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Oldsmobile 88
Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

88 (Eighty-Eight)
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Wikipedia: Oldsmobile 88

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A car produced by Oldsmobile from 1949 to 1999. The name was spelled out as "Eighty Eight" from 1989 onward.

Awards and acknowledgements include:
A Complete Guide to Used Cars (1995 Edition) Best Late-Model Bet in the Full-size Car category (model years 1987-1995)


History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Oldsmobile 88 page on 22 April 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Oldsmobile 88 (known from 1989 onwards as the Eighty Eight) is a full-size car that was sold and produced by Oldsmobile 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. This engine, originally designed for the larger C-bodied and more luxurious 98 series, also replaced the straight-8 on the smaller B-bodied 78. With the large, high performance V8, the Oldsmobile 88 is widely considered to be the first muscle car, although this title is disputed.

A large number of variations in nomenclature were seen over this long model run — Futuramic, Super, Golden Rocket, Dynamic, Jetstar, Delta, Delmont, Starfire, 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 ("Delta 88", for example) and was changed to spell-out "Eighty Eight" starting in 1989.

First generation (1949–1953)

Oldsmobile introduced the 88 badge in 1949. It was named to complement the already-existing 76 and 98, and took the place of the straight-8 engined 78 in the model lineup. The new car used the same new Futuramic B-body platform as the straight-6 engined 76 but paired it with the powerful new Rocket V8 engine. This combination of a relatively small light body and large, powerful engine made it a precursor to the muscle car. The Rocket 88 vaulted Oldsmobile from a somewhat staid, conservative car to a performer that became the one to beat on the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuits. It won six of the nine NASCAR late-model division races in 1949, 10 of 19 in 1950, 20 of 41 in 1952, and was eventually eclipsed by the low-slung, powerful Hudson Hornet, but it was still the first real "King of NASCAR." This led to increased sales to the public. There was a pent up demand for new cars in the fast-expanding post-World War II economy, and the 88 appealed to many ex-military personnel who were young and had operated powerful military equipment.

Second generation (1954–1956)

The 1954 Oldsmobiles were completely restyled with new longer and lower body shells and wrap-around windshields and rear windows. Wheelbases increased to 122 inches (3.1 m). Base models reverted to being simply called 88s after being designated as DeLuxe 88s for only one year and the Super 88 was once again the top series (beneath the larger 98). The Rocket V8 was enlarged from 303 to 324 cubic inches with 88s powered by a two-barrel, 170 horsepower (130 kW) unit while Super 88s came with a 185 horsepower (138 kW) version with four-barrel carburetor.

Third generation (1957–1958)

For 1957 only, the basic 88 was officially named Golden Rocket 88, taken from Oldsmobile's 1956 Motorama two-passenger show car. However, the only badging was an "88" underneath each taillight. Also for 1957 the "J2" option was offered, with three 2-barrel (0.32 m3) carburetors, similar to the Pontiac Tri-Power. The Super 88 continued as the upscale mid-line series. Under the hood, the Rocket V8 increased in displacement to 371 cubic inches and 277 horsepower (207 kW) for all models across the board. Although rare, three speed manual transmissions were still available. Styling highlights were more evolutional than radical overall with three-piece rear window styling utilized on some models. Oldsmobile revived station wagons for the first time since 1950 with the Super 88 Fiesta being a four-door hardtop design. In 1957, Oldsmobile added a safety deep-recessed steering wheel.

For 1958, GM was promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced Anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet. The 1958 models shared a common appearance on the top models for each brand; Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Roadmaster Riviera, Oldsmobile Holiday 88, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and the all-new Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala.

Fourth generation (1959–1960)

All Oldsmobiles were completely restyled for 1959 with a longer, lower and wider body on the basic GM B-body, which for the first time was used on all of General Motors' standard-sized cars from the lowest-priced Chevrolet to the most-expensive Cadillac. The 88 shared its appearance with the top-model Oldsmobile 98. Styling highlights for the new models, promoted as the "Linear Look," included six-window styling on four-door pillared sedans, glassy semi-fastback rooflines on Holiday coupes and flat-blade rooflines with thin windshield and C-pillars on Holiday sedans which created a "fishbowl"-like effect. Two-door hardtops were called the "Scenicoupe," while the 4-door hardtops were called "Sport Sedan." While many 1959 model cars featured bigger and sharper fins, Olds featured more subdued "oval" fins and far less chrome than the '58 model for a much cleaner look. Wheelbases on 88 models increased by one inch to 123 inches (3,124 mm).

