Kathy Hardtke spent a lot of time a youngster helping her Dad work on his Chrysler Imperial. Kathy said, "I loved my time under the car with him. I asked many questions ‘what’s that’ ‘what’s this’ under the car. All I helped him with is handing him the proper wrench or screwdriver, but for me the time was precious". Kathy's Dad died when she was 19.
Kathy remembers, "My Dad's passing broke my heart. Me and my Dad are one in the same, organized, driven, a have a passion for our choice…we finish them".
Kathy's neighbor Ken Stiffler and his wife Jackie, would come to Kathy's home for our weekly BBQ of burgers and dogs. We developed a friendship and overtime. Kathy heard stories of the four 442’s. Ken restored. Ken shared photos of the progress of barn finds to perfection. Kathy was hooked.
Kathy had a desire to restore a 1957 Vette, a car she loved for years. Kathy said, "I started to research and found it was a minimum of $35-50k for a 57 Vette shell. I was crushed as it was outside my budget. I thought building a car was only a dream until the day I got a phone call from Ken. He was meeting a guy locally in LeHigh Acres, FL to purchase a bumper for his W30 442 when he found the find of the find, a 71 Cutlass SX convertible in the garage."
Ken, a diehard Olds fan knew he needed to buy this SX,, not for him but for the heart of Olds, to save the life of this very rare make and model with only 357 Cutlass SX convertibles produced in 1971.
Ken, not having room for the car at his home, called Kathy that moment and asked her if she was sold on the 57 Vette or if a rare Olds convertible would interest her.
Kathy states, "Ken's call turned me into an immediate fan of Olds and this car. Something inside me shifted with the rarity of this car and the passion of my mentor…I drank the Kool Aide and bought in hook, line and sinker. My heart leapt and even being out of state without her in view, I already felt that I knew my ‘baby’ and could not wait to get home to see her. Ken told me the car was mine but if I changed my mind he would ‘quick turn’ her to keep her alive."
Kathy continues, "I make good money, but still am limited on cash. This car was in ‘barn find’ condition. The magic of Jolts and needing to be brought to life was proven again when I asked my bro for $20,000 to buy her and buy parts and I would pay him with interest. He immediately said yes".
Since then, Kathy has invested hours and hours and hours stripping, hand sanding (Mentor Ken says it builds character), stripping parts, cleaning and polishing on steroids.
Currently, the Cutlass SX is in the body shop having her quarters welded on as well as other welding work to restore her rust and pieces to perfection. In the meantime with Ken's help, she is bead blasting parts.
Kathy said, "I found we had soooo little left to do because Ken has kept me on task and I have been so passionately bringing her back to life that I have forgotten the hours invested".
Kathy recalls. "The only car experience I have is with my Dad, is handing him screwdrivers and wrenches. I did not know any parts names, how to change oil, what part under the hood was the engine vs. the transmission.
This experience is the absolute best experience I have had ever. With all the cuts, bruises, sore muscles, time and sooooo much elbowgrease, allllllll worth it 1000 fold and my goal date of completion of my 45thbirthday, February 23rd, 2013 is in sight. Rock on having goals and a plan!
Kathy speak across the nation training corporations and individuals on topics such as ‘time management’, ‘sales skills’, ‘communication skills’ and ‘leadership skills’. Additionally, Kathy is writing on a book titled ‘Life’s Not Fair, So Whatcha Gonna Do About It”to be published spring 2013. It is based on her personal and professional stories of success and failure and the lessonsI have learned.
Kathy said, "This experience is
the absolute best experience I have had ever.
With all the cuts, bruises, sore muscles, time and sooooo much elbow
grease, all worth it 1000 fold".
Kathy's lives in Cape Coral, Florida and her goal is to have the 1971 Cutlass SX Convertible completed by her 45th
birthday on February 23rd, 2013. The SX455 club will continue to follow Kathy's progess.