1955 Olds Rocket 88 / Photos, Specs, Model History

The car featured in this article is a 1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. This as an Oldsmobile full size car offering. You may even have heard the 1950′s slogan ” Make a Date with a Rocket 88″

1955 oldsmobile rocket 88

1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The entire Oldsmobile line was redesigned starting a year earlier with the 1954 model year. In 1954 the first thing you would have notice was a lower and longer body shell with wrap around windows on the front and rear.

One cosmetic change was the availability of eighteen different colors and eighteen different two-tone combinations. When you view some of the restored models today, it’s amazing how a smart two-tone paint combination can add class to a vehicle. The chrome Rocket 88 badge on the car’s panel didn’t look bad either.

The Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The Oldsmobile 88 was a model sold for fifty years from 1949 to 1999. Oldsmobile claimed that their 1949 model was  the beginning of futuristic design, which was proved to be fairly accurate.

The name “Rocket 88” was more of a marketing term than a model itself. Another catchy marketing name was Oldsmobile’s “Golden Rocket 88“. The official model would have been the Oldsmobile 88. The 1954 through 1956 Olds 88 models were the best combination of styling, engineering and performance to date for Oldsmobile. The Oldsmobile Super 88 model was a more luxurious version of the 88 model that first came out in 1951.

The Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 engines were to some degree another brand name for an older Olds engine. The difference was that their performance was enhanced with a new design.

oldsmobile rocket 88Olds Rocket 88 V-8 Engine

The Rocket V-8, engineered by Charles Kettering, came out in 1949 with an overhead  valve design and hydraulic lifters and was designed for performance or at least was named to further that image. Rocket V-8 performance however certainly did compete well against Cadillac.

Charles Kettering is considered to have been one of the best automotive engineers ever. Kettering held well over one hundred patents and is credited with developing the electronic ignition system, automobile lighting systems and many other innovations. Kettering became extremely wealthy from his patents and is noted for his philanthropic contributions including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center which helped to found in 1945.

During the model years 1954 through 1956 the standard Oldsmobile V-8 was 324 cubic inches delivering 195 hp. The Olds 324 was also used with GMC trucks.

The Olds Rocket 88 engine went through modifications during the 1950′s For the 1955 model year Oldsmobile increased the compression ratio which helped put out 185 horsepower for the Olds 88 model. The engine built in the 1955 Super 88 and 98 models delivered 295 horsepower.

See these additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

Car VIN and Serial Numbers / What Tthey Tell Us

1956 Olds Rocket 88 Convertible

1955 Oldsmobile 88 Specifications

As mentioned above, the base engine for the 1955 Oldsmobile 88 was a 324 cubic inch V-8. The engine was referred to as the bigger bore Rocket 88 and put out 195 horsepower.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum. Standard transmission was a three speed manual. Options included a Hydra-Matic automatic.

Front suspension were independent coil springs with rear being a longitudinal leaf spring.

rocket 88 1955

Rocket 88 badge on car trunk

Car dimensions included a wheelbase of 122.0 inches, an overall length of 203.3 inches, a width of 77.8 inches, a height of 62.2 inches and a weight averaging about 3,760 lbs. The Olds 98 models weighed more.

You may also enjoy the Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

The 1955 Oldsmobile Collector Car

As mentioned above, the 1955 Oldsmobile 88 was in a series of Olds cars that were probably the best built and best looking to date. These American classics have excellent collector interest and the models you may come across in show or museum like condition will have high valuations.

olds 88 1955

Good looking two-tone paint on the 55 Olds 88

Non show quality cars will of course have a wide range of values due to condition but we have seen several, as of this writing, in the $8,000 to $20,000 range.

These could be daily drivers without mechanical issues. Lower prices would apply to non-restored vehicles. More restoration and newer restoration will mean higher valuation.

