Unmolested Survivor: 1950 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight

This is not my father’s Oldsmobile! But it’s doggone close as he owned one just like it when I was a wee lad. I don’t remember much about it but I know it had a medium green finish. The things that I remember about it are few and far between though I do recall the Rocket 88 trunk lid emblem, the chrome push-button starter switch and the rope suspended across the back of the front seat. Wayback time it is, let’s check out this 1950 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight, located in Chino, California and available, here on eBay for a current bid of $4,400, reserve not yet met.

With the introduction of the new, Rocket 88 overhead valve (OHV) V8 engine in 1949, Oldsmobile absolutely had it going on. In-line eights and flatheads? Forget about that, there was a brave new world occurring, and V8 performance became a ’50s Americana standard. You know it had to be a special car and engine when it had its own rock & roll number, “Rocket 88” named for its virtues, as well as some other things.

The original gray finish of this 88 is worn through in places but still possesses a bit of a sheen. The seller states no  Bondo or trunk rust and an intact set of trim with doors and windows that work as they should. There is some paint flaking occurring on the trunk lid and roof, along with pitted chrome bumpers, but what do you expect after 70 years? Typical for Oldsmobile, and other cars of this era, it has fender skirts. I recall my father saying something about having removed the ones on his car because of the hassle he had trying to get one off to change a flat tire on the side of the road. Once they were off, they stayed off I guess. Of note is this Oldsmobile’s single piece of windshield glass, many auto manufacturers were still using a two-pane, center divided component in ’50.

Rocket Power is courtesy of a 135 HP, 303 CI, OHV V8 engine. The seller states that it runs and stops, without smoking or overheating, though the Hydramatic automatic transmission will not shift from second to third or third to fourth. So it runs, but its speed is capped a bit. The 6-volt electrical system still powers all of the working lights and gauges.

The dash and instrument panel looks great, but the seat upholstery is starting to let go and a blanket covers the front bench. There is no carpet or mat covering the floor and the headliner, while not earthbound, has some peculiar looking hieroglyphic type marks scattered about – ghosts from the past? The door cards are water stained so that may be indicative of failed door gaskets or window channel felts.

The seller pro offers, “This is a great opportunity for someone to own an unmolested true classic”. I would have to agree, it’s not often that you find an original survivor in this condition, one that hasn’t been messed with. I don’t care to relive a portion of my life, via this Oldsmobile, a time that I barely remember, but there are five bids tendered and I’m sure that it will find a new home. I just hope the next owner can appreciate what he or she has and leaves this Eighty-Eight unaltered.  Does anyone have brief remembrances of their earliest car exposure that they would care to share?


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  1. nycbjr Member

    4 speed automatic? Wow

    Like 4
    • Bob C.

      The first gear was so low it would shift into second before you were halfway through an intersection.

      Like 6
      • Tman

        Also known as a Jetaway. 2nd to 3rd had a gap that would kind of roll into 3rd and the gearing was a very noticeable lower rpm. Had a 62 Bonneville Safari wagon with that transmission. Very expensive to rebuild at the time

        Like 1
  2. Ben T.Spanner

    Hydromatic was a 4 speed automatic with reverse at the bottom of the quadrant. You had to be careful if using low.
    My Father was a Dodge/Desoto man. He had a 1951 Dodge Diplomat 2 dr ht with Gyromatic. That was a 4 speed kinda automatic. It would shift automatically once, and had 2 ranges. Normally you would start out in the low gear of high range. At maybe 20 miles an hour you would lift you right foot and wait for the shift. You could start in low range, but again, it would shift only once and that was into the second gear of low range. A slow car was made even slower.
    There was no shift quadrant. You had to know the gear positions. The clutch was used only for engine starting, and shifting from range to range, or forward to reverse.

    Like 6
  3. flmikey

    Now that, my friends, is an air cleaner! It’s about the same size as a Kia engine…I am guessing it’s an oil bath unit…

    Like 7
  4. Cncbny

    I actually bought one of these in 1984. I was in 10th grade, it was $500. I had it for three months. I kept it at my girlfriends house. Once my parents found out I bought it, they forced me to give it away! The cry, “We’ll lose the house!” If I got in an accident, cause I had no license or insurance. Too young for that stuff. Oh well, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

    Like 4
  5. Jack Sakaluk

    Early remembrances are of my Dad’s 1950 2 dr.Pontiac Silver Streak 8 with Hyramatic. Us 4 kids could sit across the back seat.

    Like 2
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking Olds. I’ve always loved the 1949-51 Oldsmobile. Assuming everything on the car works like it should and patina is only on the surface, it shouldn’t be too difficult to restore.

    Like 4
  7. Fred W

    Recently in a car magazine (yes those still exist) I read a comment from an older gentleman who owned one of these in the mid 50’s. He described it as the original muscle car- a V-8 engine installed in a lighter weight (88 vs 98) chassis. His had three on the tree, and he claimed he could wind it up and bark the tires (again) when shifting into second.

