Sleeping Survivor: 1949 Oldsmobile 88

1949-olds-88-survivor

The Olds 88 was in production for 50 years. It is an American legend and this is where is all began. Oldsmobile took their compact Futuramic family sedan and stuck a V8 in it. That made for a fun combination that sold well for a long time. This particular club sedan is supposedly still wearing its original paint and interior. We have our doubts about those claims, but we do like what is under the hood. Take a look here on eBay.

oldsmobile-324-v8

First, lets talk about the engine. The 88 model designation came out in 1949 as a replacement for the inline-eight equipped 78. That is a lot of eights! Anyway, the 88 was instead fitted with a 303 cubic inch V8. The combination of relatively light body and powerful engine helped the car rack up many NASCAR wins. The example you see here should be quick because the owner balanced and blueprinted a 324 from a later Olds for some added oomph. The Offy valve covers are a nice touch to an otherwise unassuming sleeper.

1949-olds-88-interior

Power is fed through a Hydramatic and even though we think a manual could be fun in a car like this, it is probably the best option because the 3-speed from this period were not that great to shift. We want to believe the seller’s claim that the interior is original. The seats look amazing and we guess it could be true if the car really only covered 31k miles in its lifetime. Obviously, the seat belts and tach were added later.

olds-88-club-coupe-body

The Ivy Green paint is also allegedly original. It looks so good that it is hard to believe that its the same stuff that left the spray-gun over sixty years ago. We looked for over-spray and other signs of a respray, but we couldn’t find anything to disprove its originality. Perhaps you can find something? We hope that you can’t though because if the story checks out, this is one of the coolest Rocket 88s around!

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Comments

  1. Craig Bolton

    I had a ’49 coupe in the mid seventies- 303, Offy intake with a pair of Carter WCFBs, Joe Hunt Magneto, LaSalle 4-speed, 4.56 rear end- built in the late fities North Wilkesboro NC to carry tax-free beverages. It was quite quick.

  2. Scarecrow

    I would say that this still has it’s original colour

  3. shawnmcgill

    I’d like to think the paint’s original, but something looks a bit off around the edges of the trunk in the close-up pic on the ebay listing.

    Either way, this is a killer car!

  4. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    Nice looking Rocket 88, and the first year of the great GM OHV V-8, making this a landmark car. It’s also a 2-door fastback that has a honkin’ big V8, making it a very cool ride.

    It might be a terrific, affordable stealth rod for somebody, but the presentation makes it hard to know. With all that power I would want to know whether the suspension is stock or upgraded. And it’s good that the brakes were redone, but what are they—the small stock drums or upgraded big disks? And then there’s the California seller with a car 3000 miles East? Who owns it and who has the title, what will the conditions be for the purchase, etc?

  5. sunbeamdon

    My first thought – it needs an LS1, or similar – WOW – the mill in it looks about as good as they come.

    Craig, I think Scarecrow was onto something “still”(??!). What a great era road-runner.

    • Billy Rockfish

      LS-1 Chevy? Are you high? Sorry . . . . nothing but ROCKET POWER for a ROCKET OLDS. I knew of a guy in Northern California years ago that had a relatively stock looking 88 ragtop (1950), but he put a 394 Olds in it (out of a ’62 Ninety-Eight). Quick!!!

      2
  6. Eric Kincaid

    I have actually looked at this car. A friend of mine knows the owner and he took me to see it. Yes, the paint and interior looks original. The owner says It will run down the interstate at 70 mph with one finger on the wheel.

  7. scot

    ~ be still, my pounding heart!! what a gorgeous preservation! i had a high school friend with nearly identical Oldsmobile. we surprised a great number of drivers with small block Chevrolet powered cars, and it drove so comfortably. i never get tired of post-war General Motors fast back cars of any brand; Olds, Buick, Pontiac, Chevrolet or Cadillac. original examples are precious, and modified cars are just as sweet to me. i traded my ’50 Chevy Fleetline 2 door, 350/350 for a ’68 Camaro convertible cuz i already had a ’67 rag-top and thought i should have a pair. i realize now i had my head in my butt.

  8. Jim Mosley

    Where is the tach? That is the clock in the center of the dash. I had many happy days driving these Oldsmobiles in my youth. Great cars!!

  9. joe howell

    Look just above the the left steering wheel spoke and you can see the part of the tach face.

  10. Jim Mosley

    Thanks Joe, I do see it now, but it really does blend with the speedo and takes great eyesight to make it out.

  11. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’d prefer the 303 to keep it original. If it’s an original creampuff, it should’ve retained its original engine. However, the 324 isn’t a bad substitute. I’ve seen many similar swaps.

