1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Convertible

The 1956 Oldsmobile represent the best styling of Oldsmobile designs to date.

1956 Olds 88 Convertible

1956 Olds 88 Convertible

The 1956 Rocket 88 Oldsmobile Convertible, in many ways, featured the more sleek design and "rocket look" that several other automakers presented during this period. The Chevrolet models of the late 1950's is just one example. The series of Oldsmobiles which were introduced in the 1954 model year and carried through 1957 were truly ahead of their time. The 1954 full sized model was originally planned to be introduced in 1955 bit was moved up one year because of what the competition was doing.

The 1956 Oldsmobile 88 Restyling

The new design changed started with the 1954 Oldsmobile models with an entirely new look than anything before it. The first thing you would have notice was a lower and longer body shell with wrap around windows on the front and rear. In addition to that,  Oldsmobile offered buyers a choice of eighteen colors and eighteen two tone color combinations.

Olds Rocket 88 dashboard

Olds Rocket 88 dashboard

The 1956 Oldsmobile Convertible as shown here had a large concave grille and bumper that got even larger in 1957. The tail lights were revised somewhat from 1955 as well as the vehicles side chrome trim.

Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 Engines

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.

The Rocket V-8, engineered by Charles Kettering, came out in 1949 with an overhead valve design and hydraulic lifters and was meant to give out an image of performance. 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.

1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The Rocket name that Oldsmobile used to market the engine really was a reference to the engine design rather than horsepower. From the engine's inception in 1949, any Oldsmobile built with this V-8 engine is usually referred to as a Rocket Oldsmobile.

The first series of these engines were 303 cid's delivering 135 horsepower. The engine's displacement was moved up in steps after that. The Rocket V-8's were built at the Kettering Engine Plant in Lansing Michigan and were also referred to as the Rocket 88 engines. The Rocket V-8's were a big hit with NASCAR in as much as the engine won several races in 1950 and that was with employing an automatic transmission.

In the early 1950's the standard Olds V-8 was 324 inches delivering from 70 to 230 hp, then the 371-incher was brought in from 1957 to 1960. During the 1957 to 1960 period the other Olds engine produced was a 371 cid Rocket delivering 270 to 305 horsepower.

1956 Olds Rocket 88 Convertible interior

1956 Olds Rocket 88 Convertible interior

To increase power Oldsmobile created variations with two and four barrel carburetors.

Because of their superior performance the Oldsmobile Rocket V-8's (Rocket 88's) were the engine of choice for hot rodders right up into the early 1960's. During the period of 1949 to 1963 there was an estimated 5 million of these engines produced. This amount of production made it relatively easy for hot rodders to pick one up and at a good price. Some will say that the Olds Rocket V-8's were the catalyst for hot rodding during this era.

1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible Specifications

The 1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 came with a 324 cubic inch Rocket V8 delivering up to 230 horsepower.

1956 Olds Rocket 88 grille and ornamentation

1956 Olds Rocket 88 grille and ornamentation

A new four-speed Jetaway Hydra-Matic transmission was also unveiled in 1956. A four speed automatic was something fairly unique and was a great combination with the Olds Rocket V-8's of the time. The Jetaway transmission employed a secondary fluid source and was actually an improved version of a transmission introduced in 1952. The Jetaway transmission, a great brand name considering that "rocket styling" was in vogue during the latter 1950's, utilized dual coupling and a pair of sprag clutches in place of a friction clutch and brake band. The secondary coupling was alternately drained and filled when shifting.

The car's weight came in at a bit over 4,000 lbs.

Options offer during the 1956 model year included power steering, power brakes, Hydramatic transmission, light package, rear seat speaker, windshield washer, dual exhaust, and clock.

A total of 9,560 of the 1956 Olds 88 Convertible models were produced. This was out of a total Oldsmobile production figure of that year of 485,400 units.

Links below are to two more AutoMuseumOnline photo articles of period cars of the 1950's you may find interesting.....

1955 Studebaker President Speedster

1957 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible

1955 Packard Series 400 Hardtop

1956 Oldsmobile Convertible

1956 Oldsmobile Convertible

The 1956 Rocket 88 as a Collector's Car

The Rocket brand of Oldsmobiles from the mid 1950's remain popular with car collectors. As mentioned above, the car's design was a big step forward from what Olds had been producing. There's also a lot of closeness many collectors have with this mid 1950's Oldsmobile since many of them had a relative who owned one.

