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Windows In The Hood! 1951 Oldsmobile 88

How about that! I knew there have been other GM vehicles (and probably other makes as well) that have see-through hoods to show off the engine, but I wasn’t aware it was common as a dealer display technique in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s for Oldsmobile. This nice driver quality Olds 88 is equipped with one and it’s pretty cool! The car is located in Dickinson, Texas and is for sale here on eBay with bidding starting at $15,000

The passenger side window seems a little cloudy, but whomever did it put it in very nicely. I found this old thread on describing the hoods; apparently they had full plexiglas ones as well.

The driver’s side one looks to be in better shape. I love those valve covers–hope they are original!

Inside, we can see that the velour upholstery isn’t the original type, but it’s probably pretty comfortable in the heat of Texas. Of course, someone has retrofitted this car with Vintage Air modern air conditioning, heating and defrosting, so maybe that isn’t as much trouble as I would think. I do like the almost art deco look to this interior even though it’s post-war. The steering wheel in particular is both imposing and beautiful.

The seller tells us that the car runs and drives very well. They also mention that it has been converted to a 12 volt alternator system and now sports a dual exhaust with 4 barrel carburetor and intake. The car also has new wheels and wide whitewall tires, and all the suspension, shocks and brake system are new as well. So what do you think of this car as a cool driver? I’m thinking fun, fun, fun in my father’s Oldsmobile (I think my father actually did own a 1951 Olds, although it was before I was born, and I’m betting it didn’t have a transparent hood!)


  1. David Wilk Member

    Beautiful car, Jamie, and looks like a runner too. Those valve covers are not original. With all the other modifications from original, it’s no longer “stock original” but for most of us, what’s been done to it makes it a better car to drive and own. And that very rare see through hood is very cool to see. Nice find.

  2. ImpalaGuy

    Also done with early Corvairs to show the unusual engine and location. I have been told that every dealer got one. They are now highly prized within the Corvair community.

  3. leiniedude leinieduede Member

    I can’t get a good look at the dash. From outside I see some type of gauge in front of the steering wheel. Anyone know what it does? Thanks, Mike.

    • MilesB

      If you mean the gauge on the column, that is the gear selector indicator.

    • Bob

      I don’t believe that is a gauge but rather a prism designed to let the driver see the overhead traffic signals. This was a common after market item especially if the car was equipped with an accessory sun visor.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        The item in question is a “Guide Traffic Light Viewer”, and is the second version, with 2 concave sections, 1 front & 1 rear. The sides are mat grey finish. The first version was early plastic with multiple scallops on one side, with “Guide” lettering across the top. Guide was a GM division, making lighting products.

        And yes, no automobile with a sunshade above the windshield should be without one of these, they do work. I had a 1973 Dodge B-200 van, and because some traffic lights were on the “nearside” of the intersection, with the short nose of the van putting the windshield way too close to the traffic lights, I mounted on on the dash. It worked great.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thanks a lot gang! I have seen a picture of one before but did not look much like the one here. Maybe it was the first version Bill mentioned. Thanks, Mike.

    • Mark

      What you are referring to on the steering column is the shift indicator for the automatic transmission. Since the shifter itself was only column is indicator with strictly mechanical based on the position of the shift arm. It was very common “back in the day”. I remember our family having several cars built like that.

  4. Ed P

    Nice car. It will be interesting to see how high the bidding goes on this one. The 15K starting price seems reasonable for the condition of this car.

  5. 8banger Dave Member

    How many of us are about to google see-through hood Corvairs?

    • Bob

      I wasn’t aware that there were see-through hood Corvairs. In 1954 Ford did provide see through hoods to their dealers to show off their new over head valve engines.

  6. David Zornig

    When the downsized `85 Cadillac’s came out in April of `84, we were sent a Lucite hood to be installed on a DeVille for our showroom. Meant to showcase the new transverse mounted V8.
    As instructed I took it up to our rooftop parts room, where it was quickly forgotten about.
    It went down with the building in 1993…

  7. Rob

    I ran across this Olds, last summer in Monte Vista, CO with a see through hood installed. It had some cracks in it, but still a cool find.


    in the early 60,s, i owned a 1952 olds 4 door sedan for $50.00 i remember i got so made at the car from not being able to push start it i put my fist through the rear side window. also, when these olds engines were operating temperature, and were turned off for a short time and restarted, it was always hell time. the engines used to vapor lock because the gas line was near and close to the intake manifold. we used to try putting wooden clothes pins, aluminum foil etc. clipped on the fuel line to help cool down/ absorb some of the engine heat, fuel perculation. ohhhhh, my aching fist. i was around 17 y o then. lol

    • scooter8

      had a 67 lemans bought real cheap! I was 17? had a reverb AM radio cool! went street racing,pulled a hole shot in reverse in front of the crowd. blew reverse. they cheered! we had mopars back then. I was earning $9.00 per. chasing parts. pontiac wouldn’t crank the next time out! punched that flat windshield.right in the drivers view! sold it cheap! kid changed starter, drove sitting real low in the bucket. next pontiac i had used to skip teeth on flywheel. going kazing,kazing. nomore punching,ponchos’ for me! city towed it.

