“Silvia” – Rodney Palla’s 1951 Oldsmobile 88
“Silvia” is the name of this 1951 Oldsmobile 88 club coupe. It’s named after Rodney Palla’s grandmother who bought it brand new. It was parked when she quit driving…40 years ago. They put it in a barn and only brought it out occasionally over the years.
In 2016 Silvia’s daughter gave the car to her son, Rodney, with the request for him to not “cut it up.” Rodney took it to Scott Laitinen at Sic Chops in Lake Havasu, Arizona, who has earned a name for himself building award-winning motorcycles, customs, and hot rods.
Respecting the family wishes, the Olds exterior remains intact and uncut. Scott prepped all the panels to perfection and sprayed the Axalta paint in an Oldsmobile hue. Once the finish was cut and buffed, all the brightwork was reinstalled after a rejuvenating “spa trip” to AC Plating.
Everything else has been modified, starting with a one-off chassis from Roadster Shop with independent front and rear suspensions and six-piston Baer brakes with 14-inch rotors. Colorado Custom created the 18×9- and 19×12-inch Sombrero-style wheels with Oldsmobile centers.
The sturdy chassis was fitted with a huge LS from Don Hardy. By the time he laid the wrenches down it made 640hp and 685lb-ft of torque. Sic Chops took time to make it look old using paint and one-off parts, backing it with a 4L80E from Phoenix Transmission. The engine is green with black accessories for the Tru-Trac pulley system and a modified oil-bath air cleaner under the Holley EFI throttle body. EVOD whipped up the “Rocket LS” valve covers, while an oil filler neck was added to the valley cover. The battery received an old-school cover and a glass jar holds the washer fluid.
The OEM dash was retained and given a two-tone color break. It features electronically updated gauges from Dakota Digital and a smaller-diameter steering wheel cut down by Sic Chops. Ron Mangus handled the stitch work, trimming everything in green leather and ’53 Olds fabric. Square-weave carpet covers the floor and there is a full Kicker audio system neatly stashed of sight.
While the car was definitely not cut up on the outside, it has been completely refined to provide another 68 years of family enjoyment. We’re sure Rodney’s grandmother would approve of the transformation.
Photos by John Jackson & Steven Bunker