Tri-Power! 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta

“It’s Fiesta time!” according to Oldsmobile’s 1957 sales literature. This 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta in Tucson, Arizona strikes a serious look with its fish mouth and OLDSMOBILE block-script. Highlights include acres of bright trim, mostly in good shape, dealer-installed air conditioning, and most interesting, a J2 triple two-barrel induction on top of the 371 cid T-400 engine. The hardtop wagon gives an open greenhouse. While it needs some lower metal repair, the desert climate has left this vehicle in highly salvagable condition. The listing here on eBay has enticed at least 12 bidders to drive the market value of this rare heavy hitter beyond $5000, not high enough to meet the seller’s Reserve.

Named for its impressive 400 ft-lb of torque, the T-400 powered the entire Olds lineup in one form or another. The J2 induction system on this Fiesta survives but has been removed. Oldsmobile’s J2 beat Pontiac’s “Tri-Power” to market by a matter of weeks, according to Hemmings, though you have to credit Pontiac Marketing with coining what’s become the standard catch-phrase for all GM 3×2 bbl intake systems. Have you ever heard of “J2?” What the seller describes as dealer-installed air conditioning looks like a dorm fridge on one side of the firewall, and an vent fan stolen from Benihana on the other. If the restoration doesn’t work out this Oldsmobile could serve as a meat locker for your local deer processor.

Compared to its iconic Chevrolet cousin, the ’57 Oldsmobile comes off as less sporty, with a more substantial presence. Chrome roof ribs compliment a host of usually two-tone paint jobs, but the seller claims this one wears original black. If it weren’t for the giant dent in the bumper it might only need a good polish. Dual exhaust exits through stylish bumper vents.

The two-owner Olds shows high style in the dash despite the upper portion showing effects of the Arizona sun. Sales brochures describe the 27 inch-wide glove compartment and illuminated ash trays. Handy! In an era of two and three-color combinations this tuxedo look turns your Fiesta into a black tie affair. For an alternative, check out a hot custom version at HotRod!

The J2 and other top end pieces come with the sale. The buyer also gets first chance at a 200-mile rebuilt 371, a tempting option to dodge the thrill of assembling this one on Christmas morning, with no instructions. AutoMuseumOnline states that Olds built 8981 Fiesta wagons of all varieties in ’57. If one of our expert readers knows how many came with the J2 option, we’d love to hear more in the comments below. Does this Oldsmobile make you want to Fiesta?

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Comments

  1. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Looks like factory air from the factory……….

    Like 6
    • Will Fox

      Correct. Add-on AC would be a box under the dash.

      Like 3
      • Bill Hall

        AC Compressor is standard GM

        Like 1
    • Lou Tripper

      Isn’t all factory air just that?….factory air.

      Like 5
      • Courtney

        No back then you could buy the parts and get the dealer to install.

      • Bill McCoskey

        As the comedy group “Firesign Theater” said in the “Nick Danger, third eye” skit . . .

        “Factory air conditioned air from our fully factory equipped, air conditioned factory!”

        And Courtney;

        While I guess it was possible, I’ve never heard of any GM dealer installing in-dash factory A/C in a vehicle. It’s an incredibly complex job that usually requires the replacement of the dashboard, change of heating system, changing main firewall panel [welded in place], and much more.

        I have actually done this total A/C change in the following cars, and it literally takes weeks [150+ hours] of work to do it correctly;
        1955 Packard 400 hardtop
        1957 Buick Roadmaster
        1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS convertible.

        I’ve also installed factory A/C in 1955 & 1956 Chrysler Imperials. Still a lot of work, but these are mounted in the trunk, and mostly a “bolt on” situation.

        Like 3
      • 370zpp 370zpp Member

        Bill M,
        First time I have seen Firesign Theater mentioned on BF. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, very cool and always hilarious.

        Like 6
      • Bill McCoskey

        370zpp,

        I’m glad you enjoyed that little trip back in memory lane! That line has always been my Firesign Theater’s favorite!

      • Allen L

        I am surprised Firesign Theatre isn’t brought up on BF anytime a Belvedre is listed, the vehicle of choice of Nick Danger.

  2. R.Lee

    Too bad the cars engine was torn down many, many years ago. Now nothing short of machine shop can revive this patient.

    Another wagon turned into a parts car. What a shame.

    Like 1
  3. J_Paul Member

    These hardtop wagons are rare, look phenomenal restored, and the options and color on this one make it even more appealing. Assuming a realistic reserve, I think someone will spend the time and money to restore it, and I highly doubt it will become a parts car.

    Like 15
  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Interesting find. That evaporator box is huge. I like this car. I once bought a 58 Fieste for $50.00 from a coworker of my dads. It had been his wife’s car and they put a lot of work into it. Having been a air suspension model from new, the system was troublesome so they had coil springs with new ball joints installed. When the transmission went bad they put in the shop for a rebuild, in the meantime she bought a new car so the Olds was parked. My dad mentioned that I needed a car so the man told him he’d sell me the pink and black car for $50.00. I bought it and got many miles of service out of it. It died on me one snowy night on my way home from work and was impounded before I could get back to get it. And life goes on.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  5. Maestro1 Member

    Absolutely save this car. Thee aren’t many, and when you’re done you’ll have a sexy runner with A/C. What’s not to like? Keep it and disregard market values. The car will always be useful and unique.

