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Original 371 Tri-Power: 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Holiday Hardtop

Oldsmobile introduced the Third Generation of its 88 model in 1957, but it remained in production for two years. The mid-range offering was the Super 88, which sold in numbers that must have pleased management. If buyers wanted performance beyond that offered by the basic 371ci V8, ticking the right box on the Order Form brought the J2 version into the picture, providing a useful increase in power and torque. This Olds features that option, and the car presents well for its age. It needs a new home, so the owner has listed it here on eBay in Stokesdale, North Carolina. Bidding sits at $22,100, although I’m not surprised that figure is short of the reserve.

The seller purchased this Olds around three years ago and indicates it underwent restoration before their purchase. Since coming into their possession, they treated it to a further cosmetic refresh last year. The paint color is a mystery because it doesn’t match any shade on the Oldsmobile color charts for the 1957 model year. It might be a special order, or the restorer may have performed a color change during their build. As a point of reference, it is close to a shade called Regal Maroon, which the company offered in 1955. The paint shines impressively, although the seller admits a close inspection reveals the minor chips and marks that stones can inflict during regular use. The panels are as straight as an arrow, and I see no evidence of rust. The exterior rounds out with spotless glass, glistening chrome, and a classy set of whitewall tires.

The interior of this Olds continues the “tidy driver” theme, with Back upholstery that presents well. The seller admits there are a few minor repairs, although these aren’t visible in the supplied photos. The wheel looks excellent, as do the carpet and dash. One aspect of interior design from this era that attracts me is the use of bright trim and chrome. It may not be the safest material in the event of an accident, but it helps lift a dark interior like this to prevent it from looking somber. The custom dash pad sounds like a welcome addition, but it loses points on practicality as it obscures the clock. It isn’t loaded with optional extras, but the factory radio would be welcome on long journeys. Another mystery this classic provides is the seller’s reference to the optional radio in the glove box. I initially thought that someone may have retrofitted the optional “Trans-Portable” radio from the 1958 model year, but I’m not sure.

Oldsmobile offered potential buyers a couple of engine choices to power their 4,340lb Super 88, and the entry-level 371ci V8 provided 277hp. That figure satisfied most buyers, but those wishing to enjoy a performance edge could opt for the J2 version equipped with a Tri-Power induction system. That motor boosted power and torque figures to 300hp and 410 ft/lbs. That’s what we find occupying this classic’s engine bay, and when coupled to a four-speed Hydramatic transmission, it allowed the car to storm the ¼ mile in 17 seconds before running out of breath at 121mph. Those figures are not that impressive by modern standards, but they offered bragging rights in 1957. The seller states this engine recently received a rebuild, including a .030″ bore and balancing. They also refreshed the transmission, meaning this beauty runs and drives perfectly. If the buyer seeks a turnkey classic from the 1950s, this could be a tempting proposition.

With a sales total of 31,155 vehicles for 1957, the 2-Door Holiday Hardtop was the third-highest selling derivative of the Super 88 behind the 4-Door Sedan and 4-Door Hardtop. Our feature car is a gem, and the J2 version of the company’s 371ci V8 should provide performance that matches its good looks. The action on this one has been intense, with thirty-six bids submitted. I believe that it will need to pass $30,000 to hit the reserve, and if that is to happen in the remaining time, the bidding will need to become pretty frantic. Do you think it will make it?

Comments

  1. CCFisher

    The interior is not original. The 1957 Super 88 featured two- or three-tone upholstery and highly detailed door trim.

    Like 5
  2. Will Fox

    Olds also never offered a solid black vinyl interior on these; someone thought it was the cheapest if not the most correct way to re-do the interior. Since the outside color isn’t a mfr. offering, I guess the interior doesn’t matter. Otherwise nice J-2!

    Like 7
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Agree. Still one of the best designs GM came up with in the ’50s.

      Like 6
  3. Bob C.

    This was Harley Earl’s swan song before retiring.

  4. Poseidon Member

    We had a black Super 88 hardtop and a blue 98 Convertible.

    • David Henderson

      My parents had a jet black 57 with j2 package. Best looking GM imho

  5. Rod Lustila

    I would drive her everyday everywhere,enjoy the car while I can.dings wear and tear? sure of course! Can always repaint! New carpet again a few years down the road,so what.look at the smile every morning you start her up.

    Like 5
  6. Rod Lustila

    I would drive her everyday everywhere,enjoy the car while I can.dings wear and tear? sure of course! Can always repaint! New carpet again a few years down the road,so what.look at the smile every morning you start her up.of course they won’t let me post this!

    Like 1
  7. Chuck Dickinson

    Someone decided to waste a bunch of $$ to have the interior re-done in an entirely incorrect design/materials, etc. The labor to do an interior is the same whether you bastardize it like this Olds, or do it correctly. Why waste money to create something like “this”.

    • Bill James

      I would say that it was HIS car and His money and his to make it the way he wanted it. If you think it is wrong and should be the way you want it,it is for sale so put your money where your mouth is and make it yours and spend your money to make it the way you want it. If I had the money ,I would buy it and love it the way he did …

      Like 2
  8. Rod Lustila

    Interior,cause that’s how they liked it,what’s up with you guys? Go to the museum if you want.

    Like 2
  9. Mike Egan Member

    I agree Rod. It’s your car to finish as you like. I would be happy with this car just the way it is.

    Like 4
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Is this the same Mike Egan from Durban? If so, hou gaan dit? As for the Oldsmobile. When I first got into the vintage car movement back in 1976 I bought a 1934 Austin 10/4 that needed a repaint. I didn’t want to paint it in any of the original boring colours so I asked the club Chairman for advice. He told me that as we are only Custodians of these old cars, and we will be gone long before them, paint it any colour you like as the next owner can always paint it back in the original colours if he should so wish. It was black on top with black fenders and cream in the middle before I painted it as per the photo. I sold it in 2004 and the latest owner has restored it back to an original colour, maroon with black fenders and it looks boring again. Ken Tilly. UK.

  10. Lowell Peterson

    Sadly the color and interior drastically affect resale value on this one. Still a nice buy for around $30k. You could still ‘fix’ the interior and not be real upside down.

  11. Robt

    This car is beautiful!
    Why all the wasted breath on whether or not colors are correct or if the car can reach maximum $ value as is? Does that matter? No. Not in my opinion.
    It’s a machine, built to be used, everyday. Not stored away in some garage or museum except for sunny days for fear of degrading value.

    Like 1

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