Oldsmobile muscle car list

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15 Oldsmobile Muscle Cars No One Bought

By Aaron Young


Despite making some cool muscle cars, Oldmosbile never managed to keep up with the competition. Here are their 15 biggest sales flops.

Every so often, the world must say goodbye to a legendary automaker. Pontiac and Oldsmobile are two such infamous examples, having once produced innovative and market-leading vehicles, but dying a slow and painful death at the hands of cost-cutting and badge engineering.

Oldsmobile, in particular, was one of the premier names in muscle cars during the golden age, having pioneered the world's first true muscle car, the Rocket 88, they were one of the names to beat in the muscle car wars. But that dominance was a fleeting moment, once the gas crisis hit, their stride was broken, and sales were destabilized.

While Oldsmobile continued to have decent, but unstable sales, nearly any attempt at creating a new muscle car failed. Even then, looking back at their catalog, some of their spectacular cars of the '60s failed to sell as well. Car buyers and the trends they follow can be unpredictable, but junk will always be junk.

So read on, to see 15 of Oldsmobile muscle cars that were complete sales flops:

15 1961-1966 Starfire

Some cars sell poorly because they are shoddily built, ugly, uncomfortable, or lack performance. The 1961 Starfire was none of those things. A big, properly built American luxury muscle machine, the Starfire was Oldsmobile's competitor to the Ford Thunderbird.

Unfortunately for Oldsmobile, the Thunderbird had already carved out its niche, selling 10 times what the Starfire did in 1961 - a mere 7604 units. Sales improved to around 35,000 for '62, but immediately fell back down in '63, and continued to do so until the end of the "true" Starfire in '66.

14 1975-1980 Starfire

I mention the "true" Starfire, as this Chevy Monza in disguise paraded around with Starfire badges in the '70s. Packing a meek 105 hp with its optional V8, few people were fooled into thinking this was a proper muscle car.

While sales of the H-Body platform that spawned the Monza and Starfire were good, the Starfire sold a fraction of what the Monza did, racking up around 120,000 sales over its lifetime, compared to the 800,000 Monzas sold in the same time.

13 1964-1965 Jetstar I

Intended as a mid-level luxury muscle car between the high-end cruiser like the Starfire, but above the normal Cutlasses, the Jetstar I had plenty of potential. Unfortunately, Oldsmobile decided to give an options list that could easily push the Jetstar's price into Starfire territory, and also confused potential buyers by naming their new entry-level muscle car the "Jetstar 88." The Jetstar I lasted for only 1964 and '65, selling a mere 16,000 in '64, and 6,500 in '65.

RELATED: 10 Cars That Made Oldsmobile (and 5 That Broke It)

12 1983-1987 Cutlass Ciera GT

The Cutlass name was built upon some serious muscle car foundation. With Rocket V8 powered screamers providing a comfortable cruiser option during the golden age of muscle cars, Oldsmobile had a beloved name on their hands.

However, that all came crashing down when the fuel crisis hit, turning Cutlasses into dull, corporate, cookie-cutter cruisers. One shining example of this is the Ciera GT, packing only 150 hp. Official sales figures are unavailable, but the same year and similarly positioned Ciera International Series sold less than 5,000 per year.

11 1975-1981 Omega SX

While the Cutlass at least had been proven as a performance name, the Omega was far from what you could call a respectable muscle car. Developed as a cheap economy car,  Oldsmobile did their best to market the "Sports Pack" as an option that would turn it into a muscle car.

Optioning a Sports Pack Omega with bucket seats as well as sport gauges and wheels got you the "SX" package for free. However, it retained the Omega's dinky 105-hp V6. No official sales figures are available, but very few people were fooled by this "muscle" car.

10 1983-1984 Hurst/Olds

A legendary partnership during the age of proper Cutlass muscle cars, the Hurst/Olds name meant absurd power in a comfortable cruiser. While the '80s Cutlass can at least be called comfortable, the absurd power was gone. While you still got a V8, it made a mediocre, yet decent for its time, 180 hp. Fans of the Hurst and Oldsmobile partnership were nonetheless delighted to see the name make a comeback, but that was the extent of who was interested in buying one, only 5,500 were ever made.

9 1978-1980 Cutlass 4-4-2

Widely reviled as a complete joke of a muscle car, the 1978 4-4-2 was an insult to the name it tried to ride the success of. Buyers of previous-generation 442s took one look at the 160 hp choked down V8 and walked away.

Only 30,000 of the standard 1978 Cutlass slant-backs were sold in 1978, there's no existing data on the number of 4-4-2 packages sold, but sales for the slant-back Cutlass falling to 12,000 the next year should tell you enough.

RELATED: Why The 1979 Oldsmobile 442 Was A Muscle Car Disaster

8 1985-1987 Cutlass 4-4-2

With the 1978 Cutlass 4-4-2 being a failure, you'd think Oldsmobile would have learned their lesson about using beloved names for appearance packages on cheap cars. But come 1985, they did the exact same thing all over again. Power was bumped to a still mediocre 180 HP, but the optional extras didn't come cheap. At least though, they decided to use a traditional sedan instead of a slant-back, but still, less than 5,000 442s were sold per year.

7 1986-1992 Toronado Trofeo

Right off the bat, this generation was the death knell for the Toronado. Potential buyers went straight to Cadillac or Buick if they wanted a luxurious yet "powerful" cruiser, causing sales to fall to less than 16,000 Toronados per year in 1986. The Trofeo was an attempt to salvage the Toronado's image, with surprisingly impressive options like a touch screen info center (in 1986!). But still, no one wanted a new Toronado over a Buick Regal, and in 1992 the name was finally put to rest.

6 1982-1987 Firenza SX/GT

Nothing more than a typical cookie-cutter economy car of the '80s, the Firenza replaced the Starfire, and was a complete sales failure out the gate selling less than 45,000 per year. Utterly terrible for an economy car. Even worse, Oldsmobile tried to pass off the SX and GT trim Firenzas as sporty little muscle cars, buyers didn't fall for that obvious lie.

5 1992-1999 88 LSS

It's hard to feel any pity for the failed muscle cars Oldsmobile made during the '80s and '90s, but the LSS was an actual step in the right direction. Slapping on some luxury options, and a supercharger under the hood, the LSS made 225 hp and carried the traditional muscle car spirit of a big and comfy cruiser with enhanced power on tap. Sales were impressive for the first year at 110,000, but immediately dipped to almost half of that in '93, and never recovered.

RELATED: 15 Terrible Cars That Led To The Demise Of Oldsmobile

4 1988-1995 Cutlass Supreme Convertible

With all-out performance names like the 442 being butchered into dull and slow little cars, it's not hard to imagine that other Cutlass marques took a hit as well. The Supreme was no exception. Even with the introduction of a 210-hp V6 in 1991, the Supreme was far from the sumptuous yet powerful trim level it once was, and buyers knew this. Less than 2000 Supreme Convertibles were sold in 1991, the following years didn't fare much better.

3 1992-1993 Achieva SCX

The standard Achieva was already a sales flop, and Oldsmobile's addition of a 190-hp Quad-4 motor didn't help. A pathetically low 1146 Achieva SCXs were sold in 1992, and in 1993 that number fell to 500. Rightfully so, the SCX didn't make a return for 1994.

2 1995-1999 Aurora V8

With so many cheap cookie-cutter shared platform cars in their catalog, Oldsmobile needed to distance themselves from their past if they were to survive. The Aurora was their answer to this problem, being a completely unique car designed and made by Oldsmobile was promising.

Its freshness was promising, and so was the Cadillac Northstar V8 under the hood, but none of this was enough. With a luxury price tag, few wanted to take the risk of buying an Oldsmobile. Sales started off decently strong at 46,000 per year, but immediately dropped to 22,000, and never recovered, when Oldsmobile raised the price.

1 1968-1970 Toronado

The spectacular, if not strange, Toronado of the 1960s was never a huge seller for Oldsmobile, but it remained a solid luxury powerhouse within the brand, selling around 41,000 per year. However, starting in 1967, the car got heavier, and sales got lighter. When a facelift for the Toronado was introduced in 1968, sales hit 26,000 per year and stayed that low until the end of the Toronado's first generation in 1970. A real shame, as these first-generation Toronado's are downright awesome.

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About The Author
Aaron Young (349 Articles Published)

Aaron Young has been addicted to the world of cars, airplanes, and military vehicles since as long as he can remember. With a love for the quirky, weird, and untold stories of the vehicular world, Aaron currently drives a Subaru Baja.

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Former entry-level luxury division of General Motors

Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobiles produced for most of its existence by General Motors. Originally established as "Olds Motor Vehicle Company" by Ransom E. Olds in 1897, it produced over 35 million vehicles, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory alone. During its time as a division of General Motors, Oldsmobile slotted into the middle of GM's five divisions (above Chevrolet and Pontiac, but below Buick and Cadillac), and was noted for its groundbreaking technology and designs.

Over 1 million Oldsmobiles were sold annually each year from 1983-1986, but by the 1990s the division was facing growing competition from premium import brands and sales declined. When shut down in 2004, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Opel and Tatra (but under the name Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau).


Early history[edit]

Ransom Eli Olds, the founder and namesake of Oldsmobile

Oldsmobiles were first manufactured by the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. in Lansing, Michigan, a company founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 1901 (the same year that Horace and John Dodge won a contract to produce transmissions for the Oldsmobile company), the company produced 635 cars, making it the first high-volume gasoline-powered automobile manufacturer. (Electric car manufacturers such as Columbia Electric and steam-powered car manufacturers such as Locomobile had higher volumes a few years earlier.) Oldsmobile became the top-selling car company in the United States for a few years around 1903–1904. Ransom Olds left the company in 1904 because of a dispute with sales manager Frederick Smith, who was questioning production techniques and wanted Mr. Olds to certify that each car that left the plant was free from defects. Mr. Smith then set up an experimental engineering shop without Mr. Olds' knowledge or consent, causing Mr. Olds to leave in 1904 and formed the REO Motor Car Company.[1] This was a similar situation Henry Ford encountered when he was forced out of the company he founded, the Henry Ford Company and started the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

The 1902 to 1907 Oldsmobile Model R "Curved Dash" was the first mass-produced car,[2] made from the first automotive assembly line, an invention which is often incorrectly credited to Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company. Ford was the first to manufacture cars on a moving assembly line, while Olds used a stationary assembly line, meaning that the assembled vehicle remained in one place and workers would move from one car to the next and perform one assigned task. This differed from hand-made vehicles in the past where various workers would work on one car until it was completed and was labor- and time-intensive. After Olds merged Olds Motor Vehicle Co. with the Olds Gas Engine Works in 1899, it was renamed "Olds Motor Works" and moved to a new plant in Detroit, located at the corner of East Jefferson Avenue and MacArthur Bridge.[3] By March 1901, the company had a whole line of models ready for mass production. However, a mistake by a worker caused the factory to catch fire, and it burned to the ground, with all of the prototypes destroyed. The only car that survived the fire was a Curved Dash prototype, which was wheeled out of the factory by two workers while escaping the fire. While the factory was being rebuilt from insurance, many subcontractors were used to keep production going, to include Henry M. Leland for engines and the Dodge Brothers. Olds was a strong competitor to other independent companies Buick and Cadillac before they became divisions of General Motors between 1908 and 1909. Later after Mr. Olds left the company, Oldsmobile production was moved to Lansing.

Officially, the cars were called "Olds automobiles," but were colloquially referred to as "Oldsmobiles." It was this moniker, as applied especially to the Curved Dash Olds, that was popularized in the lyrics and title of the 1905 hit song "In My Merry Oldsmobile". The last Oldsmobile Curved Dash was made in 1907. General Motors purchased the company on November 12, 1908.[4] When GM assumed operations, platform sharing began with Buick products and Oldsmobile shared platforms were identified with the prefix "Series" followed by a number, while models developed by pre-GM engineers were identified with the prefix "Model" followed by a letter. Early on, Oldsmobile was a competitor to Hudson as some former engineers of Oldsmobile took positions with Hudson.


The 1910 Limited Touring Series 23 was an early, ambitious, high point for the company. Riding atop 42-inch (1067 mm) wheels, and equipped with factory "white" tires,[5] the Limited was the prestige model in Oldsmobile's two model lineup, with the smaller Oldsmobile Autocrat Series 32 having 36-inch wheels.

The Limited retailed for US$4,600, ($127,765 in 2020 dollars [6]) an amount greater than the price of a new basic three-bedroom house. Buyers received goatskin upholstery, a 60 hp (45 kW) 707 CID (11.6 L) T-headstraight-six engine, Bosch Magneto starter, running boards and room for five. Options included a speedometer, clock, and a full glass windshield. A limousine version was priced at $5,800 ($161,095 in 2020 dollars [6]). While Oldsmobile only sold 725 Limiteds in its three years of production, the car is best remembered for winning a race against the famed 20th Century Limited train, an event immortalized in the painting Setting the Pace by William Hardner Foster.

The Limited was at the time considered technologically advanced and cutting edge, if on the expensive side, but it established the division's reputation for innovation. The Oldsmobile Series 40 was offered in 1912 and was considerably more affordable and smaller, and later the Oldsmobile Light Eight in 1916, Oldsmobile offered a Cadillac-sourced flathead V8 engine until 1923, while Buick remained with their division exclusive overhead valvestraight-six engine until 1930.[7]

Beginning in 1910, bodywork was supplied by Fisher Body, a longstanding tradition that led to the company being eventually merged into GM in later years.


1928 Oldsmobile 6 (Model F-28) 4-door sedan

In 1926, the Oldsmobile Six came in five body styles, and ushered in a new GM bodystyle platform called the "GM B platform", shared with Buick products.[8]

In 1929, as part of General Motors' companion make program, Oldsmobile introduced the higher standard Viking brand, marketed through the Oldsmobile dealer network. Viking was already discontinued at the end of the 1930 model year although an additional 353 cars were marketed as 1931 models.


