The Turbo-Rocket: 1962 Oldsmobile F85 Jetfire

Reader Frank C has been tasked by this Jetfire’s original owner’s family to find a good home for it. If you don’t know about the F85 Jetfire, these are very special machines, with the first production turbocharged engine! It’s a really cool bid of automotive history by itself, but this example has the added benefit of being a low mileage car that has some interesting history. You can find it here on eBay in Peru, Indiana with a current bid just over $9k.

So this Jetfire was purchased by the first owner in 1962 at Denny Motors. A decade later, Max Denny of Denny Motors purchased the car back from the original owner with 32k miles showing to add to his own personal collection. Fast forward to 1993 and the original owner decided they decided they just had to have it back, so they managed to get Max to sell it back to them. At that point, it had just over 34k miles. And there are documents detailing the car’s life from new, including every outing it went on and any work that was done to it.

Turbo technology has come a long way since this Oldsmobile was built, but Garrett has been a player in the industry since day one and is still going at it. This Garrett isn’t all that different from what you might find on a modern car, but the overall setup is unlike anything you’d find on something new. Obviously, the same basic principals apply, but the fuel injection and intake system are rather unique. Instead of using something like a blow-through carburetor or direct port injection, Oldsmobile developed a special intake and fuel injection system where fuel, water, and methanol sucked through the turbo and directly into the engine.

With a starting compression ratio of 10.25:1, detention was a serious issue, so the cars shipped with “Turbo-Rocket Fluid” which is just a mixture of distilled water, methanol, and a rust inhibitor. I can only imagine how cool that must have seemed to any kid that grew up during the Space Age to see a car that came with Turbo-Rocket fluid!

Frank notes that this is a driver quality vehicle that isn’t perfect, but it’s ready to be enjoyed as is. He actually had the amazing opportunity to drive the car and he’s happy to report that everything works great and that there wasn’t any drama or issues. Considering just 3,765 of these were built and many of them lost their turbos early on, I can’t help but admit I’m a little jealous that he got to experience it.

These cars are actually a really significant piece of automotive history, setting the stage for mass turbocharged production cars. There’s some work to be done here to make this an exceptionally nice example, but I honestly think it would be worth the work! It turns out the owner had a small collection of other interesting automobiles that Frank will be listing for the family as well, so be sure to check out his Seller’s page on eBay!

  • Location: Peru Indiana
  • Mileage: 38,522
  • Title Status: Clean
  • VIN: 621M41432

List your car here on Barn Finds for only $50!

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Comments

  1. poseur Member

    gorgeous low mile coupe in a great color.
    hey, a 4-speed and convertible would be my preference but…..

    grew up with a 200hp Skylark convertible in the household and always wanted to drive an Olds turbo. this one’s even relatively closeby!

    kudos to the seller for presentation and documentation and it sure looks like the buyer is going to wind up with a sweet example of an iconic car

    9
    • DRV

      I don’t understand why such significant cars get passed over. This is amazing for a major carmaker.

      13
      • Patrick Farmer

        Most of these cars were sexed over by their original dumb bunny owners who didn’t listen and never refilled the injector fluid and T TOTALLY fracked up the engine at a very young age for the car.

  2. ccrvtt

    My first car was a 1962 Cutlass convertible in this same color & interior save for a white convertible top. The twin trim spears on the hood of the Jetfire were just a single center spear on the Cutlass. I believe that car had about 90 coats of Classic Car Wax on it.

    Once again, I need to hit the lottery tomorrow.

    6
  3. rpol35 Staff

    Pretty rare! Looks like out of the 97,000 F-85’s made in 1962, there were only 3,700 with this turbo option. Also, not common to find one still intact.

    The transmission is the “Rotomatic” version of the Hydramatic – it doesn’t get good reviews in any corner but I wouldn’t let that discourage me if I were really interested in this unusual car.

