1949 was the year that Oldsmobile unveiled its sensational and-all new 303 c.i. 135 hp Rocket V-8 overhead valve high compression engine coupled with a GM “Futurematic Hydra-Matic” transmission. When installed in the newly introduced small and lightweight 88 model built on the B-body platform the result was one of the first and most potent post-war high-performance cars.
The “88” was chosen to be the 1949 Indianapolis 500 pace car and was driven by racing driver Wilber Shaw the President of the Speedway. The photo of it at a GM Plant featured here today is courtesy of the AACA Library.
Robert “Red” Byron won the 1949 NASCAR Championship driving an Olds “88,” and six of the ten races in NASCAR’s new professional stock car series were won that year by the new Olds. A year later Hershel McGriff won the inaugural twenty one-hundred mile 1950 Carrera Panamericana Road Race in Mexico driving a “Rocket 88.”
Along with enlargements of the lead image (below) we have included three pages of the 1949 Oldsmobile color brochure courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project that gives more details of the new Olds “88”.