1934 Oldsmobile 8 convertible coupe (Model L-34)

In the 1930s, Oldsmobile produced two body styles of automobile, the Series F (straight-6 cylinder) and the longer Series L (straight-8 cylinder).[9] In 1933 The Oldsmobile Program appeared on CBS radio for two years which was a new advertising approach to sell products and services.

In 1937, Oldsmobile was a pioneer in introducing a four-speed semi-automatic transmission called the "Automatic Safety Transmission", although this accessory was actually built by Buick, which would offer it in its own cars in 1938. This transmission features a conventional clutch pedal, which the driver presses before selecting either "low" or "high" range. In "low," the car shifts between first and second gears. In "high," the car shifts among first, third and fourth gears.[10]


For the 1940 model, Oldsmobile was the first auto manufacturer to offer a fully automatic transmission, called the "Hydramatic", which features four forward speeds. It has a gas pedal and a brake—no clutch pedal. The gear selector is on the steering column.

Starting in 1941 and continuing through 1999, Oldsmobile used a two-digit model designation. As originally implemented, the first digit signifies the body size while the second represents the number of cylinders. Body sizes were 6, 7, 8, and 9, and straight six- and straight eight-cylinder engines were offered. Thus, Oldsmobiles were named "66" through "98".

The last pre-war Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line on February 5, 1942. During World War II, Oldsmobile produced numerous kinds of material for the war effort, including large-caliber guns and shells. Production resumed on October 15, 1945, with a warmed-over 1942 model serving as the offering for 1946.

Oldsmobile once again was a pioneer when, for the 1949 model, the Rocket engine was introduced, which used an overhead valve V8 design rather than the flathead "straight-eight" design which prevailed at the time. The overhead valve was originally exclusive to Buick as they invented the technology and offered it on all of their products. This engine produced far more power than the other engines that were popular during that era, and found favor with hot-rodders and stock car racers. The basic design, with a few minor changes, endured until Oldsmobile redesigned its V8 engines in the mid-1960s.


1953 Oldsmobile 98 convertible
1957 Oldsmobile Starfire 98 Holiday sedan with "StratoRoof" rear window

Oldsmobile entered the 1950s following a divisional image campaign centered on its 'Rocket' engines and the Space Race, and its cars' appearance followed suit. Oldsmobile's Rocket V8 engine was the leader in performance; its cars were generally considered the fastest on the market; and by the mid-1950s their styling was among the first to offer a wide, "open maw" grille, suggestive of fighter jet propulsion. From 1948-1957, Oldsmobile adopted a ringed-globe emblem depicting North America to stress what marketers felt was its universal appeal. Starting in 1958, the grille logo changed again to reflect the rocket image, that was used throughout the late 1950s, the make used twin jet pod-styled taillights as a nod to its "Rocket" theme. Oldsmobile was among the first of General Motors' divisions to receive a true hardtop in 1950 called the "Holiday coupe" (Buick's version was called the "Riviera", and Cadillac's was called the "Coupe De Ville"), and it was also among the first divisions (along with Buick and Cadillac) to receive a wraparound windshield, a trend that eventually all American makes would share at sometime between 1953 and 1964. New for 1954 on 98 coupes and convertibles (Starfire) would be front and rear "sweep cut" fender styling, which would not show up on a Chevrolet until 1956 and not until 1957 on a Pontiac. 1953 models changed to a 12 volt electrical system that made starting easier.

In the 1950s the nomenclature changed again, and trim levels also received names that were then mated with the model numbers. This resulted in the Oldsmobile 88 emerging as base Dynamic 88 and the highline Super 88. Other full-size model names included the "Holiday" used on hardtops, and "Fiesta" used on its station wagons. When the 88 was retired in 1999 (with a Fiftieth Anniversary Edition), its length of service was the longest model name used on American cars after the Chrysler New Yorker. Mid-1955 also saw the introduction of the four-door Holiday pillarless hardtop, the industry's first (along with Buick).

General Motors' styling as a whole lost its frontrunner status in 1957 when Chrysler introduced Virgil Exner's "forward look" designs. When compared side to side, Oldsmobile looked dated next to its price-point competitors DeSoto and Mercury. Compounding the problem for Oldsmobile and Buick was a styling mistake which GM called the "StratoRoof", which was reminiscent of the "greenhouse" canopy used on the Convair B-36 Peacemaker high altitude bomber. Both makes had models which contained the heavily framed rear window, but Detroit had been working with large curved backlights for almost a decade. Consumers disliked the roof and its blind spots, forcing GM to rush a redesign into production on some of its models. Oldsmobile's only off year in the 1950s was 1958. The nation was beginning to feel the results of its first significant post-war recession, and US automobile sales were down for the model year. Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac received a heavy-handed makeover of the 1957 GM designs. The Oldsmobile that emerged in 1958 bore little resemblance to the design of its forerunners; instead the car emerged as a large, over-decorated "chromemobile" which many felt had overly ostentatious styling.

Up front, all 1958 Oldsmobile's received one of General Motors' heavily styled front facias and quad-headlights. Streaking back from the edge of the headlights was a broad belt consisting of two strips of chrome on regular 88s, three strips on Super 88s, and three strips (top and bottom thin, inside thick) on 98s that ended in a point at mid-body. The bottom of the rear fender featured a thick stamping of a half tube that pointed forward, atop which was a chrome assembly of four horizontal chrome speed-lines that terminated into a vertical bar. The tail of the car featured massive vertical chrome taillight housings. Two chrome stars were fitted to the trunklid.

1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Holiday coupe

Ford styling consultant Alex Tremulis (designer of the 1948 Tucker sedan) mocked the 1958 Oldsmobile by drawing cartoons of the car, and placing musical notes in the rear trim assembly. Another Detroit stylist employed by Ford bought a used 1958 Oldsmobile in the early 1960s, driving it daily to work. He detached and rearranged the Oldsmobile lettering above the grille to spell out slobmodel as a reminder to himself and co-workers of what "bad" auto design meant to their business.

In 1959, Oldsmobile models were completely redesigned with a rocket motif from front to rear, as the top of the front fenders had a chrome rocket, while the body-length fins were shaped as rocket exhausts which culminated in a fin-top taillight (concave on the 98 models while convex on the 88 models). The 1959 models also offered several roof treatments, such as the pillared sedan with a fastback rear window and the Holiday SportSedan, which was a flat-roofed pillarless hardtop with wraparound front and rear glass. The 1959 models were marketed as "the linear look", and also featured a bar-graph speedometer which showed a green indicator through 35 miles per hour (56 km/h), then changed to orange until 65 miles per hour (105 km/h), then was red above that until the highest speed read by the speedometer, 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). Power windows were available on the 98 models, as were two-speed electric windshield wipers with electrically powered windshield washers. The 88 still relied on vacuum-operated windshield wipers without a washer feature. 1959 Oldsmobiles were offered with "Autronic Eye" (a dashboard-mounted automatic headlight dimmer) as well as factory-installed air conditioning and power-operated front bench seat as available options. The 1959 body style was continued through the 1960 model year, but the fins were toned down for 1960 and the taillights were moved to the bottom of the fenders.


From 1948 until 2004, Oldsmobile used a variety of logos employing a rocket theme that played off its Rocket line of V-8 engines. This image is stylistic variation of a rocket sitting on a launchpad

Notable achievements for Oldsmobile in the 1960s included the introduction of the first turbocharged engine and a factory water injection system in 1962 (the Turbo Jetfire), the first modern front-wheel drive car produced in the United States (the 1966 Toronado), the Vista Cruiser station wagon (noted for its roof glass), and the upscale 442muscle car. Olds briefly used the names "Jetstar 88" (1964–1966) and Delmont 88 (1967–1968) on its least expensive full-size models in the 1960s. In 1968 the split grille appearance was introduced and remained a traditional feature until production ended in 2004.

Notable models for the 1960s:

  • Oldsmobile 442 – began as a 1964 muscle car option package (4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, and 2 exhausts) on the F-85/Cutlass. In 1965, to better compete with the Pontiac GTO, the original 330 CID V8 rated at 310 hp (231 kW) was replaced by a new 400 CID V8 rated at 345 hp (257 kW). The 442 definition was changed to "4" hundred CID V8 engine, "4"-barrel carburetor, and "2" exhaust pipes, and was named by "Car Craft Nationals" as the "top car of 1965". In 1968 the 442 became its own model and got a larger, 455 CID (7.5 L), V8 engine in 1970.
  • Oldsmobile Cutlass (1961–1999) – mid-size car. Oldsmobile's best seller in the 1970s and 1980s, and in some of those years America's best-selling car. In 1966 a top-line Cutlass Supreme was introduced as a four-door hardtop sedan with a more powerful 320 hp (239 kW) 330 CID Jetfire Rocket V8 than the regular F-85/Cutlass models, a more luxurious interior and other trimmings. In 1967 the Cutlass Supreme was expanded to a full series also including two-door hardtop and pillared coupes, a convertible and a four-door pillared sedan. It also came with a 6.6L 400 CID engine as an option in 1967.
  • Oldsmobile F-85 (1961–1972) – compact sedan, coupe and station wagon powered by a 215 CID aluminum block V8 engine from 1961 to 1963. In 1964 the F-85 was upgraded to an intermediate-sized car and the aluminum V8 was replaced by conventional cast-iron six-cylinder and V8 engines. The Cutlass was initially the top model of the F-85 line but became a separate model by 1965 with the F-85 nameplate continued only on the lowest-priced models through the 1972 model year, after which all Oldsmobile intermediates were Cutlasses.
  • Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (1964–1977) – a stretched wheelbase Cutlass station wagon, which was stretched to 120" from 115" in the 1964-67 models and to 121" from 116" in the 1968-72 models, the stretched area being in the second-row seating area. This car featured an elevated roof over the rear seat and cargo area and glass skylights over the rear seating area, which consisted of a transverse skylight over the second seat (two-piece from 1964 to 1967, one-piece from 1968 to 1972) and small longitudinal skylights directly over the rear cargo-area windows, and also featured standard second-row sunvisors. The three-seat models featured forward-facing seating, at a time when most three-seat station wagons had the third row of seats facing the rear. From 1965 to 1970, it would be Oldsmobile's flagship station wagon, as no full-sized wagons were produced. The third-generation 1973-77 models no longer had skylights other than an optional front-row pop-up sunroof. This car was merely an up-line trim package on the Cutlass Supreme wagon and carried the Vista Cruiser nameplate rather than the Cutlass nameplate. The optional third seat was rear-facing in the third-generation Vista Cruiser.
  • Oldsmobile Starfire (1961–1966) – a sporty and luxurious hardtop coupe and convertible based on the 88. The Starfire featured interiors with leather bucket seats and a center console with floor shifter, along with a standard Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and brakes (and power windows and seats on convertibles). It was powered by Oldsmobile's most powerful Rocket V8 engine, a 394 CID engine from 1961 to 1964 rated from 330 to 345 hp (257 kW), and a larger 425 CID Super Rocket V8 from 1965 to 1966, rated at 375 hp (280 kW).
  • Oldsmobile Jetstar I (1964–1966) – life for the somewhat obscure Jetstar I started in 1964. It was designed to be a low-cost option to the successful full size Starfire series – more of a direct competitor to the Pontiac Grand Prix. Standard equipment included the 345 hp (257 kW) 394ci Starfire engine, vinyl bucket seats and console. Keeping the “sport” part of the Starfire, it possessed less of the luxury and glitz. It weighed in at 4028 pounds, and 16,084 were produced for 1964. It was a Starfire without the frills and was informally dubbed “the poor man’s Starfire”. Proving to be an ill-fated model, 1965 concluded the 2-year run for the Jetstar I. Only 6,552 were sold. The introduction of the Pontiac GTO and Oldsmobile 4-4-2 in 1964 insured the future of the musclecars were the intermediates, and the front-drive Toronado loomed big in Oldsmobile's future taking over the flagship status from the Starfire. Further confused with its lesser brethren with the Jetstar 88 nameplate, there was no way but out for the Jetstar I. And close examination of prices revealed that unless one bought a sparsely optioned JS1, there was little financial incentive to buy a JS1 over the Starfire. But lost in the mix was a high-performance car in the ’65 Jetstar I. Trimmed down to 3963#, the ’65 model was an overlooked performance car. The new 370 hp (276 kW) 425ci Starfire engine delivered 470 lb⋅ft (637 N⋅m) of torque, was durable, and was quite an improvement over the ’64 394. The new Oldsmobile Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission was a vast performance improvement over the previous “slim-jim” Hydra-Matic transmission. Also, Oldsmobile offered the Muncie 4-speed with Hurst shifter in ’65. Oldsmobile boasted in a 1965 press release that “a Jetstar I proved to be the top accelerator of the entire event” at the 1965 Pure Oil Performance Trials in Daytona beach. Those trials were sanctioned and supervised by NASCAR. Note: between 1964 and 1966, Oldsmobile named its least expensive full size model the Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 which the Jetstar I was not related to, and priced $500–$600 below the Jetstar I.
  • Oldsmobile Delta 88 (1949–1999) While the "88" series of Oldsmobile's date back to the 1940s, and were offered in a variety of trim levels, the introduction of the Delta 88, which superseded the Super 88 line as Olds' mid-level full-sized vehicles, was a watershed event for the division. Better trimmed than the low price Dynamic 88 range, but available in a wider range of body styles than the Super 88 had been, the Delta range was an immediate hit with car buyers. It quickly overshadowed the Dynamic 88 line. To pump life into the Dynamic 88 range, Oldsmobile renamed it the Delmont 88 for 1967. However, the Delta continued to climb in popularity to the point where Oldsmobile dropped the Delmont range at the end of the 1968 model run. Eventually the Delta 88 was joined by the Delta 88 Royale, a premium trimmed Delta. The Delta continued to be Oldsmobile's most popular full size line. In an attempt to modernize marketing efforts as Oldsmobile's fortunes declined, the "Delta" name was dropped in 1989, but the car lived on as the Eighty-Eight until Oldsmobile ended its production in 1999.
  • Oldsmobile Toronado (1966–1992) – a front-wheel-drive coupe in the personal luxury car category, introduced in 1966. At the time, the largest and most powerful front-wheel-drive car ever produced, and one of the first modern front-wheel-drive cars equipped with an automatic transmission. The original Toronado was powered by a 425 CID Super Rocket V8 engine rated at 385 hp (287 kW), mated to a three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. The Toronado was Motor Trend magazine's 1966 "car of the year".