    6
  4. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Hey On and On, you in? Roadtrip Gregg?

    1
    • On and On On and On Member

      Too much glitz in the engine bay. Personally I drink Turbo-Rocket Fluid every afternoon, you know the foamy kind. Plus no rag-top! Got a deal working on a 65 Corvair convertible. We’re negotiating, I’ll keep you posted.

      2
  5. Rube Goldberg

    This is a really nice car, almost like a mini-Starfire. I think the turbo is sheer glitz, totally not needed, although, would probably leave it because it’s so rare, and I see the “magic turbo fluid” bottle is empty. I’d think you’d have a harder time feeding this with today’s gas, even with the fluid. Many turbos were fried after these cars became beaters and “turbo fluid” was the last thing someone thought about. I think the stuff was white, and added to a pressurized tank on the right and if it ran low, or empty, a valve closed limiting full power, so without the fluid, the turbo is essentially useless. A 4 speed would be best, anything the turbo added, that automatic sucked up. Still a neat car.

    6
    • moosie moosie

      In the EBAY listing they show a picture of 2 gallons of turbo fluid with one bottle being half full. It does look sort of milkish in color.

    • alan Brase

      Yes, it was a complicated system and I think you properly described it. It still used a high compression engine, I think about 10 to 1 compression, so they needed to limit the total boost. These motors were troublesome in all states of tune, many cams went flat.Sound basic design. GM sold the engine rights and tooling to Repco of Australia. In modified form it won a Formula One race. Only American engine to do that. It would be really neat with a 4 speed.

      2
      • Patrick Farmer

        You know I didn’t know that thanks. I know GM sold the aluminum Buick V8 to Range Rover, Land Rover or the dog Rover and they tried like hell to buy it back from the time they sold it until Ford bought it in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. I bet that was a bee sting in the rear of all the brainiacs at GM. Rover has been saying it’s our big V8 for years, but you why the Brits don’t build TV’s? They can’t figure out how to make them leak oil. I just learned that the lowly Ford 289 won Indy in the 1960’s. A.J. Foyt car. The only production block to do so. Let me know if I got it cassbackward.

  6. Chasman358 Chasman358 Member

    My older brother had a ’62 4 bbl car back in the day. It was a great little car – and quick with the 185 HP, 215 ci Rocket V8!
    His was light metallic blue.

    3
  7. Superdessucke

    The turbo is literally bolted right onto the carburetor, LOL! They might as well have just stuck a couple of nitrous nozzles in there too for good measure. Anyway, the bold first crack at turbocharging, which unfortunately didn’t take hold until the late-1970s.

    1
    • Chasman358 Chasman358 Member

      Excellent turbocharged performance and drive ability came with modern electronic engine management. The attached picture of my son’s ’87 Buick Grand National is an example. These cars were equipped with a 3.8 Liter turbo charged engine with Sequential EFI, and an intercooler. It runs great, has excellent drive ability, minimal turbo-lag, and and excellent fuel economy.

      5
  8. Will Fox

    As stated, so few built with the turbo makes this very collectible. Try finding another this complete! Repair the driver’s seat vinyl, and you have a rare & unique little Olds that could possibly bring more than $25K! Great color combo, intact turbo, and well cared for. More going for it than against it!! Wish I had the money. It would be sold already!

    7
  9. CCFisher

    Examples with a complete and functional turbocharger are uncommon. Once the “Turbo Rocket Fluid” ran out, the turbo was bypassed, resulting in poor performance. Additionally, early turbos lacked water cooling, which shortened oil life and led to wear issues.

    Oldsmobile finally gave up and offered owners a free retrofit to a 4-bbl carb. Many owners took advantage of the offer, so complete Jetfires are harder to find than the production numbers suggest.

    4
  10. Del

    That is an amazing auto 😁

    4
  11. Steve Taylor

    Which came first, this or the Corvair turbo?

