Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 Convertible

There are many contenders for the title of “First American Muscle Car.” Surely the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 must be among them. “Muscle car,” as we now understand the term, refers to a large, powerful engine in a small or medium size lightweight body. The archetypal muscle car is inarguably the Pontiac GTO, but the Oldsmobile 88 is from much the same mold.

The first part of the muscle car recipe, a powerful engine, came from GM’s big technical advance for 1949: two high-compression, overhead-valve V-8s, one from Cadillac and one from Oldsmobile. They were similar, yet different. 

The second part of the prescription, a light body, was the province of Olds alone, for no Cadillac could ever be considered lightweight. With GM’s corporate body program, that part was easy: the A-body, as used by Pontiac and Chevy, was the ideal candidate. Thus was born the Oldsmobile 88, a new “80 series” with an eight-cylinder engine, adhering to the traditional Olds naming scheme. The 88 was a big hit, the best-selling Olds series, with 99,276 built for 1949.

135 bhp, 303 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 119.5 in.

Part of the RM Auctions event for John Staluppi in December, 2012.

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Teddy Pieper

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