1994 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Royale
First Generation Oldsmobile Aurora

The 1970s and 1980s were good years for the Oldsmobile division; sales soared (reaching an all-time high of 1,066,122 in 1985) based on popular designs, positive reviews from critics, and perceived quality and reliability, with the Cutlass series becoming North America's top-selling car by 1976. By this time, Olds had displaced Pontiac and Plymouth as the third best-selling brand in the U.S. behind Chevrolet and Ford. In the late 1970s and again in the mid-1980s, model-year production topped one million units, something only Chevrolet and Ford had achieved.

The very popularity of Oldsmobile's cars created a problem for the division in the late 1970s, however. At that time, each General Motors division produced its own V8 engines, and in 1977, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Buick each produced a unique 350-cubic-inch displacement V8. It was during the 1977 model year that demand exceeded production capacity for the Oldsmobile V8 and as a result, Oldsmobile began equipping most full-size Delta 88 models (those with Federal emissions specifications) with the Chevrolet 350 engine instead. Although it was widely debated whether there was a difference in quality or performance between the two engines, there was no question that the engines were different from one another. Many customers were loyal Oldsmobile buyers who specifically wanted the Rocket V8, and did not discover that their vehicle had the Chevrolet engine until they performed maintenance and discovered that purchased parts did not fit. This became a public relations nightmare for GM.[11][12]

Following this debacle, disclaimers stating that "Oldsmobiles are equipped with engines produced by various GM divisions" were tacked onto advertisements and sales literature; all other GM divisions followed suit. In addition, GM quickly stopped associating engines with particular divisions and to this day, all GM engines are produced by "GM Powertrain" (GMPT) and are called GM "Corporate" engines instead of GM "Division" engines. Although it was the popularity of the Oldsmobile division vehicles that prompted this change, declining sales of V8 engines would have made this change inevitable as all but the Chevrolet version of the 350-cubic-inch engine were eventually discontinued.

Oldsmobile also introduced a 5.7L (350 cu-in) V8 diesel engine option on its Custom Cruiser, Delta 88 and 98 models in 1978; and a smaller 4.3L (260 cu-in) displacement V8 diesel on the 1979 Cutlass Salon and Cutlass Supreme/Cutlass Calais models. These were largely based on corresponding gasoline engines but with heavier duty cast blocks, redesigned heads and fast glow plugs; and on the 5.7L, oversized cranks, main bearings and wrist pins. There were several problems with these engines, including water and corrosion in the injectors (no water separator in the fuel line); paraffin clogging of fuel lines and filters in cold weather; reduced lubrication in the heads due to undersized oil galleys; head bolt failures; and the use of aluminum rockers and stanchions in the 4.3L V8 engines. While the 5.7L was also offered on various Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, and Pontiac models, it was eventually discontinued by all divisions in 1985. V6 diesels of 4.3L displacement were also offered between 1982 and 1985. In 1988 the then all-new 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Pace car was the 1st production car with heads up display.[13]

Notable models:

  • Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1966–1997) – more performance and luxury than the lower-priced Cutlass and Cutlass S models, fitting in at the lower end of the personal luxury car market. Models were similar to the Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and Buick Regal.
  • Oldsmobile 88 (1949-1999) – Oldsmobile full-sized family coupe and sedan. Led Oldsmobile sales from 1950 to 1974. Downsized in 1977, became front-wheel-drive in 1986. The first-generation 88 is reputed to have inspired the song "Rocket 88" – arguably the first rock & roll record.
  • Oldsmobile 98 (1941–1996) – Oldsmobile full-sized luxury coupe and sedan that was downsized in 1977 and 1985, became front-wheel-drive in 1985.
  • Oldsmobile Toronado (1966–1992) – personal luxury coupe, major redesign downsized the car in 1979 then again in 1986, Motor Trend Car of the Year in '66.
  • Oldsmobile Omega (1973–1984) – European flavored compact car originally based on the Chevrolet Nova and later the Chevrolet Citation.
  • Oldsmobile Calais (or Cutlass Calais) (1985–1991) – popular compact coupe and sedan on GM's "N-body" platform, similar to the Pontiac Grand Am. The series' name was taken from what was formerly the high-end option package for Cutlass Supreme models.
  • Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (1982–1996) – popular selling upscale mid-sized car based on GM's A platform. During its run, the Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile's best-selling model. It consistently ranked among the highest-rated vehicles by J. D. Power and Associates; it was ranked the "Best in Price Class" on July 30, 1992, and the "Top-Ranked American-Made Car" on May 28, 1992. It was also named "Safe Car of the Year" by Prevention magazine on March 6, 1992.[citation needed]
  • Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (1971–1992) – full-size station wagon. Downsized in 1977. Within Oldsmobile, the Custom Cruiser shared its trim with either (or both) the Oldsmobile Delta 88 or Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight; following the further downsizing of Oldsmobile sedans in 1986, the Custom Cruiser effectively became a stand-alone model line. With the discontinuation of the Cutlass Supreme Classic in 1988, the Custom Cruiser became the sole Oldsmobile sold with rear-wheel drive.
  • Oldsmobile Starfire (1975–1980) – sporty subcompact, hatchback coupe similar to the Chevrolet Monza, which was itself, based on the Chevrolet Vega.
  • Oldsmobile Firenza (1982–1988) – compact sedan, hatchback, coupe, and station wagon based on GM's J-body, sharing the same platform with the Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, and Buick Skyhawk.


After the tremendous success of the 1970s and 1980s, things changed quickly for Oldsmobile, and by the early 1990s the brand had lost its place in the market (as annual sales had fallen from a record high of 1,066,122 in 1985 to just 402,936 in 1993), squeezed between other GM divisions, and with competition from new upscale import makes Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. GM continued to use Oldsmobile sporadically to showcase futuristic designs and as a "guinea pig" for testing new technology, with Oldsmobile offering the Toronado Trofeo, which included a visual instrument system with a calendar, datebook, climate controls and several prototypes built in conjunction with Avis with an early satellite-based navigation system. For 1995, Oldsmobile introduced the Aurora, which would be the inspiration for the design of its cars from the mid-1990s onward. The introduction of the Aurora marked as General Motors' catalyst to reposition Oldsmobile as an upscale import fighter. Accordingly, Oldsmobile received a new logo based on the familiar "rocket" theme. Also in 1995 Oldsmobile introduced the first satellite navigation system available in the United States, the Guidestar on the 1995 Oldsmobile 88.[14] Nearly all the existing model names were gradually phased out: the Cutlass Calais in 1991, the Toronado and Custom Cruiser in 1992, the Ninety-Eight and Ciera (formerly Cutlass Ciera) in 1996, Cutlass Supreme in 1997, and finally the Eighty-Eight and Cutlass (which had only been around since '97) in 1999. They were replaced with newer, more modern models with designs inspired by the Aurora.

Redesigned and new models introduced from 1990 to 2004:


In spite of Oldsmobile's critical successes since the mid-1990s, a reported shortfall in sales and overall profitability prompted General Motors to announce in December 2000 its plans to shut down the Oldsmobile organization. That announcement was officially revealed two days after Oldsmobile distributed the BravadaSUV – which became another critical hit for the division but turned out to be the final new model for the Oldsmobile brand.

The phaseout was conducted on the following schedule:

The last 500 Aleros, Auroras, Bravadas, Silhouettes and Intrigues produced received special Oldsmobile heritage emblems and markings which signified 'Final 500'. All featured a unique Dark Cherry Metallic paint scheme. Auroras and Intrigues would be accompanied by special Final 500 literature. However, only the Intrigue, Aurora, Bravada, and Alero had all Final 500 models built; the Silhouette only had 360 built as a result of the plant running out of out of production capacity due to fleet order obligations for minivans on the same assembly line.[citation needed] The Oldsmobile division's last completed production car was an Alero GLS 4-door sedan, which was signed by all of the Olds assembly line workers. It was on display at the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum located in Lansing, Michigan until GM's bankruptcy, when it retook possession of the car. It was then located at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. In December 2017, the car headed to New York where it was auctioned off at a dealer-only auction for $42,000 to a Florida dealer. Also sold at the auction were a 1999 Cutlass and a 1999 Ciera.


During the 107 years of Oldsmobile's existence, it was known for being a guinea pig for new technologies and firsts.

  • 1901 – The first speedometer to be offered on a production car was on an Oldsmobile Curved Dash
  • 1901 – Oldsmobile became the first car company to procure parts from third-party suppliers.[15]
  • 1901 – Oldsmobile was the first auto manufacturer to publicly promote their vehicles.[16]
  • 1902 – The Oldsmobile Curved Dash becomes the first mass-produced vehicle in America.
  • 1902 – Olds Motor Works is the first American car company to export an automobile.
  • 1903 – Olds builds the 1st purpose built Mail Truck.[17]
  • 1908 – Oldsmobile becomes a division of GM, and rebadges the Buick Model B as the Oldsmobile Model 20, creating arguably the first badge-engineered automobile.
  • 1915 – First standard windshield[18]
  • 1926 – Oldsmobile was the first car company to use chrome plating on its trim.[19]
  • 1929 – Oldsmobile creates the first Monobloc V8 engine in its Viking Sister-brand.
  • 1932 – Oldsmobile introduces the first automatic choke.[20]
  • 1938 – Oldsmobile introduces the Hydra-Matic the first production fully automatic transmission.
  • 1948 – Oldsmobile, along with Buick and Cadillac offered one piece compound curved windshields. Prior to this, windshields were split in the middle.
  • 1949 – Oldsmobile introduces the first high-compression, OHV V8 engine the Rocket.[21]
  • 1952 – Oldsmobile along with Cadillac introduces the "Autronic Eye" – the first automatic headlight dimming system.[22]
  • 1953 – Oldsmobile becomes one of the earliest automakers to switch their complete line up to the newly standardized 12v charging system.( Buick Roadmasters and Cadillacs were other early adopters.
  • 1962 – Oldsmobile creates first production turbocharged car the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire.
  • 1962 – Oldsmobile creates first production car with water injection the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire.[23]
  • 1966 – The Toronado is the first mass-produced front-wheel-drive American car.[24]
  • 1969 – First production electric grid window defogger on an American car – 1969 Oldsmobile Toronado [25]
  • 1974 – The Toronado is the first American car to offer a driver-side airbag. Shared with Buick and Cadillac.
  • 1977 – The Toronado is the first production American car with a microprocessor to run engine controls.[26]
  • 1982 – First use of high-impact moulded plastic body components – 1982 Oldsmobile Omega [27]
  • 1986 – Oldsmobile along with Buick introduces the Delco VIC touchscreen interface on the Oldsmobile Toronado and the Buick Riviera first of its kind on a production Automobile.
  • 1988 – The first production heads-up display system – 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Indy Pace car.[28]
  • 1988 – Oldsmobile broke a world closed-course speed record with the Oldsmobile Aerotech at 267 mph, driven by legendary race car driver A.J. Foyt.[29]
  • 1990 – Oldsmobile introduces an updated color Touchscreen interface with built in cellular phone (a predecessor to modern infotainment systems) on the 1990 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo.[30]
  • 1995 – Oldsmobile presented Guidestar, the first on-board navigation system to be offered on a US production car.[31]
  • 1997 – Oldsmobile is the first American car company to turn 100.[32]
  • 2001 – The fully redesigned 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV became the first truck ever to pace the Indianapolis 500.[33]


Model Year(s)ModelH.P. RatingCyl.Remarks
1901–1903Curved Dash Model R51
1904Curved Dash Model 6C71
1904Model T101a.k.a. "Light Tonneau"
1904–1905Model N71a.k.a. "Touring Runabout"
1905–1906Curved Dash Model B71
1905Side Entrance Tonneau2025-passenger
1906Model L2, opposed
1906Model S4
1907Curved Dash Model F71
1907Model H4
1907Model A4
1908Model M / MR4
1908–1909Model X4
1908–1909Model Z406
190920224Derived from Buick 10
1909Model D / DR4
1910Special404Replaces all previous 4-cylinder cars
1910–1912Limited606Introduced 1909 as 1910 model
1911Special364Compressed-air starter (all)
1912–1913Defender354el. Starter & lighting (all)
191353506Replaces Limited and Autocrat
191454506"6th Generation Six"
1915-1643306"4th Generation Four"
191555506"6th Generation Six"
191644 "Light Eight"V-8
191745 "Light Eight"V-8
191845A "Light Eight"V-8



Export markets[edit]


In Canada the range was limited, with the Oldsmobile Silhouette and Oldsmobile Bravada being unavailable to Canadian consumers until much later in their production life.

  • The Oldsmobile Cutlass (1997 – 1999 version) was not offered there.
  • The Oldsmobile Silhouette was sold in Canada from 1998 onwards, unlike in the United States.
  • The Oldsmobile Bravada was unavailable in Canada until its third generation in 2002; previous models sold in Canada were grey import vehicles.


In Mexico all Oldsmobile models were sold under the Chevrolet brand.[34][35]


For the european market, the Oldsmobile Silhouette was sold between 1994 and 1997 as the Pontiac Trans Sport by replacing the Oldsmobile badging with Pontiac badging, along with Pontiac wheels. Sales in Europe were good for an American import, but did not represent enough volume to make a distinct model economically feasible for the European market. Its successors were both the Chevrolet Trans Sport (Second generation Pontiac Trans Sport rebadged as a Chevrolet) (LWB), and the Opel / Vauxhall Sintra (SWB).