    1
    • moosie moosie

      I googled your question,,,,,,,

      Turbocharged Corvair engine
      Chevrolet introduced a turbocharged version of the engine for the 1962 model year.[18] Development of this version was done by engineers James Brafford and Robert Thoreson, under the oversight of Bob Benzinger, who had become chief engine designer for the Corvair in 1959.[19] The turbocharged Corvair was released one month after the turbocharged Turbo-Rocket engine in the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire.

      9
      • Steven V Taylor

        Thanks for the info, knew it was close!

  12. TimM

    What an iconic car this is!! Bet it moves along pretty well too!! I’ve always heard about these but have never seen one in person!!

    1
  13. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Nice….

    1
  14. Fred

    Here’s a great period commercial for this car.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iieDedNEYuI

    1
    • On and On On and On Member

      Trying to figure out what the white car is that they’re passing on the highway.

      • Ed Raden

        I think its a Mercedes sedan.

  15. Andrew Franks

    If I had the room I would buy it right now.

  16. Brian M

    Back in 1962 or 63,I was tootling down !-93 in NH in mom’s 59 Fairlane 500 4-door at about 95 or 100, just to see what it would do. I looked in my mirror and saw a speck approaching. Before I could identify it, it flew past me at who-knows-what speed, and was gone. Red Jetfire with white roof, owned by an older gentleman in town (how can I say that, he was 60 then and I’m on the cusp of 75 now) who was a known hotshoe. I remain impressed and envious to this day. Dad later acquired a four door 61 F85 with the 2bbl carb and only a 100 mph speedo (the 4bbl Cutlass had a 120 mph clock) and once admitted burying the needle (and letting me know what would happen to me if I did the same). Great, quality small cars, along with the Buick Special, really under-appreciated at the time.

    6
  17. fjcappy Member

    Hi fellow Barn Finders.

    I appreciate your kind words. I will send this link to the family. They will appreciate all of your comments.

    Their dad loved this car. It was a bit like a mistress. I am helping the family sell off his collection. He loved Honda’s, Lexus, and this F85 which he had for a long time. Purchased new, sold then bough back. The day I took these pics I drove it all around. Peru Indiana does not really have roads conducive for an all out blast but I did my best to see how it runs. Its very docile at idle, when you nail it you hear the woosh and off you go. It steers very easily. The brakes are typical drum that require effort. I would say the ride is more luxury car then hot rod. The owner documented this car so much it overwhelming. Below is the full Google link for pics and videos. Please take a look. If not to buy look to just see a car that is almost never seen.

    @Will Fox I sure hope you are correct. The more people that see it the better.

    @moosie That is the question I wondered about. If you mix Methanol and water does is get creamy after 57 years. I am not sure if I would use it.

    @rpol35 yes the automatic has an odd shift but everything we read its doing its job the best it can.

    I have been really lucky enough to have multiple Jetfire guys reach out to me with stories about the owner, and about the car. He was a consummate car guy, but no email. He kept in contact via snail main and phone. He was generally loved by the Jetfire community. His family dident even know he had such network of friends.

    Please feel free to send this link and the eBay out to anyone. The purchase will be straight from Bryce’s Widow. They will be the 2nd, or I guess third owner.

    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOvNBIgK7FJuD2GJWDKZMKZtXtWrotrbiReMn69EuvQthecLbzZ1IIvSmAEghY_iw?key=NXBFellDM2szaGVhSENoeW9hcGtsUk1yM1V6dnVn

    3
  18. moosie moosie

    Back when I was a kid, in the ’50’s, I remember there being a Chevy-Olds dealer in Narrowsburg New York, in the Catskill Mountains, along the Delaware River that was known as Jack Denny Chevrolet -Oldsmobile. It closed when Jack Denny was accidently killed in an accident while he was “supervising” ground work for his new building.

