Dan Jarvi was in high school when his dad bought him a used 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado in 1981. The two restored it together at their home in Minnesota, and Dan fell in love with it. From that moment on, he was an “Olds guy.” When he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, he packed his belongings in that car and drove it to its new home: the Naval Base in San Diego. Don had a wild streak, and when he came back stateside from sea, he terrorized a few California racetracks, where he loved to drag race.
Dan Jarvi with his beloved Olds Toronado.
That car made a few cross-country trips during the years Dan was based in San Diego, as he’d often come home to Minnesota for Christmas. Dan’s younger brother Tom – now Operations Manager at Barrett-Jackson – went to the University of Arizona in Tucson and remembers caravanning with Dan from Minnesota back West a couple of times. “One time the Toronado blew up in Santa Rosa, New Mexico,” Tom recalls. “I took my brother back to the base in San Diego and when he got word the car was fixed, I picked him up and drove him back to Santa Rosa so he could drive it back.”
When Dan finished his active Navy career, he headed back to Minnesota with his beloved Olds. Sadly, in 2014, at the all-too-young age of 49, he passed away. The Trumpet Gold Toronado had been in a storage shed in Minnesota for a couple of years, but it was determined it would be placed in Tom’s care to keep it in the family. The youngest brother in the family, Charlie, put it on a trailer and headed to Arizona in early 2015.
Tom Jarvi checks up on the progress of his brother’s ’66 Toronado at the Barrett-Jackson Collection Showroom service department.
Although Tom admits he and his brother didn’t always see eye-to-eye, he felt a desire to honor Dan by not only restoring the car, but fulfilling something Dan had planned to do. “Ultimately my brother wanted to bring the car back out to San Diego,” says Tom. “He wanted to have some photos taken with it at the Naval Yard, with some of the big ships in the background.” So that’s just what Tom and Charlie plan on doing – but first the car has to be in tip-top shape.
It was only natural that Tom turn to the Barrett-Jackson Showroom Service Department for a major overhaul. “This is what we do,” says Service Manager Jeff Catlin. “A car that has been sitting and needs going through to determine what it will take to get it going again is one of our specialties. There can be many different things that need attention, and that’s what we’re here for. I have a guy bringing in a ’65 Lincoln convertible for the same thing: the car has been sitting for 25 years and he wants to get it in to top shape.”
The Toronado at the service department, boasting its new, patriotic license plate.
“The Barrett-Jackson Service Department is going through everything on the Toronado,” says Tom. “The engine’s being pulled out. The starter, water pump, oil pump and fuel pump are all being looked at. The carburetor, front end and brakes are all being redone. The entire drivetrain is being gone over.”
“It’s cool to be involved in this story,” says Catlin. “1966 was the first year for the Toronado – it’s a pretty rare car. We’re going to do everything. When you pop the hood on that car, it will look nice and new. It’s going to be done how I would want it to be done if it were my own car.”
Tom hopes the car stays in his family for a long time to come. To honor his brother’s time in the Navy, he hopes to use it in some way to benefit military charities, or perhaps tie it in somehow with the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s famous flight demonstration squadron, of which Dan was a big fan. A hint to the car’s military ties is evident in its new, patriotic custom license plate.
The entire project is clearly a labor of love – and respect for family. “My little brother and his family and kids are going to fly down to Phoenix,” says Tom, “and he and I are going to jump in it, drive it to San Diego, get on the Naval Base and take some photographs with it, just as my brother Dan wanted to do. I’m hoping when this is all done, Dan would have been proud of the car and would have wanted to drive it himself.”