    Like 9
  6. Jeffrey Swanberg

    Had a 371 J2 Olds with tri-power stuffed into a chopped and channeled 1929 Ford! A true hot-rod. Loved it!

    Like 1
  7. Richard Van Dyke Sr

    Could be a really beautiful car.

    Like 3
  8. Johnny

    What a great car to fix up . I,d like to have it under my tree Christmas morning to tinker on. The turkey would have to wait. From what I have heard about these rebuild shops. I,ll pass and do it myself. Plus they over charge beyond means.

    Like 1
  9. mike b

    Looks like aftermarket air on the floor too.

    Like 3
  10. Stan Marks
  11. Jranders Member

    Would also lean to factory air, see the air controls on both sides of the steering column, AC controls were often separate then, being an option. And the evaporater box is huge as they were back then, remember just a couple of years before all that would have been in the trunk, this being a wagon, had to stuff under the hood. Possibly the outboard vents on the dash have been updated, imagine original plastic ones would be disintegrated by now

  12. Marvin Askins

    Simply beautiful! Awesomely handsome when restored!

    Like 2
  13. Stan Marks

    Bill Mc, I never heard of Firesign Theater until here on BF.
    I lived in L.A. from ’62-’83. Back in the 60’s the two top R&R stations were KFWB & KRLA. I was friends with the late Casey Kasem, during the 70’s.He was a great guy. Firesign broadcasted on KRLA. I don’t know how I missed it.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Stan,

      Firesign Theater put out a few LP records, the best [imho] is the one with Marx & Lennon featured on the cover. [That is – Groucho Marx and John Lennon!] I believe it’s called: “Oh how can you be in 2 places at once, when you’re not anywhere at all!” Currently available on Amazon for about $7.

      The group wrote some of the best, cutting edge comedy, that in the day was far better than SNL ever was. The kind of comedy where the more times you listened to the album, the more hidden jokes you discovered. And no, you didn’t need to be stoned to listen to them, but it helped!
      Examples . . .
      He walks across McArthur park, and into a large sandstone building — “Ouch, my nose!”
      -or-
      “It’s nice out!” “Maybe you should leave it out!”

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey
      • Stan Marks

        I’ll have to check it out, Bill.
        Speaking of SNL… They’re losing their luster.
        The first new show, of the season, had Dave Chappelle as host. It bombed. He got on a rant that was a real downer.
        He was highly criticized for it, too. Someone forgot to tell him it was a comedy show. I still like “Weekend Update”.
        The original cast, from1975, was the best.

        Gee, I used to walk across MacArthur Park, all the time, when we shot on location. I never left mine out. LOL!!!

        On one of the cop shows, I drove an old beater into MacArthur Lake. I doubled for one of the bad guys. Man, was that water slimy.

        BTW… The exact line is, “It’s so nice out, I think I’ll leave it out”. ;^)

      • Stan Marks

        Yes Bill, I checked out the site, thanks.

      • Henry M Kaczmarek

        Ralph Spoilsport here, owner of Ralph Spoil Sport Motors, owner of the world’s largest new used and used new car dealership, Ralph Spoilsport Motors, here in the beautiful city of…Emphysema

      • bone

        I always thought it was funny the way the signs “talked” to the driver in the Ralph Spoilsport , Ralph Spoilsports motors bit-

        Antelope freeway, 5 miles…Antelope freeway 3 miles…

      • Bill McCoskey

        Bone,

        The Ralph Spoilsports motors bit, is where the original “Air conditioned air” quote here on this thread came from. There was a time when I could quote the entire bit from memory, word for word.

        I’m amazed at how many BF readers, on just this one thread, know specific quotes from Firesign Theater recordings. I’m waiting for a BF reader to comment a few weeks from now, that they bought a record or CD and listened to it, and they commented: ROFL!

  14. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    If you can weld in new floors and the rockers and frame aren’t gone, it’s doable. The engine is half there so keep going, as someone already said, a speedshop engine guy can do it…

  15. Keruth

    We’re all bozos on this bus! See, squeeze his nose.
    But Nick Danger was the best, with Nancy, of course.
    I had a gear head older cousin who told me the cams were soft on the Old’s V8’s in ’57 Wouldn’t let me buy one.

  16. hatofpork

    Too bad the guy who disassembled the block wasn’t more “heavy on the thirty-weight, mom!” (feeble attempt to tie two comments section themes together) I’ll see myself out.

    • Bill McCoskey

      hatofpork,

      That’s not a feeble attempt, it’s wonderful!

      • hatofpork

        Thanks-I actually thought it pretty good too! I was just trying to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for those who might not be familiar with the material. Hope someone followed it up!

  17. HC

    Great find. Still lots to do though. pull engine and have rebuilt. New brakes and an experienced ac guy unless you do aftermarker vintage air

  18. Slickimp

    Some one must have really float this boat when it was New very cool option wagon

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