Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1955 Oldsmobile Super '88' 4-door Sedan

"In the Oldsmobile Super '88' are the marks of motion  . . .  vigorous lines that set the stage for masterful 'Rocket' performance. It's the new 'Go-Ahead' look! See it in the panoramic windshield, new hooded headlights — in the sweep-cut lines of fender and body, in pure-luxury interiors  . . .  in fact, everywhere!"

Argentina-built Peugeot 405, to the right, was imported to Cuba in considerable numbers and is very popular among the few that can afford a "modern" private car in Cuba. Here, it's regarded as a luxurious, roomy automobile, perfectly suited to cover long distances between Havana and the provinces. Yet, beside a mighty 1955 Oldsmobile, it looks pretty small.

Oldsmobile had become GM's "performance division" with the introduction of the "Rocket" V-8 engine in 1949. This modern powerplant completely changed the game and was triggering the competition for ever more horsepower among America's car manufacturers. Ahead of the times, especially the Super "88" was truly a blueprint for early muscle cars: it combined the big engine of Oldsmobile's top model "98" with the lighter body of the base model. Others should get inspired by the success of this recipe: within the GM organization, notably Buick's Century, and Pontiac's Bonneville became successful copycats.

Interestingly though, Oldsmobile's styling never truly embodied the brand's focus on superior mechanical performance. Instead, it remained rather ostentatious throughout the 1950s. Loads of chrome and voluptuous shapes were typical earmarks of an Oldsmobile of that time. 

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