Live Auctions

Three Carbs! 1957 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Coupe

The Olds 98 2-door hardtop (aka Holiday Coupe) might just be the best looking of all the cars built in 1957 with its three-piece rear glass and sweeping long trunk deck. When new, this car had a commanding presence on the roadways. And because it was top-of-the-line, it was the most luxurious Oldsmobile that you could buy. This one, likely finished originally in Rose Mist Metallic, can be found in Richmond, Minnesota where it appears to have come outside for some glamour shots. Available here on Facebook Marketplace, the seller is looking to get $6,500. And it has the J2 Tri-Power set-up!

From 1940 to 1996, the 98 (or Ninety-Eight or Ninety Eight depending on the year) was the top dog at Oldsmobile. The name stood for “Series 90” with an eight-cylinder engine. Lesser series were designated 66, 68, 76, 78, and 88 over the years. The fifth generation of the nameplate would commence in 1957 with rather sweeping changes in design and styling. The 98s had oodles of conveniences that would be optional on other cars, like power windows, steering and brakes, and a 4-speed automatic connected to a 371 cubic inch “Rocket” V8. They were popular enough for Oldsmobile to produce nearly 18,000 copies of the 98 Holiday Coupe, like the seller’s car.

It’s a shame that cars can’t talk so they could tell us about their history. Unfortunately, we don’t know what this automobile has been up to the past 63 years. We’re told that it has covered 88,000 miles, so it certainly was no garage queen. The body overall doesn’t look bad, but the seller’s claim of “minor rust” is an understatement. There is a gaping hole in the trunk, which usually suggests more corrosion can be found elsewhere on the underbelly.

The glass in both passenger side windows is broken, but at least the three-piece rear window looks to be intact. Only two of the wheels match, with those looking to have been from a later model Buick. The big rear bumper looks to be bent and possibly pitted, so perhaps another one will have to be sourced for a restoration. The interior of the car is a lost cause. The broken glass has no doubt let the elements in, so the seats, floors, headliner, and dash all have damage to one extent or the other.

Perhaps the most desirable feature of this 1957 Olds 98 is that it’s a J2, which means it has three two-barrel carburetors on top of the engine. The 371 V8 was otherwise standard fare, but the carbs were connected by a progressive throttle linkage. Normally, the J2 drove around on just its center carburetor; but when you wanted to pass, giving it just ¾ throttle caused the outer two carbs to kick in, launching the beast forward with a very noteworthy burst of power. The outer carbs drew their vacuum from the windscreen wiper pump and were either open or closed – there was no in-between. From the looks of the engine compartment, this motor hasn’t run in a while. For a J2 tutorial, visit this article from Hemmings.

In a far better state than this, a 1957 Olds 98 Holiday Coupe is likely worth north of $30,000. And the J2 option should push that number higher. This will be at least a moderate-scale restoration project, but you’d have a helluva machine on your hands once you got done.


  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    I have always liked this ’57 better than the other GM versions, esp because of the rear window treatment. Amazing that the triple carb setup wasn’t liberated elsewhere, but it does look like it’s missing one side of the heads. Maybe thats why it was parked? That passenger window looks plinked out.

    Like 17
    • Poppy

      Looks like the J2 setup is just sitting on there loose, and as you said, one head and rocker cover is not there. Looks a little like a Trophy 4 as it sits.

      Like 7
  2. Robert White

    I’d snap this up quick, but my bank account wouldn’t.

    Damn bank account!


    Like 16
    • Stan Marks

      Join the club, Bob.
      I had two uncles, who both had a ’58 98. Loved that style.

      Every time I see a pic, of the tail lights, it remind me of the original 1953 movie,”War Of The Worlds”,with Gene Barry. I was nine. Scared the crap out of me. That & the original 1956 “Invasion Of The Body Snatcher” & 1956 “It Came From Outer Space”.

  3. MathieuB

    Am I wrong or it’s missing the driver’s engine head?

    Like 10
    • Robert White

      Probably cracked the head with little coolant, or none, or busted water pump and it overheated resulting in a cracked head.

      Been there done that got the T-shirt.


      Like 4
    • Johnny

      The head is missing and if you look closer. You can see on the left .Where the bolts are missing. Plus on the right where the long battery sets, You can see the push rods. I,d love a chance to help work on this. Reminds me.Hopefully next spring. I,ll get on the 57 setting out in the building. Its a 88. These were when they made cars . Mine doesn,t have power steering either. Good reason for the woman NOT wanting to drive it. hahaha. On slick roads. These had heavy front ends and would have a and would have a mind of its own. I really love these old cars and trucks.

      • Terry R Melvin

        Something tells me this engine is froze up from sitting too long. It may have to be completely rebuilt if parts are available. It may also be why it’s partially disassembled, to try and free it up. If you needed another engine, a good 394 can still be found and should drop right in.

  4. Foster Busby Member

    Had a Super 88 ragtop w/J2 power back in 70’s, complete on-frame resto, platinum mist w/red interior, white top, sold for 12,000 in ’86, would give both eyeteeth to have it back!!! Awesome power w/all three carbs open, would really set you back in the seat for a car that weighed 5700#!!

    Like 11
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      Back in the early 60’s, Ma had almost the same ragtop 88 that she bought used for about $500 from Jackson Ford in Ossining NY. Single 4 barrel, black with white interior…and NO power steering. She finally had to sell it because of that. Interesting that the Olds and Pontiacs of that era had a similar 4 speed automatic with reverse at the bottom of the shifter rather than next to the Park as are most today. No powerglide for them. I really liked that car with its incredible chromed dashboard and instrumentation, and multiple buttons to push.