Fifth generation (1961–1964)

An all-new body and chassis with perimeter "Guard Beam" frame and all-coil suspension replacing the previous leaf springs highlighted the 1961 full-sized Oldsmobiles, which were joined by the new compact F-85. All full-sized Oldsmobiles were now powered by the 394-cubic-inch Rocket V8 with the Dynamic 88 getting a two-barrel, 250 hp (186 kW) version that used regular gas, while the Super 88 was powered by a four-barrel "Ultra High Compression" 394 Skyrocket V8 rated at 325 hp (242 kW). The Skyrocket engine was available as an extra-cost option on the Dynamic 88. A new three-speed "Roto" Hydra-matic transmission that was smaller and lighter than the previous four-speed unit was introduced as an option.

Sixth generation (1965–1970)

The Delta name in 1965 was an upscale trim line of the Dynamic 88, the Dynamic 88 Delta, replacing the previous top-series B-body Olds, the Super 88. Early '65s were referred to as Dynamic 88 Deltas, but within a few weeks after the start of the model year, Olds began marketing the line as a separate series known as the Delta 88. Other full-sized Oldsmobile model lines included the low-priced Jetstar 88, the volume-selling Dynamic 88, sporty Jetstar I and the sporty and luxurious Starfire, all riding on a 123-inch (3,124 mm) wheelbase.

Model wise, there was more name juggling. The Delmont 88 was introduced for 1967 and produced for just two years, replacing both the Jetstar 88 and Dynamic 88 model lines. The Delmont, which is perhaps best remembered as the car driven by Ted Kennedy at the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, featured the 330 V8 as standard and the 425 V8 as an option in 1967 and the new "Rocket 455" version of the same engine with a longer bore-stroke in 1968. The 425 was standard on the Delta 88. The Delta 88 gained a new sub series called the Delta Custom which had a plusher interior than the standard Delta 88 featuring a Strato bench seat in the Holiday (four-door hardtop) sedan or, in the Holiday (four-door hardtop) coupe, a choice of either Strato bucket seats with console or Strato bench seat with armrest. The Delta Custom Holiday Coupe was essentially a successor to the former 88-based Starfire series offered in previous years (1961–66) but with a standard 88 semi-fastback roofline rather than the Starfire's squared off roof with concave rear window. Another styling cue for the Delta Custom was the addition of a second set of tail light reflectors set into the lower portion of the bumper.

Seventh generation (1971–1976)

All GM B-body full-size cars were completely restyled and enlarged for 1971, but continued to ride on a 124-inch (3,150 mm) wheelbase. It was available as a pillared four-door Town Sedan, two-door and four-door Holiday hardtops and a convertible. Series models for 1971 included the base Delta 88, Delta 88 Custom and Delta 88 Royale, the latter inheriting the convertible body style previously offered on the base Delta 88. All models received fuselage styling somewhat similar to what Chrysler Corporation introduced on its 1969 models, and new rooflines with a more squared off greenhouse for Town sedans and more rounded lines for Holiday sedans and coupes – the latter receiving reverting to a semi-fastback format.

Also new for 1971 was the Custom Cruiser station wagon, the first full-sized Olds wagon since 1964. It used the 88's B-body platform with a longer 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase (matching the larger C-body Ninety-Eight) with multi-leaf spring suspensions that differed entirely from the all-coil suspensions used in sedans and coupes. The Custom Cruiser came standard with the larger 455 Rocket V8 and utilized the disappearing clamshell tailgate of other full-size GM wagons.

Eighth generation (1977–1985)

The 1977 Delta 88s and other GM B-body cars were considerably downsized from their predecessors in length and wheelbase (116 in (2,900 mm) – the same as the four-door 1973–77 A-body Cutlass Sedan) and nearly 900 lb (410 kg) lighter in weight, with curb weights dropping to between 3,500 and 3,600 lb (1,600 and 1,600 kg) depending on model. Other than a reduction in shoulder room, however, interior room was not adversely affected; in fact, headroom and rear seat legroom increased. Both base Delta 88 and Royale models were now only offered in two pillared body styles; a two-door coupe and a four-door Town Sedan. The 1977–1979 Custom Cruiser was now based on the Delta 88's B-body rather than the Ninety-Eight's C-body (thus also sharing the coil spring suspension, rather than the multi-leaf spring) and came with a two-way tailgate rather than the clamshell of 1971–76 models. A fuel economy gauge was optional.

Ninth generation (1986–1991)

For 1986, the Delta 88 switched platforms from the GM B platform to the smaller front-wheel drive H platform, with a wheelbase of only 110.8 inches (2,814 mm). The headlights changed from square sealed beam quads to integrated regular/high beam composite lamps in 1987. A few NASCAR teams built racecars with 1986 Delta 88 sheetmetal and ran them on the circuit in the 86-88 seasons; however only one victory (with Terry Labonte) was scored.

Tenth generation (1992–1999)

The Oldsmobile Eighty Eight was redesigned for 1992, following the redesign of the Ninety Eight the previous year. This would prove to be the last Eighty Eight or 88 model from Oldsmobile (along with its performance LSS and Regency models) before being discontinued in 1999 with the 2001 Aurora V6 as a replacement. The 3.8 L Buick V6 was still the only engine, but output increased to 170 hp (130 kW) and 220 lb·ft (300 N·m) of torque.

