Gardena Curbside Classic: 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 Hardtop

Once again, we’re going to take a look at a Curbside Classic from my neighborhood, this time highlighting a car my neighbor drives on a regular basis, and is an almost completely original example.

In the overall lineup, the Jetstar 88 anchored the B-body product line, and is occasionally confused with the Jetstar 1, which shared the Jetstar name, but (oddly) was near the top of the line.

We’ve covered the 1964 Oldsmobile line in great detail here at Curbside Classic, but I believe this is the first Jetstar 88 we’ve seen, partially because it sold in relatively low volumes during the three years Oldsmobile offered it, and partially because it was built back in 1964.

I initially thought this car was an A-body, until I did some Google investigation. As this image shows, in ’64 the three Oldsmobile platforms used very similar front clips.

Careful study of the grille detail and body lines confirms I was wrong- This is a B-body Olds. As was standard practice in 1964, Olds offered this B-body in multiple sub-models and body variations.

One of the possible body variations was the roof line. Instead of a concave rear window and sharply creased roof line of the Starfire and Jetstar 1 coupes, this Jetstar 88 shares the same roof as a ’64 Chevy (and other B-Body coupes).

For proof, here’s a shot of a ’64 Impala I found about a mile away. The C-pillar and back glass are identical.

At some point, the owner added these locking hood pins, probably to prevent battery pilferage. However, the hood may hide a feature unique to the Jetstar 88.

In 1964, Oldsmobile offered two engines in its product line, a carryover 394 V8 in the B and C bodies, and a new “second generation” 330 V8 offered in the F-85 A-body. Olds made the F-85 engine standard in the Jetstar, the only large Olds equipped with this smaller motor. The standard version made 225hp. The optional version with a four barrel carb made 260. The larger 394 V8 was not available in the Jetstar 88.

 

While this car’s condition is impressive, there are a few worrisome details. This rust should get some attention before it perforates the roof panel and allows moisture in under the headliner.

I’m curious to know if the car came from the factory with two tone paint, or someone stripped off a vinyl roof and painted it black. Since this was the base model 88, it’s possible Olds used the black paint to create a vinyl roof look without the cost of a vinyl cover.

Looking through the open passenger’s window, I guess water intrusion won’t affect the (missing) headliner. The interior condition matches up nicely to the exterior, showing us a worn but still serviceable work space. I’m sure there’s some Olds fans out there who would like to photograph and document all elements of this interior, since outside of normal wear the only modification appears to be the triple gauge set mounted under the dash.

I’m surprised to see newer white California plates, since the dealer nameplate appears original and for a local dealership. Allen Paul Oldsmobile was located at 313 North LaBrea in Inglewood, CA. Gardena shares a border with Inglewood, so it is likely the car remains close to its originating dealership.

Out back, more of the same. While the body panels are all “straight,” if someone wanted to repaint it, clearing up all the dents and dings would triple or quadruple the cost of a paint job. However, almost all the chrome trim is still present, a plus when considering restoration possibilities.

I love seeing old cars like this on the street, and I’d love to see it stay around for another 30 years. However, the future of this car is very unclear. Lots of little things prevent an easy restoration, making it an unlikely candidate for a refresh. There aren’t a lot of owners looking to drive a car of this vintage or a car in this condition. Compounding things, few repair shops want to mess with “old cars”- They don’t stock parts and every repair is “learn as you go” for their techs.

Hopefully, once the current owner moves on, a new enthusiast will appear and keep it on the road. However, history tells us it will more likely be parked in a car port to degrade and rust, then get towed off to the salvage yard the next time circumstances force a move.

Still, the plates are good until February 2021, and the current owner drives it multiple times every week, so all indicators point to many more happy miles for our Jetstar 88.