Ken's Starfires:
The Silver Bullet and the Red Bullet

The Silver Bullet The Red Bullet

This page is dedicated to my 1980 Oldsmobile Starfires, two of the last 8,237 made.  Originally, I bought a 1979 Starfire SX with the intentions of building it into an economical everyday driver.  It was equipped with a GM 305 cubic inch V-8 and I didn't want to keep that engine in there, a 4 cylinder sounded like a good economy engine, so I started disassembling it to start the process of replacing the engine, updating the mechanicals, and repainting the yellow paint with something more to my liking -- blue sounded good.  This wound up not happening, as the 79 had a lot of hail damage, and the price for the bodywork alone was going to be a lot.

The Silver Bullet:

About the same time I found the 1980 Starfire GT I now refer to as the Silver Bullet.  No hail damage, a V-6, lots of options, and a paint color I thought looked better.  But she had sat for some time, and the silver had done what a lot of silver-colored cars do: disappeared!  So once it got home I started preparing it for everyday-driver status.  The engine was disassembled and regasketed (mistake, more later) to eliminate leaks, some minor bodywork was done, a rear spoiler was added from a Monza, and another round of silver paint was applied, with blue stripes instead of the black ones (some leftover blue from a race car project), including a large blue stripe previously not on the car.  The paint had barely stopped smelling new when Chelsea and I were married in June of 1996 -- it was nice to have a "nice" car for the first time in a long time.

The engine had to be replaced in late 1996 as #1 cylinder had lost all compression -- should have rebuilt it the first time....  Once that was done I decided to drive the car in autocross events with the Kansas City Region of the Sports Car Club of America for the 1997 season.  With a spare set of stock wheels shod with Hoosier autocross tires, a set of racing shocks, and some magnetic decals we were set for competition in the "G" Stock class.  We didn't set the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination, as the V-6 was woefully inadequate against the newer V-6 FWD (front wheel drive) and 4-cylinder AWD (all wheel drive) cars in the class.  But I learned a lot about the fine art of autocrossing for a reasonable rate, since I could drive the car during the week and compete with it on the weekends.  Here's some pictures of SB in competition:
Display shot, taken before the second event of 1997 at the GSA Complex (67k)
Going the wrong way (for NASCAR)!, Lakeside Speedway, event #5 (37k)
Another shot from the SCCA Solo II Nationals (30k)

After the 1997 season I "retired" the car from competition and used it to haul the tires and equipment for my wife's RX-7, which we started autocrossing in 1998.  The Silver Bullet did a great job, never failing to reach the destination we headed to, and always had plenty of room.  With the rear seat folded down the hatch opened to an area large enough for 4 tires, tools, helmets, and just about anything else we'd need for an autocross weekend.  With the rear seat opened up we still had a lot of room, and seats for four -- something the RX-7 and the pickup truck I have lack, and we sometimes need!

In November of 1999 we had what could only be called a disaster.  My truck had recently broke down, and I hadn't been able to get it fixed, leaving us without the "safety net" of a second vehicle to drive in an emergency.  As I was returning home one Friday evening and within shouting distance of my house some IDIOT decided that red lights didn't apply to him.  The damage was significant, and I was determined to get fair value for my car so I could get it repaired.  Pictures of the aftermath are linked below.
 Front shot, showing the brunt of the damage (29K)
 Left front close-up, nothing left of the headlight or the nose piece (33K)
 Right front, showing just how far to the right the bumper has been pushed (29K)
 Another front shot, the damage is extensive, but repairable (30K)

Someday, this car will run again.  Right now, we have a lot of other things taking up the time it would take to rebuild the car, things like a house renovation that we'd like to move into one of these days and race cars I want to have running soon and the associated support equipment they need.  Since I'll have it down for some time, I've also decided to do some customizing - these mods wouldn't cost too much in the fuel mileage area but make the car a possible autocross candidate on a part-time basis.  These are:

When I get this project underway I'll post pictures here.

 To return to the top of the page

The Red Bullet:

After the disaster, I started looking for replacement parts for SB -- the grilles would be the hardest parts, as they were a one-year part, and remember, only 8200 or so were built.  Upon finding the Yahoo! Clubs® H-body page I posted my request -- someone here surely would have a set......  Well, I didn't find the grilles, I found a whole car!  Wade Sox of Columbia, South Carolina had a real nice 1980 model as well, was interested in selling his, and for a real nice price.  Chelsea and I thought about it for awhile, then decided to find out if Wade thought the car would make it back here -- if it could do that, I knew it would be just fine.  Wade thought that it would do OK, it just got hotter that he thought it should -- not overheating, just getting pretty hot.  Well, I knew just what he was saying, as SB used to get pretty hot until I replaced the radiator with a 3-row model.  After that, no more problems!  So I packed up the radiator from SB (wasn't damaged from the accident, but got a small hole trying to get it out -- repaired just fine) along with some tools and clothes for the trip back, took them all to UPS and sent them to Wade for when we got there -- we were going to get another Starfire!

Once we met Wade and he showed us the car we knew we had found a car we could be more than happy with.  After spending a wonderful day with Wade, his wife Heather and their son Steven we loaded up the car and started up to Charlotte, North Carolina.  We spent two days seeing the Charlotte-Mooresville area and all the race shops on our list along with the Lowe's Motor Speedway, the car doing a flawless job of taking us everywhere we wanted to go.  On Wednesday, April 5 at 4AM Central Time our journey back to Kansas City began.  One thing we found out was the gas gauge lies a little -- it would show us it was nearly empty, but it would only take about half a tank, we were glad about that!  At 10PM that night we rolled into the driveway here, tired but happy we didn't have a problem with the weather, the roads (but don't ask me about St. Louis!) or most importantly, the car.  The next day, with a trip to the Highway Patrol to get the VIN verified (required in Kansas when bringing a car in from out-of-state) and to the court house for the tags the Red Bullet was officially in her new home.

Since I've had the chance to put some miles on her (to and from work each day is just over 40 miles) and learn some of her little quirks I've decided what I'd like to change once I get the time (I assure it won't be a soon as I'd like, but I'll enjoy her just the same), these will be after the SB gets rebuilt and is back in place as the daily driver.  Then the Red Bullet will be more geared toward performance events and autocrossing, SCCA surely has a class that this car will fit in real well!  Some of the changes include:

Here's some pictures of the Red Bullet, some from Wade:
 Right rear corner shot (19K)
 Left rear corner shot (19K)
 Engine compartment - stock and in good shape (29K)
 Smile for the camera - SB doesn't look like this.... (22K)
And the latest one's from me:
 Side shot taken at the house we're renovating (but this is one of the garages, by the way) (47K)

And RB followed in the footsteps of SB as to the SCCA involvement - on May 6 2000 we participated in the first Kansas City Region SCCA social rally in a long time, and finished in the top 3!  It was a lot of fun, and to have a car that could hold its own in traffic made it that much more fun.
 Here's a picture taken during the rally (10K)

Later down the road I'm sure they'll be more about both cars here.  And plenty more stories to tell.............
Take Care,