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Dan Nelson's '69 Oldsmobile 442

He Had Accumulated Parts Since 1981 To Craft Exactly What He Wanted

Photography by Matthew King

Imagine waiting six years to finish your project-six long years waging weekend wars with little financial backup, a son on the way, and a really big hornet named perfection stinging you in the butt every time you think about taking the easy way out. Dan Nelson knows the situation well, and he knows the gloom of doubt that can discourage even the toughest car builder.

He was beginning to think his '69 Oldsmobile would never see the likes of a racetrack, let alone be anywhere near finished before his son turned 16. But somehow he persevered, and he's so close he can taste the tire smoke. The only problem now is that the seasons aren't in his favor. Just when he was ready to unveil his efforts, the first snows of a heavy Indianapolis winter descended, promising harsh weather that was bound to stick around for months. Now Dan's twiddling his thumbs, waiting for spring-and racing season-to start.

If you don't see what the rush is all about, try to understand that Dan's been working mostly on perfecting the performance of the '70 Olds 455ci engine for no other reason than to race it. The internal massaging alone, done by his buddy Steve Hoskins, certainly gives him a good chance of blowing past the tree in a split second, but there's more. He's got an untouched, unsprayed, 100 percent full bottle of nitrous he's never even tried out. It's just waiting to explode, and Dan's ready for it too-if only the track would melt.

While he's waiting, Dan plans to tackle a major body-flex problem before it can cause any damage. So, as the frost continues to build, he'll be busy taking the Olds apart, stripping down the interior to fit a much-needed support cage. Once the guard is set against the body-flex, there will be nothing to stop him. You can bet that Dan will greet spring with a throttled, nitrous-assisted blast of heat and smoke as he streaks down the quarter-mile, earning a well-deserved timeslip with a complete lack of extra seconds.

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Car Craft