The Eighty-Eight's front and rear were restyled for 1996 to bear more resemblance to the flagship Aurora.

In the 1996 model year, GM renamed the model from "Eighty Eight Royale" to three models – Eighty Eight, Eighty Eight LS and LSS (A "Luxury Sports Sedan" targeted to male European car buyers, available with a supercharged V6 and a floor mounted gear shifter). It is important to note, however, early LSS models (1995) were rarely equipped with the 3800 Supercharged engine. The LSS was an originally a trim level package on the 88 starting in 1992. In 1996 the LSS received Aurora-inspired seats. 1996 was the final year that the original-style rocket (in black and silver) appeared on a hood emblem. 1997 would welcome the new Oldsmobile logo on all Eighty-Eight trims except the Regency.


Photographs

1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 4,415KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 2,959KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,624KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,793KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 4,269KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 2,830KB
1949 Oldsmobile 88 Custom Custom 1949
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Custom 1949 Oldsmobile 88 - 2,972KB
1996 Fallbrook Vintage Car Show Poster - 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 1996 Fallbrook Vintage Car Show
Artist: Ken Eberts
Cars: 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88
Event: Fallbrook Vintage Car Show
Image courtesy CarArt.us
View 1996 Fallbrook Vintage Car Show Poster - 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 - 85KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,683KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,051KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,243KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,034KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,477KB
1954 Oldsmobile 88 1954
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Pop's Productions Father's Day Car Show and Swap
View photo of 1954 Oldsmobile 88 - 3,109KB
Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Nostalgia Auto Show
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 1.8MB
Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Nostalgia Auto Show
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 1.8MB
Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Nostalgia Auto Show
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 2.1MB
Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Nostalgia Auto Show
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 2.7MB
Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Nostalgia Auto Show
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 2.0MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.5MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.5MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.4MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.5MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.3MB
1956 Oldsmobile 88 1956
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Cruisin' Gilberts Spring into Action Car & Truck & Cycle Show
View photo of 1956 Oldsmobile 88 - 3.5MB
Oldsmobile 88 Photo courtesy of Image*After
View photo of Oldsmobile 88 - 1,224KB
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 1957 Super 88
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Richmond, Illinois Cruise Night:  June 29, 2007
View photo of 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,686KB
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 1957 Super 88
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Richmond, Illinois Cruise Night:  June 29, 2007
View photo of 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,517KB
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 1957 Super 88
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Richmond, Illinois Cruise Night:  June 29, 2007
View photo of 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,844KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,439KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,911KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,966KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,729KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,297KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,395KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of - 3,120KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,131KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,807KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,508KB
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 1959 Super 88
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
The Cars Time Forgot Car Show
View photo of 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,114KB
1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 1964 Super 88
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,224KB
1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 1964 Super 88
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,711KB
1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 1964 Super 88
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 2,969KB
1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 1964 Super 88
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,179KB
1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 1964 Super 88
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 - 3,240KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
1 March 1967NHTSA Recall 67V021000
1967 Oldsmobile 88, 1967 Oldsmobile 98
Steering:Linkages
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
19 December 1973NHTSA Recall 73V250000
1974 Buick Century, 1974 Buick Electra, 1974 Buick Estate, 1974 Buick LeSabre, 1974 Buick Regal, 1974 Buick Riviera, 1974 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1974 Chevrolet Camaro, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Estate, 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1974 Chevrolet El Camino, 1974 Chevrolet Impala, 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 GMC Sprint, 1974 Oldsmobile 88, 1974 Oldsmobile 98, 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1974 Pontiac Bonneville, 1974 Pontiac Catalina, 1974 Pontiac Firebird, 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari, 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, 1974 Pontiac Le Mans
Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Arm
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
2 September 1976NHTSA Recall 76V132000
1977 Buick Century, 1977 Buick LeSabre, 1977 Buick Regal, 1977 Buick Skylark, 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet El Camino, 1977 Chevrolet Impala, 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1977 Chevrolet Nova, 1977 GMC Sprint, 1977 Oldsmobile 88, 1977 Oldsmobile 98, 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1977 Oldsmobile Omega, 1977 Pontiac Bonneville, 1977 Pontiac Catalina, 1976 Pontiac Firebird, 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1977 Pontiac Le Mans, 1977 Pontiac Ventura
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
December 1997Remote Redesigned Air Bag Report
Vehicle - 1998 Oldsmobile 88 LS
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 801KB - 9 pages
classified date 1999Special Crash Investigation Report
Case Vehicle: 1999 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight LS, 4-door sedan
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 31.9MB - 101 pages


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 30143'65 Olds 88Modified Stocker, 1:25 scale




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