  9. RicK

    I like the license plate, what a cool number. Back in the early 90s I had a ’57 Chev Sedan Delivery, and Washington State (where I reside) lets you license your car (if its more than 30 yrs old I think) with the tag it would have had when it was new. In ’57, Washington was still using the old style long plates that had been issued in ’54, except with a metal ’57 tab. So I licensed the ’57 with an old ’54 plate that I found in my travels in the late 70s. The tag number was 25 U because in those days Washington didn’t start out a license plate run with a bunch of zeroes . How cool is that,

  10. Dolphin Member

    IIRC the first Olds OHV engine came out in 1949, named the Rocket. I have never seen or heard of a look-through hood like the one on this car, but I can believe it would have been created to showcase that new V8, and that dealers each got one.

    But the thing that’s odd about this car is that it took 2 years for someone to take that particular promotion approach with this 1951 model. I could be wrong, but I have doubts that this particular car was a genuine Olds dealer promo car, as opposed to a later do-up, maybe with leftover see-through hood panels that might have been stored and then rediscovered like the ones mentioned by David Z above.

    Anyway, my uncle ordered a 1953 Rocket Olds with V8 and 3-speed std transmission when he got out of the Navy back then, and it was a real good performer for the time. Then my brother got it and “something” happened to the drivetrain and he had to replace the engine, this time with an Olds 394, which made it an even better performer.

    My uncle said that when he still had the car he once took it out on a deserted section of Daytona beach early one morning back in the ’50s and got it up to 94 MPH, but then chickened out and lifted. I’m glad he did, since packed sand doesn’t provide the best traction.

    I think that lift on the packed Daytona sand has something to do with the fact that he’s still around at age 90. I still remember him driving that 2-tone green Olds back years ago, one of the only ones around with the std gearbox.

  11. carreragt

    Those hoods were supplied to dealers to display on the showroom cars with the Rocket V8!

  12. Rustytech Member

    Just enough mods to make it interesting, but not enough to call it a “restomod” I like it. A/C is a big plus!

  13. Larry Brantingham

    This is a ’50, not a ’51.

  14. Bill Terwilleger

    Some Chevrolet / Corvair Dealerships had them in the showroom. I remember asking my Dad if we could locate one so we could put it on the car we were building and he told me that they were for display only, would not hold up to the ‘air cooled’ engine and that I would be disappointed over time. We saw one for sale (NOS) and I almost bought it…. for display / conversation piece but didn’t. They are still out there however I am sure that time has not been kind to them unless they did not get used. I remember when we did the ‘wild’ custom paint on my custom ’61 Spyder’ (there was never a 61′ Spyder we created it..) he outlined the ‘kidney’ shape on the rear deck lid and he did the shape in the contrast cream color to see if we liked it. We didn’t and painted the rear deck one solid color.

  15. Loco Mikado

    I always get nervous about blurry pictures in ads of any sort. How can post you some good pictures and some not in today’s age of digital photography? Whenever I am selling something I always take 4 or 5 takes of the same view, that way i always have a good picture to post. Either they are some of the laziest people in the world or they are trying to hide something. When I was selling on Ebay in the 2000’s I had a great problem with people ripping off my pictures to put in their ads. Decent pictures aren’t rocket science. This example is over 15 years ago when cameras weren’t as good as today.

  16. Rob

    Trying to load the image of the hood I found in Monte.

  17. Mark

    And I always thought it was just a movie thing…

  18. Ck

    Wow I had no idea that see through hoods were factory ! I thought that it was a custom thing that car builders did .Just goes to show how much that we can learn from this site .BARN FINDS IS FREAKIN AWSOME!!

  19. MathieuB

    I’ve seen one at the Imperial Palace Museum in Las Vegas in 2006. But this one has a bigger plexiglas hood. The display says it was a way to show the new engine from Oldsmobile but customer loves it and ask to have one on their car. It was then told that they could ordrer one. I think this one was said to be a dealer one. Veyr cool feature!

  20. Tommy

    They just painted the hood with CLEAR

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