Images from the Cohort by Owen Smith.
This is the kind of vintage find that’s becoming ever rarer, the worn-out runner. No recent restoration efforts on this one. A true curbside classic, from a design age that’s always fascinating; the final days of Detroit’s Space Age fixation. A transition is already evident in this 1960 Olds, with the ‘rocket elements’ of the 1959 body showing in restrained form. The updated lines were a telling sign; for the new decade, the division’s rockets were being called back to earth.
There’s still nothing like a Rocket! Proclaimed the division in 1960. How was Olds to know it was clinging to a fading trend? Then again, Oldsmobile was inextricably linked to the Space Age, thanks to its renowned Rocket Engine. Launched in 1949, the trendsetting V-8 powerplant placed the Oldsmobile name in the public’s imagination, even securing a spot in pop culture.
And deservedly so. After all, Oldsmobile was still GM’s innovation division at the time. And in the case of Oldsmobile’s ’88’ ’59-’60 models, there was much that separated them from their B-body GM siblings. A chapter already covered in a previous CC.
The 1960 Oldsmobile 88 Super line was subdivided into rather joyful-sounding models; Fiesta, Celebrity, and Holiday. If I go by logic and my eyes don’t deceive me, our Cohort find is a Holiday Sportsedan, one of about 33K built that year. As this ad points out, these models came equipped with Wide-Stance stability, Guard-Beam Frame solidness, and 394 cu. in. of Rocket engine action with 315 hp. Was there something not to like?
Apparently so. Maybe the Space Age theme had run its course. Maybe the public found other GM offerings more appealing, but in 1960, Oldsmobile tumbled to a lowly #7 place among the domestics. Way below its usual standing. The division would soon shed all its Space Age motifs, and reinvent itself around the idea of accessible luxury for the Brougham era. The identity that would define its Cutlass period.
From its condition, there’s no way to deny that this Super 88 has suffered a few rough landings. How much ‘rocket’ is still there on that engine? No idea. But what matters is that this sled is still flying, against all odds.