The Oldsmobile Alero was sold in select countries in Europe (and Israel) between 1999 and 2001 as the Chevrolet Alero, and was only available as a 4-door sedan. The car still featured its Oldsmobile badges even though sold under the Chevrolet brand, but since most European consumers would not recognize the badging, Chevrolet badges were added to the grille and rear fascia for the 2000 model year. The Alero featured Chevrolet emblems throughout its entire run in Israel. The Alero was replaced in Europe and Israel by the GM Daewoo-sourced Chevrolet Evanda / Epica.

Marketing themes[edit]

Early on in its history, Olds enjoyed a healthy public relations boost from the 1905 hit song In My Merry Oldsmobile. The same theme—a fast, powerful Olds car helping the driver romance the opposite sex—was updated in the 1950s with the iconic hit Rocket 88.

The strong public relations efforts by GM in the 1950s was epitomized in the Motorama, a "one company" auto show extravaganza. Millions of Americans attended, in a spirit not unlike a "mini-World's Fair". Every GM division had a "Dream Car". Oldsmobile's dream/concept car was called "The Golden Rocket".

The Dr. Oldsmobile theme was one of Oldsmobile's most successful marketing campaigns in the early '70s, it involved fictional characters created to promote the wildly popular 442 muscle car. 'Dr. Oldsmobile' was a tall lean professor type who wore a white lab coat. His assistants included 'Elephant Engine Ernie' who represented the big block 455 Rocket engine. 'Shifty Sidney' was a character who could be seen swiftly shifting his hand using a Hurst shifter. 'Wind Tunnel Waldo' had slicked back hair that appeared to be constantly wind blown. He represented Oldsmobile's wind tunnel testing, that produced some of the sleekest designs of the day. Another character included 'Hy Spy' who had his ear to the ground as he checked out the competition.

A public relations campaign in the late 1980s proclaimed that this was "not your father's Oldsmobile." The company produced a series of television ads during this time; said ads featured the offspring of various celebrities, and sometimes the celebrity in question. These ads included:

  • Frankie Avalon Jr.
  • Noel Blanc, son of Mel Blanc
  • Amanda Graves, daughter of Peter Graves
  • Deborah Moore, daughter of Roger Moore
  • Julie Nimoy, daughter of Leonard Nimoy
  • Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley
  • Jodi Serling, daughter of Rod Serling
  • Melanie Shatner, daughter of William Shatner
  • Lee Starr, daughter of Ringo Starr
  • David and Gina Belafonte, son and daughter of Harry Belafonte

Ironically, many fans of the brand say that the declining sales were in fact caused by the "this is not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign, as the largest market for Oldsmobiles was the population whose parents had, in fact, owned Oldsmobiles and that by going away from the traditional vehicles that Oldsmobile's brand was built upon, lost many loyal buyers and put the brand on a collision course with Pontiac and Buick, which led to internal cannibalization and a downfall from which it could never recover. Oldsmobile's final major ad campaign had the slogan "Start Something" in a last-ditch effort to market to younger buyers at the turn of the millennium.[36]

Corporate image[edit]

Logo evolution[edit]


  • Galveston Daily News, December 28, 1902

  • Detroit Medical Journal, 1903

  • Syracuse Post-Standard, September 30, 1904

  • Syracuse Herald, April 7, 1906

  • La Crosse Tribune, May 8, 1908

  • Mansfield News, April 23, 1910

  • Syracuse Post-Standard, June 11, 1910



Oldsmobile is especially known for its competition in NASCAR. Beginning with the Rocket 88, Oldsmobile proved heavily competitive in stock car racing. In the Sixties, the Rocket 88 was replaced by the 442. Eventually, the Cutlass would lead Oldsmobile into the Eighties before GM reduced its entries to Chevrolet and Pontiac in the Nineties. It was the restyled body of the Cutlass Supreme that (along with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, and Pontiac Grand Prix) ushered in the downsized cars into NASCAR cup competition. While the Cutlass looked almost identical to the Buick Regal (which scored 35+ victories in the 1981 thru 1985 seasons), the Cutlass (like the Dodge Mirada) didn't take one checkered flag, and many teams moved away from it in 1983 to the Regal, Grand Prix, and restyled Monte Carlo SS. This was a rude awakening to Oldsmobile, which was getting used to wins on the NASCAR circuit. The body style of the 1988-92 Cutlass proved to be a winner for NASCAR competition and it visited the victory circle 13 times between 1989 and 1992, when Oldsmobile ended its racing program.[citation needed]

IMSA GT[edit]

In the IMSA GT Championship, Oldsmobile would provide power for IMSA GT Prototypes alongside Chevrolet and Buick. The Cutlass was used in IMSA GTO along with other vehicles also being used in Trans Am and NASCAR.


Oldsmobile was an engine supplier in the IndyCar Series along with Infiniti starting in 1997.

Trans Am Series[edit]

The Cutlass was used in the Trans Am Series during the 1980s. Many vehicles also being used in NASCAR at the time were used in Trans Am and IMSA GTO.

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Biography of Ransom E. Olds". Your Dictionary. Your Dictionary. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  2. ^Michigan Yesterday & Today. Voyageur Press. 2009. ISBN .
  3. ^"Ransom Eli Olds Commemorative Marker". Archived from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  4. ^"November 12, 1908 - GM buys Oldsmobile". November 12, 2016.
  5. ^"1910 1912 Oldsmobile Limited". ultimatecarpage. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  6. ^ ab1634 to 1699: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy ofthe United States: Addenda et Corrigenda(PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States(PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  7. ^"Oldsmobile Light Eight brochure"(PDF). Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  8. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^https://www.griotsgarage.com/text/content/havingfun/about-our-cover-cars/hb371.html
  10. ^"Automatic Transmission Saves Gas And Power"Popular Mechanics, August 1937
  11. ^Mateja, James (March 13, 1977). "GM engine lawsuit: When does Olds become a Chevrolet?". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^Stuart, Reginald (April 3, 1978). "G.M.'s Image Under Fire In New Type of Lawsuit; Latest Charges Challenge Internal Operations, Not Size Factors Credibility and Durability 'A Set of Principles' G.M. Image Assailed in New Cases Murkier Waters Today 'Little Attention' Given Approach Challenged". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  13. ^"How Head-up Displays Work". April 17, 2012.
  14. ^"A brief History of GPS In-Car Navigation". April 9, 2018.
  15. ^"1901–1907 Oldsmobile Curved-Dash". December 6, 2007.
  16. ^"» Ransom e. Olds | Automotive Hall of Fame".
  17. ^https://auto.howstuffworks.com/1901-1907-oldsmobile-curved-dash.htm
  18. ^"Little-Known History of the Car Windshield". January 5, 2016.
  19. ^"The end of the road for Oldsmobile".
  20. ^The Automobile Age By James J. Flink, 1988 page 215
  21. ^"Oldsmobile's 1949 overhead valve V-8 launched an engine revolution". March 7, 2019.
  22. ^"1952 Olds and the First Headlight Dimmer". December 23, 2013.
  23. ^https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2013/04/18/yesterdays-car-of-tomorrow-1962-1963-oldsmobile-jetfire/
  24. ^https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2014/11/18/oldsmobile-ford-and-the-rebirth-of-front-wheel-drive/
  25. ^"National Antique Oldsmobile Club and North Texas Oldsmobile Club Welcome Spectators to a Free Car Show – Press Release – Digital Journal".
  26. ^"Computer Will Save Fuel on G.M.'s '77 Toronado". The New York Times. August 10, 1976.
  27. ^Han, P. Z.; Lennon, W. L.; Ratajczak, R. B. (1982). "Recent Chemical and Reinforcement Development in the Reinforced Reaction Injection Molding Process for Automobile Applications". Reaction Injection Molding and Fast Polymerization Reactions. pp. 209–218. doi:10.1007/978-1-4684-8733-6_13. ISBN .
  28. ^"The Past and Future of the Head-up Display, the Original Augmented Reality". January 23, 2019.
  29. ^"The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech Was Not Your Great-Grandson's Oldsmobile".
  30. ^"Check out these cars GM created in the 1980s with tech decades ahead of its time".
  31. ^"Oldsmobile's $1,995 Talking Map".
  32. ^"CNN - Oldest U.S. Car brand seeks new life as it turns 100 - August 25, 1997".
  33. ^https://testdrivejunkie.com/tag/2002-oldsmobile-bravada-pace-car/
  34. ^"South of the Border Madness! 10 Classic Mexican-Market Auto Ads". September 13, 2017.
  35. ^https://blog.consumerguide.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/09/1988.png
  36. ^In the '90s, General Motors hired marketers from outside the auto industry -- gurus of selling soap, toothpaste, disposable diapers and the like. But given the blunders behind Oldsmobile's failure, perhaps GM should have taken its marketing lessons from radio instead!Archived June 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine WINTER, 2001, RESEARCH INSIGHTS.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chevedden, John; Kowalke, Ron (2012). Standard Catalog of Oldsmobile 1897–1997. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. ISBN .
  • Clark, Henry A. (1985). Kimes, Beverly R. (ed.). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805–1945. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. ISBN .
  • Gunnell, John, ed. (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. ISBN .
  • Lawler, John (February 1994). "1957-58 Oldsmobile: From Beautiful to Baroque". Collectible Automobile Magazine. pp. 22–37.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oldsmobile.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile
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18 Greatest Muscle Cars Built by the Legendary Oldsmobile

When General Motors announced they would kill the legendary Oldsmobile brand in 2004, automotive enthusiasts couldn’t believe their ears. They were one of the longest-serving American car manufacturers, producing over 35 million vehicles. Indeed, one of the most respectable names in the business was going away. It was hard to comprehend that news, but GM wasn’t joking. Oldsmobile was gone.

Certainly, there were significant economic reasons for that decision. In fact, it was obvious the company at the beginning of the 21st century was not the same as it was in the past. Modern times brought modern standards in design, technology and performance, but Olds just couldn’t keep up. GM probably did the right thing, but Oldsmobile’s departure left a big void in the hearts of millions of fans.

One of the reasons why Oldsmobile was a favorite was its muscle car lineup. This wasn’t just another car company that made and sold muscle cars. This was the brand that produced the first proto muscle car in 1949. This made Olds special in the muscle car universe as well as an iconic company in the segment.

Over the years, Oldsmobile produced some of the fastest, most powerful cars. And they continued to add to their performance portfolio almost to the end. Never extremely popular, Oldsmobile muscle cars were often a step above the rest of the field. And not just in terms of power, but also in terms of style, luxury and appearance. So here are the best, most memorable Oldsmobile muscle cars they ever produced.

  1. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

For the 1949 model year, Oldsmobile presented two important things: the 88 model series and a new 303 CID V8 engine they called the Rocket V8. And both innovations would prove influential in Oldsmobile history. The 88 model was relatively light and compact, and the Rocket V8 was a hot engine with a two-barrel carburetor and 135 HP on tap.

The combination of a light body and powerful engine in the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 made it the first muscle car from Detroit. The 1949 Olds 88 enjoyed quite a success with customers and on the race track, too. It won six out of nine NASCAR races that year, proving competitive on the drag strips as well.

The car was the theme of one of the first rock and roll songs ever made, Rocket 88, by the Kings of Rhythm. All of this makes this car extremely influential in the automotive history and also in the history of rock.

  1. 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire

Although Oldsmobile started the muscle car segment, it wasn’t active until 1961. This was when the rest of Detroit’s manufacturers introduced more powerful models. And they gained respect on the street as well as on the strips. Oldsmobile saw the potential, so they introduced the Starfire. This was their top of the line model featuring an engine from the bigger models.

All big Oldsmobiles used 394 V8s with 325 HP ratings. But in Starfire, the engine delivered 330 HP and gave the 1961 model its performance credentials. However, these models weren’t true muscle cars since they were more luxury machines. But they still delivered power, performance and looks. Those three features made the Starfire a great introduction to future Olds muscle models.

  1. 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

Back in the early 1960s, Oldsmobile was known as an innovative company that was not afraid to introduce new systems in their cars. In those days, every GM division was competing to present something new and better. So, Oldsmobile chose turbocharging as the new technology they wanted to perfect.

The engineers took the compact F-85 model and kept its small 215 CID V8 engine that produced 185 HP. But, they also gave it a new forced induction intake system including a Garett turbocharger and a special Turbo Rocket Fuel tank. The tank consisted of distilled water, methanol and a corrosion inhibitor mixture that went into the fuel and air mixture to prevent detonation.

In those days, turbochargers were primitive and prone to detonation or pre-ignition, which could ruin the engine. But the Jetfire V8 included state-of-the-art technology, so initially, the market was interested. The new V8 delivered 215 HP, which was one HP per cubic inch. This made it one of the best performance cars of the day. With the 0 to 60 mph times of around eight seconds, it was almost as fast as the Corvette.

However, the Jetfire had problems from the beginning. But, most of the issues were owner-related. People praised the power delivery of the new Jetfire model. However, they weren’t used to the operating procedures of the turbo engine. So, some owners forgot to fill the Turbo Rocket Fuel tank with distilled water, methanol and a corrosion inhibitor mixture.

This caused a loss of power and even failure of the engine in the long run. Soon, the Jetfire had a bad reputation, despite praises from several automotive magazines. After two years and around 10,000, Oldsmobile killed the car and turbocharging technology. Today, only a few fans remember the mighty 1962 and 1963 Oldsmobiles.

  1. 1964 Oldsmobile 442

Even though the Pontiac GTO takes all the credit as being the first modern muscle car, not many people know they presented the Oldsmobile 442 the same year. However, Oldsmobile was much more discrete about advertising a new model as an option on the Cutlass line. From the beginning, the 442 was marketed as the gentleman’s hot rod. It was an elegant, well-equipped muscle car with luxury appointments and reserved styling.

