Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

371 Tri-Power Project: 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Wagon

The idea of a muscle Wagon must have seemed like an oxymoron to some potential buyers in the 1950s, but Oldsmobile gave the concept a fair shake with the 1957 Super 88 Fiesta Wagon. The standard 371ci V8 under the hood provided excellent performance, but this Fiesta’s original owner raised the bar with the optional J-2 version. Its Tri-Power setup unleashed extra ponies, giving the driver something to smile about every time they poked the Wagon with a sharp stick. This Fiesta requires restoration, but its rust issues are relatively minor. That should make the process straightforward and ideal for someone wishing to be hands-on with their build. The Olds is listed here on Craigslist in Lomita, California. It could be yours for $22,000, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder T.J. for spotting another fantastic classic.

Oldsmobile released its Third Generation 88 range in 1957, with the new model remaining on sale for two years. An addition for 1957 was the Super 88 Fiesta, a four-door Hardtop Station Wagon. The company sold 132,105 Super 88s across all body types in 1957, but only 8,981 buyers paid the high premium to drive away in a Fiesta. The history of this Wagon is unclear, although the pictures suggest it is a promising project. The exterior wears Onyx Black paint, bringing us to a fact worth considering. This shade wasn’t on the 1957 Super 88 color palette, disappearing from the range for a single model year. That suggests that if the shade is original to this Fiesta, it must have been a Special Order. Otherwise, it has undergone a color change at some point. It retains a healthy shine, making it possible for the new owner to choose preservation over restoration. The panels are straight, and the sparkling chrome adds a welcome contrast. The bumpers would benefit from a trip to the platers, but the remaining items are free from issues. Rust is always a consideration for classics from this era, and the Fiesta wasn’t immune. This Wagon has rust in the front floors and minor areas in the rockers and back doors. The problems aren’t severe, and well-crafted patches could be a viable alternative to wholesale steel replacement. The tinted glass looks excellent, with the wide chrome steelies and whitewalls adding a sense of class and presence, suggesting there might be more to this classic than meets the eye.

Ordering a 1957 Super 88 Fiesta brought the company’s 371ci V8, producing a healthy 277hp and 400 ft/lbs of torque. However, those seeking more could opt for the J-2 option. This added a Tri-Power setup to the mix, lifting power and torque to 300hp and 410 ft/lbs. The buying public was almost obsessed with aviation and the space race in 1957. Therefore, we must wonder whether it is pure coincidence that the J-2 designation sounds so similar to JATO. The first owner added the four-speed automatic transmission and power assistance for the steering and brakes. The Fiesta’s curb weight of 4,720 lbs is anything but light, making the ¼-mile ET of 17.5 seconds look pretty impressive. The seller admits that the Tri-Power setup isn’t currently installed, but it is included with the correct air cleaner. One wheel cylinder is leaking, and the seller has included a set of four to address the issue. The vehicle runs and drives, making returning it to active service an achievable short-term goal.

The low point with this Olds is its interior, which has undoubtedly seen better days. The upholstered surfaces are shredded, while at least two door trims and the headliner are gone. However, the dash and pad look very presentable, and the factory AM radio is intact. The shopping list will be long and by no means cheap. Headliners retail for around $250, while a carpet set costs about the same. I couldn’t locate seatcovers or door trim in what I admit was a relatively brief online search, but extra effort might produce positive results. Vehicle interiors from this era made even the most mundane journey feel special, and this Fiesta heightens that impression with its factory power windows.

Some classics possess a genuine sense of presence, and this 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta Wagon is one such vehicle. Returning it to its former glory shouldn’t present many obstacles, with the interior restoration possibly the most challenging part of the build. Its relative rarity means the new owner is unlikely to park beside an identical Wagon at a show or a Cars & Coffee. If you wish to stand out from the crowd behind the wheel of a practical classic, maybe it would be worth pursuing this Fiesta further.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    Well THIS is certainly something you won’t see beside you at the next Coffee & Chrome! Fix up as needed, and then astonish the crowds!! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 26
  2. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    I love it.
    Serious contender to a nomad.

    But please educate this Aussie. Tri power? What does it mean?

    Like 14
    • Avatar photo Driveinstile Member

      Hi Dave, tri power is an old term they used to describe 3 2 barrel carburetors. You hear it used with Pontiacs and other cars as well

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo MKG

      Three two barrel carburetors.

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo KC Larry

      Tri-power was Pontiac’s name for triple-carb set-up. Like Mopar’s Six-pack, it was 3 2-barrel carbs with their intake manifold.

