Custom convertible may be one of a kind

Staff writer

Marion City Administrator Doug Kjellin has a passion for more than city work; he loves classic cars. He owns several vehicles. One of his most notable vehicles is his 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado, which Kjellin believes might be one of a kind.

“That year Oldsmobile had no options for a convertible on a Toronado,” he said. “It’s a funny story really.”

Lawrence Honda dealer Jack Ellena originally owned the car new, said Kjellin.

“Ellena was retiring and his kids, who were taking over the dealership, asked what he wanted as a retirement gift,” Kjellin said. “Ellena said he wanted an Oldsmobile Toronado, convertible.

“The kids called the factory and the factory said, ‘No we don’t make those.’ The kids said, ‘You don’t understand, what dad wants, dad gets.’ So the factory modified a Toronado to fit their criteria,” Kjellin said.

According to Kjellin, the car is called a custom order production assembly or COPA car.

“If the story is true, then it could be the only factory-built convertible in that model in existence,” he said. “I thought ‘That’s too cool, I have to own that.’”

The car came with an engraved brass plaque from the factory stating when and who it was made for.

Kjellin bought the car from its second owner in 2008.

“The car is totally original,” he said. “I have a junk Toronado I pull parts off to fix it, if needed.”

Kjellin enjoys driving the car. He said he is the only one in his family that drives it.

“If you have a car like that, it doesn’t do any good hiding it in the corner of the garage,” he said. “It’s too fun to let sit.”

Kjellin said he has no idea what the market cost is.

“I’ve had people tell me it’s worth anything from $5,000 to $50,000,” he said.

To keep the Toronado in good condition, Kjellin said he treats the leather interior four times a year and does not run the top up or down a lot.

“I try to keep it as original as possible,” he said.

Kjellin also owns a ’77 Dodson 280z and a ’48 Chevy truck.

“I did some mechanic work, but mostly I’m an opportunist,” he said. “If I see something that has market value and appreciation, I buy and enjoy it and if someone offers to buy it for a profit, I sell and move on to another project.”

 

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