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Art Gonzalez will do anything for his sick brother; even give up his most prized possession.
Gonzalez, who is from Socorro, has traveled all over New Mexico with his 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 442 in tow, raffling off tickets to anyone who wants a shot at owning the rare automobile. The “442” represents the size of the engine, four speed transmission and dual exhaust.
On Friday, he was at the Smith’s gas station in Los Alamos selling tickets. If you buy less than 40 tickets, they’re $3 a pop, more than 40, $2.
“I’m traveling everywhere, because I want to give everyone a chance to win it,” he said.
He explained that what makes the car so rare is the “post” that divides the back from the
front, making it a “pillared” sports coupe with bench seats, a model and make that apparently Oldsmobile made very few of.
“I knew what it was the moment I saw it,” said Gonzalez, who in 1991, first saw the car in someone’s yard with tree growing through the driver’s side. He traded a $200 camcorder for it and spent probably the rest of the decade restoring it to performance car condition. It has a 469 cubic engine in it, and Gonzalez claims he’s gotten it up to 117 mph for a quarter mile race. And you won’t find the shade of purple it’s painted anywhere either, since it’s a custom paint job done by Art’s cousin, Antonio Jr. “Whoever wins the car shouldn’t worry, because I have all the numbers in case they need more paint,” said Gonzalez, who has raised about $4,000 so far.
Gonzalez also added there are only 2,000 cars like this in the world.
When asked how many hours it took to restore it, he just shakes his head. “There’s just no way to tell,” he said.
But now, 22 years later, it just doesn’t matter how many hours he’s poured into restoring it, he says. His brother, Gilbert, has stage 4 brain cancer, and raffling the car off seemed like the only way he could help his brother pay off his mounting medical bills. Though Art does not have an exact figure, he pays whenever he can, what he can. “The money just keeps flowing,” he said.
Though it’s been tough going, Gonzalez did not seem to have much trouble attracting people to the raffle at Smith’s gas station Friday afternoon. People just seemed naturally attracted to the sleek machine with the glimmering purple paint job, even driving in off the street just to look at it. Compared to the modern designs of most cars today, it must have seemed like it came from another planet.
But then there were people that came for other reasons. Tony Bishop said he first came by because of the car. “I saw the car, and then learned what it was all about, and decided I just wanted to help,” Bishop said. He said he once raised money for his friend’s son who had cancer.
“My wife’s been through it, and I can tell you that cancer is an ugly thing,” he said, adding that if he ever won the car, he’d give it to his older brother.
Gonzalez’s next appearance will be at May 25, at a car show in the University of New Mexico’s football stadium in Albuquerque. The drawing will be at his brother’s house or his house on July 27, and will be broadcast on channel 13. For more information, as well as details about where he will be holding raffles, you can email him at email@example.com. If you would like to send a donation directly, send it to 21 Sonnenburg Loop, Belen, NM 87002. Make checks payable to: Art Gonzalez.
“I’d like to do it where whoever wins the car, I can personally hand them the title and the keys,” Gonzalez said. No matter how the car gets delivered to the owner, Gonzalez said one thing is certain. “As sure as the sun rises, this car will be gone July 27.”