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Once gleaming and muscular, this mighty Olds has been reduced to a relic

Once gleaming and muscular, this mighty Olds has been reduced to a relic

Photo provided by Bruce Kunz

This Olds relic needs a little TLC! Imagine what this car must have looked like parked on a local Oldsmobile dealer’s showroom floor 63 years ago! Photo provided by Bruce Kunz

Before I start, no... I don’t know who owns it and no, I don’t know if it is for sale, or anything about its history.

The 1957 Oldsmobile was a ‘muscle car’ before we penned the term. The Su- per 88 had the shorter, lighter body of the entry-level Rocket 88, but under its hood was the muscular engine which powered the bulkier, top-of-the-line ’98. Oldsmobile had made a name for itself in stock car racing upon the introduction of the Rocket 88 engines which were, along with the Cadillac, the first overhead valve V-8 engines produced post war.

Every time I come across an old car that has been ravaged by years of neglect and weathered beyond hope, I always imagine what that car must have looked like when it was brand new. I know it’s a long shot, but this 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 2-door Holiday hardtop just may have sat on display in the showroom of McKelvey Oldsmobile in Ferguson, Missouri... the dealer at which my father, Charlie, got his start as an Oldsmobile salesman.

When it comes to styling, perhaps the most noticeable feature of the 1957 Oldsmobile was its three-piece rear window treatment – a modernized, nostalgic throwback to many of the ‘40s models. This styling cue was offered only on Oldsmobiles and Buicks and only for the 1957 model year.

The 1957 Olds Super 88 Holiday 2-door hardtop had a base factory suggested price of $2,884... $200 above the 2-door post sedan. Some of the more popular options included the four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission at $215; heater and defroster $85; padded dash ($20); a ‘deluxe’ radio (AM only) at $96; power steering ($100); power brakes ($37); ‘Deluxe’ wheel covers (Fiesta spinners) $30; backup lights at $15 and windshield washers at $11. A well-equipped 1957 Olds could run upwards of $3,500 or more – $34,000 or more in today’s dollars.

Air conditioning was offered in this year, but very few were sold as the option was priced at $430... a whopping $4,170 in 2020 dollars!

Total calendar year sales of 390,091 cars earned Oldsmobile the title of fifth bestselling American automaker for 1957 with a 6.2 percent share of market.

FIN MAN FACTOID: Olds was on its way to the racing history books with Richard Petty, along with his father, Lee, running in many NASCAR events early in the 1957 year. This all came to an end, how- ever, when NASCAR banned multi-carbureted engines midway through the season. Ultimately Oldsmobile ended up with five Grand National wins, about half of what might have been.

The J-2 option was dropped the following year for the consumer market partly because most owners never drove hard enough to open up the front and rear carbs, and correct tuning was a continual headache. Furthermore, problems with the linkage and clogged carburetor throats resulted in many owners of the J-2 cars having the front and rear carbs blocked off.

Imagine the feeling the original buyer of the car pictured here must have experienced as he turned the key, firing up the exhilarating Rocket V-8 and pulling out onto the road for the very first time in his brand- new Oldsmobile Super 88 all decked out in Victoria White over Allegheny Green! Nothing quite like it.


This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact tgriffin@brandavestudios.com.
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Bruce Kunz is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios.

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