Earlier this year, while wandering through a cruise night, I came across this 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. At first glance, I didn’t give it much notice, but then on second thought these big Olds’ are becoming less common, so I decided to have a closer look. I looked inside the car, I noticed the shifter wasn’t in its usual park position. As I was processing this information, I observed three pedals on the floor. A three on the tree in a ’64 Olds convertible!? This car just got my attention.
Before we look at this Olds in more detail, the ’64 Oldsmobiles have never really been covered in-depth at CC. So, let’s take a more in-depth look at the ’64 full-size Oldsmobiles. The ’64 model year was the last year of a body and chassis that dated back to 1961. Changes to the ’64 models were few, with the most apparent being the ubiquitous facelift front and rear, along with changes to the body trim. The new for 1964 grille was an improvement in my eyes over the rather generic 1963 grille. The body revisions resulted in a slight increase in length, causing the big Olds to grow 0.9” to 215.3” overall for 88’s and 222.3″ for 98’s.
In 1963, the Dynamics 88’s were the base full-size cars, but for 1964 the low-priced Jetstar 88 was introduced as the new full-size price leader. Standard equipment between the Jetstar 88 and the Dynamic 88’s were almost identical, but there were significant mechanical differences.
Jetstars had two engine choices both 2nd generation Oldsmobile V8s that displaced 330 cubic inches. It was available with either a 2bbl or 4bbl carburetor. The Dynamic 88s and the remaining full-size Oldsmobiles, used variations of the 394 Rocket V8, which was a 1st generation engine with roots back to 1949. Both the 330 and the 394 could be equipped with automatics, but the 330 used the new 2-speed Jet-away (aka ST-300) shared with other Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac intermediates, while the 394 used the Roto-Hydramaic, commonly known as the “Slim-Jim.”
There wasn’t a big price difference between the Dynamic and Jetstar lines, about $70 – $100. So, I am sure the bean counters must have been thinking how is poor Oldsmobile going to make a profit on this one? Well they found a solution. Since the car used an intermediate driveline, why not used intermediate brakes? The new small lightweight Olds V8 and driveline made the Jetstar 88 lighter, in fact almost 200 lbs on average compared to the equivalent Dynamic 88. So that justifies ditching the big 11” drums for 9 ½” drums from an F-85, right?
Despite the lighter weight, the 9 ½” drums were significantly weaker than the 11” drums. They only had 118 square inches of lining vs 163.5 on the 11” setup. Motor Trend tested a 1964 Jetstar 88 4-door sedan. They noted the brakes to be significantly weaker, prone to fade and the test results showed it took a lengthy 210 feet to stop from 60 MPH. This was a substantial 43 feet longer than the heavier Starfire convertible with 11” brakes that Motor Trend also tested. The Jetstar 88 was offered in four body styles. A 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, a 4-door hardtop and a convertible. The hardtops used the”Holiday” name while the sedans were dubbed “Celebrity”.
The Dynamic 88 was the volume leader for the full-size Oldsmobile. It was available in six models over five different body styles, the most of any full-size Oldsmobile model. It was offered in the same four models as the Jetstar 88 but there were also two wagons in the line-up. The wagons were either a 2-seat or a 3-seat variation. Like the Jetstar 88, the hardtops were had the Holiday moniker and the sedans the Celebrity moniker, while the wagons were called Fiestas.
The next rung up on the Oldsmobile 88 ladder was the Super 88, which for 1964 was limited to 4-door only models. It was available as a Celebrity Sedan (4-door sedan) or a Holiday Sedan (4-door hardtop). The Super 88 would cost a buyer about $300 more than a Dynamic 88. What did that $300 get you? The Super 88 included a nicer interior, chrome door window frames, a deluxe steering wheel, parking brake signal lamp and a rear fold down armrest (Holiday sedan only).
Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire line in 1961 as a top-of-the line Oldsmobile designed to compete in the personal luxury/sporty luxury car market, with cars such as the Ford Thunderbird and Chrysler 300. Initially it was introduced solely as a convertible, but a 2-door hardtop was added in 1962. While the Starfire wasn’t called an 88, it did share the 88’s B-body and chassis. The Starfire came equipped with the best Olds had to offer and included a sky-high price. Initially sales were small, but with the introduction of the coupe in 1962, the Starfire sales took off to 41,988.