      Like 11
      • Avatar photo St.Michael

        Dodge is 6Pack …Plymouth 440+6 or 6BBL…potato potata

        Like 6
    • Avatar photo Vince

      pic # 12 shows 3 carbs and intake no ? tri power ??

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo John Jasper

      Three 2 barrel carburetor’s

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Robert C Gies

      three carbs

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Wayne

      Three two barrel carburetors.. three deuces , tri power , triple pot .. several nicknames .

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo ACZ

        I think Aussie Dave has got the idea by now.

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo Billy

      Three 2 barrel carburetors set up like a six pack

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Mike

      Here in the States, we (meaning just me) call it MANIFOLD DESTINY.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Ed Christensen

      In car talk it means you lose the original carburetor in this case a one or maybe two barrel. And replace the intake manifold for one that mounts 3-2’s. That’s 3 carbs with two barrels each. In theory you would run on the center one for around town and when you need it the other two would kick in for general naughtiness. Lots of other makes used them too Chrysler’s Six Pack, Ford Galaxy’s et-al and of course GM products 60’s Vette’s come to mind along with any other car/wagon. All the fun came to an end in the early 70’s. When our Gov. in its infinite idiocy decided that smog pumps blowing exhaust gases into the intake and calling it clean. Never mind the people that worked on their own cars could make it clean without all that junk. The only thing that should matter is what’s coming out the tailpipe. Gripe Gripe Gripe

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Mark Switzer

      Not many of these ’57 Oldsmobiles around anymore . I recall , they were commonly seen back in 1963 – ’64 ! Gas prices were cheap back then , with regular grade selling as low as 23 cents a gallon to 25 cents depending on your location ! Back in 1964 , nobody worried about fuel economy as there was ample fuel supplies to go around . Sixty years later , times have certainly changed as we now own electric vehicles ! I do love and truly miss these old timecapcules of the past and feel that we need to preserve some for the future , right ? Happy Motoring !

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo JEFF MILLER

        I just happened to stumble upon this thread, so I’ll chime in. I am the proud owner of one of these rare birds. Mine was owned by Mitchell- Bentley corporation and in their collection until it was purchased by the first owner in 1991 when the company sold out. I am the second owner, and it has 8,000 some miles on it. J2 tri-power vehicle. Unfortunately, it was improperly stored, and the motor is junk, rest of the vehicle is in great condition with no rust. Currently on my project list.

        Like 1
    • Avatar photo Tom

      Three two barrel carbs

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Jeff Sawyer

    At the bottom of the Craigslist ad, it states 22k or best Lake Havasu, AZ.
    So, I am not sure where this car is. I do like it, though!

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo justpaul

      It’s wearing an Arizona license plate as well.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Mike

      Looks like it’s last location was at the bottom of Lake Havasu. lol

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Mike F.

      Says lisited in Lomita California in ad. The ad doesn’t say for sure. Usually is nearby listing unless says otherwise. If I we closer I’d check it out.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Dan

        Lomita…Lake Havasu…sounds like another fishy CL ad. I like the thought of a J-2 Fiesta Wagon but the seller should have installed the J-2 setup before listing this.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo ACZ

        The manifold is on the engine. The primary carb is there but it appears that the secondaries have been removed.

        Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Harvey Member

    Nice car. Needs lot of fixin for $22,000.

    Like 13
  5. Avatar photo John C.

    Looks like something that Chip Foose could customize nicely

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Mike

    Never seen a 4 dr. hardtop station wagon that I recall.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo ACZ

      Then you haven’t looked very hard.

      Like 4
  7. Avatar photo Mike

    Seriously, this would be a stunning show vehicle when completed. I always loved the 88 2 dr hardtop in 1958. I guy I knew had an absolutely beautiful ’58 2 dr 88 all white, immaculate interior and body in ’64 or ’65. I would have bought it off of him but he crashed it into a telephone pole. Cars for him were a dime a dozen.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo St.Michael

    Are those the tail pile exit vents in the rear bumper ???

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Big C

      I do believe they are.