Show car condition 1955 Oldsmobile 88′s, as of this date, can be seen in the mid to high $30,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

Classic 1955 Buick Special Two-Door Sedan / Photos and Specifications

The classic 1955 Buick Special Two Door Sedan featured in this article is a popular collector car. Buick, which fit well between the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands, had an excellent year in 1955 producing 738,814 automobiles. Buick Special models accounted for 381,946 of that amount. To demonstrate just how good those production numbers were, Buick did not surpass them until 1983. That says something. In 1955, Buick was the number 3 automaker behind Chevrolet with 1.7 million cars and Ford with 1.4 million.

1955 buick special

1955 Buick Special

1955 Buick Special Design

An all new body and chassis design for the Buick Special was introduced in 1954 and carried over to 1955. Five different models of the Buick Special were built. The new design of 1954 had it’s roots back to a 1952 concept car named the XP–300.

These included a 2-Door Sedan, 4-Door Sedan, Riviera, Convertible and all-steel Estate Wagon. The model had the classic low and wide design along with the classic two-tone paint scheme of the era.The new design included a new Wide-Screen Grille and chrome-capped headlamp along with a swept back tail light.

Some refer to the mid 1950′s period as the era of big steel, flashy chrome, and huge white wall tires although the new design of 1954 did not have the same amount of chrome of previous years.

1955 buick special grilleBuick advertised the Special’s roominess along with quality Buick upholstery.

Following is how Buick described their interiors…”Each model of the SPECIAL Series gives you big Buick spaciousness and big Buick quality. Seats are deep and soft and  wide enough for three to sit abreast in perfect comfort. Interiors are upholstered in smart Nylon and Cordaveen with Buick’s new embossed trim styling throughout.”

Buick Nailhead V-8

Buick’s first generation of V8 was offered from 1953 through 1956. This was the Nailhead V-8 similar to Oldsmobile’s new Rocket 88. The Nailhead name came about as the engine’s valve stems were quite long with a relatively small head.

The engine would be improved again for 1955 with added power. Buick advertised their 1955 V-8 as follows…The lightest of all V8 engines with the same power output — for better balance to the car’s total weight, with improved steering, handling and performance.”

The second generation of Buick’s Nailhead engine came out in 1957. The Nailhead was increased to 425 cubic inches in 1963 and continued as such for another three years.

1955 Buick Special Specifications

Stock engine for the 1955 Buick Special was a 264 cubic inch V-8. The engine delivered 188 horsepower. The engines in Buick’s Roadmaster, Century and Super series models put out 236 horsepower.

Transmissions available were a three speed manual and a variable pitch Dynaflow automatic. The automatic was standard on the Roadmaster models and optional on all others. The three speed synchromesh manual was standard equipment through 1958.

buick special sedanBrakes were four wheel hydraulic drum. Options included improved power brakes and power steering.

Wheelbase was 122.0 inches, the same as with the 1954 model. Overall outside length was 206.6  inches. Weight was about 3,700 lbs.

Air conditioning was an option with the four door sedan and Riviera models.

You may also enjoy the additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

Serial Number Decodings on a Select List of Classic Cars

A Modified 1972 Buick Riviera Boattail

1940 Buick Special Two Door Sport Coupe

1955 Olds Rocket 88

1955 Buick Special Collector Car

The mid 1950′s Buick Special remains a popular collector car. The car’s attractive design is a good representation of 1950′s modernization.

1955 buick special two door sedan

55 Buick Special dashboard

As of this writing, the range of asking prices for 1955 Buick Specials might run from $14,000 up to $60,000 plus.

The lower end vehicles would all be in running condition with some restoration. The high end prices would be for newer restorations, plenty of originality and in some cases show quality.

As a side note, because of the high production numbers for 1954 through 1956, locating an original Nailhead V-8 engine for a restoration might not be too difficult. Most mechanical parts for these series of Buicks are available as reproductions. Trim materials and panels will take a bit of searching.

Reference material from GM and Buick Archives.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

Chevy Chevelle Malibu of 1965 / Photos and Specs

The automobile featured in this article is the 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu. Chevy introduced the Chevelle model in 1964 as a mid-sized offering. The Chevy Chevelle was to compete directly against the Ford Fairlane. The higher powered Chevelle V-8′s competed mainly against the Pontiac GTO and Ford Torino.