However, the personal car/sporty luxury car market was becoming crowded by 1963. Not only was Olds facing competition from the Thunderbird and Chrysler, but it was battling against Buick’s Riviera and Wildcat, along with the very handsome and relatively economically priced Pontiac Grand Prix. The Grand Prix, had fewer standard features than the Starfire and a significantly lower price. Starfire sales plummeted to 25,890 in 1963, while Grand Prix surged from 30,195 in 1962 to 72,959 in 1963.
The 1964 Starfire coupe was priced at $4128, which placed it higher than a Grand Prix, Chrysler 300, and Buick Wildcat, but still lower than the Thunderbird and Riviera. So what did Olds do to try to fix this hole in their line-up? Why bring out another model of course. The new Jetstar I, not to be confused with the stripper Jetstar 88, was essentially a de-contented Starfire designed to compete more directly with the Grand Prix. To reduce the price Oldsmobile removed some trim, which in my eyes improved the styling, while the leather upholstery was downgraded to Morocceen vinyl. The Starfire included standard power steering, brakes, windows, and automatic transmission, but these were all relegated to the option list for the Jetstar I. The de-contenting did reduce the price significantly to $3592, but once all the above options were added back to the list, the price difference was minimal.
The Jetstar I shared the unique roofline of the Starfire that used a concave rear window, also used on the Grand Prix. Unlike the Starfire which was available as 2-door hardtop or a 2-door convertible, the Jetstar was only available as a 2-door hardtop. Both cars came equipped with Oldsmobile’s most powerful engine, the 10.5:1 compression 394 cid engine pumping out 345 hp, dual exhaust, bucket seats, console and tach.
So did the new model help Oldsmobile sales in the personal car market? Yes it improved slightly overall, but at the expense of Starfire sales which dropped nearly 10,000 units. The combined sales of the Jetstar I and Starfire for 1964 were up to 32,247. That said, the Starfire and JetStar I never really caught on and they are probably one of the least memorable cars from that category. They were eventually replaced by the far more memorable Toronado.
While the Oldsmobile B-bodies had a number of model changes for 1964, the Oldsmobile 98 riding on its 126” wheelbase C-body soldiered on with the same line-up and only minor styling changes from 1963. Olds offered the 98 in six models over three body styles. These were the Holiday Hardtop and Custom Sport Coupe 2-door hardtops and a 98 convertible. The 4-door models included two 4-door hardtops, the Luxury Sedan and the Sports Sedan and a 4-door sedan called the Town sedan. Prices ranged from $4177 to $4457. Included with the Oldsmobile 98 was a 330 hp 394 (345hp 394 for the Custom Sport Coupe), power steering, brakes, windows, and seat, Roto-Hydramatic transmission, special wheel covers, padded dash, clock, courtesy and map lights, and a windshield washer. Upholstery was available in coloured cloth, vinyl or leather, while the “sporty” Custom Sport Coupe included leather and fabric buckets seats, with a console and floor shift.
That covers the 1964 Oldsmobile full-size model line-up, are you confused yet? Oldsmobile was chasing sales in the early 1960’s and this resulted in this extensive line-up that went from stripper cars all the way to luxury cars. And while Oldsmobile was successful in reaching down below its traditional price range with cars like the Jetstar 88, what did it cost in the long run? Was producing an Oldsmobile with inadequate mechanical parts worth the gain in sales? To me, this was just a clear example of the Alfred Sloan’s ladder coming apart. GM’s divisions had a lot of autonomy at this time and it resulted in them fighting each other for sales, instead of working as a unified entity.
Although Oldsmobile shared its bodies with its corporate cousins, the autonomy offered by divisions in this era resulted in a lot of independent engineering. This of course included engines and chassis design. So even though body shells were shared, each of the GM divisions used their own chassis. Oldsmobile never adopted the cruciform frame that each of the other GM divisions used at some time between 1957 and 1964. In 1961, Oldsmobile designed a new chassis, which they dubbed the Guard-Beam frame. This was really just a perimeter chassis, and it would eventually become the frame of choice for all American body-on-frame cars. Pontiac introduced a very similar chassis design in 1961.
