It was a great time for the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors. Still riding the wave of the postwar seller’s market, the ultra-modern restyle that had been applied to the 98 line in 1948 now spread across all models. The new car, the 88, was the only one in its price class to offer an overhead valve V-8. The “Rocket” V-8 was destined to become a legend on the road and on the race track. The icing on the cake was being chosen as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500 by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association.
If our account of Oldmobile’s fortunes sounds a bit exaggerated, it pales in comparison to the superlatives heaped on the new model in the ad copy above. The “surge and smoothness” of the Hydramatic, the only fully automatic transmission in the industry at the time, was trumpeted. Although the Rocket V-8 was rated at only 135 horsepower, the “great gathering wave of power” it produced promised to deliver “an exultant, air-borne freedom.” Such performance and breathless promotion helped keep Olds sales solidly in the top ten for the next decade. Photos courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Collection. Ads courtesy of Alden Jewell.