One-Owner Project: 1964 Oldsmobile Starfire

The rear-wheel-drive Starfire was Oldsmobile’s personal luxury offering until the front-wheel-drive Toronado assumed those duties in 1966. While it shared most of its sheet metal with other full-sized Olds models, the Starfire wore unique trim and luxurious interiors – and had more than ample power under the hood. This 1964 edition has been dubbed a barnyard find likely because of where it was discovered by the seller. It ran briefly while being prepped for sale, but it’s going to need further mechanical and cosmetic attention.  Located in Los Angeles, California, this Starfire is available here on eBay where the no reserve auction has reached just $1,175. Thank you, Larry D, for this cool tip!

Oldsmobile used the Starfire name on three occasions beginning in 1954, though not in contiguous order. It made its debut with the Ninety-Eight series convertibles, then for 1957 only, all Ninety-Eight series models were named “Starfire 98”. After a two-year break, the name reappeared in 1961 as a separate convertible model and was joined by a hardtop in 1962. The cars were restyled in ‘63, so the ‘64 editions would be minimally changed. The cars were powered by Oldsmobile’s “Rocket V8” that displaced 394 cubic inches and produced 345 hp. 1964 production took a dip downward to 14,663 coupes and 3,903 drop-tops.

This Oldsmobile looks as though it was parked and left untouched for several years. The odometer reflects more than 95,000 miles which certainly could be accurate. We’re told the seller was able to get it started and moved around a bit, but the transmission needs to be rebuilt from sitting so long. There has been some work done to the car, like a new set of tires, a flush of the motor, and likely a battery. This is not an auto that you could drive home, so the buyer needs to come with a trailer. And if you’re interested in listening to any tunes, you’ll have to source a new vintage radio.

The original owner was a stickler for details, so a lot of the car’s history has been retained. That includes its original California black license plates, the Protecto-Plate, and the 1964 window sticker. One thing that’s missing after all these years is the title, so a bill of sale or invoice will have to suffice. The seller wishes he had the time to restore the car himself, but someone else will get a shot at it. While patina attracts some folks, this car would look great with a new silver/blue paint job and upholstery. These cars may have escaped a lot of collector interest as topflight examples are not likely to fetch more than $30,000, according to Hagerty. This is a cool Plan B car if you’ve been looking at ‘60s Grand Prix’s and Thunderbirds.


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  1. RKS

    I could’ve bought this same car in black and white a couple years ago for $1000. It had a better interior. I should’ve jumped on it but didn’t have the space. I wonder if my friend still has it…

    Like 3
  2. Terrry

    There’s definitely something to work with here, and these were very nice cars. If the auction ends and the price stays below $2k, I’d say it’s a great starting point.

    Like 5
  3. Will Fox

    What I’ve always admired about the Olds Starfires is that they never had the over-popularity other cars have, like Chevys & Pontiacs. The underdog if you will. When you see top examples of these at shows (few & far between, mind you) they draw a crowd. Flash & tasteful good looks with plenty of power. I once saw a factory photo of a proposed 1960 Olds Starfire that was planned, but for whatever reason they waited until `61 to bring it out. A shame too; it was better looking than the production `61 model.

    Like 4
  4. Redlines

    This looks quite nice. It needs work but not crazy amounts of work, esp since the engine runs. Finding a transmission tech who knows how to repair these could be an issue.

    Like 3
  5. Ron Ron

    With a bit of time, this Olds could be a real beauty!!

  6. Chuck simons

    That transmission is going to run between four and $5000 to build, Unless you do it yourself. I am not a transmission guy so I just paid $4700 for a rebuilt transmission for my 61 Catalina

    Like 1
  7. local_sheriff

    The transmission is the elephant in the room here – it’s the feared Roto Hydramatic ‘Slim Jim’, probably best known for leaking, strange behaviour and poor reliability. Being GM’s tech spearhead division(read: guinea pig) this transmission was developed for use in fullsize Oldses ’61-’64 to replace the more complex and expensive to build 4spd Hydramatic, and was also shared with same years short WB Pontiacs to justify its development costs. As a result of its fairly compact design cars with the Roto usually have very little space left in transmission tunnel to accommodate a TH gen swap without extensive mods. One will also have to deal with how to attach the starter as it mounts to the transmission,not the engine…!

    IMHO this is really sad as I really like the ’64 Olds and a Starfire is probably as posh as it gets in the B-body world. Note the high beam tribars; these were part of the Starfire package early in the ’64 model year. When I was shopping for a longroof a couple years back I passed on a ’64 Dynamic Fiesta Cali car solely due to my fear of potential transmission issues. While I normally prefer vintage drivelines, the Starfire in question is one of those very few times I’d say it’s probably best for the vehicle to LS it… 😏

    Like 2
    • Bill Potts

      I owned a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville convertible that had a rotomatic Slim Jim in it. I was tired at 100,000miles. Just replaced it with another. Had a lot of fun with it.

  8. Rex Kahrs Member

    Good insight Chuck. I guess I can’t bitch about the 2K rebuild on my 727 Torqueflite.

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