Affordable Project: 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom Holiday Coupe

It can be easy to judge a book by its cover, and there are times when this proves to be a bad decision. That would be the case with this 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom because it is a solid classic that would make an excellent first restoration project. It runs and drives, and the lack of rust means returning it to its former glory should be easy and rewarding. If an empty hole in your workshop is begging to be filled, the Olds is listed here on Craigslist in Montville, New Jersey. If you aren’t already tempted, the affordable $3,900 asking price could be enough to tip the scales. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder local_sheriff for spotting this beauty.

Once you look beyond the tired dark green paint, there’s a lot to like about this Oldsmobile. The seller is candid about its appearance, which is refreshing at a time when some can wax lyrical about a car that has seen better days. Its panels wear a few dings and bruises, but there are no severe problems that may lead to panel replacement. However, the lack of apparent rust could be its greatest attribute. Nothing is visible in the supplied photos, and the seller’s reference to the vehicle’s solid nature suggests no nasty surprises are lurking below the skin. It would still be worth potential buyers undertaking an in-person inspection, but the car looks promising. The trim and chrome are intact, although the photos suggest someone may have applied a coat of silver paint to the slightly damaged rear bumper. Otherwise, the remaining pieces look like they would respond positively to some old-fashioned elbow grease with a high-quality polish. Rounding out the exterior is glass that looks excellent.

The Delta 88’s interior would benefit from some TLC, but it is another aspect of this project that the new owner could undertake themselves. The seats need new covers due to various splits and tears, but the remaining upholstered surfaces look like they may present well with a deep clean. The buyer needs to add a new carpet set to their shopping list, and I think the dash pad may be cracked. With those issues addressed, I feel the interior would present well. There are no aftermarket additions, and luxury appointments seem limited to the factory AM radio.

At 4,226lbs, the Delta 88 Custom Holiday Coupe is slightly on the heavy side. Oldsmobile recognized this, electing to slip something special under the hood that provided excellent performance potential. What they selected was a 455ci V8 that churned out 310hp. That power was fed to the rear wheels via a three-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, while power assistance for the steering and brakes were welcome inclusions. Despite the weight, this Olds would have stormed the ¼ mile in 16.1 seconds. For purists, the news that the car is no longer numbers-matching is probably disappointing. The engine bay still houses a 455, but it is from the early 1970s. However, place your disappointment to one side because the seller claims the car starts easily, and runs and drives well. It is unclear whether it is genuinely roadworthy, but it does need new tires. If it isn’t roadworthy, getting it to that point may be easy.

The reality is that this 1968 Delta 88 Custom is unlikely to become a mega-back classic. However, sometimes that isn’t the object of the exercise when an owner embarks on the restoration journey. While it can be unwise to throw caution to the wind and proceed recklessly, taking an affordable project and returning it to its former glory can provide an experience money can’t buy. If the new owner returns the car to showroom condition, it could command a value as high as $20,000 in the current market. Performing most of the work themselves could prove rewarding and leave the buyer with a financially viable project. Are those thoughts enough to tempt you?

Comments

  1. PaulG

    Having owned a few full sized Olds from the mid 60’s to early 70’s these motors produce huge amounts of torque. And when you own the first one at 16 years old it’s tire shredding torque!

    Like 12
  2. Snotty

    Not sure it’s a custom. That model had different taillights and side trim. And it would also have “custom” script on the front fender. Never understood why most if not all car manufacturers utilized “14” wheels on full size sized models at this time.

    Like 5
    • Dusty Rider

      14″ wheels lowered the car’s profile a little.

      Like 2
    • Joe Padavano

      The side trim is correct for a Delta Custom. The 1968 Delta had narrower side trim. The headlights and grill were the same for both. In any case, the VIN will prove which it is.

      Like 1
    • S

      It says “Delta Custom” on the trunk lid.

      Like 3
  3. local_sheriff

    Now I must confess that while I find the ’67 a much sleeker more true to Olds fashion version, the ’68 still offers the same fantastic roofline – somehow I feel this B-body gives me 2nd gen Riviera vibes.

    Considering how darn many B-bodies Olds churned out I think it’s sad how few we see of them today. When people think Olds they’re instantly thinking 442/Cutlass/Vista and while those are indeed cool I think the A-bodies have completely overshadowed the B-bodies that were more or less everywhere when they were new. Personally I’d think something like this would make an unusual, attractive street bruiser as this fellow found out with his ’69
    https://www.motortrend.com/features/olds-455-powered-1969-oldsmobile-delta-88/

    Like 3
  4. Joe Haska

    This could be the answer for someone, who can’t afford a Rivera. Your ideas of making it a nice car are good ones. However, lots of unknows ,that would throw that monkey wrench into the project.

    Like 2
  5. Don Leblanc

    First time I saw one of these, I did not know which Oldsmobile model it was. I saw it in the movie “The French Connection” and absolutely loved the lines of this car. Too bad it was in a shoot out w/ the police / drug guys towards the end of the movie …. ( Oh, but that car chase tho’ ).

    Like 1
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Considering the location, this is in very good condition. Should be far more rotted.

    No word by the seller if it runs, that might be nice to know.

    Like 2
  7. Snotty

    Ok, so the 67 had the taillights in the rear bumper and a cool vent like side trim on the front fender. Dagnabit off one yr.

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