Saturday, November 23, 2013

1955 Oldsmobile 88 4-door Sedan

"Out in front  . . .  with the new 'Go-Ahead' look! See it in the panoramic windshield, the new hooded headlights — in the sweep-cut fender lines, the pure-luxury interiors. In fact, Oldsmobile's Super '88' is new everywhere  . . .  wherever you look!"

This one left us a little puzzled upon first sight: up front it's a 1956 Oldsmobile, but the trim comes from 1955. So, what is it? The rectangular cutout around the rear wheels suggests that this car was built in 1955. 1956 Oldsmobiles  had a curved wheel arch, instead. This, the car's owner confirmed later, was the right guess: the whole front clip had been replaced after an accident years ago.

The American car companies presented their "all-new" models each year with much fanfare, but in fact, the cars were actually evolving pretty slowly. Case in point: Oldsmobile's bodies underwent merely cosmetic changes between 1954 and 1957, which makes it fairly easy to mount a newer front end onto our pictured car.

Mechanically it was all the same anyway, since the introduction of the groundbreaking "Rocket" V-8 engine in 1949 had not only rendered the Oldsmobiles the most powerful cars in the GM portfolio, but also initiated a race for ever more horsepower that spread like a virus across the industry throughout the decade. This "Rocket" V-8 powerplant and Oldsmobile's underpinnings were top-notch tech at the time. Strangely enough, the styling persevered surprisingly conservative throughout the 50s, before it switched completely and became garish in 1958.

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