      Like 5
  5. Little_Cars

    What a gorgeous color this would have been when new. Look inside that trunk lid! Seems to be a bulge oozing from that rear drivers’ side tire, not that anyone would want to keep these tires other than to load the car. At least all the curved glass is intact. Flat side glass is the easiest to replace, and most glass shops today wouldn’t hesitate to source new pieces and install them in this car. Provided you drove it into their shop.

    Like 4
  6. Will Fox

    One correction to the synopsis written on Olds 98 models, power windows were an option, and not standard equipment. Just as AC was an option. Mind you, most people buying these wanted them with everything, not everybody had that kind of money. Hopefully, somewhere with the owner is the correct air cleaner for the J-2 set-up too!

    Like 6
  7. local_sheriff

    By the time this was a new car, Olds in particular was so focused on ‘jet’ and ‘space’ everything. J2 = JATO = Jet Assisted Take-Off

    Extremely nice design with horrendous amounts of work and expenses ahead

    Like 4
    • Camaro guy

      Learn something new every day here I knew they called them JATO but never knew what it stood for, thanks

      Like 4
  8. kaf

    “The outer carbs drew their vacuum from the windscreen wiper pump….”

    What does this actually mean?

    • Dave

      Well…what North Americans call a windshield the Brits call a windscreen. For most of us our introduction to this term came via the Rolling Stones. I’m assuming that this car had vacuum powered windshield wipers like Ramblers and had a separate vacuum pump so that the wipers worked regardless of the intake manifold vacuum.

      Like 8
    • Johnny

      I can,nt figure out why they added it to the wiper. It should have had a seperate vacuum. The vacuum wipers going up hill. Would almost stop if you was in a down pour. You,d have to let off the gas and give it gas again to get the water off the windshield for you to see. Done that alot.haha

      Like 1
    • Jimmie LeForge

      The fuel pump and the vacuum pump were integrated, and in the 70s were impossible to get parts for..

      • Terry R Melvin

        And with that set up, when you pressed on the gas, the wipers slowed way down.

  9. kaf

    Dave–I’m thinking it’s a typo and they meant to say the wipers get their vacuum from the two outer carbs.

    I owned a Rambler with vacuum wipers. Infinitely variable wiper speed–which is good– but mine still changed speed with throttle position.

    Like 3
    • Douglas

      Like 55/56 Chevy had to get off the gas to make wipers work

      Like 10
    • Chuck Dickinson

      Buick, Olds and Cad continued with vacuum wipers through the 58 model year. Chevys had vacuum standard, but electrics were opt. from 55 up. Not sure of Pontiacs, but I would guess they may have been the same as Chevy. The fuel pumps on vacuum wiper cars had a ‘vacuum pump’ to operate the wipers. The description given was correct. Wipers did not get their vacuum from the carbs. They both accessed the vacuum pump on the fuel pump.

      Like 3
      • Johnny

        Thanks for the information. I didn,t know that. The 55 Pontiac had electric. Dad,s did.

        Like 2
  10. Ron Karolick

    I want to buy this car but cannot find the listing. Is it still available? Contact me at

    Like 1
  11. Ron Karolick

    I want to contact the owner but cannot find the listing

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      Apparently the car is sold, it was listed on Facebook 7 weeks ago @ $6500.00, No name or number listed for the seller.

      Like 3
      • Little_Cars

        You are supposed to use the link on Facebook to contact the seller. No phone number required. Instantaneously, and if you’re lucky, more convenient than going back and forth with phone calls and text messages. Seller’s name or someone selling for them is required and shows when you start typing in the “send a message” line. Cheers!

      • Johnny

        I think in order to get the information on Facebook. You have to join .Facebook.

  12. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Now this is one car I could get my hands dirty on. Likely, the entire drivetrain needs rebuilding. Several thousands of dollars could be spent right there. Complete new breaking system, suspension and steering systems just to get started in the mechanical components. Wiring, lights and charging systems. Rechroming bumpers and trim. New interior including refurbishing the steering wheel, knobs and controls. I really like this car but for the cost and time required to make this gem as beautiful as it deserves another one already done could potentially save a lot of money and cuts, bruises and scrapes to say nothing of all the curse words involved in restoring a car. That for some people makes it all worth it. I’m one of those insane people that would rather do it myself regardless of the costs. Now back to you, other commenters.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  13. okmko Member

    I had a ’57 Buick Special Riviera that had the same rear window configuration.
    Always thought it was the best looking of the ’57s

    Like 1
    • Johnny

      We had a neighbor that had a 57 Buick and a 56 Buick. I never paid much attenion as a kid,but was the rear glass on the 56 a 3 piece window too? I remeber in the center grill it had the years on it.

      • Stan Marks

        Johnny, The ’56 had a one piece rear window.

      • Terry R Melvin

        No, the ’56 was basically the same as a 55 but with different tail lights and grill.

  14. dr fine

    I like the three piece back window, but at the time it was unmercifully mocked as “suddenly it’s 1949,” a twist on Chrysler’s “suddenly it’s 1960.”

    Like 2
  15. Dennis

    These cars have a very strong transmission in the early days of drag racing everybody wanted a olds or cadillac because they could take a licking and keep on ticking

    Like 3
    • Camaro guy

      Yeah the B&M Hydro great trans in it’s day until the TH400 came along and replaced it

      Like 1
  16. Russell

    Had a 57 j2 caught fire on the mid cape high in 66. At about 140 mph got the plates and left it there it burned up completly

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