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Barn Rocket: 1951 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible

In 1949, Oldsmobile had the brilliant idea of making a high-compression engine and putting it in a relatively small, lightweight car. Enter the Rocket 88, the world’s first muscle car. The Rocket 8 V-8 engine became its own sub-brand, and Oldsmobile produced the Rocket engine in some form for the next four decades. Oldsmobile became known for its V-8s because of this engine. This 1951 convertible model isn’t too far removed from that first Rocket and is equipped with a four-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission. You can bid on it here on eBay, where the current bid at time of writing is just $3,000.

Inside, there are two benches, seating up to six people. It’s a barn find in the truest sense of the word, and there’s a thick coat of dust on everything. Having said that, under the dust, everything looks good. All the panels seem to line up, all the trim is present, and it’s still got its original steering wheel with the super cool gold globe emblem.

Under the hood looks just about as complete as the rest of the car, with a similar amount of barn dust. The high-compression, overhead-valve Rocket V-8 engine has all of its wiring, the oil bath air cleaner, and carburetor, all bits that generally come off to be used in the owners’ other projects. The seller doesn’t say if it runs, but I’d be willing to bet that it doesn’t. The thick layer of dust on every visible surface looks like at least two decades’ worth of build-up.

Just about the only visible problem is some rust at the back. The seller’s provided images show that there is rust, but the true extent of the damage can’t be seen without getting under the car and checking. Either way, probably nothing some welding couldn’t fix. I have a special place in my heart for Oldsmobiles of all kinds, but especially the 88 model. It birthed rock and roll, it created the American muscle car, it was available for fifty years, and was classy and comfortable all the while. To paraphrase their ad campaign, make a date with this Rocket-88!


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Lookin’ a wee bit shaggy at the back end. Personally I’d like to see some underbody photos.

    Like 8
  2. flmikey

    The seller states that the frame is broken on the drivers side rear…I would hope someone rescues it…and that person would have to have mad welding skills, I would think…frames are really tough to fix correctly, from what I hear…

    Like 5
  3. Steve R

    Broken frame, Vermont, sitting for who knows how long. Potential buyers would be wise to price it as a parts car to protect their interests, then hope for the best if they win the auction.

    Steve R

    Like 10
    • Whatmarc

      I could be wrong, but I think the seller is talking about the frame for the convertible top. Still quite a project either way.

      Like 3
  4. BlondeUXB Member

    Radio ?
    I wanna hear Ike Turner !

    Like 2
    • Derek

      Aye, one of only a few cars to have a record named for them.

      Yes, yes, Mighty Morris Ten, I know….!

      Like 0
      • 57Chevy

        I wanna hear Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry & Little Richard! By the way, there are several cars that have had songs named after them! How about Buick ’59, Pink Cadillac, GTO, Rusty Chevrolet, & one about a car song not too many know about & you most likely won’t see here on Barn Finds called ’59 Volvo!

        Like 1
  5. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Norton, Vermont

    Like 1
  6. BR

    I want a look at that Texaco tanker next to it.

    Like 2
    • Moparwrangler

      Heck Yes! Package Deal?

      Like 0

    Great find! A lot of work but not impossible. Well worth a proper restoration to it’s original form.

    Like 0

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