WINFIELD - Greg Cline knew he had latched on to an unusual restoration project when he purchased the vintage car on an online auction site.
It was a family vehicle, not a muscle car like the ones favored by many car enthusiasts, that caught his eye. There was just something about the 1960 Oldsmobile station wagon that spoke to Cline. For one thing, he had never seen another Dynamic 88 station wagon.
Cline fully realized just how unusual the car was when he took it to the prestigious Shades of the Past Hot Rod Round Up car show in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., earlier this month.
The Dynamic 88 - also known as a Fiesta Wagon - placed in the Top 25 of about 3,000 cars in the show.
"It was the only wagon there," Cline said, adding he knows of only four still in existence.
"It's nice for one time to be on the cutting edge of something," he said. "I'm usually on the tail end."
While it's hard to know how many Dynamic 88's were made from 1959 through the mid-1960s, Cline said the numbers weren't huge, even taking into account the two-door, four-door and convertible models.
"Oldsmobile was more of an experimental car back then," he said.
Station wagons were family cars first and then often were converted into utility vehicles on the secondary market, used by carpenters and electricians in the days before panel vans. Many station wagons ended up in demolition derbies.
The few that survived the years weren't desirable to collectors.
"Nobody wanted them," Cline said. He thought the $6,000 or so he shelled out for his was a bargain, considering the condition of the car, which had virtually no rust and was in good running condition.
Cline is no car newbie.
The owner of Greg Cline's Automotive and Collision Center just outside Winfield, he bought and restored his first car - a Ford Pinto - when he was just 13. He had fixed up and sold a half-dozen cars before he could even drive.
The station wagon, purchased in 2004 from an owner in Tennessee, was in great shape for a 52-year-old car. Cline knows its original owner lived in Oklahoma, but that's about it. He figures it was garage-kept.
Cline intended just to make sure the car was road safe and enjoy it. And he did just that for a couple of years.
"My wife gets on me because it always blows up into this," Cline said. His wife, Trisha, nods knowingly - but she's become a car fan in the 13 years they've been married.
"I never dreamed I'd be working in a body shop," she said, laughing.
Cline learned about cars at the knee of his dad, Henry, who fixed up cars as a side job to his career with American Electric Power.
Cline, 38, got a business administration degree from West Virginia State University, where he met Trisha, who has a finance degree. He assumed cars would be his side job, too, until he joined his dad and the two expanded their operations.
The two worked together every day and had two personal projects going - Henry's 1937 Ford hotrod and Cline's wagon - when Henry died suddenly in February 2009. Cline decided to continue his dad's labor of love and finish the Ford before turning his attention fully to the Oldsmobile.
Even then, the car was an extended project, done while running a business and as he had the money. Some features, such as restoring chrome, were expensive custom jobs sent to shops in other states.
Early on, Cline knew he was going to modify the car, keeping all of its best design components while giving it modern features.
The 1960 car was in many ways a marvel of engineering and quality, with sleek curved glass on both the windshield and rear. Trims are metal, not plastic, and feature lots of chrome. The car even came with factory air-conditioning, though it couldn't compare to modern cooling systems.
"No car manufacturer could afford to produce this car now," Cline said. "There's too much metal and chrome in it."