Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Oldsmobile fans pitch in to help Fairfield man

Car

Bob Wise works on removing old upholstery nails from the ceiling of a 1932 Oldsmobile Patrician in the garage of Bill Hoffert's house in Fairfield, Thursday. Wise, along with other members of the Northern California Chapter of Oldsmobile Club of America, were helping Hoffert restore the old car after he had developed health problems. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

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From page A1 | February 28, 2014 | 3 Comments

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 beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • my2centsFebruary 28, 2014 - 4:30 am

    What a nice story. I look forward to seeing you drive your Olds down Texas Street Bill!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Marty RothFebruary 28, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Dwight (the gentleman in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania), who first started the ball rolling by asking for others to help - his last name is actually "Romberger". The information was first noted through a national on-line FORUM hosted freee to all enthusiasts by AACA, the Antique Automobile Club of America. AACA is an international club with over 400 Regions and over 60,000 members, headquartered in Hershey, PA with a world-class Library as well a their Museum which is associated with the Smithsonian. for more information on this great organization which hosts Meets and Tours please go to www.aaca.org

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • D. YarosFebruary 28, 2014 - 9:28 am

    Giving credit where credit is certainly due, the internet entity that made this possible is the Antique Automobile Club of America. The members are to be commended!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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