    Like 6
  8. alvin good

    In 1960, I bought a 1950 coupe that the 88 engine had been removed and an 98 engine installed. Paid $150 for it. Drove several months and sold it for $300. Wish it still had it, a very quick car.

    Like 1
  9. Bimmerbill

    You mentioned the one piece windshield which came out later in the year. The glass supplier was not ready with the one piece when the ’50 came out so it was later and there were some people that when they saw the one piece had it installed and also some ’49 owners. Then the custom guys got into installing the windshield in their ’49 – ’52 Chevrolets and Pontiacs.
    The engine was the same in the 88 and 98.
    The transmission was known as Hydramatic for the automatic. The three speed manual was a rare item. I have only seen 3 or 4 in my lifetime.

    Like 1
  10. Wayne from oz

    It’s got the right amount of doors.

    Like 2
    • nlpnt

      That being said, when they moved the 88 from the A to the “belated B” body for ’51 they only should’ve done that with the 4 door (along with the then 2-door-only hardtop and the convertible), keeping the 2 door sedan and/or business coupe pure A-bodies for those who wanted a light, fast Rocket 88.

  11. Johnny

    My uncle had three of these back in the 50,s He was all the time laying rubber with it. I hope this car is as good as it looks and someone keeps it original. I like it alot.

    Like 1
  12. john blachowski Member

    When very young in Chicago, a neighbor had one of these in dark green. I loved that car and made my dad mad when I said he should get one. He was a Ford man! In 49 & 50 Cadillac did NOT like the Olds 88 being faster than the caddy’s so on some units Olds blocked out first gear. I almost bought a 2 door with that done in 1965 but someone beat me to it. Would still love to have a 50 Sedanette! Fastback!

  13. Stan Marks

    We had the same car in dark blue. I still have my 8mm home movies, that shows the car, for about 15 seconds. I still recall the car would stall out, at traffic lights. Mom would jump out, raise the hood & tap something, on the motor, to get it started. Don’t ask. In ’54 I was 10. LOL!

    Like 1
  14. Steve R

    It’s overpriced based on what it needs. Much of the interior is shot, the transmission needs work and has questionable registration. This isn’t a particularly desirable car. Someone should think twice before pushing the bidding past it’s current high bid of $5,000.

    Steve R

    Like 2
  15. Aryell Cohen

    My mother drove a 1950 Buick Super stick shift. Same grey color. I remember her having to step on the accelerator to engage the starter. She worked to drive and park that car w/o power steering.

    Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Our moms were wonderful, Aryell.
      Are you Mishpucha?

    • nlpnt

      Sounds like my mom with dad’s ’79 GMC Sierra that had 3 on the tree and power nothing and doubled as our family car. When she got a Plymouth Horizon with PS, PB and AT she drove it like it was a Lotus Seven!

  16. Larry Brantingham

    One just like this – only green, like your father’s – was my first car. It cost $50. I had to borrow $35 from my Dad and pay it back by working at a burger joint. It didn’t run and had termites in one tire, but I got lucky; a motor mount had collapsed and the engine had crushed a fuel line. That fix and a new tire got the car going. I was still only 15, so I decided to rebuild the Hydramatic and engine in the back yard. In spite of my ministrations, it ran well afterwards and I drove it all through high school. Not being a rich kid, my speed modifications were limited to using steel wool to polish the valve covers and then oiling them every week to keep the rust away. I was once stopped by a cop – well, many times – but this particular time was because three friends and I decided to see how much aerodynamic drag would slow the car. We did this by popping open all four doors while careening around the infamous Horseshoe Curve after school. Simpler times, though. After shaking his head at the stupidity of children, he just let us go.
    Well, you did ask!

    Like 1
  17. Frank Armstrong

    I had forgotten all about the “rope” trim across the seat back. Something to hang onto while you stood up in the back and hung over the front seat to pester your folks. Good times!

  18. Chuck

    The first factory hot rod! Fastest thing on the road for several years. My first car was almost like this one, four doors, but with the three speed. The only competition was other Oldsmobiles.

    Like 1
  19. Ron LaForce

    Used to drive my brother in law from massachusetts to the navel base in Newport Rhode Island was 16 at the time. Loved that car. It would lift up at a light before shooting away like like a jet. That was 1955. A great riding car with lots of speed great memories.

  20. Dennis Zozula

    My dad had the 1949 version 4 door in green. ( might of been 1950 ). I used to sit in his lap and steer even when he booted it into the passing lane. Compared to current autos, this thing was a tank. Considering he was a builder he should have had a truck but with a roof rack and box in the trunk for the rock work material he salvaged during Sunday drives he made it work.

  21. PF Bowers

    My big brother had a 2dr 88.I was 16 in 1956 and he would leave it with me while he was away on monuvers (natl.guard).cool car, would rear up when pushed hard from stop light. Fun and fast.

  22. David Story

    One of my Friends had a 50. That thing would run like a scalded dog!

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