Yet it delivered a brutal performance. The name 442 caused a lot of controversies back in the day, but the meaning was simple. It was a four-barrel carburetor, four on the floor and a dual exhaust. However, you could order it with an automatic transmission.

But if you wanted the most out your 442, you would take the manual instead. The 1964 442 was an option on their midsized models on anything except for station wagons. Under the hood was the 330 V8 with 310 HP. And since it was an Oldsmobile, they built and equipped it slightly than similar cars from the rest the lineup.

  1. 1965 Oldsmobile 442

The 442 met universal praise as a more refined and elegant alternative to the popular Pontiac GTO. The sales weren’t as good as Pontiac’s. Even so, Oldsmobile decided to invest in the muscle car class with a slightly restyled but mechanically upgraded 1965 model. Under the hood was the new 400 V8 engine with 345 HP and convincing performance. The sales rose to over 20,000, which showed Oldsmobile got it right with the 442.

  1. 1966 Oldsmobile 442 W30

For 1966, the 442 got a mild refresh and five HP more. This meant the 400 V8 could produce 350 HP. This rating placed the Oldsmobile among the most powerful Detroit muscle cars back then. But the most interesting model was the W30. If you opted for that, you got special ram air induction with tubes going from the front bumper to the carburetors.

You also got a hotter cam and a few other go-fast options. But being a little conservative, Oldsmobile didn’t put any wild graphics or emblems on the car. So, although the W-30, was significantly faster than the regular model, it looked the same.

The price of the W-30 package wasn’t high, but people somehow overlooked this model. For that reason, they only made 54 of them. This is a small percentage from over 20,000 442s built for 1966 model year.

  1. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

Back in the day, Oldsmobile represented the cutting-edge division of GM. This is because they presented models far ahead of their time. In fact, the company displayed power and style on the global market. And one such cutting-edge car is the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. This was a big, powerful personal luxury coupe with a twist since it was front wheel drive.

In those days, only a few imports were front wheel drive. And all domestic cars, regardless of the class or engine, were rear wheel drive. However, Oldsmobile wanted to introduce something else, so they constructed an ingenious FWD system. The designers drew a fantastic looking shape with a low roof and hidden headlights.

Also, the power came from a big block 455 V8 producing 385 HP. The Toronado was a success since it provided superb driving, which left its competitors in the dust. With 385 HP on tap and great handling, those Oldsmobile Toronados were full-size muscle cars. The first out of two generations were the best. However, future Toronados were just Cadillac Eldorados with a different grille.

  1. 1967 Oldsmobile 442

Despite being a popular muscle car, Oldsmobile kept the 442 line as an option for the Cutlass until 1967 when it finally became a separate model. This meant the 1967 model had more options, several power levels and a long list of equipment. For starters, the 400 V8 produced 320 HP, but you could get a hotter 350 HP rating.

However, if you had an irresistible need for speed, you could opt for the rare W30 version. It included a lot of go-fast options and 360 HP. Although most muscle car experts argue those engines produced even more power, Oldsmobile remained a conservative brand.

  1. 1968 Oldsmobile 442

For the 1968 model year, all General Motors intermediate cars got brand new bodies with new designs, longer wheelbases and wider tracks. The new look was cool with a sloping rear end in semi-fastback style. This was perfect for muscle cars and the new 442. But mechanically, things weren’t much different from the previous year.

The 400 engine was again standard with same power ratings. However, the engine was new with an updated bore and stroke as well as a bit more torque. Oldsmobile also concentrated on handling, presenting a more composed car than any of their rivals. Magazine testers loved the ability of the 442 to tackle corners and outbrake any other muscle car in its class.

  1. 1968 Hurst Olds

One of the most successful collaborations between a major car company and a small aftermarket outfit was the deal between Hurst and Oldsmobile. Back in the late 1960s, Hurst transformed the Oldsmobile 442 into one of the fastest cars available on the North American market. And they equipped them with their famous shifter. But the finishing touch was its signature gold and white, or black and silver paint job.

At the time, Oldsmobile was under GM’s ban forbidding the company from putting engines larger than 400 CID in intermediate cars. This meant that the popular 442 model couldn’t receive the biggest available engines. And due to that, it was inferior to those Mopar muscle cars with engines of up to 440 CID. However, since Hurst was an independent company, GM rules didn`t apply.

So, Oldsmobile shipped partially disassembled 442s to Hurst where they installed the biggest engine Oldsmobile had, the mighty 455 V8 with 390 HP. The Hurst Olds package also got numerous other performance upgrades like the ram air induction system. The also added a heavy-duty suspension and brakes. Since the Hurst Olds was a limited production factory hot rod, it was quite expensive. Also, the convertible wasn’t available for 1968.

  1. 1969 Hurst Olds 442 Convertible

The 1968 Hurst Olds were all coupes. But, in 1969, Hurst produced three convertibles for promotional purposes only. They were fully dressed in eye-catching gold and white paint schemes with white top and interiors, rear spoilers and Oldsmobile Rally style wheels. And those cars toured America promoting Hurst with Linda Vaughan, a famous muscle car pin-up girl.

They even had a big replica shifter on the back and a place for Linda to stand on while driving around the raceways doing promotional work. In 1969, Hurst Olds production was exactly 909 cars, including 906 regular coupes. They also built three crazy-looking convertibles with 455 V8 engines and 390 HP under the ram air hood.

  1. 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30

The 1970 model year was big for the Oldsmobile 442 and all GM muscle cars. General Motors lifted their corporate ban on putting engines bigger than 400 CID in intermediate bodies. So, all GM muscle cars, including the 442, got the big block and more power. But in 1970 the 442 got the mighty 455 V8 with 370 HP and 500 lb-ft of torque.

Since the 442 was more luxurious than other muscle cars, it was also somewhat heavier. This made it a little slower. However, it was still an extremely capable machine with 0 to 60 mph times of just 5.7 seconds. Also, the 1970 model got a mild redesign, more options and a stripes package.

  1. 1970 Oldsmobile Rally 350

To fight the tightening regulations destroying the muscle car class, Oldsmobile introduced a bright yellow Rally 350 model. It was a clever way to avoid high insurance premiums with smaller yet still powerful 350 V8 engines producing 310 HP. This model was basically a 442 muscle car, but with a smaller engine and a lower price.

The most interesting feature was the yellow color along with the yellow bumpers, spoiler and wheel inserts. It looked like somebody dropped the Oldsmobile Cutlass in a tank of bright yellow paint. Other manufacturers introduced similar models, but this Oldsmobile is best known due to its unmistakable appearance.

However, the Rally 350 wasn’t a big success on the market despite clever engineering. In fact, they only built 3,547 of them in 1970. And although most Oldsmobile performance cars are famous among most car fans, they forgot about the Rally 350, so it is rare to see one today.

  1. 1973-4 Oldsmobile 442

The new design, the Colonnade style coupe and the rising emissions and safety standards affected the 442 lineup that returned as an option on the midsize Olds lineup. The muscle car era was gone. But Olds fought back as one of the last powerful muscle cars.

The 455 was still available, but only with 300 HP in the expensive W30 package with the four-speed manual transmission. Despite the power, those models weren’t as fast or capable as earlier cars. And today, they are not as valuable or sought after by collectors.

  1. 1979 Hurst Olds

Hurst returned with the 442 model in 1979. This was a highly unusual move since the muscle car era ended many years before. The 1979 model was a compact sized Cutlass with a Hurst treatment. Also, it had a white and gold paint job, a T-top option and lots of other goodies.

However, under the hood was a 350 V8 engine that delivered just 170 HP. That wasn’t much by any standards. However, it was significantly more than the 130 HP that the other Oldsmobiles provided.

  1. 1983-4 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds

After taking a few years off, Oldsmobile introduced a new limited-edition Hurst/Olds model for the 1983 model year. The rest of Oldsmobile’s smaller offerings went to the front wheel drive platform. But the Cutlass was the only mid-size rear-wheel drive platform that could serve as the basis for a proper muscle car.

Under the hood was a 307 V8 with 180 HP. Even so, it delivered a relatively swift performance and 0 to 60 mph times of less than eight seconds. The secret was the famous Oldsmobile Lightning Rod shifter. It was an automatic with a main lever and two separate sticks for manual shifting into first and second gear.

The 1983 Hurst/Olds proved to be in demand and quite an interesting car, so Oldsmobile sold 3,001 examples. For the 1984 model year, they left the car basically unchanged. However, production of the car rose to 3,500 units. Today, both model years are highly sought-after collector cars.

  1. 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442 W41

Ever since the muscle car era ended in the early 1970s, Oldsmobile has tried to recapture the magic of the original 442 muscle car. So, they presented numerous special editions in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, most with trim packages. But even those 442 badges on an economy hatchback couldn’t revive the glorious spirit of those early performance Oldsmobiles.

However, Olds did produce some interesting models that performed well in their own right. And one of those cars is 1991 Cutlass Calais 442 W41. Behind that long name lies a compact, front-wheel-drive Calais two-door. It came with a highly-tuned four-cylinder engine that developed 190 HP from 2.3 liters.

Today, this doesn’t sound all that powerful. However, they presented this car almost 30 years ago in a time when people considered 200 HP as big power. Thanks to the low weight, race-tuned suspension and gearbox, the little Cutlass Calais 442 W41 could accelerate rapidly. In fact, it could beat much bigger, more expensive cars.

Unfortunately, they limited the production to only 204 examples for homologating the car for the SCCA racing championships. Despite the great performance, car fans soon forgot the W41. But, it did influence other manufacturers to present similar compact yet highly-powerful cars. Without this small and obscure Oldsmobile, there wouldn’t be the Chevrolet Cobalt SS or Dodge Neon SRT-4.

  1. 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva SCX W41

Despite the limited sales of the original W41 Cutlass in 1991, Oldsmobile knew the 2.3-liter four-cylinder had great potential. Since they discontinued the Cutlass Calais for 1992 and replaced it with the all-new Achieva, Olds decided to introduce another W41 model.

Their engineers developed the concept of the compact front-wheel-drive sports car further. So, for the 1992 and 1993 model years, Oldsmobile offered the SCX W41 model. It was the last W-named performance version they ever built. They based the SCX W41 on the previous model, so it featured the same 190 HP, 2.3-liter engine that revved to 7,200 rpm.

They updated the design as well as the interior equipment, too. Also, there were some changes to the suspension and brakes. But the biggest improvement was the five-speed manual gearbox they developed especially for this model. The SCX W41 was the quickest car in its segment. But regardless of its qualities, it still flew under the radar of most enthusiasts. So Old only sold 1,600 of them.

Sours: https://motor-junkie.com/18-greatest-muscle-cars-built-by-the-legendary-oldsmobile/9461/
Top 10 Quickest Muscle Cars Of 1969 Muscle Car Of The Week Episode 373

Muscle car

High-performance car

Perhaps you may look for hypercar (disambiguation) or for supercar (disambiguation).

Muscle car is a description used for a high-performance American car, by some definitions an intermediate sized car fitted with a large displacement V8 engine. Historically they were all rear-wheel drive, but that changed with technological advances.

Although the term was unknown for another fifteen-plus years, General Motors is credited by some as introducing the first "intentional" muscle car in 1949, when it put its 303-cubic-inch (5 l) Rocket V8 from its full-sized luxury car 98 model into the considerably smaller and lighter Oldsmobile 88.[1] The competition between American manufacturers started when Chrysler installed the 331 cu in (5.4 L) Chrysler Hemi engine in the mid-range Chrysler Saratoga in 1951 that was normally installed in the full-sized luxury sedan Chrysler New Yorker. In 1952 Ford's luxury brand Lincoln introduced the 317 cu in (5.2 L) Lincoln Y-BlockV8 and the rivalry began, where the Lincoln Capri was entered in the Pan American Road Race in both 1952 and 1953, and taking first and second place in 1954.[2][3] This was followed by both the Oldsmobile 88 and Chrysler Saratoga being raced in stock form at NASCAR races across the country.

By some accounts, the "muscle car" term proper was originally applied to mid-1960s and early 1970s special editions of mass-production cars which were designed for drag racing,[4] though it shortly entered the general vocabulary through car magazines and automobile marketing and became used generically for "performance"-oriented street cars.

By some period definitions and perceptions, the term muscle car came to connote high performance at budget prices, where extremely powerful engines were put into relatively bare-bones intermediate cars at extremely affordable prices. This wave, exemplified by the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner and companion Dodge Super Bee, were meant to undercut more expensive, more stylish, and better-appointed cars by General Motors and Ford that had come to define the market, such as the Pontiac GTO (1964), 396 Chevrolet Chevelle (1965), 400 Buick Gran Sport (1965), 400 Oldsmobile 442 (1965), as well as 427 Mercury Comet Cyclone (1964) and 390 Mercury Cyclone (1966). The Dodge and Plymouth cars also continued the performance tradition started at Chrysler with the full-sized Chrysler 300L when production ended in 1965.

By some definitions - including those used by Car and Driver and Road and Track magazines cited below, pony cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and the Plymouth Barracuda and their luxury companions Mercury Cougar, Pontiac Firebird and the Dodge Challenger in that large, influential, and lucrative 1960s-70s niche, could also qualify as "muscle cars" if outfitted with suitable high-performance equipment.



