1974 AMC Matador Oleg Cassini
After the most recent Matador post, reader Gary Thoreson dropped me an e-mail describing his Matador. It's the prettiest Matador I've ever seen, bar none, and the story behind the car is truly touching.
Here's Gary's story:
Submitted by Gary Thoreson
It was Feb. 19, 1999 in Abbotsford, B.C., and my Dad, Edwin Alberta Thoreson, became the proud owner of a 1974 Oleg Cassini Matador. The past owner, according to the transfer papers, was a man by the name of Henry Edge. The transfer papers had also stated the car was white in color. I believe this was the original color, but since then it had undergone a complete color change and was now green. The original gold vinyl top had been repainted white, but the front grille and base color for the hub caps were still gold--that didn't match too well with the green.
Although Dad received many offers to sell the car, he worked on it whenever he could and had visions of someday restoring the car. In 2003 Dad's legs weakened from age, making it very hard to get around, and after a serious fall the family decided to move him to a home where he could be taken care of. We brought him back to the house numerous times to check on the house, and his first concern was always checking on his old Matador. I remember him being very angry once when someone had stolen the rare "Oleg Cassini" emblems from the front fenders.
On Jan. 10 2005, Dad passed away peacefully, after joking with a nurse about where she was planning to put a flu shot. As the oldest son, and having seen the hidden beauty in the Matador that my Dad had seen, I decided to have the car moved to Calgary to try to make my Dad's dream come true. I am an Automotive teacher at Bishop Grandin High School in Calgary, which was convenient--I was able to utilize the school's resources and the student's help to work on the car.
The car was stripped and sent out for minor body repair and another
complete color change. Both my Dad and I were lovers of blue cars, and
so I decided to paint the bottom blue and leave the original vinyl top
white. I later learned that this shade of blue was one of the original
colors offered for Matadors in 1974. We removed the engine and rebuilt
it in the school, we serviced the differential, and sent the
transmission out for a rebuild.
When the car returned from the body shop, the underside was
undercoated and drive line installed. We installed new carpets,
reupholstered seats, and a new dash pad. To modernize the car and still
keep it original the AM radio was left in the car, fully operational,
and a hidden Pioneer deck was installed under the dash with subs and
amp secured in the trunk. The "X Package" stripe kit was installed (it
was still available from Sweden) and the final touch was gluing on the
missing "Oleg Cassini" emblems purchased online.
After two years of hard work, Dad's dream had become a reality. We commemorated the moment by putting on a special front plate that states "BEWARE THE MATADOR--This one's for you, Dad."
The car has traveled to car shows all over Canada. She has seen rain storms, snow storms, and one major hail storm in Red Deer. Other than one other Matador at the Chestermere show, I have not seen another Matador, but one comment seems to come up often--"Hey look at this! A Matador! I haven’t seen one of these for years!" The funniest part is that most people have owned one.
The Matador wasn't as sporty as the Javelin; it was primarily a family car. For my family, it is just that. I go to most shows alone, but I feel that my Dad is with me for every mile we travel. I would like to thank my sisters, Linda and Lila, my brothers Larry and Danny, all the members of the AMCA, and all the contributors for all their donations and encouragement.