      Like 4
  9. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    A real beauty. Long ago I was wagon seaching and wanted a Nomad. Even years back decent copies were pricey and I like highly optioned cars. I looked at one of these in lavender and white. A running driving unit for 1000.00. The car eas a basic unit with no options to speak of. I passed. I finally settled on a fully loaded 58 Caballero. There have been several of these over the years. This unit is sharp and will make a nice project. The only thing that tops these are the hardtop Chrysler wagons a few years later. The only update i would do is the brake booster and master cylinder. The window motors can be swapped from those behive units to the tried and true rectangular units that run from 59 to 79. Drive and enjoy. I know i have enjoyed my Buick one for over 3 decades now.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Mo Member

      J-2 was Olds 3×2 setup. Very sexy way back then. At 22000 you gonna be way under water at end of project even doing ALL the work yourself
      It would have to be prestine job to get full value ,about 75 000.i put 500 to 7500 hundred value as is fairarket value
      Good luck

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo MKG

      I had a local car nut friend in St Petersburg Florida that restored 2 Buick Cabellero’s about 10 years ago. He has since died and not sure what happened to them. But, what a car!
      This one, restored would be in that WOW category.

      Like 3
  10. Avatar photo gbvette62

    The 50’s Olds and Buick hardtop wagons are right up there with the Nomad and Safari, and the Caddy CTS wagon, as the coolest wagons ever.

    Like 6
  11. Avatar photo Chuck F

    I love these 4 door ht wagons, the seller is a Facebook friend in AZ, he manufactures various stainless parts for 55-69 Chevies, pretty good guy. http://www.madmooks.com

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Eric_13cars Member

    Fortunately it looks like this one has power steering. My mother’s first convertible was a 57 Olds 88 withOUT power steering. It was a killer trying to parallel park. It hurt her neck so after a couple of years she sold it for a 59 Pontiac Catalina convertible.

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo William Mahrer

    Family had an Olds wagon back in the day (circa 1960). About the only thing that stands out in my 6-year old mind from that time was the gas filler location hidden behind the left rear chrome “pedestal” between the tailight and backup light. It was hinged and swung out horizontally. I thought that was so cool.

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Bill W.

    Are you sure black wasn’t an available color? I had a friend with a 57 2 door hardtop with a J2, and I’m sure it was a factory painted black car.

    Like 2
  15. Avatar photo Todd J. Member

    Rare car indeed, can’t remember when I last saw one.

    Like 2
  16. Avatar photo jagbor

    WOW! This is super cool and rare! What a fun vehicle this would be to cruise down the highway in! I am sure there would be lots of stares! For 22K tho, there is TONS of work to be done and my guess, is at least another 40K to bring to decent driver quality never mind show quality? Too much for my pockets but still very cool car!

    Like 3
  17. Avatar photo ACZ

    Considering the option content, probably an old GM company car or auto show car. This is the kind of ride that the Regional Manager would order up for his family vacation.

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo bone

    if “we” dont know the history of this car , how do “we” know this was a special order car ? Its an odd set up to be sure, but there could have been more built this way for towing purposes that have long since been recycled – same with the color , if it wasnt on the paint codes for 57, how does one know its ” Onyx Black ” ?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Old Man

      You have to take the seller’s word for it. AHAHAHAHA!

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo jagbor

      I am a newbie here but doesn’t the VIn #/Trim plate data give some clarity?

      Like 5
  19. Avatar photo DON

    There’s still quite a few of these around, but still rare compared to the rest of the 57 Olds line .i would say its been repainted, I dont think I’ve ever seen one that wasn’t two toned .

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo timothy herrod

    Neat old car, I was looking at the engine pic and am curious as to what the plate is thats held down with 4 nuts and studs. Also looks like I can see two studs and nuts between the the carb and distributor. Could they be block plates for the other two carbs?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo ACZ

      Apparently the secondaries have been removed. Maybe for an intentional rebuild?

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Davey Boy

      Those plates are blocking the places where the other carburetors are supposed to be. I’m guessing only one carburetor is in working condition so they covered the other two spots so it could be running.

      Like 0
  21. Avatar photo HC Member

    This is an impressive, Oldsmobile wagon, and I dont mind 4 doors as long as it’s a hardtop. It’s interior is the biggest challenge, especially the headliner. Who knows what the labor for that will be. Seller was probably happy to get at least one of three carbs working. Body and drivetrain are something else. Good find.

    Like 3
  22. Avatar photo Davey Boy

    That is one SWEET ride. I’ve always been a wagon guy and this one is top of the heap in my book. I even own the modern version of the station wagon in the Dodge Magnum. (Although some would argue it’s an SUV) This one would be awesome put back together. Wondering how much the O.B.O. would actually end up being. 22K is just to much. The car looks great from a distance but up close needs almost everything. I think 15K is even asking to much but as they say….there’s an @$$ for every seat. Sure wish I had the funds for this one.

    Like 0
  23. Avatar photo Ronald Ballard

    They were also called “trips” for triple 2 barrel carburetors. They could be activated by vacuum switches but the best way was by mechanical progressive linkage. Great carbs, mate.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.