    Seatbelts are quite contraversial. I understand that if the car didn’t come (from the factory) with seatbelts then you shouldn’t install them. According to my sources, if you put belts in afterwards, your insurance might not cover any injuries; and from what I’ve read, once you install seatbelts the DMV won’t let you take them out. I have no intention of installing seatbelts in any of my cars (that didn’t offer them from the factory) for that reason.

    • bp

      The DMV won’t let you! That’s funny! What are ya going to do drive over and show them?

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        It’s a strange one, I know. I also ask what they’re going to miss, unless there’s been an inspection and seat belts are recorded. When a new owner registers it and has to have another inspection, the missing belts will come up. But I find it to be a real double standard where once they’re in they have to stay but if they’re not a factory install, your insurance company may kick you to the curb when you need it the most…

    • paul

      Interesting question about the seat belts, I’ll have to ask Hagerty that question when I put the Vair on the road in a few weeks. I am putting a 4 point belt, the 3 point requires drilling into the B pillar, very thin on my car, the 4 goes into the existing holes that are on my car but it was an option with the edition of a single hole behind the center of the front seat. I do want seat belts.

  12. paul

    Great car, the steering wheel & those great Olds grilles from that era make it worth the price.

  13. rustylink

    Love it-great model, grateful updates, but no way in hell the original interior or paint..

  14. Horse Radish

    So what happened to the engine at 30+ k miles ??

    A car isn’t much the same (low mileage original) after that. The heart is gone.

  15. shawnmcgill

    I didn’t think this beauty would stay in my price range very long, and sure enough, it’s already at $7100, with reserve not met, and 6+ days to go….

  16. J. Pickett

    Gorgeous, I first turned a wrench on a buddie’s 50 . Updating to a later Olds engine was very common in the fifties and sixties. All Olds engines from 49 to 64 , from 303 ci to 394 ci. were bolt in swaps. Great sleepers and rear suspension set up for weight transfer from the factory. I’d love to have that car.

  17. jumpinjimmy

    This car has been on ebay at least 5 different times (if not more) over the last year and a half and it makes me wonder why it hasn’t sold yet.

    • shawnmcgill

      I’m guessing, like most everything else, a matter of price. No matter what you think your car is worth, if you run it through the auction process and it never reaches your number, maybe you are over-valuing it. Anything is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, in the final analysis. If you’re not willing to sell for that number, you should keep it.

      • jumpinjimmy

        I’m sure you’re right. Interesting and nice looking car and I think the engine modification is a plus. A desirable car that should have sold ages ago if the seller was realistic on pricing. I have doubts about the originality claims, but still a nice package.

  18. scrape iron

    Seems like later model deep dish steelies, maybe off a Buick of the same era; not original.

  19. twwok

    Man, I would love to have this one. When youthink of a 49 Olds Rocket 88 you usually think of the Holiday Coupes. This one is truly amazing. Would not surprse me to see it go far north of $10,000,,,very far.

  20. Chris H.

    Do I spy freshly laid Dynamat peeking out from under the carpets?

  21. FRED

    VERY NICE FIND.IT REMINDS ME OF MOONSHINE RUNNERS. NOT THAT I KNOW MUCH ABOUT THAT STUFF BUT WITH A MOTOR THAT I AM SURE IT HAD TO BE USED FOR THAT AND STOCK CAR RACING..I WOULD LOVE TO CRUISE AROUND IN A RIDE AS SMOOTH AS THE CORN WHISKEY IT CARRIED.

  22. braktrcr

    Gotta say I love the car, but am suspicious of a couple things. The seats really look like they haven’t been sat in. They are 64 years old, the foam would likely be deteriorated, and a butt indentation would likely be there, and any material would also stop stretching. Again I think the interior is correct and beautiful, just not original as stated. Then a huge RED FLAG for me is the last pic on ebay, the trunk. How does the trunk get all those stains, on a car rarely outside, AND the latch for the trunklid hold down… would that be green? I don’t think so, I think it would just be the metal color. Am I and others being too picky? Perhaps, just like honesty, as I said I think the car is beautiful. One other note, it’s 12 volt

  23. Grant

    Paint looks original, but that interior was redone when the seatbelts were fitted. 60 years of touch-ups to the paint might be the answer to the slight imperfections here and there…..otherwise a beautiful old car that has been tastefully updated without it looking like some old age hooker!!

  24. rrb

    Paint and interior original—new carpet—full load 56 324″—-Paint is weak—original 76 model that was born with a 6 cyl.—

  25. John Allison

    It is a repaint ! you can see the overspray on the rear trunk seal and the door sill plates. The rear carpet and seat might be factory… but the front carpet and seat have been re-done! Stevie Wonder could see that!!

  26. jumpin jimmy

    I just saw that the seller of this car has another car on ebay, so I had a look at his feedback and the buyer of the olds listed here laid on a neutral feedback “buyer beware with this guy”. I suspected as much. I guess the fellow wasn’t happy with the car.

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