1965 chevelle malibu

65 Chevy Chevelle Malibu

The Chevelle was also Chevrolet’s entry into the 60′s muscle car battles.The muscle car battle of the 1960′s was, in part, an extension of the public’s desire for more powerful vehicles for an improved highway system. When you look at total production numbers, muscle car sales was a small fraction of the total but did receive outsized publicity. This publicity likely helped the automaker immensely. Some might call it bragging rights.

General Motors built the Chevelle model in three generations for the 1964 through 1977 model years. The Malibu was the top of the line subseries for the Chevelle.

Chevelle Served a Wide Car Buying Public

The Chevrolet Chevelle, a mid-sized automobile, was available in six body styles and with a choice of six engines. Four straight six and two V-8′s were offered. By mid-year 1965, a 396 cubic inch 375 hp big-block was optional. The car appealed to families, businessmen and muscle car enthusiasts, quite a large market.

1965 Chevrolet ChevelleChevy’s Chevelle, with it’s crisp, clean styling, had two major redesigns, one in 1968 and one in 1973. Chevelle’s were built as coupes, two and four door sedans, convertibles and station wagons.

The Chevelle Malibu SS

The top performance / top of the line Chevy Chevelle for 1965 was the Chevelle Malibu. The SS models had the V-8 power plants and top end trim. The 1965 Malibu SS was available in both sport coupe and convertible models and with both straight 6 and V8 engines.

1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Specifications

As mentioned above, the 65 Chevy Chevelle was built with a choice of six different engine versions. The SS models came with a 283 or 327 cubic inch V-8. The Chevelle Malibu also had four straight six engines available. Later in the year Chevelle came out with a limited edition 396 cubic inch engine known as the Z-16 Package.

The Malibu ranked number one in Chevelle sales. The model had high end tailored fabrics with metallic thread accents. Adding to the Malibu’s popularity were the many available options which included the sport coupe, convertible, 4-door sedan, and 2-seat wagon.

Transmissions included an automatic and a four speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel power disc.

1965 chevy malibuThe 65 Chevelle Malibu had a 115.0 inch wheelbase. Interestingly enough, the wheelbase matched that of the 55 Chevrolet. Total outside length was 197.0 inches.

Chevy’s Chevelle weighed 3,160 lbs which was relatively light. This light weight helped with performance. The car could take either a small or large block engine without difficulty.

Over the thirteen year Chevrolet Chevelle production run, over 5 million models were built. The Chevy Chevelle was one of Chevrolet’s most successful models.

See the additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

 Ford’s 1969 Gran Torino GT Muscle Car

1967 Pontiac GTO

1970 High Performance Ford Mustang

1955 Olds Rocket 88 Specs and Photos

Two excellent source books on the subject of cars from the 1960′s include…American Muscle Cars by authors William G. Holder and Phillip Kunz….American Cars of the 1960′s: A decade of Diversity by author John Gunnell.

Chevrolet Chevelle Collector Cars

The Chevy Chevelle is a popular collector car and you’ll most likely see one at most car shows and swap / meets. You’ll certainly run across restored and unrestored Chevrolet Chevelle’s for sale. You may have also seen two door Chevelles that were cut up to race as stock cars.

Chevy chevelle

Chevelle Malibu dashboard

Because there were so many different body styles with the 1965 Chevelle, you’ll find just about any one of them for sale in a variety of conditions. Exact model, originality and car condition will determine the asking price.

As of this writing we see restored 65 Chevy Chevelles priced in the $25,000 to $35,000 range. The SS (Super Sport) models will be on the higher end. For restored Chevelle Malibu models you may see prices in the $45,000 to  $60,000 plus range and more. Non-restored Chevelles of course will be priced substantially lower.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

Dodge Wayfarer of 1949 / Photos, Specs, Model History

The Wayfarer was the low-priced model in the all-new 1949 Dodge lineup, offering a minimum of chrome and other stylish trim and accessories. There were three body styles offered with the Dodge Wayfarer. These included a three-passenger business coupe, a fastback sedan, and a convertible roadster.

