Bruce Kunz is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios.

What a gorgeous automobile! I set up my TKCS-STL booth yesterday at the Edwardsville Police D.A.R.E. show. I’ve been going to this great show, off-and-on since 2010, and this was not the first time I had seen Edwardsville resident Gary Flood’s beautiful Oldsmobile.

As Gary showed me around the car, I found it to be a rather interesting example of a 50s Oldsmobile.

FIN MAN’s fond memories of mid-50s Oldsmobiles

Gary Flood’s ‘57 Super 88 Olds rag top was a show standout Sunday at the D.A.R.E. show in Edwardsville! Photo provided by Bruce Kunz

Oldsmobile was GM’s middle-of-the-road marque, coming in above Chevrolet and Pontiac and just below Buick and Cadillac. As such, the vast majority of Oldsmobiles were equipped with the famous Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic, 4-speed automatic transmission. Gary’s snazzy ‘57 Super 88 convertible, however, was purchased new with a three-speed manual with steering column-mounted shifter... a.k.a. “three-on-the-tree”.

The original buyer must have ordered this car special because although they were buying, not the cheapest model they could have bought, but an upscale, Super 88, they also went for the J-2 engine upgrade which featured, “Tri-Power” or three, two-barrel carburetors! Okay, they went for the middle of the road trim level Super 88, but with a manual transmission. Maybe they were the type that wanted to do burn outs when leaving Chuck-A-Burger. That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

Gary has owned this beauty for the past 35 years. He bought it from a guy in South St. Louis, but it needed a total restoration. The paint, which is near flawless, was done by Gary himself in the garage at his home! And there’s a story behind that also. The original paint was “Sunset Glow”, but you could call it pink... a popular hue in the mid-50s. But Gary’s wife Janice didn’t want a pink car. Instead, she wanted the car to be bright red, so it was done up in the Oldsmobile bright red from 1957.

When it came to the nuts & bolts, Gary did virtually all of the greasy stuff himself. He did have professional help on the interior however.

The original buyer paid a factory, suggested base price of $3,132, plus optional equipment, dealer prep, delivery and taxes. Total model year production of all Oldsmobiles came in at 384,390 of which 21,840 were ragtops.

That original purchaser saved $215 by not getting the Jetaway Hydra-Matic tranny, but paid $83 extra for that J-2 engine. He also saved somewhere between $96 and $121 by deleting the radio and another $85 for deletion of the heater. Those fine-looking spinner wheel covers, however set him back $30.

Air conditioning was an available option which required the heater and defroster and cost $430 more! That was a bunch back in 1957... equal to $4,116.62 in 2019 dollars to be exact.

FIN MAN FACTOID: The 1955 Super 88 Holiday Coupe was the first car that I ever “drove” (sitting on my father’s lap) and the only car, in my lifetime, that my father ever bought brand new. And, “Holiday” was the name Olds gave to their “pillar less hardtops” both two and four door, just like Chevy’s Bel Airs (the early years), Buick’s Rivieras (again, early models, pre-Riviera series), and Pontiac’s “Custom Catalinas”. 

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