The definition of a muscle car is subjective and endlessly debated.[5][6] Muscle cars often have many of the following characteristics:[5][7][8][9][10][11][12]

  • A large V8 engine in the most powerful configuration offered for a particular model
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Being manufactured in the United States in the 1960s or early 1970s (the specific year range of 1964–1973 is sometimes used)[7]
  • A relatively lightweight two-door body (though opinions vary as to whether high-performance full-size cars, compacts, and pony cars qualify as muscle cars,[13] and why a 2-seat AMC AMX could be, but a 2-seat Chevrolet Corvette was not. It is sometimes claimed that only mid-size cars can be considered muscle cars.)[5][7]
  • An affordable price of around $2,500.
  • Being designed for straight-line drag racing, while remaining street legal.[dubious – discuss]

High-power pony cars are sometimes considered muscle cars, however, personal luxury cars are often too expensive to be considered by some to be muscle cars.[dubious – discuss][5]Sports cars are not considered muscle cars by some definitions.[14] By some narrow definitions, muscle cars are an extension of the hot rodding philosophy of taking a small car and putting a large-displacement engine in it, for the purpose of increased straight-line speed.[14] However, that is repudiated by the much broader public acceptance and use of the term as exemplified by the Car and Driver and Road and Track magazine top muscle car lists below, which display a much broader interpretation of the term.


Muscle cars were originally referred to as "Supercars" in the United States, often (though not always) spelled with a capital S."[15] From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, "dragstrip bred" mid-size cars equipped with large V8 engines and rear-wheel drive were referred to as Supercars more often than muscle cars.[16][17][18] An early example is the 1957 Rambler Rebel, which was described as a "potent mill turned the lightweight Rambler into a veritable supercar."[19]

In 1966 the supercar became an "industry trend"[20] as the four domestic automakers "needed to cash in on the supercar market" with eye-catching, heart-stopping cars.[21] Examples of the use of the supercar description for the early muscle models include the May 1965 Car Life road test of the Pontiac GTO along with how "Hurst puts American Motors into the Supercar club with the 390 Rogue"[22] (the SC/Rambler) to fight in "the Supercar street racer gang" market segment,[23] with the initials "SC" signifying SuperCar.[24]

The supercar market segment in the U.S. at the time included special versions of regular production models[25] that were positioned in several sizes and market segments (such as the "economy supercar"[26]), as well as limited edition, documented dealer-converted vehicles.[27] However, the supercar term by that time "had been diluted and branded with a meaning that did not respect the unique qualities of the 'muscle car'."[28]


1950s: Origins[edit]

Opinions on the origin of the muscle car vary, but the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, is cited as the first full-sized muscle car.[29] The Rocket 88 was the first time a powerful V8 engine was available in a smaller and lighter body style (in this case the 303 cu in (5.0 L) engine from the larger Oldsmobile 98 with the body from the six-cylinder Oldsmobile 76).[30] The Rocket 88 produced 135 hp (101 kW) at 3600 rpm and 263 lb⋅ft (357 N⋅m) at 1800 rpm and won eight out of ten races in the 1950 NASCAR season. The Rocket 88's Oldsmobile 303 V8 engine (along with the Cadillac 331 engine, also introduced in 1949) are stated to have "launched the modern era of the high-performance V-8."[31]

In 1955, the large-sized Chrysler C-300 - the first in a long, 15-year series of large, expensive, performance-first Chryslers - was introduced that produced 300 hp (224 kW) from its 331 cu in (5.4 L) V8 engine, and it was advertised as "America's Most Powerful Car".[30] Capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.8 seconds and reaching 130 miles per hour (209 km/h), the 1955 Chrysler 300 is also recognized as one of the best-handling cars of its era.[32]

The compact-sized 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk was powered by a 275 hp (205 kW) 352 cu in (5.8 L) Packard V8, the second most powerful engine to the Chrysler 300.[33]

The Rambler Rebel, introduced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1957, is the first mid-sized car to be available with a big-block V8 engine.[33] The Rebel followed most of the muscle car formula including "make 'em go fast as well as cheaply."[34] It is therefore considered by some to be the first muscle car.[35][34] With a 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 engine producing 255 hp (190 kW), its 0–60 mph acceleration of 7.5 seconds made it the fastest stock American sedan at the time.[36] Only the fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette beat it by half a second.[37]

Early 1960s: Drag racing influences[edit]

The popularity and performance of muscle cars grew in the early 1960s, as Mopar (Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler) and Ford battled for supremacy in drag racing. The 1961 Chevrolet Impala offered an SS package for $53.80, which consisted of a 409 cu in (6.7 L) V8 engine producing 425 hp (317 kW)[citation needed] along with upgraded brakes, tires, and suspension. The 1962 Dodge Dart 413 (nicknamed Max Wedge) had a 413 cu in (6.8 L) V8 which produced 420 hp (313 kW) and could cover the quarter-mile in under 13 seconds.[38][39][40]

In 1963, two hundred Ford Galaxie "R-code" cars were factory-built specifically for drag racing, resulting in a full-size car that could cover the quarter-mile in a little over 12 seconds.[41] Upgrades included fiberglass panels, aluminum bumpers, traction bars, and a 427 cu in (7.0 L) Ford FE-based racing engine conservatively rated at 425 hp (317 kW). The road-legal version of the Galaxie 427 used the "Q-code" engine which produced 410 hp (306 kW).[42][43] The following year, Ford installed the proven 427 "top-oiler" engine in the smaller and lighter Fairlane body, creating the Ford Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt included several weight-saving measures (including acrylic windows and fibreglass/aluminium body panels and bumpers)[44] and a stock Thunderbolt could cover the quarter-mile in 11.76 seconds.[45] The Thunderbolt was technically road-legal, however, it was considered unsuitable even "for driving to and from the (drag)strip, let alone on the street in everyday use".[45] A total of 111 Thunderbolts were built.[46]

The General Motors competitor to the Thunderbolt was the Z-11 option package for the full-size Chevrolet Impala coupe, of which 57 examples were produced in 1963 only.[47] The Z-11 Impala was powered by a 427 cu in (7.0 L) version of the W-series big-block engine, which was officially rated at 430 bhp (321 kW). With a compression ratio of 13.5:1, the engine required high-octane fuel. The RPOZ-11 package also included weight reduction measures such as an aluminum hood and fenders, the removal of sound-deadening material as well as the deletion of the heater and radio.

In 1964, a drag racing version of the Dodge 330 was created, called the "330 Lightweight".[48][49][50] It was powered by a 426 cu in (7.0 L) version of the Hemi racing engine which was official rated at 425 hp (317 kW), but rumored to have an actual power output higher than this.[51] Weight reduction measures included an aluminium hood, lightweight front bumpers, fenders and doors, polycarbonate side windows, and no sound deadening. Like other lightweights of the era, it came with a factory disclaimer: "Designed for supervised acceleration trials. Not recommended for general everyday driving because of the compromises in the all-round characteristics which must be made for this type of vehicle."[44]

Also using the 426 Hemi racing engine was the limited production 1965 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi. In 1966, the racing version of the 426 Hemi was replaced by a detuned "Street Hemi" version, also with a size of 426 cu in and an official power rating of 425 bhp (317 kW)). The 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 Hemi could run a 13.8-second quarter-mile at 104 mph (167 km/h) and had a base price of $3,850.[52]

1964–1970: Peak muscle car era[edit]

Although muscle cars sold in relatively small volumes, manufacturers valued the halo effect of the publicity created by these models. Competition between manufacturers led to a horsepower war that peaked in 1970, with some models advertising as much as 450 hp (336 kW).

The Pontiac GTO, a car that captured the public mind and strongly influenced the muscle car era, was introduced in 1964 as an optional package for the intermediate-size Pontiac Tempest. The GTO was developed by Pontiac division president John DeLorean and was initially powered by a 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine producing 325 hp (242 kW). The success of the GTO led other GM divisions to develop muscle cars based on intermediate-sized platforms: the 1964 Oldsmobile 442, 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, and 1965 Buick Gran Sport.

The AMC V8 engine was enlarged to 390 cu in (6.4 L) in 1968,[53] which produced 315 hp (235 kW) and was first used in the 1968 AMC Rebel SST,[54]AMC Javelin Go-package, and AMC AMX.[55][56]

As the 1960s progressed, optional equipment and luxury appointments increased in many popular models of "performance-oriented" cars. With the added weight and power-consuming accessories and features, engines had to be more powerful to maintain performance levels, and the cars became more expensive. In response, some "budget" muscle cars began to appear, such as the 1967 Plymouth GTX,[57] the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner,[58] and the 1968 Dodge Super Bee. In 1969, the Plymouth Road Runner was awarded Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year.[59] With optional performance parts such as intake and exhaust manifolds, upgraded carburetor, and drag-racing tires, the Road Runner had a quarter-mile time of 14.7 seconds at 100.6 mph (161.9 km/h). In this customized form, the cost of the Road Runner was US$3,893.[58]

The Plymouth Barracuda was a pony car that could be turned into a muscle car with the addition of the famed Chrysler 426 Hemi, available as an option beginning in 1968, after debuting in street form two years earlier in the Plymouth Belvedere, Dodge Coronet, and Dodge Charger. Originally based on the smaller compact car body and chassis of the Plymouth Valiant, the Barracuda was also available with a 383 cu in (6.3 L) V8 engine producing 300 hp (224 kW). It could run a quarter-mile in 13.33 seconds at 106.50 mph (171.40 km/h)on the drag strip. The base price was $2,796.00; the price as tested by Hot Rod was $3,652.[60] The related 1970 Plymouth Duster was powered by a 340 cu in (5.6 L) V8 engine producing 290 hp (216 kW). Performance figures were 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.0 seconds and the quarter-mile time of in 14.7 seconds at 94.3 mph (151.8 km/h).[61]

The 427 cu in (7.0 L) Chevrolet L72 big-block engine became available in the mid-sized Chevrolet Chevelle in 1969 as the COPO 427 option. The 427 Chevelle could run a 13.3 sec. quarter-mile at108 mph (174 km/h). Chevrolet rated the engine at 425 hp (317 kW), but the NHRA claimed power output to be 450 hp (340 kW).[62] The following year, the "Chevelle SS 454" model was introduced, which used the 454 cu in (7.4 L) Chevrolet LS6 big-block engine rated at 450 hp (336 kW), the highest factory rating at that time.[63]

The fastest muscle car produced by American Motors was the mid-sized 1970 AMC Rebel "The Machine", which was powered by a 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine producing 340 hp (254 kW).[64] The Rebel had a 0–60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.8 seconds and a quarter-mile run in 14.4 seconds at 99 mph (159 km/h).[65]

1970s Decline of the segment[edit]

The popularity of muscle cars declined through the early 1970s, due to factors including the Clean Air Act, the fuel crisis and increasing insurance costs.[66] The 1973 oil crisis resulted in rationing of fuel and higher prices. Muscle cars quickly became unaffordable and impractical for many people.[67] In addition, the automobile insurance industry levied surcharges on all high-powered models.

Before the Clean Air Act of 1970, a majority of muscle cars came optioned with high-compression engines (some engines were as high as 11:1), which required high-octane fuel. Before the oil embargo, 100-octane fuel was common. However, following the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, octane ratings were lowered to 91 (due in part to the removal of lead). Manufacturers reduced the compression ratio of engines, resulting in reduced performance. Simultaneously, efforts to combat air pollution focused Detroit's attention on emissions control rather than increased power outputs.

1980s–1990s: Performance revival[edit]

Muscle car performance began a resurgence in the early 1980s with high output V8 engines introduced for the Ford Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro Z28, and Pontiac Firebird Formula/Trans Am. Initially using four-barrel carburetors, engine performance and fuel economy were increased by the mid-1980s using electronic fuel injection systems and advanced engine management controls. Muscle car performance began to reappear on intermediate two-door coupés such as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS and Buick Regal. The Buick Regal used turbocharged V6 engines on the Grand National, Turbo-T, T-Type, and GNX models which rivaled the performance of V8 engines.[68]

The few muscle cars remaining in production by the mid-1990s included the fourth generation Mustang,[69][70] fourth generation Camaro,[71][72] and fourth generation Firebird.[73][74]

2000s to present[edit]

For 2004, the Pontiac GTO was relaunched in the United States as a rebadged captive import version of the Holden Monaro. For 2005, Chrysler introduced muscle car heritage to high-performance V8-powered versions of four-door sedans, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C, using nameplates traditionally used for two-door muscle cars. For 2005, the fifth-generation Ford Mustang, designed to resemble the original first-generation Mustang, brought back the aggressive lines and colors of the original. For 2006, GM relaunched the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with a V8 the first V8 on the Monte Carlo in 15 Years, with the same V8 engine used on the Monte Carlo's W-Body sister cars like the Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, Buick Lacrosse Super, and the Chevrolet Impala SS.

For 2008, Chrysler re-introduced the Dodge Challenger, which features styling links to the 1970 first-generation Challenger and was claimed by the Chrysler CEO to be "a modern take on one of the most iconic muscle cars".[75] A year later, running on that same sentiment, Chevrolet released the 2009 Camaro, which bears some resemblance to the 1969 first-generation Camaro.


