Rocket Ship: 2-Owner 1953 Oldsmobile 88


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This 1953 Oldsmobile must have been taken care of for most of it’s life, but recently has spent some time outside under a cover and shows the effect of the change. It’s being sold in Arlington, Washington and is listed here on eBay with an opening bid of $1,000 but there is a reserve.


I got excited when I saw this car at how unbelievably solid it looked. I like the styling of the ’53 Olds, and this version in particular, especially from the rear 3/4 view like the above. The shiny highlights really work well with the overall design appearance, and it avoids the excess of the late 1950’s for the most part. The seller does note that there is some relatively minor rust and shows it in pictures of the rocker panels with the doors open. If you have to have rust, at least that’s somewhere that the repairs are hidden 99% of the time, so it lends itself to home repair (not bodged repair, but we aren’t all professional body shop folks, either!)


The sellers claims of running and driving are born out by current license plates. They do note that the chrome will have to be replated for a full restoration, but I think I’d leave this one alone cosmetically for a while other than preservation efforts. I think this would be a neat driver classic “as-is”.


I love the dash on these cars; it’s largely symmetrical with a round clock on the other side to offset the speedometer and other gauges. What I thought at first was rust on the driver’s floor is actually the floor covering worn through to what looks like jute backing. Both the front seat and back seat upholstery look pretty good, and I did find some pictures online that seem to validate this as original upholstery. It’s hard for me to believe that after 114,000 miles and 62 years it looks this good, though, so it may well have been replaced at some point.


The “Rocket” V8 was much beloved by hot rodders at the time, offering 303 cubic inches and 165 horsepower in stock form. Some underhood cleanup would be nice, and I’m guessing the duct-taped container on the left of the picture (anyone know what it is?) could stand some work! However, it does look impressively original and that’s a good thing. The seller is also including a a pair of original 1953 plates (the car was purchased in Portland, Oregon), a brochure, owners manual and some extra parts in the deal. I hope this one stays affordable and goes to a home where someone will drive it regularly!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. mark

    Wow. This looks like a great find. I really hope someone gets this at a great price and drives it often.

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  2. Jim C

    The bottle is windshield washer fluid – nice car, would be great lowered 2″ all around, 4 speed, and drive it.. very cool car. The V8 really makes it.

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  3. Vince Habel

    53 was a good year for cars

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  4. Charles

    Nice find

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  5. DENIS

    I’d love to own it..

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  6. HoA Howard AMember

    I agree, just the right amount of patina, I’d leave it as is. (maybe some correct hubcaps) You can just see the intake manifold stained from years of gas leaking all over it. Man, what an ugly car, I love it.

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  7. Dan the Man

    Yup, the duct taped jar is the washer bottle. My Dad had one of these!! Nice example!!!

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  8. Ed P

    Nice car. I would fix the rust and enjoy it for a while. A new paint job would be on my list, but not at the top.

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  9. Mark S

    As Jay Leno would put it, just a nice old girl. I remember a while back someone commented that to preserve this exterior that they used an oil product wiped on it. I want to say lindseed oil but I’m not sure. Does any one no anything about that? This is a great old car I just love the styling of early 50’s cars, this one pulls off 4 doors well, and this would be actual patina worth preserving. If I was in a position to buy this car I’d be bidding.

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  10. 64 bonneville

    I would steam clean the engine and undercarriage, and take a buffer to the paint. then just drive it.

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  11. MountainMan

    Have to agree that 53 was a stellar year for automotive design. Other than some cleaning and some wheel covers (baby moons?) I would not do much cosmetically. Get the rust under control and take this old girl out in the town! A SPG rating that I’m sure would be hard to beat

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  12. Charles

    Not me. Repair the rust and have a good quality repaint done.

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  13. MikeW

    I had one in ’65,lowered, nosed and decked. I liked the 4 speed hydro, but it gave out. It was a fast car for it’s weight.

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  14. hhaleblian

    My dad owned a 53 Holiday 2 door. Looking at these picks takes me back to when I was 5. Very cool piece.

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  15. Ed Williams

    Hi, guys!
    Seeing this Olds brings back memories for me. I got a brand new 2-door ’53 88 in the same colors as the one pictured here.
    Do any of you remember when Olds Hydramatic plant had a fire? Well, because of this and to not hold up the assembly line my car and I don’t know how many others
    had Chevy three-speed manual transmissions installed instead of the Hydramatic ones. Man! Was that car fast! One day out in the countryside near Sacramento where there was no traffic I stopped, put the car in 1st gear and just to see how fast it would go in that gear I wound it up to 62 or 64 miles per hour. Man,I thought the pistons were going to swap holes!

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