    1
  19. Don Sherman

    horizontal bore carburetor, no fuel injection . Also, Repco used only the block for their F1 engine. They did not buy GM’s tooling. Rover in England did that with Bob Lutz negotiating the sale terms.

  20. Patrick Farmer

    Now this is a true find. These cars are like hens teeth. Hard to find, still intact and running. When word gets out this thing has the potential to go into the stratosphere on price. Most of these cars were murdered by there dumb bunny owners who did not refill the rocket fuel. These are the guys that believe that there is blinker fluid and thought that is what the bottle under the hood was. This reminds me of the old joke a man that had his equally stupid brother-in-law stand in front of the car to check if the turn signals on his car were working to which the brother-in-law said…Yes they are..Ahh no the arent ahh yes they are ohh No there not……….

    1
  21. Patrick Farmer

    Does anyone know if this is the same GM body style platform that was featured in the movie “My Cousin Vinny” Those were a Buick and a Pontiac. I think this might be the best Barn Find to date. I like Oldsmobiles from this period not love them. It’s the same thing with Buick and Chevy. I just discovered right now while writing this why I am not hot on cars from 1962 to 1968. I am a very visual person and this Barn Find has just released a flood of memories from growing up in that time. It’s because of all the turmoil and assassinations and all the rest up until Apollo 8 circled the moon on Christmas and saved 1968. Everything from that point on was very positive and uniting as a country that we can do the impossible as a people and then came the Seventies. Star trek was cancelled and the Beatles broke up. This website has the ability to be cathartic, healing and it has the power of continued self discovery as to who we are. I don’t think there is another website like it. “Thanks for all the fish.”

    1
  22. Norman Wrensch

    I think I would have to find a set of the low compression 2 barrel pistons and put them in, so the engine could live a health life and not detonate itself to death. Then drive it and have some fun.

  23. Alan Brase

    Actually,, this had a ONE BARREL carb, Carter YF, I think side draft. So without the boost when the fluid ran out, it was more like about 130hp. The thing was made to be fail safe. I think it would run just fine if set to stock specs. An electronic ignition, with boost setback at some point would be an easy mod.
    OF COURSE one could get a lot more power from these. they shared platform with the buicks up to the 300 cu in., but Olds heads and valve gear were different. One had more head bolts, too, I think. the blocks are the same.So, one can spend about $10k and make it over 300 cubic inches. If you care. I’d just try to make it stock with the electronic ignition.
    BTW, GM sold to Repco (Replacement Parts Co. made bearings, etc) Australia, who resold to Rover. Was called 3500, 3.5 liter for years, made metric, then grew to 3900cc.

    1
  24. moosie moosie

    @ Patrick Farmer, The Cousin Vinny car was the next generation, slightly bigger. I think.

    1
    • Ed P

      The 64’s were larger and more conventionally styled.

  25. Alan Brase

    GM did a lot of innovation across platform in the early 1960’s. All 3 B-O-P, Buick, Olds, Pontiac shared this floor platform and each was unique. the Corvair? Maybe. At least the Pontiac Tempest used the Corvair transaxle slightly modified to use a bent whippy driveshaft and engine in the front, giving a near perfect weigh bias. Pontiac and Ferrari, the only ones. Porsche did something similar later with 944 and 968. Maybe 928, not sure. But the Tempest used SWING AXLES. A little scary at times?
    Allegedly Tempests could be had with the 215, but I have never seen one. This car is a museum piece.
    It would be fun to get a less perfect one, put in a manual, maybe a Buick GN Turbo 3.8. Modern springs brakes tires, could be mini-rocket.

  26. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Sep 20, 2019 , 5:51PM
    Current bid:US $21,600.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 49 bids ]

    • DayDreamBeliever Member
      • Frank J Capparelle Member

        Yep. I sold the rest of the collection. Now back to the Jetfire.

        1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Top bid this time $16,100.

      Obviously, RNM. Only 25 bids.

      If I had some $, I’d be finding a way to buy this car.

      1

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