The first Australian-designed car to be marketed as a performance model[dubious – discuss] was the 1963 Holden EH S4 model, of which 120 road cars were produced so that the model could be eligible to compete at the 1963 Armstrong 500 motor race at Bathurst.[76][77] The EH S4 was powered by an upgraded version of the standard six-cylinder engine, enlarged to 2.9 L (179 cu in) and producing 90 kW (121 bhp).[78][79] In 1964, the Ford Falcon (XM) became available with an enlarged 3.3 L (200 cu in) "Super Pursuit" version of the standard six-cylinder engine, which produced 90 kW (121 bhp).[80]

In 1965, the Chrysler Valiant AP6 became the first Australian car to be available with a V8 engine. This optional engine was the 4.5 L (273 cu in) version of the Chrysler LA engine, which produced 135 kW (181 bhp) and was imported from the United States.[81] The first Australian-designed Ford to be available with a V8 was the 1966 Ford Falcon (XR), with a 4.7 L (289 cu in) version of the Ford Windsor engine (imported from the United States), which produced 149 kW (200 bhp).[82] The first Holden to be available with a V8 was the 1968 Holden HK, with a 5.0 L (307 cu in) version of the Chevrolet small-block V8 (imported from the United States) which produced 157 kW (210 bhp).[83] Later that year, a 5.4 L (327 cu in) version of the engine became available in the Holden HK Monaro GTS 327 coupe.[84]

The pinnacle of 1970s Australian muscle cars were the 1971–1972 Ford Falcon GTHO, Holden Monaro 350, and Chrysler Valiant Charger R/T (the smaller Holden Torana GTR was also a successful performance car of the era, but it is not considered a muscle car due to its prioritisation of lighter weight over outright power output). The Ford Falcon (XY) GTHO Phase III model was powered by a 5.8 L (351 cu in) version of the Ford Cleveland V8 engine, officially rated at 224 kW (300 bhp), but estimated to produce between 261–283 kW (350–380 bhp).[85] The Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350 was powered by a 5.7 L (350 cu in) version of the Chevrolet small-block V8 producing 205 kW (275 bhp).[86] The Chrysler Valiant Charger R/T E49 model was powered by a 4.3 L (265 cu in) version of the Chrysler Hemi-6 six-cylinder engine producing 225 kW (302 bhp).[87]

In 1972, production of Australian muscle cars came to an abrupt halt when the Supercar scare caused Ford, Holden, and Chrysler to cease development of upcoming performance models, due to government pressure.[88][89][90] The few Australian muscle car models produced after 1972 consist of the limited production 1977–1978 Holden Torana (LX) A9X option and the 1978–1979 Ford Falcon (XC) Cobra model, both created as homologation models for Group C touring car racing.[91][92]

Lists of muscle cars (1963-1973)[edit]

Main page: Category:Muscle cars

According to Car & Driver Magazine, January, 1990: [93]

According to Road & Track Magazine, February, 2019: [94]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"20 Greatest Muscle cars". motor-junkie.com/20-greatest-classic-muscle-cars-produced-by-general-motors/19102. 5 April 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  2. ^Kowalke, Ron (1997). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Krause publications. ISBN .
  3. ^"A history of the origins of the American Hemi". allpar.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  4. ^"Muscle Car History". classic-car-history.com. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
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External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_car

Muscle car list oldsmobile

Old-school muscle cars — who doesn’t like them? But if you could have one American muscle car of your choice right now, but only one, what would it be? With all the classic cars out there, we understand that it would be hard to choose just one. From the obvious American muscle car staples to the lesser-known hot rods of the day, these muscle cars definitely confirm that there’s no school like the old school.

18 Old-School Muscle Cars That Defined An Era

With many great choices on the market today, we’re counting down 18 of the best old-school muscle cars ever built. And there’s not a Chevrolet Corvette in sight! If you’ve got good taste, we’re sure you’ll find at least a few of your favorite old-school cars on this list.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

old-school muscle cars:1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

The early ’70s is often considered the apex of the muscle-car era, and we offer up the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle as proof. Chevrolet offered two versions of the Chevelle — the LS5 and LS6. While the LS5 version made 360 hp, the LS6, with its Holley 4-barrel carburetor, was bumped up to an impressive 450 hp.

No other muscle car was able to equal the horsepower of SS 454 at the time of its production. For hot rod enthusiasts who lusted after horsepower, the Chevelle SS 454 was indisputably one of the best muscle cars of the ’70s.

The Chevelle SS 454 was able to beat nearly every competitor — and it looked terrific doing it. This old-school Chevy muscle car is an ideal combination of power, stylish good looks, and comfort. If you want a car that you can hammer down the road late at night or cruise down Main Street in style, this is the classic car you’re looking for.

1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda

old-school muscle cars: 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda

In 1970, Plymouth finally split from Valiant and created their own design. The result was one of the coolest muscle cars — the iconic Barracuda. Over the years, Plymouth opted for a variety of 6 and 8 cylinder engines to power this classic car, but one, in particular, stands out. The 1970 Barracuda was powered by a dual-carburetor, 426 cubic inch Hemi that could easily whip out an astonishing 425 hp.

With its drag racing heritage, the 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda was able to toe the line with some of the best muscle cars of the ’70s. The car even had a special suspension setup specifically crafted for heavy accelerations and a unique split-channel air intake mounted atop the hood.

Unfortunately, Plymouth produced a very limited number of Hemi ‘Cudas which means that to pick one up on the modern market, you’ll need deep pockets to add one of these old-school muscle cars to your stable.

1969 Dodge Charger

old-school muscle cars: 1969 Dodge Charger

The 1969 Dodge Charger is the epitome of a true American muscle car. The ’69 Charger was offered in various models from the base SE (Special Edition), which offered a few more luxuries to the R/T version with improved performance. And then there were two race models — the 500 and Daytona.

The Charger also boasted a selection of engines that started with Chrysler’s Slant Six and five different V8 engines with the top-end “Street Hemi,” which bumped the Charger up to a respectable 425 hp.

Across all models, the only thing that remained the same was the Charger’s distinctive body style — a two-door hardtop restyled from the 1968 model. The SE and R/T Chargers got a few additional style updates, such as a vertical center divider in the front grille and horizontal taillights.

Fun Fact: The Dodge Charger Daytona was specifically designed for aerodynamic tests with NASCAR. The results were amazing, with the Daytona being the first car to break 200 mph in NASCAR. However, the NASCAR rulebook soon changed, and the Daytona was (unfortunately) banned.

Compared to a standard Charger, the aerodynamic modifications on the Daytona lowered its coefficient of drag to 0.28, which was quite impressive even by the current standards. You might be wondering if this massive rear wing was necessary for downforce. Turns out, not really. Legend has it that the wing was made with an exaggerated height so the trunk lid could open and close underneath it.

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

old-school muscle cars: 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

The 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is an American muscle car specifically made to meet NASCAR regulations. Thanks to this exclusivity, only about 1,400 Boss 429 cars were manufactured, making it one of the rarest 1969 muscle cars.

What is so special about the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is that it was completely hand-built. At the time, the Ford Mustang, though young, already had a great reputation, and the Boss 429 was a real beast made especially for racing, although it sadly never got to compete in NASCAR.

It featured a huge 429 cubic inch V8 engine which delivered “only” 375 hp. However, it was made to be revved up to 6,000 rpm. Mustang had to go through numerous modifications to fit the engine inside the car.

The only problem was that the motor didn’t perform as well as other Mustang engines on the street. It was a bit slower than other big-block Mustangs in ’69. Despite these setbacks in power, the necessary modifications helped Mustang achieve even better looks and design with the Boss 429, such as the hood scoop and trunk-molded spoiler.

Fun Fact: Between 1969 and 1970, the Boss 429 was fitted with three different engines. The first was the S-Code, followed by the T-Code, which had lighter parts, and finally, the A-Code which came with the last cars in the 429 line.

1969 Pontiac GTO “The Judge”

old-school muscle cars: 1969 Pontiac GTO "The Judge"

Pontiac pretty much owned the muscle car scene in the ’60s. Their 1964 Pontiac GTO was one of the first proper American muscle cars. But by 1968, Pontiac had a huge amount of competition and needed something better.

Even though Pontiac originally wanted to create a cheaper GTO with a smaller engine, they created a larger GTO. The Pontiac GTO Judge came standard with a Ram Air III, 360 hp engine, and offered an even more powerful engine for buyers who wanted more ponies. The hardcore Ram Air IV was good for 370 hp.

Pontiac even produced a convertible version of the Ram Air IV GTO Judge in 1969. However, only five of them were made, making them one of the rarest convertible American muscle cars of all time.

The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge had a specific body design that most commonly came in a you-can’t-miss-it orange. It had a good-looking trunk-mounted wing and featured the iconic split air intakes on the hood, which persisted even to the latest iteration of the GTO.

Fun Fact: The Judge was so popular that the lead singer of the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders wrote a song about it. In fact, the first TV commercial for the car featured the band singing about the car. It is one of the first rock music videos made.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

old-school muscle cars:1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Not many people know that today’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is named after the 1969 Camaro ZL1. It’s one of many legendary American muscle cars made by Chevrolet. The ’69 Chevy Camaro ZL1 had the most powerful engine Chevy ever offered to the public.

The ZL1 came outfitted with the manufacturer’s well-known 427 V8. However, instead of having an iron block, the ’69 Chevy Camaro Zl1 was the first car to feature a lighter-weight aluminum engine block. That didn’t slow down this Chevy Camaro, as the ZL1 had the 427’s regular output of 430 hp, though independent testing has revealed that the output was actually much higher.

It’s almost laughable now to find out that the 1969 Camaro ZL1’s initial price was only $7,200 in 1969. Today, you’ll definitely need to spend a good bit more, especially because the 1969 Camaro ZL1 was one of the rarest production cars ever made by Chevrolet.

Fun Fact: The all-aluminum ZL1 V8, made according to COPO 9560 order, is an engine made for racing. Chevy developed the engine originally for the Chaparral team to use in the Can-Am series. You won’t be able to tell the difference from outside, as the ZL1 has no specific emblems, just the usual Camaro badge.

1970 Buick GSX

old-school muscle cars: 1970 Buick GSX

When Buick first appeared on the American muscle car scene, it was one of the most luxurious brands available and one of the most powerful. With the introduction of the GSX, the difference between the appearance of the traditional Buick and the new GSX was huge.

The freshly designed Skylark body style was meant to attract more sales and become an icon of ’70s muscle cars. Although the sales started slow, they later improved. The GSX boasted a rear spoiler, body striping, and other visual improvements.

Only 687 GSXs were built, and a surprising 488 of them were ordered with a Stage 1 upgrade. The 1970 Buick GSX was powered by a 455 cubic inch V8 engine that could produce a surprising 510 lb.-ft. of torque. Customers who ordered the Stage 1 upgrade made do with 360 hp to the rear wheels.

Although the 1970 Buick GSX wasn’t one of the quickest or the most powerful muscle cars at the time, it’s definitely one of the more unique and luxurious vintage cars from the era.

1970 Dodge Challenger

old-school muscle cars: 1970 Dodge Challenger

The 1970 Dodge Challenger was actually based on the Plymouth Barracuda platform; however, the Challenger is a bit larger than Barracuda. The wheelbase was stretched by two inches to make more space in the interior.

The 1970 Dodge Challenger had a longer wheelbase, larger dimensions, and a luxurious interior. It was meant to be a bigger, more luxurious, and higher-priced muscle car in response to earlier muscle cars such as the successful yet simple Ford Mustang.

The Challenger was available with several trim and option levels with luxuries such as air conditioning and a rear window defogger. Also, it could be outfitted with any Chrysler engine in their inventory. The most interesting model available was definitely the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T which featured a 426 cubic inch engine.

1968 Plymouth Hemi Road Runner

old-school muscle cars: 1968 Plymouth Hemi Road Runner

Like other muscle car manufacturers of the era, Plymouth was focused on creating the rebel machine that was a true muscle car fighter. Fortunately, Plymouth achieved what they were aiming for because the Plymouth Hemi Road Runner really did become one of the greatest performance muscle cars of all time.

It featured a 425 hp, 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 engine, and it quickly became the number one muscle car for drag racing. The car was wildly popular, and while Plymouth expected to sell about 20,000 Hemi Road Runner’s, they pushed about 40,000 cars.

Even before introducing the 1968 Hemi Road Runner to the crowd, Plymouth licensed the Road Runner name from Warner Brothers — known for their roadrunner cartoon character.  One of the best tricks the Road Runner had up its sleeve was that it looked just like a regular family car. That is until you hammered down the accelerator and let the V8 under the hood out to play.

1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

old-school muscle cars: 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

When Mercury tried to raise their muscle car profile, they finally break into the muscle-car world with the 1969 Cougar Eliminator. This car came with only two engines: a 302 cubic inch small block and a 428 cubic inch Cobra Jet. The Cobra Jet produced 355 hp and an amazing 440 lb.-ft. of torque. It wasn’t uncommon for drivers unimpressed by those numbers to install upgraded headers or dual-quad carburetors to up the ante.

In terms of styling, the only thing that really differed between the Eliminator and the Mustang was the hood. The Eliminator didn’t use the shaker hood, yet its standard scoop was functional only with the Ram Air upgrade. The Eliminator was only offered in four colors – yellow, white, bright blue, and competition orange.

On the outside, the front grille, side stripe, and spoilers did a lot to help the Eliminator appear more muscular. Needless to say, the looks really did go over well, especially with all the power it offered.

1970 Oldsmobile 442

old-school muscle cars: 1970 Oldsmobile 442

When General Motors decided to eliminate their engine size cap, the Oldsmobile 442 was born with the best performance so far. The 1970 Oldsmobile 442 was considered a king of performance. Wondering why?

The standard engine that came with Oldsmobile 442 was 445 CID V8, and although General Motors claimed that the output was 365 hp, the actual output was about 400 hp accompanied by a raucous 500 lb.-ft. torque.

The reason behind that was to make sure that the actual customers don’t get penalized by insurance companies. General Motors wasn’t the only company to use such a trick. It might have been a smart move back then, but it wouldn’t hold up in modern times.

A W-Machine version of the 442 featured a fiberglass hood, functional air scoops, a low-restriction air cleaner, aluminum intake manifold, cylinder heads, carburetor, distributor and special camshaft. However, the W-Machine version was a bit more expensive but worth it, by all accounts. It was an ultimate performance package for the most enthusiastic sports car lovers.

Fun Fact: James Garner, the famous actor, took a 1970 Olds 442 to the NORRA Mexico 1000 race, which later became the Baja 1000, and won second place. Vic Hickey, the renowned Baja-race car guru, built the car (named the “Goodyear Grabber”) under the sponsorship of Goodyear tires. The car has since been restored and put up for auction.

1970 Ford Torino Cobra

old-school muscle cars: 1970 Ford Torino Cobra

The Ford Torino had many different models, but the one that remains one of the fan favorites for many muscle car enthusiasts is definitely the Cobra. It’s a pure performance model of the Ford Torino that was awarded Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1970.

