I surely enjoy finding unrestored originals at the Mecum auction. It seems like more of them appear there every year, reflecting a growing sentiment that “it’s only original once.” This year, the best original I found by far was this ’57 Olds Ninety-Eight. From a distance, it looked really good.
When I came up close, however, I could see the signs of wear. Truth? I’ve kind of had enough of the late 50s GM offerings. But I lingered a while over this one, You don’t see many late-50s Oldsmobiles at shows and auctions, and even fewer unrestored, at least not compared to the more popularly priced GM makes.
To survive 57 years in condition this good, this Ninety-Eight must have gotten light use. Sure, the driver’s seat seams have split. But I have to think that under really heavy use, this seat would be in much, much sadder shape.
The paint on horizontal surfaces is pretty dull; perhaps this car wasn’t always garaged. The tag on this Ninety-Eight said that it still rocks its original engine, probably the 371 cube Rocket V8.
This is a well-optioned car, with power seats, power windows, power top, and a foot-operated Wonderbar radio.
The Ninety-Eight nameplate was already venerable in 1957, as Oldsmobile had been building them since 1941 (skipping the war years, of course).
Stepping back to take in this big Olds in toto, I concluded that it must have spent many of its years as a fair-weather ride. It waited patiently for a sunny day while a series of other cars served as its owner’s daily drivers. I can’t think of a better way to help a car survive.