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Frame-Off Restoration: 1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 Convertible

Some people have said that Oldsmobile didn’t carry that brand in deference to the company’s founder, but it reflected the demographic most attracted to its products. However, that statement loses some of its punch when you look at cars like this 1949 Futuramic 88 Convertible. It features a body considered crisp and stylish in post-war America, but the powerhouse under the hood signaled the company was serious about establishing performance credentials. This beauty recently underwent a frame-off restoration, and finding anything to fault is challenging. The owner is ready to part with this classic, and can there be a better time than with sunny days on our doorstep? It is listed here on Craigslist in Marietta, Georgia, for $49,950. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder T.J. for spotting this beautiful drop-top.

Most Convertibles look stunning with the top down but lose the styling edge when raised. This Oldsmobile doesn’t suffer from those issues. The Tan Haartz Cloth Canvas Convertible Top and matching Boot Cover contrast the body’s Ankeen Cream paint. The seller confirms it underwent a frame-off restoration, but it is unclear when this occurred. I believe the car hasn’t done much work since it rolled out of the workshop because there is little to criticize. The paint shines magnificently, working seamlessly with the chrome and trim to catch any prevailing rays of light. The top is as tight as you could hope to find, but the best news is reserved for the car’s structural integrity. It has spent its life in the south, with the underside shots confirming it is rust-free. The full wheel covers look perfect, with the wide whitewall tires adding a perfect finishing touch to the exterior.

The big news from Oldsmobile for 1949 was the introduction of its iconic “Rocket” V8. The company vied with Cadillac to be the first to introduce an OHV motor, and that is what occupies this classic’s engine bay. With a capacity of 303ci, it sends 135hp and 263 ft/lbs of torque to the road via a four-speed automatic transmission. Its only significant weakness was weight because the Convertible was more than 300 lbs heavier than the Coupe variant. It did hinder performance slightly, although a ¼-mile ET of 22 seconds was still considered impressive in 1949. This car is in excellent mechanical health, with no issues or problems. It runs and drives perfectly, representing a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

The seller didn’t limit their magic to the car’s exterior and drivetrain because its interior is superbly trimmed in Tan. There is no evidence of wear or other issues, and no rough edges require attention. The dash looks stunning, housing the factory pushbutton radio and clock. The painted surfaces are spotless, and the bright trim pieces are in as-new condition. Some classic Convertibles cause owners angst because dropping the top can reveal sub-standard interior presentation. There is no chance of that with this Olds because it looks as good as the day it rolled off the showroom floor. The relative rarity of this car is worth noting because while the company produced 99,276 examples of the 88 across all derivatives, only 5,434 buyers paid the extra to drive away in a Convertible.

When you consider the post-war success of Oldsmobile, especially the triumphant 1970s and 1980s, it is hard to believe that the brand would disappear in the first few years of the new Millenium. The fickle nature of the automotive world meant the badge lost its relevance, with dwindling sales the consequence. It falls to cars like this 1949 Futuramic 88 Convertible to carry the torch for the marque, and it does so with style. It is a gem, with the photos and listing suggesting the new owner won’t be disappointed when they slip behind the wheel. The car broke the mold, marking a moment in history when the company was bold and daring. I can’t see how this classic could disappoint anyone. Can you?


  1. Joe Dertie

    I love cars of this era, I just couldn’t feel safe driving one when everyone else on the road can break and accelerate 1000% more swiftly that I. I don’t blame a single person who puts an S-10 or crown vic chassis under one. Just makes sense to me, even if dollar foolish

    Like 3
    • Richardd Adams

      With respect, my thoughts when I see an earlier convertible, I often think (heaven forbid) of how much that windscreen is able to support, in a roll over?

      Like 3
      • Donald Porochonski

        It would fold like a card table but on the other hand, I think cars of that era had a wider track and weren’t as prone to roll over. Maybe I’m wrong but I do think of it when driving my 1991 Mustang convertible.

        Like 2
      • Solosolo UK KEN TILLY UK Member

        You wouldn’t have to worry about what the windscreen would support as by the time it was going to hit the tarmac you would be somewhere heading for a hard landing of your own! No seat belts back in those days. I have had a 1948 Hudson Commodore 8 convert, Austin Healey’s, MG’s etc. and never gave a seat restraint a second thought.

        Like 7
    • GitterDunn

      In 1949 there were no interstate highways crowded with distracted commuters driving 85 m.p.h. while simultaneously texting and eating an Egg McMuffin. But it’s perfect for careful drivers going a leisurely 45 on 2-lane roads.

