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Lot 268: Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible

The John Staluppi Collection, RM Auctions (1 December 2012)

Rare J-2 triple-carburetion. 312 bhp, 371 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 122.5 in. They say that timing is everything. It's not quite everything in the automobile business, but it is a big factor. Just as America's automakers were coming off of a respectable though not stellar 1957, along came the second Eisenhower recession. The manufacturers' plan, however, had been for bigger and better. Some lowered and lengthened their cars, others simply made them look bigger and bolder. A significant segment of the populace rebelled, and sales skidded from 6.1 million cars to 4.2 million. Actually, the 1958 Oldsmobiles were no bigger than the comparable 1957 models, although their wheelbases were infinitesimally longer. The accent lines and trim, however, were horizontal, which, coupled with a roof nearly an inch lower, gave the appearance of much greater length. Surprisingly, the 1958s were lighter, model for model, than their predecessors. General Motors' 1958 cars, the Chevys apart, are generally regarded as the most lavishly trimmed, but the Oldsmobiles, when viewed in hindsight, look relatively staid, handsome in fact. The Golden Rocket 88 from 1957 was renamed Dynamic 88, while the value model, the Super 88, retained its old designation. The Super 88 was basically a Dynamic 88 with a 98 engine, the difference in 1958 being in the carburetor. The Dynamic 88 had a two-barrel, while the others had a quad, good for 40 more horsepower and a similar helping of torque. Other differences included a padded dashboard, foam rubber seat cushions, courtesy lights, and side moldings on the Super 88. The standard engine for the Super 88 in 1958 was a 371-cubic inch Golden Rocket V-8, developing 305 brake horsepower. All Oldsmobile customers, however, could opt for the three-carburetor J-2 version, which was rated at 312 brake horsepower. The J-2 package had been released to the public in January 1957, aimed at competition applications but available to anyone, although the company said it was not recommended for street use. Joe Wherry of Motor Trend reported a 060 time of 9.4 seconds in a J-2-equipped 98, when anything under 10 seconds was remarkable. The J-2 88s later recorded times under eight seconds. The racing applications dwindled, however, when NASCAR boss Bill France banned multi-carburetor setups. When 1959 rolled around, the J-2 option had been discontinued. This 1958 Olds Super 88 Convertible Coupe is fitted with the coveted J-2 three-carburetor package. Very attractive in light blue, it has excellent contours and paint. All brightwork is of very good quality. The convertible top is white vinyl, covered when lowered with a matching boot cover. Accessories include power steering, power brakes, an electric clock, a heater, fender skirts, a power top, and a Wonderbar signal-seeking AM radio. A Continental kit is mounted at the rear, supplemented by a spare tire in the carpeted luggage compartment, itself bearing a white leather cover. The engine compartment is well detailed, and the undercarriage is clean. Included with the car is a shop manual, the Standard Catalog of Oldsmobile 18971997. The station wagon models apart, the Olds Super 88 convertible is the rarest 1958 body style, with just 3,799 built. This car, with J-2 triple carburetion, is rarer still.

Lot Details
Auction The John Staluppi Collection
RM Auctions, Palm Beach, Florida
Lot Number268
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$93500
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number588K04083
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors