1949 Oldsmobile introduced the 88 badge in 1949. The engine design for the Rocket 88 came from GM’s chief researcher, Charles Kettering. He saw the potential in an engine design offering increased compression. For the Rocket 88, Oldsmobile came up with a 303 cubic inch V* capable of a maximum 135 hp and 283 lb-ft of torque. The overhead valve engine concept offered both power and efficiency, with an improvement in fuel economy (estimated at about 10 percent better than prior engine designs). The ‘49 88 Convertible served as the Indy 500 Pace Car. The new car used the new Futuramic B-body platform with a powerful new Rocket V-8 engine. This combination of a relatively small light body and a large, powerful engine made it a precursor to the muscle car. The Rocket 88 vaulted Oldsmobile from a somewhat staid, conservative car to a performer that became the one to beat on the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuits. It won six of the nine NASCAR late-model division races in 1949. It was still the first real “King of NASCAR.” This led to increased sales to the public. There was a pent-up demand for new cars in the fast-expanding post-World War II economy, and the 88 appealed to many ex-military personnel who were young and had operated powerful military equipment. The “88” was far and away the hottest thing going on the main street. Right off the dealer’s floor with no mods at all, the V-8 OHV engine easily blew away any other production vehicle and even highly modified V-8 “flat-heads”. The 88 enjoyed great success, inspiring a popular slogan, “Make a Date with a Rocket 88”, and a song, “Rocket 88”, often considered the first rock and roll record. Starting with the trunk-lid emblem, Oldsmobile would adopt the rocket as its logo, and the 88 name would remain in the Olds lineup until the late 1990s, almost until the end of Oldsmobile itself.
This Magnificent and Quite Rare, Southern 88 Convertible, finished in Ankeen Cream with Tan Interior and Top