FAIRFIELD — Because of health problems, Bill Hoffert needs help renovating his 1932 Oldsmobile. He’s getting it.
Seven Oldsmobile aficionados from all over the region gathered Thursday to work on the car in the garage at Hoffert’s Fairfield house. They and a few others are finishing a job that Hoffert cannot.
“I can’t believe the goodness of the people,” Hoffert said, sitting in a wheelchair. “I just can’t believe it.”
Hoffert got the car in 2012 from Arizona, had it transported to Fairfield and had the body painted gold. He set to work putting the car back into top condition.
“Just to keep myself occupied and busy,” Hoffert said. “To keep my mind off my problems. Then my problems got too overwhelming.”
Hoffert has lung disease. That cut short his efforts on the car in the early stages.
Next came a turn of events made possible by the Internet. Hoffert put out word that he was going to sell the Oldsmobile. A man from Pennsylvania named Dwight Romberger told him to have a “car raising,” the automotive version of a barn raising, where the entire community pitches in.
Larry Ewing, a San Jose resident and president of the Northern California Chapter of the Oldsmobile Club of America, got a call from Romberger, whom he didn’t know. That led to club members contacting Hoffert and getting to work on the car.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” Ewing said as he stood in Hoffert’s driveway taking a lunch break.
The club members are doing such things as working on the carburetor, gas tank, fuel system, radiator and shock absorbers.
“Full operation would take many months,” Ewing said. “Our main thrust is to get this pretty much together. There were a lot of parts in the house, parts in the back that were in the way.”
David Kennedy of Roseville is one of the original Northern California Oldsmobile club members from the mid-1970s. He bought his own 1938 Oldsmobile around that time and still owns it.
“It’s a bunch of old car lovers,” Kennedy said. “It’s like a family helping each other.”
The club members have an eye for detail. Kennedy admired a 1932 Oldsmobile electric clock that Hoffert had obtained for the car, still in its box. Kennedy called it “new-old stock,” never used.
Soon he and Hoffert were talking about the clock. Hoffert was in the garage in his wheelchair, part of the Oldsmobile rebuilding team, at least in an advisory role.
The car is a six-cylinder Oldsmobile Patrician. Hoffert said 900 were manufactured and sold for $996 each.
He found out about the car being in Arizona from the Internet. But, before that, it had been owned in the 1960s and 1970s by a master sergeant at Travis Air Force Base.
Hoffert had originally intended to rebuild the Oldsmobile and sell it.
“After all the guys have done, I’ll keep it in my family,” he said.
Despite his health challenges, he has even bigger plans.
“I’m going to beat this thing and I hope to be able to drive it,” Hoffert said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.