Stu Miller's Spanish Red 1967 Oldsmobile 442 wasn't purchased on a whim or haphazardly; it's a reminder of a previous GM muscle car the Buffalo Grove resident let go more than four decades ago.
"I had a 442 as a 21-year-old kid and used it to go to school and a job in a grocery store," said Miller. "I was surrounded by friends with muscle cars -- one had a 442, another a Charger and another a Chevelle."
With so much horsepower nearby, it was only natural Miller would want to be part of the scene. He purchased his first '67 442 from a seller in Columbus, Ohio, in 1968. The next couple of years were spent happily motoring, marred only by an unexpected theft. The thieves tore out the engine.
"I got the car back and managed to get it back on the road," Miller said.
So with such an undying love, what managed to coax Miller to part with his prized cruiser? The perks of a new job.
"I got married and took a sales job that came with a company car, which prompted me to sell the 442."
Decades slipped by without another muscle car in the garage until Miller's December 2008 retirement stirred him to begin a search.
"As my career came to a close, I promised myself when I left I'd find myself a 442," he said. Miller located a suitable candidate in Makato, Minn., in March 2009. His first Olds was a pewter silver hardtop and Miller set out to find a twin.
"Initially my vision was to replicate my first car exactly. I hadn't considered opting for one of the pricier convertibles."
It didn't take much for Miller's mind to change and to realize this red drop top would suit his memory-inducing needs just fine. "The vehicle was in excellent shape with all numbers matching and an original 72,000 miles showing on the odometer. I just couldn't resist," Miller said.
After checking out a few sample pictures online, Miller drove the six hours north to see the car in person, making the purchase and promptly shipping the car home. The ruby convertible had been in storage for 25 years before undergoing a full restoration in 2000.
The car has belonged to just two previous owners, both of whom lived one mile apart from each in Minnesota. While the 400-cubic-inch V-8 ran fine, it wasn't long before it started burning oil, running sluggish and blowing smoke out of the exhaust. Miller remedied these issues by rebuilding the engine in 2010, taking the time to restore the engine bay and trunk as well.
From all appearances, the 442 looks more than factory-correct, yet Miller is going back to make it even more authentic.
"I'm replacing any parts on the vehicle that were missing or are not new old-stock items. After searching in places like a Phoenix boneyard, I've found a jack, center console and Rally SS1 wheels."
While he still has a wish list of items to locate, Miller's ride is stunning in present condition and the classic car enthusiast wastes no time in hitting the highways.
"When you're driving an older vehicle, a calmness comes over you, very much like therapy," he said. "You listen to the sound of the road and the raspy engine and together it makes a special blend of music that's sweet to the ears."