Past Collection – 1958 Olds Super 88
The Oldsmobile 88 (a.k.a. Eighty-Eight) was a full-size car sold by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors and produced from 1949 until 1999. From 1950 to 1974 the 88 was the division’s top-selling line, particularly the entry-level models such as the 88 and Dynamic 88. The 88 series was also an image leader for Oldsmobile, particularly in the early years (1949 – 51) when it was one of the best performing automobiles thanks to its relatively small size, light weight and advanced overhead-valve high-compression V8 engine originally designed for the larger and more luxurious 98 series but dropped into the smaller six-cylinder Oldsmobile 76 body, creating what was considered the granddaddy of the musclecars of the 1960s.
A large number of variations in nomenclature were seen over this long model run – Delmont, Delta, Dynamic, Jetstar, Starfire, Super, Holiday, L/S, LSS, Celebrity, and Royale were used at various times with the 88 badge, and Fiesta appeared on some station wagons in the 1950s and 1960s. The name was more commonly shown as numbers in the earlier years and was usually spelled out in the later.
The Oldsmobile Eighty Eight was produced in Wentzville, Missouri; Flint, Michigan; and Lake Orion, Michigan.
1958 Oldsmobile Super 88
1958 is best known in Oldsmobile as the year of the “Chromesmobile” thanks to tremendous splatterings of chrome trim on the body, particularly on the higher-priced Super 88 and Ninety-Eight models. The styling was advertised by Olds as the “Mobile Look.”
The Dynamic 88 debuted in 1958 and lasted through 1966 positioned as the entry level model below the Super 88. This model featured a more economical Rocket V8 than its more expensive linemates – a detuned 265 horsepower (198 kW) version of the 371 cubic-inch Rocket V8 with two-barrel carburetion. Super 88 and Ninety-Eight models were powered by a four-barrel 300 horsepower (220 kW) version of that engine as standard equipment with a J-2 option featuring three two-barrel carburetors and 310 horsepower (231 kW).
New option for 1958 was a “Sportable” radio that could be removed from the instrument panel through the glove compartment and used as a portable radio for beaches, picnics, etc. thanks to portable batteries.
A revised instrument panel was highlighted by a new deep-dish steering wheel with “horn bars” replacing the long-standing horn ring still common during that period.
Despite an economic recession that cut into new car sales industrywide, and especially affected the medium-priced car market that Olds competed in, Oldsmobile saw only a slight decline in sales for 1958 and even rose in industry standings to fourth-place behind the “Low-Priced Three” of Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth, while surpassing a now-floundering sister division Buick on the sales charts for the first time in many years. Oldsmobile was also way ahead of other middle-priced competitors such as sister division Pontiac, Mercury, Dodge and Chrysler, along with Ford Motor Company’s all-new and ill-fated Edsel, and Chrysler Corporation’s DeSoto – the latter two nameplates of which would fade into oblivion within the next three years.