      Like 15
    • Bill Potts

      I wouldn’t worry about the car and driving it,but rather all the distracted drivers on their phones,the impatient drivers speeding,and modern drivers today. If I had the cash,and insurance, I’d love to own it

      Like 5
  2. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member


    Like 15
  3. CalMotor Member

    “Some people have said that Oldsmobile didn’t carry that brand in deference to the company’s founder, but it reflected the demographic most attracted to its products.”


    Like 9
    • bone

      Reads like a “cut and paste” ; can you imagine overhearing a comment like that at a car show ???

      Like 4
  4. charlie Member

    No seat belts, no airbags, no dual master cylinder, no idea about door locks, no crumple zones, steering wheel positioned to stab you in the chest in a fast stop, drum brakes that given their size and the weight of the car, probably good enough for a panic stop from 65 mph (my ’68 Chevelle would run out of brake if you were going 70, front discs were standard in ’69), and yes, that windshield would just collapse in a roll over. My friend I and I would practice the roll over life saving method in his Austin Healy Sprite -passenger ducks forward toward the driver, driver ducks behind the passenger, luckily we never had to do it.
    If you had to go a long way, on an Interstate, or elsewhere at speed, buy a trailer as well and a pickup to tow it. Trailer queens are not just about avoiding nicks and bruises, or breakdowns, they are about safety as well.

    Like 3
  5. Joe Haska

    Oh let me think, I would take it for awhile, maybe a couple of years or more, and see if I can be disappointed. Keep your phone close I will call when I am.
    Oh, I don’t have your phone #, never mind I won’t need it.

    Like 3
  6. ACZ

    The newer safety features are important. No question but you are not going to drive a car like this as a daily driver. This car is to be enjoyed for what it is.

    Like 8
  7. Ted C Coombes

    The author’s statement that Oldsmobile competed with Cadillac ” o be the first to introduce an OHV motor” is false. Not only were these two engines NOT the first OHV engines, they were not event the first OHV V-8. Chevrolet earned that distinction in 1917-18.

    Like 2
    • Chunk

      I believe that the first production OHV engine was actually in Buick’s 1904 Model B, with a flat-twin breathing through two valves per cylinder.

      Like 3
      • Ted C Coombes

        My intention was to note that Chevrolet built the first OHV V-8 in 2017.

        Like 1
  8. Carbob Member

    CalMotor, I had to read that part of the write up twice before the light bulb came on. I think Adam was saying that the customer who would buy Oldsmobile was generally older and richer than buyers of the low price three. The author should feel free to correct me if my assumption isn’t accurate. Beautiful car that I’d love to own and drive but it’s above my pay grade being as I’m retired. Speaking of safety issues with old vehicles; one thing that always seemed ghastly to me was windshields that predated laminated glass.

    Like 2
  9. ACZ

    Been a long time since I’ve seen one of those sidedraft carburetors.

    Like 1
  10. DRW

    Lots of concern about safety but maybe it is overconcern. I drive a 1957 Thunderbird around and yes, I have added seatbelts and yes I drive defensively and plan stops ahead. But I have also noticed that other drivers notice the car more than they do the sea of silver and white SUVs and cut me some slack. They are paying attention to the car, too.

    Like 4
  11. Morley Member

    I want this car , too bad it does not have a see thrus hood. These thing were fast.

    Like 0
  12. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    “I’m an excellent driver, excellent driver”. Yes, I know that was a ’49 Buick.

    Like 4
  13. Cristiana R Barsuglia

    Since when is owning and driving a classic/vintage car rejected on “safety” grounds among Barn Finds readers? Put a car like this on an S-10 or Crown Vic chassis? Just drive a Crown Vic or an S-10 and be done with it! Jeez!

    Like 10
  14. TheOldRanger

    I like this car, but I wouldn’t be driving this out on an interstate for any reason. This car is meant to be driven locally, not more than maybe 45 mph for the most part. This would be a fun car to drive here in the Village (we are 90% old farts to start with) and our top speed limit here is 45… most of the time is less due to the hills and curves and trees, et al. This is a car to be enjoyed leisurely, not to see how fast you can go.

    Like 6
  15. Matthew Dyer

    Beautiful! Thanks for including it today. 😀

    Like 2
  16. Crawdad

    When this car was new , Tom McCahill of Popular Mechanics, ( or was it Mechanics Ilustrated ? ) was their road tester for new cars. One of the techniques that he and others advocated in the event of an impending accident was to ” hit the cellar ” , meaning throw yourself into the passenger floorboard. It actually could help some in certain types of wreck. In those days, there was enough room ” in the cellar” for the driver and the passenger.

    Like 3

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