Saturday, July 10, 2010

1957 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88 4-door Sedan



"Only Olds could be so new! The Golden Rocket 88 is engineered from the ground up to give you more . . . with rugged Wide-Stance Chassis for cornering ability and sure-footed stability. Oldsmobile's new Pivot-Poise Suspension with Counter-Dive means smooth, level stops . . . new L-Bow Propeller Shaft allows a lower center of gravity . . . and the new Hi-Lo Bumper gives you double protection up front. Choose either the 2-Door or 4-Door Sedan and make this your year for the Golden Rocket!"

Oldsmobile celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1957, and accordingly the cars received new names, finally matching their jet-age chrome trim: the base model "88", pictured here, was now called "Golden Rocket 88".

The 1957 Oldsmobile 88s shared GM's completely new "B-body" with the smaller Buicks, but their styling merely was an evolutionary development of the 1956 look. Longer by 2 inches, and a little lower, following a general trend of changing from 15-inch to smaller 14-inch wheels, Oldsmobiles looked arguably the most harmonious by then, but beside the new, low-slung "Forward Look" Chryslers, Plymouths or DeSotos, they started to look a bit dated.

By 1957, Harley Earl and GM styling somehow wasn't cutting edge anymore, and not every new gimmick won the customer's hearts right away. Case in point: the "Strato Roof" which appeared on Buicks and Oldsmobiles in 1957 and featured a three-piece rear window, divided by two thin crease-lines, running over the roof to the rear bumper. Not only did these cars look heavy from the rear, but customers complained about the limited visibility, too. Consequently, the "Strato Roof" should last just one summer. Years later, this styling feature should reappear on the 1963 "Split Window" Corvette, with similar result: after just one year in production, the split-window had to go, being replaced by a more conventional one-piece rear glass and making the rare 1963 Corvettes the most sought-after Corvettes today.

Make no mistake, though: Oldsmobiles were still top-notch performers, despite their rather classic styling. And things shouldn't get better: next year's Oldsmobiles, like all GM cars, should look much more garish than the 1957 lineup.

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