ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
“Ol’ Faithful” is the name of Glen and Imo Klinkerman’s metallic blue 1983 Oldsmobile 98 Regency coupe.
It’s been a car the couple counted on in their busy lives and a vehicle they loyally drove for 19 years, Imo said.
But it’s not the name of the car that makes it so special to others, it’s the number of miles it’s been driven-348,000 is on the odometer.
And it’s still in good running condition.
“I don’t really remember a car driven that far being in this condition,” said Irv Schroeder of Irv Schroeder County Motors in Hillsboro.
Glen, 86, and Imo, 88, now live in McPherson, where Glen retired after he left farming in 1990. Imo taught school and later sold products for WorldBook Corp. out of the couple’s home until she retired in 1995.
They have two daughters and seven grandchildren. No great-grandchildren have arrived yet, but Imo said all her grandchildren are “great.”
When the Klinkermans purchased the Oldsmobile from Schroeder, it was a demo with 6,000 miles on the odometer. The sticker price read $14,923, but the couple paid $9,785 after trading in another Oldsmobile.
Ol’ Faithful, which is now owned by Schroeder, was readied for its second debut in July. It went on display at the car dealership’s double-birthday celebration-a time to recognize the company’s 40th year in business and Schroeder’s 80th birthday.
The Klinkermans initially approached Schroeder prior to the event and told him it was hard to get in and out of their car. And the grandchildren didn’t want it because it was too big.
The couple said they preferred driving their Dodge pickup because it was easier for them. They each use canes to get around these days, and the pickup suits their needs.
They felt they could trust Schroeder with their car.
“He’s been good to us through the years,” Glen said. “He takes good care of us.”
When approached by the Klinkermans, Schroeder said he thought he could restore the high-mileage car a bit and display it at his up-coming show.
Schroeder said, “A day or two later, they called and said, ‘Why don’t you come after this car because we think maybe you ought to go ahead and take it and do what you said to it.'”
The two-door hard top had a blue fabric interior in need of some repair, Schroeder said.
Inquiries at Matz Glass and Upholstery shop revealed it would be difficult to match the original 19-year-old fabric.
“He tried for two or three days, and he came in one day and said, ‘Guess what, some company had a little remnant left,'” Schroeder said.
“So he got it and he fixed the seat, and there’s no holes in it. That remnant he found is the original material.”
Schroeder said he also had work done on the transmission, changed the oil, made minor repairs on the bumper, took care of a squeak coming from the belt, touched up some of the exterior paint and polished it.
“So right at this point, it runs good, and it’s in good shape,” he said.
The three recalled the day Schroeder drove the car out to the Klinkermans’ cattle ranch in Durham to see if they wanted to buy it.
“I had it all shined up and clean, and I had to go on that dirt road to their house,” he said. “It got all dusty, and I didn’t like that because I wanted them to see it all prettied up.
“That was a fancy car in those days-the finest car that Oldsmobile made.”
Schroeder said he was hesitant to turn one of his favorite cars over to the couple who lived where dust was a constant companion.
“But they kept it clean-every time I saw it, it was clean,” he said.
Through the years, the Klinkermans took their car much further than the boundaries of Marion and McPherson counties.
They’ve logged miles to California and Colorado, driving Ol’ Faithful over the highways out West many times over.
After returning from their journeys, Glen said he washed the car and kept it protected in buildings such as a Morton shed on one of their properties.
“And I washed it every Sunday morning,” he said.
Schroeder had some insight into why Ol’ Faithful has held up so well over the years.
One reason is it’s a well-made car, he said.
“But I think it’s also the fact that Glen had a lot of farm machinery, and he learned over the years how to take care of them. He’s had periodic oil changes, and the car’s had all the care it ever needed.
“That’s probably why it got as old as it is and is in such good shape. Some of us old guys-and cars are like people as well-the better we take care of ourselves, the older we get.”
Over the years, the car has transported the couple to various activities closer to home.
Imo was involved as secretary of her high-school alumni association and taught Sunday school. Glen was on the building committee of two churches.
The active couple worked together as 4-H leaders in the past. “We got plaques for our contributions to 4-H,” Imo said.
And Ol’ Faithful was also used when the couple farmed south of Canton.
“Imo brought meals to me when I farmed-I had wheat, milo and corn,” Glen said.
Their faithful car has received its share of bumps, scrapes and bruises along the highways and byways.
It survived a hail storm and was restored at a body shop, where it came out “looking like new,” Imo said.
Imo and the car even survived a highway accident. After the accident, the couple’s insurance company gave the car a temporary new name-“Totaled.”
Returning home alone from a funeral in Wichita, Imo was crossing U.S. Highway 56, and a man driving his vehicle on the wrong side of the road hit her car.
“He shoved that Oldsmobile across there, and it was all caved in,” Imo said. “The glass was all over, and the impact set me over on the passenger side, but I didn’t have a scratch.
“The highway patrolman asked me if I had my seat belt on, and he had a tear coming down his cheek,” she said.
“He said, ‘We know that 20 percent of the time, they are a hindrance.’
“But I do use seat belts now,” she said.
Although the car was considered totaled by the insurance company, Ol’ Faithful was taken to Vernon Winter’s body shop in McPherson.
“And he put it back in tip-top shape, and again, it was out on the road,” Imo said.
The Klinkermans said they enjoyed the two days they spent at Irv’s celebration-hearing the comments visitors made about their car.
“It was fun to be a part of that whole situation,” Glen said. “We’ve kept it in good condition.”
Schroeder said he planned to leave the car under the carport on the west side of the building “for people to enjoy” for a while.
“And then I have the fair building rented across the street, and I’ll put it in there for a while.”
The Klinkermans smiled when they heard that Ol’ Faithful will be sheltered and protected-so in years to come, others can admire it, too.