As of this writing, 1956 Oldsmobile auction prices show a restored Model 88 Coupe selling for $19,000, another restored Super 88 Coupe with an asking price of $48,000 and another asking $36,000 and yet another restored coupe with an $18,000 asking price. The asking price range is obviously wide therefore mileage and degree of restoration will be key. 1956 Super 88 Convertibles in fine condition should get a high figure.

(Article and photo copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)


1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe


The automobile featured in this article is the 1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe. The Oldsmobile brand was on the higher levels of the General Motors price and luxury ladder.

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe

The 1930 model year for just about all automakers was a challenging one. The model year began at about the same time as the great stock market crash in the fall of 1929 and the onset of the long Great Depression.

When the 1930 Oldsmobile models starting coming off the assembly line many car buyers however had not yet felt the full impact of the coming Great Depression.

Ransom E. Olds

A man named Ransom E. Olds along with financial partners began the Olds Motor Works in 1896.This was when Olds began selling his one cylinder four cycle Runabout in 1896. This was the curved dash Olds car which was produced until 1904.

What some might not be aware of is that Ransom Olds actually turned out America's first mass produced automobile. This was even before Henry Ford turned out his first car in 1903. The difference between what Ransom Olds accomplished compared to Henry Ford's assembly line was that Ford assembled cars on a moving assembly line. The moving assembly line concept is what is credited to Ford.

1930 Oldsmobile

1930 Oldsmobile

Olds bailed out of this company in 1904 after disagreements with a few investors and began the REO Motor Car Company. He ran this company right through 1936. The Olds Motor Works then joined GM in late 1908. General Motors historical information stated that this occurred about two months after Buick had joined GM.

Meanwhile Ransom Olds was at the helm of REO. Ransom Olds REO company ceased producing automobiles after 1936 but did continue to build trucks for years afterward.

General Motors placed the Oldsmobile brand in the middle of the product ladder. General Motors and it's leader Alfred P. Sloan believed in offering the car buying public several GM brands that they could move up to in luxury and of course price.

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe Sedan

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe Sedan

The End of the Oldsmobile Brand

As most know, General Motors discontinued the Oldsmobile brand in 2004. Sales had been dropping steadily. Profitability for the brand was also an issue. Also, beginning in the 1990's Oldsmobile felt stiff competition from some of the more upscale imports.

This announcement was quite significant to automobile enthusiasts in as much as the car brand had been around for 106 years. Ransom E. Olds sold his first automobile in 1897.

Oldsmobile's history was such that the car brand is also credited with introducing the first all automatic transmission in 1938. The Oldsmobile brand also introduced the first high compression V-8 engine in 1948. Oldsmobile history also mentions that the brand was the first to utilized chrome decorative parts. In essence, the brand had been around for a very long time and was credited with much automotive innovation. Oldsmobile's peak years would have been during the mid 1980's.

Links to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy are...

1929 Stutz Le Baron Phaeton

1931 Cadillac V-16 Sport Phaeton

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe front seat interior.

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe front seat interior.

1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe Specifications

The 1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe came with a 197.0 cubic inch 3.2 Liter 6 cylinder engine. The engine delivered 62 horsepower. All 1930 Oldsmobile's were equipped with six cylinder engines.

The car's transmission was a sliding three speed manual. Wheelbase was 113.5 inches.

Front brakes were three shoe drum with the rear brakes being outside contracting.

The suspension on the 1930 Oldsmobile was semi-elliptic spring at four corners. A straight front axle and a live rear axle.

The 1930 Oldsmobile Deluxe four door had a weight of about 2,800 lbs. The new car price for this model in 1930 was in the range of

Both wood and wire wheels were available.

Every Oldsmobile model in 1930 was offered to the buying public in three trim levels. These were named Standard, Special and Deluxe.

Oldsmobile built a total of 524,000 vehicles for the 1930 model year. Out of these totals, 14,400 four door sedans were produced. In it's lifetime, 107 years, Oldsmobile produced over 35 million vehicles.

(Content and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)