The chassis was composed of four torque boxes at each corner, used tall narrow frame rails (boxed side rails on convertibles and HD frame option) and had four cross members. Rear suspension was updated from the previously used leaf springs to a coil spring setup using four control arms. While other multilink coil spring setups had been used in the past, Oldsmobile seemed to be the first to adopt what would become the ubiquitous rear suspension for RWD body of frame cars. This consisted of two lower control arms for locating the axle, along with two upper control arms mounted at an outward angle to control the axle’s lateral movement. Interestingly, when Ford abandoned its cow belly frame in 1965, it went to a perimeter frame that was very similar in design to the Oldsmobile frame, although its suspension design was different.
Despite Oldsmobile using the most modern style chassis, Oldsmobiles were tuned for smooth comfortable rides, rather than sporty driving. Motor Trend lauded the smooth ride of both the Jetstar 88 and the Starfire due to the car’s soft springs. However, they went on to state that “No suspension options are available for this car so the owner who wants more precise road manners will have to find sources other than his Oldsmobile dealer.”
The Dynamic 88 convertible that I spotted was one of the 10,042 Dynamic 88 convertibles produced, making it the most popular full-size Oldsmobile convertible. How many were equipped with a 3-speed manual? I don’t have those numbers, but I’d be willing to bet that it would be a single digit percentage. This particular Oldsmobile was owned by the current owner for over 20 years and was originally a US market that he brought to Canada. He told me that he has put over 60,000 miles on the car in that time.
The 394 has turned its odometer over once and has been rebuilt. The owner says it runs very well. Of note is because of the manual transmission linkage, there was no room to have power brake booster. So this 2 ton plus car has to stop with four manual drum brakes. At least the Dynamics got the more appropriately sized 11” drums. The owner regularly drives the car and has taken it on long trips down to the States.
Even though this generation of Oldsmobile has never been one that I have taken a keen interest in, I have to say finding a unique combination like this car makes it a whole lot more interesting to me. And the fact that this car is being well cared for and enjoyed by its owner puts a smile on my face.
As a 12 year old gearhead when the 64s were introduced in the autumn of 63, I loved the look of the oldsmobiles both full size and intermediate. (both shared a lot of design theme to give a familial feel. Thought the Atrafire was a bit “glitzy” and a good friend of my parents, she a blowsy Blaond of the period had a new starfire in deep red, every year at that time. so I got to know one intimately. I preferred the cleaner look of the Jetstar though. Growing up with Pontiacs, I did prefer the Grand Prix. However being a fan still today of “Long ‘low and Linear” the Jetstar did tick off all 3 of those boxes. A bit rare to find, today. But I would love to own one….Oddly enough my first cat was a 64 Cutlass “Holiday” hardtop. Close enough for this 16 yr old in 1967.
My college roommate in the late ‘70’s had a 1963 Buick LeSabre sedan with the “Wildcat” V-8 and a three on the tree. At the time it was just an old car and the 1-2 upshift was tricky due to a worn shift linkage, but when you punched it in second it would really move! I thought at the time it was odd to have a big Buick with a manual shift.
Every time I see a car like this so equipped I hear banjo music.
My father had the very similar ’63 Dynamic 88, the car I learned to drive in. Big, comfortable and powerful. The step up to a Super 88 got not only the cosmetic upgrades mentioned, but the 330 HP “Skyrocket” V-8. Recall there was a big drop in rpm when the Hyda-matic shifted between first and second. The 3 speed manual was a rarity indeed, with less than 1% so equipped, according to the Std. Catalog of Am. Cars. The grandfather of a friend of mine actually had one, a ’63 Dynamic 88 sedan that was otherwise well-equipped. An old, crusty WW II vet, he said automatics were unreliable and wasted gas.
Never understood the addition of the Jetstar series in ’64. Not that much cheaper, but far less desirable with the 330 V-8 and Cutlass underpinnings. Curiously the Jetstar I was the opposite – the 345 HP Starfire engine at almost 20% less cost. But I question the wisdom of Olds having two large performance coupes in its lineup.
Wow, that’s so weird… I didn’t see your post while I was typing up mine, but my great uncle that I mention below was also a crusty old WWII vet… he liked his cars fast, and probably got the most powerful engine he could in his Olds. My Dad would never let him drive one of his new cars after the one time he did, my uncle took it out on the expressway up to 120, or tried to anyway. He apparently did this with every new car he ever bought from what my Dad tells me.
With the three-speed Roto Hydra-Matic, there was indeed a huge drop in engine speed on the 1–2. First gear was 2.93:1 on the move, second was 1.56:1, which is a drop of 46.7 percent!
That’s pretty similar to a lot of three speed manual transmission ratios. Without a torque converter, that low first gear was essential. Frankly, the RHM always seemed like a pretty serious compromise, never mind the durability.
I drove a friend’s ’62 Cutlass coupe with the four barrel 215 quite a few times, and the way the transmission “engaged’ at take off and shifted was decidedly different than what I was used to, from my family’s Dodge with a Torqueflite. Of course then I didn’t understand that the HM only had a fluid coupling and not a torque converter.
Actually the Root Hydramatic had a torque converter (see Ate up with motor description), but it was not a conventional design and provided very little torque multiplication. The gear ratio change from first to second (with second locking out the torque converter) was the big difference between the Torqueflite and the Roto.
Ah yes; the sort-of torque converter.
Yes, second had a very strong “mechanical’ feel, due to the tq being locked out. That transmission had a split-personality feel. It was my first experience driving a HM car (I was 16 at the time), and I was rather surprised at how different it felt from the TF. No wonder GM soon shifted to a design similar to the TF. Much smoother.
As I said to someone earlier this summer, Roto Hydra-Matic really only makes sense if you look at it as a simplified version of the dual-coupling four-speed Hydra-Matic. It was a matter of looking at the Controlled Coupling Hydra-Matic and saying, “What can we take off this thing so it’s not so godawfully complex?”
The bizarre thing about Roto Hydra-Matic’s fluid coupling is that the torque multiplier is lashed to the main shaft and turns at the same speed as the driveshaft. Usually, a torque converter stator has a one-way clutch and is mounted on a fixed shaft, letting it lock up completely to provide reaction torque; Roto Hydra-Matic doesn’t do that. It’s also completely mechanically locked up in second and partially locked up in third, so you only get torque multiplication in first and then only briefly.
TorqueFlite had a taller first and second gear — until 1980, they were all 2.45/1.45/1.00 — but the converter was available any time there was significant load, even in top gear.
” The 3 speed manual was a rarity indeed, with less than 1% so equipped, according to the Std. Catalog of Am. Cars”
Yes, it was 0.5% for 1963 fullsize cars. Unfortunately there was no breakdown for the 1964 models, but I’d imagine it be a similar percentage. If that is the case, it means maybe 50 Dynamic 88 Convertibles had manual transmissions.
I’m honestly surprised GM didn’t try installing F-85 brakes on the 98!
Well written article Vince, about a car that I think my great uncle had when I was a little kid. I didn’t really become car aware until about 5-1/2 years old when my Dad bought his ‘66 Chevy Impala. My great uncle had a habit of upstaging my father shortly after my Dad bought a new car. I think Uncle Harold had one of these ‘64 full size B-body Olds, perhaps the Dynamic four door hardtop. I remember riding in it at about 4, but memories this old can be fuzzy. He traded this car in for a ‘67 LeSabre if memory serves, and went back to Olds in ‘69 shortly after my Dad bought his ‘68 Impala. This one upsmanship was kinda fun to watch.
Thanks for your very detailed look at these. I learned something new, about the Jetstar having F-85 brakes. An unforgivable shame. 🙂
As a kid of 10 when these were new, I struggled to make sense of Olds’ models and their respective positioning, most of all the Jetstar 1. Made no sense to me then, nor now. Whatever. But Olds did seem a bit confused at the time.
The Jetstar 1 was priced around the Pontiac Grand Prix range. The Starfire was quite expensive and Oldsmobile may have wanted it to compare with the Riviera or Thunderbirds. Buick had made the Wildcat a replacement name for what had been the Invictia by 1964.
On the topic of vintage car safety, that appears to be one dashboard I wouldn’t want anyone’s head to crash into. The skull fracturing hazard of that rigid dashboard spanning ‘brow’ should have been apparent to the designers.
I can imagine walking around this with my dad at a carshow…
“Yeah it’s got the 394.”
“And a 3-on-the-tree.”
I remember seeing a ’63 Olds with manual. It caught my attention the same way, because the lever was down. It definitely had the same slippery all-metal lever as the HydraMatic.
The shifter on the pictured car looks more like mid-70s GM. Maybe from a Chevy pickup?
I wondered about that shift lever, too – thinking the car might have been converted to three-speed stick. But there clearly is no automatic shift indicator panel in the lower dash. Had no idea these cars could be bought with stick shift as I’ve never see one so equipped.
It’s quite possible the lever is not original. The automatic lever is different from the one on this car and I am not sure if the three speed manuals used the automatic shift lever or had it’s own. I have never seen another ’64 Olds with a column shift manual, so I can’t say for certain.
If the shifter is not original, it may have been just a fact that the original was damaged and a correct replacement couldn’t be found. Although it’s likely the shifter is not original, I am certain the car is an original three-on-the Tree car.
I was a mechanic at a Cadillac/Olds dealer back in the 60s and while rare, I remember a few manual trans Olds 88s. This is definitely not the original shift lever.
A quick story: my dad liked stick shifts and ordered up a 1963 F85 station wagon with the 215 aluminum V8 and stick. He was a pretty large guy with quite a belly, so the F85 wasn’t getting it done for him so in 64 it got traded in for an 88 wagon when he found out about the tilt wheel option. He ordered himself a relatively low optioned car, only settling for an automatic because the tilt wheel couldn’t be had with a stick.
Six or so weeks later they call him that his car was in. It was just what he wanted with one tiny little problem…..salesman forgot to check off the tilt wheel option. He was angry and was ready to walk out when the owner told the salesman to give him the one on the showroom floor for the same price. It was an absolutely loaded(for the time)black wagon, with AC, power windows and even cruise control! What a beautiful, smooth riding car.
Agreed about it not being the original shifter lever. Those black plastic knobs didn’t appear until a few years later, when the interiors ware safety-ized.
Although my memory might be a bit hazy after 50 plus years, I recall my friend’s grandfathers 3 sp. manual ’63 88 as having a round ball at the end of the shifter, that stuck out fairly straight from the column. Not the same as the one pictured.
I would also imagine that the original style lever would be uncomfortable to use constantly on a 3 speed. A lever from a later model with a more traditional knob on the end would likely be much nicer to live with.
Ah, memories … I couldn’t help but think of this photo of my son, embarking on his life of loving cars.
Very informative. As a teenager at the time, I thought highly of increasingly rare standard shift cars. One of my high school teachers had an Oldsmobile with three on tree, which certainly eclipsed the 2 speed “switch pitch” in my parents’ driveway. I too was confused about Oldsmobile’s naming scheme, using the Jetstar name for both low end and high end models. A dumb idea, although potentially less “impactful” than the cut-rate brakes.
Maybe not very exciting, but these Oldsmobiles were handsome in their own way. What’s interesting to me is how Olds updated the 1963 wagon rear styling to try to conform with the other ’64 models.
Small correction: The Toronado didn’t replace both the Starfire and Jetstar I coupes for 1966; the Starfire was still offered that year (although I’d prefer a ’65 with its very distinctive taillights).
You’re absolutely right, Jetstar I lasted until 1965, Starfire until 1966. I reworded that sentence. My point was though, that both model lines became redundant once the Toronado was released and it evtually replaced both models.
The Starfire was available as a convertible through 1965. The Toronado probably makes it less marketable.
Parked in gear wow, havent done that in a very long time I always park with the gearbox in neutral, truck driver safety habits die hard I guess, Nice car though and being a manual probably quite unusual.
I always understood that a manual transmission vehicle should be in reverse when parked, with the parking brake engaged of course.
Never in a truck which is what I drive most if the air pressure drops you have no clutch and cant get it out of gear to start it those habits stay with me in my cars, cars with hydraulic or cable operated clutches would be fine to leave in gear in fact its reguarded as a safety measure.
Interesting, I always put it in first (so it’s ready to go like a LeMans start, no need to waste time). Reverse would be required in a proper Saab though, otherwise the key won’t come out.
Great piece Vince. Being able to parse the Olds full-size hierarchy has always been beyond me as this marque doesn’t get the attention all the other GM ones do. Wonderful use of marketing art; AFVK might be the standard bearers from this period, but they weren’t the only ones capable of make Detroit iron look so delicious.
Fully agree Don. The quality and allure of the hand rendered art is quite stunning, and adds much to the marketing appeal.
Thanks for the kind words Don. I agree with you on the marketing art, which is why I try to use it as much as possible. Even though these weren’t the most exciting designs to leave Detroit, the sure looked great in the brochures.
Thanks to all for the great feedback on the article. I know these Oldsmobiles aren’t the most exciting cars, and when I was younger I wouldn’t have given one much attention. But I can appreciate the solid engineering that went into this car which probably made it one of GM’s better choices for 1964, despite its conservative qualities. And although a three on the tree is a little unusual in a car such as this, I’d probably a better choice than the ill-fated Roto-Hydramatic.
Very interesting article. Oldsmobile was foreshadowing the lack of focus that would lead to their demise, but first they had a great string of success hitting the sweet spot of the brougham era in the 70’s and early 80’s. I agree with VINCEC and Paul that Olds had no business poaching Chevy sales with the mechanically decontented Jetstar 88.
I wish I had a picture of it handy, but I built a 1/25 scale model of the 63 Starfire when I was a teen in the 80’s, then rebuilt it a few years ago after I found an unpainted, straight body at a swap meet. I recently saw a decent looking 64 Starfire for sale on a used car lot that doesn’t generally sell classic cars. I actually think the 63/64 Olds was one of the plainest, least interestingly styled full size cars of the 60’s. Still, that doesn’t mean its an unattractive car and I really dig that it was available with a large displacement engine and 3 on the tree even though hardly anybody bought one. I love the way you could equip a car virtually any way you wanted to in that era. Cool survivor!
“Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire line in 1961 as a top-of-the line Oldsmobile ……”
Great article & illustrations Vince, but an adjustment here —
“Starfire” had been used from ’54 -’57 to designate the 98 convertibles. They were called “98 Starfire” or maybe “Starfire 98″…….. and were spectacular.
The name picked up again in ’61, as you said, as its own line. But it was now based on the 88.
And it gets crazy again — in ’62, Starfire used the double tail-lights of the 98’s, altho the body was that of an 88.
Then, from ’63 to its demise after ’66, it was more thoroughly a wonderfully tricked out 88.
In the ’70’s I had 3-on-the-tree on a ’65 Cutlass convertible. But I had no idea the manual was still offered on the large Olds. Sure would like to drive one, just once, up to 60 & back.
3 speed manual was standard equipment on many full size B body GM cars through 1971. I have never seen a 71 so equipped. I’ll bet a BOP version is ultra rare. A high school buddy had a 66 Impala ragtop 283, 3 speed manual on the column. Great car!
Manual transmissions were dropped halfway through the 1971 model year on the all of the GM big cars with the exception of 6-cylinder Chevys, which continued to offer a 3 on the tree through 1973.
They are rare:
The parents of a high school friend had a ’65 Chevy wagon with a 327 and three on the tree. The parents of another friend had a ’63 Ford Country Sedan with a 289 and three on the three; this actually came in handy the time the battery went dead and we had to push the beast to get it started. Both of these vehicles were purchased used and, presumably, were cheaper because of not having the automatic.
The father of one of my dad’s co-workers actually ordered a 1968 Pontiac Catalina with the three speed manual transmission. I’m not sure if he just wanted to save the money or actually preferred to shift himself. He drove the ‘Cat for many years, it was still on the road when I returned home from the Air Force in 1979.