The SportsRoof was the only model available for the Torino Cobra, and it came with competition suspension, a close-ratio transmission, exposed hood latches, and Cobra emblems. The additional features available for the 1970 Ford Torino Cobra were 15-inch Magnum wheels and black sports slats made for the rear window.

The 1970 Ford Torino Cobra made 370 hp with the help of a 429 V8 engine. This model was slightly heavier than other Torino models but still performed better thanks to the additional power. This beauty was available in a three- or four-speed manual transmission or with a three-speed automatic gearbox.

The 1970 Ford Torino Cobra reached 60 mph in only 5.8 seconds and could run a quarter-mile at 100 mph in just 14.5 seconds. Though it didn’t clam the quickest performance of the ’70s, it was pretty darn respectable and competitive to boot.

1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR

old-school muscle cars: 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR

The 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR was one of the ultimate Mustangs and, in fact, bolstered itself with the reputation of being the baddest car on the road. To highlight this over-inflated ego, we’d point out that the KR initials in the model stand for “King of the Road.”

This American muscle car was definitely the king of the road thanks to the 428 engine known as the Cobra Jet, which produced 335 hp and 448 lb.-ft. of torque.

On the outside, the 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR had dual inlet hood scoops for increased air delivery, factory hood pins, and even vents that dissipated heat under the hood. Vents on the side also helped to cool down the brakes when driving at high speeds.

Needless to say, the 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR was so powerful straight out of the factory that Shelby had to add a padded rollbar for additional safety. Back in 1968, you could get a Shelby Mustang GT500KR straight out of the factory in hardtop and convertible models.

By the looks of things, the GT500KR was a real beast hiding its true power under the hood, yet it had a hard time doing so. It was also featured in a red metallic color which made it look even more fantastic.

Fun Fact: Though not directly a fact about the GT500KR, the ’67 Shelby Mustangs had Mercury Cougar tail lamps, but the ’68 models featured lamps modified from the 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

1964 Plymouth Belvedere

old-school muscle cars: 1964 Plymouth Belvedere

If you’re looking for a unique car among vintage models yet still boasts the power of a proper American muscle car, go with the 1964 Plymouth Belvedere.

The 1964 Plymouth Belvedere was a very lightweight car with a mighty 426 Hemi engine. Needless to say, this muscle car was a real beast on the drag strip. The 1964 Belvedere also won first, second, and third place at NASCAR’s 1964 Daytona race. The 426 Hemi engine was also a real beast of an engine on the street. It was able to put out a wicked 519 hp and 540 lb.-ft. torque.

The 1964 Plymouth Belvedere was meant to be a race car, and it even came with a disclaimer that said the same. What this realistically translated to was that the Belevedere had no warranty at all. Once you bought the car and drove it off the lot, that was it. Not that you would mind once you laid down that perfect set of 11s.

1968 Dodge Dart 426 Hemi

old-school muscle cars:1968 Dodge Dart 426 Hemi

To satisfy NHRA sanction rules back in 1968, Dodge produced 50 Dart 426 Hemi cars. They featured a fiberglass hood, lightweight steel, thinner glass, and lightweight front fenders to reduce the car’s weight. The 1968 Dodge Dart was meant to be a race car that wouldn’t be driven on the streets.

Dodge was able to combine the very lightweight Dart with a 426 Hemi engine, one of the most powerful Chrysler engines at the time. This combination resulted in an extremely rare yet powerful muscle car. And while it might not have been legal for the streets, they were absolute beasts on the track. The 1968 Dodge Dart 426 Hemi needed only 10 seconds to hit quarter-mile runs with almost no modifications.

The 1968 Dodge Dart was one of the fastest factory-made cars from the golden age of old-school muscle cars. If you want pure hot rod power, that’s what you’ll get with this muscle car.

1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

old-school muscle cars: 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Pontiac’s answer to the first-generation Camaro, the ’69 Firebird, came with a long options list. But the top-of-the-line Firebird Trans Am really pulled out all the stops in Pontiac’s attempt to gain an advantage in the muscle car race of the day.

The Trans Am bumped the Firebird’s base horsepower from 175 hp up to the range of 335 hp. This was thanks to theL74 400 Ram Air III V8 that Pontiac fitted under the hood.

As far as styling, the Trans Am got some sleek upgrades, including a full-width rear spoiler, distinctive dual induction scoops on the hood, and blacked-out grills that gave this Firebird a distinctly menacing look. It also came in an optional livery, with dual stripes and a painted tail panel, particularly eye-catching in  Tyrol Blue.

The Trans Am was originally a limited-production special, and only 697 were built. Of those, a mere eight were convertibles, so if you manage to catch one of these drop-tops in the wild, consider yourself lucky.

1965-1967 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster

old-school muscle cars:1965-1967 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster

For this iteration of the Cobra, Shelby American really pulled out all the stops. Considered by many to be one of the most iconic American sports cars in history, the big block Shelby Cobra had already secured its place in motoring history when the ’65 took it up a notch.

In its competition configuration, the iconic roadster was fitted with a 7.0L Ford FE V8 engine that made a whopping 485 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque, propelling the Cobra from 0 to 60 mph in the realm of 4.2 seconds, an astonishing feat for the ’60s.

The monstrous V8 was fitted into Carroll Shelby’s Mark III Cobra chassis, which admittedly didn’t have quite the same type of presence as some of the other muscle cars of its era. Not that drivers seemed to mind once they got behind the wheel of this speedster. Originally sold for around $7,500, today, an original Shelby Cobra 427 S/C, of which only 348 were made, can set you back several million dollars.

1970 Chevy El Camino SS 454 LS6 

old-school muscle cars:1970 Chevy El Camino SS 454 LS6 

One of its generation’s more unique old-school muscle cars, the 1970 El Camino, quickly grew a cult following. Part truck, part car, all muscle, the El Camino shared a platform with Chevy’s other popular muscle car of the era, the Chevelle.

The El Camino Super Sport (SS) came in two models — the SS 396 and SS 454. The coveted high-performance LS6 V8, which Chevy fitted in a limited number of the ’70 year model, cranked out 450 hp and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, taking the El Camino from mild-mannered utility pick-up to monster muscle truck thanks to Chevy’s serious power producer under the hood.

And of course, the El Camino just had its own style — from the iconic sport stripe to the pick-up bed, this is one muscle car that will make you look twice.

Old-School Muscle Cars: The Hot Rods of Our Dreams

Whether you are lucky enough to own or be in the process of restoring a classic car or you just love looking at these icons, these 18 old-school muscle cars are some of the most iconic to grace the glory days of American muscle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a muscle car?

A muscle car is considered to be a more compact 2-door car that is powered by large-displacement engines and is focused on performance. Generally, muscle cars feature a 2+2 design with a small rear seat in coupe format, although the modern-day Dodge Charger would be the sedan exception of the muscle car world.

When did muscle cars start?

Muscle car history can be traced all the way back to the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. There seems to be great debate over the origin of the muscle car, with many contenders claiming to be the very first one. All things considered, the Rocket was ahead of its time, and the resulting muscle car era really took off in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Why did muscle cars stop existing?

As time went on and the world experienced a few oil crises and higher gas prices, as well as stricter exhaust emissions regulations and higher insurance premiums for more powerful cars, muscle cars slowly faded away. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 2000s that muscle cars started to come back in full force.

Why were muscle cars invented at all?

Engineers invented and produced muscle cars for straight-line speed — otherwise known as drag racing. The original muscle cars weren’t built to be sold in large numbers; instead, they were actually bait to lure potential buyers into the showrooms where they might walk away with a mass-produced model.

Where can I buy old-school muscle cars?

Simply doing a quick search on the Internet will turn up local shops that trade and sell old-school muscle cars, private owners looking to sell their muscle car, and sites where muscle car owners and potential buyers meet.

If you know any shop that sells old-school muscle cars near you, feel free to visit and see if they have what you’re looking for. If not, the Internet is likely going to be your best option.

Eric Ott
About Eric Ott

I have loved cars for as long as I can remember. I grew up on Hotwheels, die-cast model cars, Midnight Club and Forza. I've been shooting cars and car meets as a hobby for a couple of years now which you can find here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ I spend most of my time editing most of the posted content for AutoWise but I do occasionally write articles as well. '07 Ford Ranger – 2012 Mazda3 Hatchback – 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Sours: https://autowise.com/old-school-muscle-cars/
1969 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Muscle Car Of The Week Video #98

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars

Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars

For many years, Oldsmobile was one of the long-serving car manufacturers with over 35 million vehicles released. With this reputation, enthusiasts took the news for a joke when GM announced it would kill the Oldsmobile brand. It was later revealed that GM meant business with the announcement. The legendary brand was finally gone.

To enthusiasts, Oldmobile’s departure might not be the right decision, but GM had genuine reasons to end the brand. While other brands were making efforts to keep to the high demand for modern technology, performance, and design from modern buyers, Oldsmobile couldn’t keep pace. Being aware of this, GM deemed it fit to end the legendary brand, and today, Oldsmobile is gone.

The question to ask is, why was the Oldsmobile buyer’s favorite? The answer to this is not far-fetched: the brand is a renowned automaker of muscle cars with millions of products on the lineup. What brought Oldsmobile into the limelight wasn’t only its muscle car production but also being the brand to release the first proto muscle car in 1949.

This piece looks into seven top Oldsmobile muscle cars that had their ways into the enthusiasts’ hearts.

  • 1. 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
  • 2. 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire
  • 3. 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire
  • 4. 1964 Oldsmobile 442
  • 5. 1965 Oldsmobile 442
  • 6. 1966 Oldsmobile 442 W30
  • 7. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

71966 Oldsmobile Toronado

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: Toronado

Oldsmobile could stand out among other GM divisions as it was known for products representing power and style. The brand could once again prove its reputation for this when it released the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. Coming as a front-wheel drive, it was popularly known as a powerful muscle car on the market.

Back in those days, all domestic muscle cars were rear-wheel drive, and an insignificant number of imports were front-wheel drive. But, Oldsmobile needed something new to penetrate the market, which triggered it to construct the first indigenous FWD system.

The muscle car was equipped with a 455 V8 engine rated at 385 HP. With this and the front-wheel drive, the Toronado was quick to make a name for itself.

61966 Oldsmobile 442 W30

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: 1966 442

The 1995 Oldsmobile 442 wasn’t the end of the 442 excellent models. 1966 had light upgrades and was rated one of the most powerful Detroit muscle cars due to its new engine. Under the hood of the new model was a 400 V8 engine that produced 350 HP.

However, even with the enticing package and lower price tag, the W-30 didn’t gain much traction from buyers and lower sales. Oldsmobile could only build and sell 54 copies of the W-3, a small percentage of previous models.

Related: Oldsmobile Logo (HD Png, Meaning, Information)

51965 Oldsmobile 442

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: 1965 442

Another classic Oldsmobile muscle car on the lineup is the 1965 Oldsmobile 442. It was one of the muscle cars that could compete with the popular Pontiac GTO. Though it didn’t make the same sales to its brand as the GTO did, Oldsmobile invested in its mechanical upgrade with a slight restyling.

The 1965 model of the 442 was equipped with the new 400 V8 engine rated at 345 HP, offering convincing performance. With this, the muscle car raked over 20,000 sales to itself.

41964 Oldsmobile 442

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: 1964 442

Though the Pontiac GTO was known as the first muscle car to hit the market, the Oldsmobile 442 was released the same year. This might not make a big name as the GTO, but it was also a well-equipped car with reserved styling.

There were controversies about the name 442, which was later defined. The name came from four on the floor, four-barrel carburetor, and dual exhaust. However, Oldsmobile 442 came with an automatic transmission option.

Most people preferred the manual transmission because it offered the most out of 442. Overall, the 1964 442 was an excellent muscle car with impressive performance with the 330 V8 engine that delivered 310 HP.

Related: The Most Popular Car Brands in America (Top 50)

31962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: Jetfire

In the 1960s, there was a great competition between all GM divisions, and every division was looking for a great feature to add to its reputation. One mean Oldsmobile could think of was “turbo-charging”. Though the technology had been in existed, the brand was going to perfect it.

The engineers decided not to build a car from scratch but take one of their best products and modify it into a new muscle car. The compact F-85 model was a perfect choice to think of. While the engineers kept the small 215 engine, they introduced a new forced induction intake system, including a special Turbo Rocket Fuel tank and a Garet turbocharger.

21961 Oldsmobile Starfire

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: Starfire

Though Oldsmobile was known to start the muscle car segment, the segment wasn’t active until other Detroit’s manufacturers introduced more powerful models in 1961. This triggered Oldsmobile to come up with something to beat the competition, and the Starfire was born. Though it wasn’t one of the biggest models on the lineup, it featured the same engine as bigger models.

While bigger models with the engine could deliver 325 HP, the Starfire delivered a whopping 330 HP through the 394 V8s engine, which added to the muscle car’s credibility.

Starfire wasn’t regarded as a true muscle car but took the look, performance, and power of a muscle car. With these features, the Starfire was an introduction to Oldsmobile muscle cars.

11949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

Top 7 Classic Oldsmobile Muscle Cars: Rocket 88

The 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 wasn’t just a muscle car but also introduced a new 303 CID V8 engine called the Rocket V8. The muscle car came as a light and compact car and was loved for a new V8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor.

The light body and powerful engine were a great blend that made the car the first muscle car from Detroit. The car didn’t just gain the hearts but also made a name for itself on the race track. It featured in nine NASCAR races that year and won six of the races. Rocket 88 also had excellent performances on the drag strips.

Related: 1969 Oldsmobile 442 Reviews, Prices, and Specs


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Sours: https://www.carlogos.org/reviews/classic-oldsmobile-muscle-cars.html

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