1949 dodge wayfarer

1949 Dodge Wayfarer

The car featured in this article is a 1949 Dodge Wayfarer Fastback Sedan.

When you look at Dodge during the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, the automobiles were noted for their excellent engineering. Styling wasn’t necessarily a strong suit. The Dodge Wayfarer offered a hybrid of standard and automatic transmissions. This transmission system combined a conventional manual clutch with a hydraulic coupling. The Wayfarer could accelerate from a stop without using the clutch  In the years before fully automatic transmissions became widely available, the Dodge Fluid Drive was a popular feature.

In essence, the Fluid Drive, a trademark of the Chrysler Corporation, was an early attempt at a semi-automatic transmission. The mechanism had characteristics of both a manual and automatic transmission. Chrysler’s Fluid Drive first appeared in 1939 and continued to 1954. It was used on Chrysler, De Soto and Dodge models.

dodge wayfarer styling

Dodge Wayfarer Styling

As mentioned above, the lower priced Dodge Wayfarer didn’t lead the pack in styling. After all, the car was advertised as a low priced Dodge model so styling wasn’t a huge selling point. The car was boxy and conservative for these model years. The model did however have a new grille with a chrome badge which added a nice touch. By the same token, the slab sides and tall roof line did allow a roomy cabin with excellent headroom. Men and women could step in and out of the Wayfarer comfortably with their hats on. It’s a car that loooked low on the outside but high on the inside.

The Wayfarer received styling facelifts in both 1950 and 1951 although the cars were still very conservative looking. In 1950 the roadster model became the “Sportabout”.

1949 Dodge Wayfarer Specifications

The Dodge Wayfarer was built with a 230 cubic inch in-line L-Head six cylinder engine with a rated 103 horsepower. Top speed was rated at 75 MPH and, surely not being a muscle car, the Wayfarer did the 0 to 60 in about 25 seconds. This same base engine contunued throughout the Wayfarer production run.

Transmission was a Chrysler Fluid-Drive hybrid automatic. It had two gear positions. These were low, governing first and second gears, and high for third and fourth. The transmission did have a clutch which was only used to switch between low and high.

Brakes were four wheel drum.

Dimensions for the 1940 Dodge Wayfarer included a 115.0 inch wheelbase.

The independent front suspension used coil springs and the rear used semi-elliptic leaf springs.

dodge wayfarer

The Dodge Wayfarer Sedan shown here weighed 3,180 lbs. The model sold new for a bit over $1,700.

The 1949 model year still enjoyed the effects of pent up buyer demand due to the war years. Dodge, as a division, sold a bit over 250,000 vehicles for the 1949 model year. Total Dodge Wayfarer production for 1949 were 63,800 vehicles. The two door sedan was the biggest seller at 49,000 units. The next year, 1950, Wayfarer production increased by about 12,000 units and the Wayfarer Sedan increased by about 16,000 units.

See the additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

A Finely Restored 1940 Dodge Convertible Coupe

A Beautiful 1931 Dodge Coupe

Locating Serial Numbers on Classic and Vintage Automobiles

1955 Buick Special Two Door Sedan

dodge wayfarer dashboard

Dodge Wayfarer Collector Cars

The Dodge Wayfarer was a lower priced Dodge offering with a somewhat boxy style and, while very functional, is not typically a hot collector car. By the same token many believe they represent the last of the true American roadster. All in all, restored Dodge Wayfarers can be good values.

Restored Dodge Wayfarers may be priced in the $15,000 to $29,000 range. Convertibles will generally be on the higher end. Non-restored models should be well under $10,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)





1937 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 Limousine / Photos and Specs

Featured in this article is an automobile you don’t see too often these days…a 1937 Cadillac Limousine. The automobile has a 346 cubic inch V-8 with a three speed manual gearbox, suicide doors and can carry seven passengers.

1937 cadillac fleetwood

37 Cadillac Fleetwood

Cadillac’s Series 75

Introduced in 1937, Cadillac’s new Series 75 included eleven Fleetwood body styles ranging from coupes and convertibles to a seven-passenger touring sedan / limousine. This new Series 75 unveiled by Cadillac caught on fast with luxury car buyers and gave Packard some stiff competition. By 1941 the Fleetwood Series 75 was Cadillac’s flagship automobile.

