1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 / J-2 Option

The new design changed started with the 1954 Oldsmobile models with an entirely new look than anything before it. The changes were many.  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. In addition to that,  Oldsmobile offered buyers a choice of eighteen colors and eighteen two tone color combinations.

1957 Olds 88
1957 Olds 88 front end

The 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 featured in this article also received a new look compared to the 1956 model. Among the changes for 1957 the Oldsmobile Super 88 had a lower roof and larger grilles and hoods. The body design looked very clean.

1957 Oldsmobile 88 Models

The Oldsmobile 88’s were offered in two models. These were the Golden Rocket and the Super Golden Rocket. These are essentially the same as the Rocket 88 and Super 88. Hard to find better marketing brands than these especially during the years of increased aerodynamics and tail fins. The Golden Oldsmobile also recognized the automaker’s fifty year anniversary. Engine colors were changed to gold to commemorate the anniversary. The Super Golden Rocket was an upscale version of the Golden Rocket.

1957 olds super 88
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

The Golden Rocket 88 was an entry level model and was also available as a convertible.

You might also come across the Olds Super 88 Fiesta Wagon. This is a rare four door hardtop vehicle which came with a standard 371 cubic inch engine. Today these wagons are rare running or not. The wagon was offered as a Golden Rocket 88 and Super Rocket 88. If you wanted extra power for your family station wagon you could also order the J-2 carburetor option. The Rocket engines gave Olds station wagons a unique aura. Total 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta Wagon production was 8,981 units.

Oldsmobile’s J-2 Option

For 1957 Oldsmobile offered the J-2  option which was three two-barrel carburetors for the 371 cubic inch V-8 which was standard for both models. This engine was also called the Rocket 88. In a large way the J-2 option made the 1957 Oldsmobile a muscle car as well as a luxury car. The J-2 option was also referred to as the Tri-Power package. Surprisingly, Oldsmobile charged only $83 for the J-2 option. There was another off road J-2 option which cost about $385 and was really designed for competition use only.

1957 olds super 88 body
57 Olds Super 88 rear

Lee Petty, a stock car racer and father of Richard Petty, was recruited by Oldsmobile. The older Petty had won the 1954 Grand National Championship and Oldsmobile wanted him to help showcase their new engine. Petty pushed the Olds J-2 engine up to just under 145 MPH at Daytona.

As it turned out the engine was banned from racing shortly after when the AMA cited that the configuration was not a regular production engine when first introduced.

Olds was a bit late in offering the J-2 to the public. The Oldsmobile J-2 was discontinued after the 1958 model year because of rising highway deaths and because of the AMA racing ban.

This was also a period when, because of fatalities, the American automakers entered into a handshake agreement to discontinue their support of auto racing. While this ban was technically in effect, the automakers still kept their hands in racing in indirect ways.

1957 olds super 88 trim
1957 Olds Trim and wheel skirt

1957 Oldsmobile 88 Specifications

The 1957 Olds 88’s came with a standard 371 cubic inch V-8 with the J-2 option Rochester carburetor available. The standard engine delivered 315 horsepower. Other reports put the horsepower at an even 300.

The 1957 Olds 88 had a Fisher body with dimensions that included a 122.5 inch wheelbase, a 208.2 inch overall length, a 76.4 inch width and a height of 59.8 inches. Weight was just about 4,000 lbs.

Front suspension were independent coil springs with rear suspension comprising longitudinal leaf springs.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum. Power brakes and power steering were options.

olds super 88 emblem
Oldsmobile Super 88 emblem

Total Oldsmobile 1957 production was 384,390 vehicles. Super 88’s represented about 132,000 units. The largest model segment were Sedans at 42,700 produced and the second largest produced model was the Holiday Hardtop at 39,162 units.

As a comparison, 1957 Buick production numbers totaled 405,098 vehicles, 1957 Pontiac passenger car production totaled 334,041 units, and 146,841 Cadillacs were produced.

The 1957 Oldsmobile serial number will be found on the left front door pillar.

Compare this 1957 Olds 88 to the cars featured on our AutoMuseumOnline articles linked below…

The 1957 Forward Look Dodge Coronet

1956 Olds 88 Convertible

1954 Pontiac Star Chief

1957 Olds 88 Make Great Collector Cars

Without a doubt, the 1957 Oldsmobile 88 is a coveted collector car. An Olds Super 88 Convertible with the J-2 Option (Tri-Power) in showroom mint condition is even better. Only about 7,100 of these convertible Golden models were built with a new car price of about $3,500 in 1957. For those models you will likely see auction prices in the very high five figure area. $80,000 to $100,000 would be an asking price.

two barrel carburetor
Two-barrel carburetor design

A 1957 mint condition Olds Super 88 without the J-2 option might have an auction asking price approaching $50,000. We have also seen a Golden Rocket 88 convertible, non J-2, priced in the $70,000 range.

The fact is that the 1957 Oldsmobiles were popular cars with big engines and more power options with the J-2. They were also milestone cars celebrating Oldsmobile’s 50th year which helps their value.

The 57 Olds were not immediately big collector cars but they’ve gained that position over the past few decades.

As mentioned above, the 1957 models celebrated Oldsmobile’s Golden Anniversary and any restored models in showroom like condition with or without the J-2 Tri-Power option should command good values. If you’re looking for the most popular models they would likely be the Super 88 convertibles and J-2’s.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)