1949 was the year the OHV V-8 changed the face of the American auto industry. Oldsmobile's new 303 (5.0L) Rocket Eight made it the darling of racers and speed demons everywhere.
I came across this very restorable and rare Oldsmobile Rocket 88 2 door fastback sedanette while looking through an American website dealing in all types of Collectable and restorable old cars. The most amazing thing about this car, and many of the others available is not only the excellent solid condition considering many years of neglect, but also the price -
This particular fastback 88 was priced at just $875. For a restorable motoring icon! That's around £400 in the UK... Man! If it wasn't for the Atlantic ocean between us I'd have a yard full of them!
The next car featured below is an an original survivor that is still in service after 60 years! the facts and photographs that follow are courtesy of a fellow classic fan, larger pictures available here.
With the Rocket V-8, lighter 88 coupes were popular with hot rodders, and became successful stock car racers. A Rocket 88 could do 0-60 in around 12.5 seconds, with a top speed of close to 100 mph. Note the ringed planet badge; the Oldsmobile lettering that should be under it is missing.
Under the hood is Oldsmobile's new 303 cu. in. (5.0L) OHV "Rocket" V-8, initially rated at 135 hp. Hydra-Matic -- a four-speed automatic that had been a world first in 1940 -- was standard on 1949 88s. The following year it became a $185 option.
About 5,800 Town Sedans were sold in '49, split roughly equally between standard and Deluxe trim. Base price was $2,254 for the standard, $2,385 for the Deluxe. This car does not have backup lights, which were still a $15 option in 1949.
The lettering on the trunk handle, nearly worn away, says "Hydra-Matic Drive," a reference to the 88's standard Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Deco-like Oldsmobile lettering is a classy touch.
Curvy flanks make it look smaller than it is -- this is a 202-inch car, weighing around 3,900 lb. Competitors spread rumours that the fastback was prone to lift its tail at high speeds. Small backlight did nothing for visibility.
Riding a 119.5-inch wheelbase, the four-door fastback was called a Town Sedan. It was dropped after 1950. Fastback styling was introduced across the GM line in 1941-1942, but having come out just before the war, by the end of the decade it was considered old hat.
Chrome-encrusted "Futuramic" styling was introduced in 1948 for the bigger Olds 88, this year extended to all Oldsmobile models.
Airplanes and rockets were very much in vogue in the late 40s and early 50s, and this Oldsmobile is covered with them. The sound barrier had just been broken, and new speed records were being set every few weeks.