A new, broader, die-cast “ egg crate ” grille was fitted. This type styling  would become a standard feature on Cadillac models for many years. Two sets of three small horizontal chrome trim pieces placed in the catwalk area between the fenders and the grille added emphasis to the Cadillac’s wider stance. In addition to this, there were newly styled, large bullet-shaped front fenders that provided a sophisticated yet aggressive look. The Cadillac Series 75 were considered solid, well built automobiles.

cadillac series 75

Cadillac Series 75

The Story of Fleetwood Body

Fleetwood Metal Body Company was founded in 1909 in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. The best description of the work done and the popularity of the Fleetwood Metal Body Company was printed in a February 1920 issue of the Reading (PA) Eagle. See the excerpt below…

“The Fleetwood Metal Body Company, makers of strictly high grade custom automobile bodies, is justly the pride of the Borough of Fleetwood. It furnishes employment to 375 people. The pres­ent force is inadequate to the demand of the output of the plant. In the past five months orders to a total of more than $2 million have been re­fused by the company owing to the fact the out­put of the plant is already contracted for well into ’21. Almost daily letters are received from firms, corporations and individuals offering a creditable bonus for the acceptance of an order of high grade automobile bodies.

“The chassis of a Packard, Pierce Arrow, Cadillac or some other superb make is sent to them accompanied by complete instructions as to the kind of body wanted. In many cases, no de­tails are omitted. The selection of color and the material to be used in the luxurious upholstery of the interior being chosen with the greatest of care. The great. proportion of the cars are built for those whose abundant means justify the grati­fying of any whim and the special touch of ex­clusiveness has always been the aim of the Fleet­wood Company as time and again it has won unstinted praise and approval. Andrew Carnegie, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers have all been users of Fleetwood cars while Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Harold Lockwood, Andrew Pierson and other shining lights of motion picturedom have been loud in their praise of the lines and the finish of the cars built especially for them. Their product has been sent to every part of the world including California, South America and Europe”.

Fleetwood was acquired by Fisher Body in 1925 and relocated to Detroit, Michigan. Fleetwood was made a part of General Motors in 1931 and eventually became a Cadillac model itself. The Fleetwood name continued for many decades, often referring to limited and low-production styles.

1937 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine Specifications

The 1937 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine had a  346 cubic inch Monobloc Flathead V-8 engine that delivered 135 horsepower. As an historical side note, Cadillac was the first automaker to mass produce the V-8 engine. At this time Cadillac was also producing V-12 and V-16 engines.

Transmission was a three speed manual.

Wheelbase was 156.0 inches, length 240.0 inches, width 77.8 inches and height 69.4 inches.

Cadillac production for 1937 was 14,150 vehicles out of which 4,230 were Series 75 models.

You may also enjoy the Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

1931 Cadillac 452A V-16

The Classic 1953 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

Vintage and Classic Car Serial Numbers

cadillac limousine 1930'sCadillac Limousine enthusiasts will want to find the book…Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Series Limousines 37-87 by authors Thomas A. McPherson and Walter M.P. McCall. Another good book is..Cadillac: 100 Years of Innovation by Angelo Van Bogart.

Cadillac Series 75 Collector Automobiles

As mentioned above, the Cadillac Series 75 models were popular and well built automobiles. They remain popular collector cars and the 1937 Series 75 Limousine featured in this article is rare.

cadillac series 75 fleetwood

If you locate one of these Cadillac limousine models for sale, and they are indeed very rare, the asking price will vary greatly due to originality, condition and degree of restoration if any. Originality would obviously be one of the rarest attributes for an automobile from 1937.

As of this writing we see one Series 75 limousine with an automatic transmission and Chevy 350 engine and an asking price of $17,500. Restored and highly original 1937 Fleetwood models might have asking prices in the $30,000 range to the six figures range depending on the body style. One example would be a totally restored 1937 Cadillac Fleetwood 7539 Town Sedan with an asking price of $70,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)