only 358 convertibles were produced.
Leo says he first spotted this car in 1992 in an auto repair shop on 7th St. in downtown Los Angeles. He had just sold a 1964 Thunderbird convertible and was in the market for another convertible, so he stopped in to talk to the shop owner. It needed some bodywork and paint, but Leo ended up buying it and driving it home.
At that time, it had 74,000 miles on it. It had been turned over to the shop by the first owner, so Leo was the second owner. He drove it about a year, installing a Doug Nash transmission and electronic ignition, before storing it in his mother’s garage until 2006.
Leo says he had it transported to Ralph’s Auto Body in Hawaiian Gardens, where they preped the body for paint. It was repainted its original factory color, “Saffron Yellow,” including all jams, trunk and under hood.
He says, “I wanted to keep the car as original as possible and opted for the original color. The racing stripe was a dealer-installed option for that year and I chose to include it to match the interior. Several of the trim parts had to be replaced requiring a search of the Internet for them. I was fortunate enough to be able to still buy some of the parts while Olds was in business in ‘92. They included several beauty rings for the wheels, taillights, a grille insert and wheel well trim.”
The interior is a special option, sable brown, which Leo could not match with any of the interior shops. But he found the material and ordered enough to have the front buckets and rear bench re-done. The rest of the interior is what came from the factory. He had the original AM/FM radio rebuilt and it now works fine.
The top was replaced with a matching Hartz cloth top as the original had a slash over the driver area. “I think someone forgot their keys at one time,” says Leo. The wheels are factory wheels that were powder-coated to match the paint.
He says the car has been a great pleasure to own and still has plenty of power; however, he hopes to have it rebuilt with some internal performance upgrades sometime down the road.
Since it was last selected Car of the Month, he has rebuilt the engine with an over bore, comp cam new valve train and an induction system, including a double pumper 850 cc carb set up by Bob Earleywhine. He also installed Headman headers and a new gas tank, and had the transmission rebuilt retaining the competition upgrades. “It is still a joy to drive and is very reliable,” he says.
Joe Landin’s 1970 El Camino
Joe Landin’s 1970 El Camino was selected Car of the Month at the Car Club’s April breakfast. Joe says, as a lifetime admirer of unique and interesting cars and trucks, he has always appreciated the Chevrolet El Camino.
Chevrolet designed and built the El Camino from the early ’60s through the late ’80s. He notes, “It was a great combination of a very presentable car and truck.”
Joe purchased this Custom El Camino several months ago at a car show in Vista. “Custom” was the name given to this model by Chevrolet.
Since he had previously owned one almost identical, this one caught his eye. With the exception of minor bodywork and paint, which has been completed, this is a completely restored SS 396 El Camino, equipped with all options that were available.
“Drives great! Sounds great!” he says.