Great article. I was thoroughly confused by the 64 Olds model line-up, even back in the day, especially the two Jetsar models. Thanks for clearing this situation up.
I’ve never liked the 64 98’s rear end treatment – I think it is by far the least attractive of the full-sized Olds models of that year.
IIRC Olds began a major de-contenting of Starfire in 65 and 66. It is amazing how well equipped (and expensive!) the earlier models were.
As you note, the 64 Olds full-size line-up is a great illustration of how out of control the GM divisions were at the time and in retrospect it is easier to understand what happened later. I still miss Oldsmobile of the 50’s and 60’s: powerful, sleek, high quality cars.
A friend of mine who lived across the street’s mom had a ’64 Dynamic 88, in the awful “misty green”, or as us kids put it, “Weak Assed Green” for almost 40 years. It was the last car her husband bought (It was getting up there when he died), and she was determined to keep it forever. And she did, until she suddenly died at 87 in ’03. When the car started showing rust, she would call my friend up and he would have it fixed up. A couple of times it was totally repainted. When she died, he thought about keeping it, but got a great offer on it, and off it went. I see it once in a while at this Olds breakfast meeting I pass by. Lots of Cutlasses, a couple of 98’s, but two 88’s at most. The other 88 is sort of maroon, a vastly superior color compared to WAG. The car does look great though, even color challenged. At least it’s not gold.
I remember these when new, but now it seems the number of trim lines and body styles is unnecessarily complicated. Why bother with the Jetstar I and Jetstar 88 at all? Simply decontent the Starfire to get its base price down, and let the newly upsized F-85 Cutlass with the available 330 V8 stand in for any potential Jetstar 88 buyers. Maybe by this point, ditch the Super 88 as well, since it was down to just 2 body styles, both 4-doors.
Then you’d have Dynamic 88, 98, and Starfire with a long list of options to personalize your car.
I don’t have any photos of the 1964 models, but here is photo of a pristine 63 Starfire taken a couple of years back:
And here is a 1962 Starfire, in somewhat less desirable condition:
The 64 Oldsmobiles imprinted on me early after my parents bought a new 64 Cutlass. When I went with my mother to service appointments I remember seeing these in the showroom. And having a salesman lock the doors to keep 5 year old me from getting in and out of it.
I don’t recall a single personal interaction with a BOP car of the 60s with a 3 speed. Those things had to be rare. They also had to be the best transmission offered in any 64 Olds. I still wonder if that slim Jim automatic is partly responsible for the small numbers that seem to have survived.
Are we sure the frame in these Oldsmobiles is fully boxed? Those side rails look more like C channels from the picture, especially in the way the sun shines through the holes. The Ford frames were boxed, which is why they suffered so much from frame rot in salty climates. I don’t recall the Oldsmobiles getting this same reputation.
JPC, you’re right about that photo. I was doing a google search for a frame from these early 60’s Olds and that’s the only one I could find. I thought it was the boxed version, but this one indeed has the open c-channel frame rails for the side rails. Keep in mind other than the side rails, the rest of this frame is boxed until the very last few inches on the rear section. However, these Oldsmobile frames did come with fully boxed side rails, but on Convertibles or on the HD frame option. I believe the example I used is from a Super 88 with a standard duty frame. I changed the text to reflect that only the HD and convertible frames were fully boxed. I still believe the similarities to the 1965 Ford frame are pretty strong. GM’s frames after 1965 tended to use shorter wider side rails and they adopted more rounded corners at the torque boxes.
While the 65-68 Ford frames were prone to rusting, not all boxed frames were as bad as these ones. Ford basically used a tall boxed frame rail for almost all of it BOF cars after 1965. Even the late model Crown Victoria used a frame rail with the similar design.
Here is a late model CV frame:
Here is a 1965 Impala frame, which took a little different direction than the 1961-64 Olds frames. FWIW, GM typically used c-channel side rails on most of it’s chassis, but usually boxed convertibles and HD chassis. Even the 77-96 B-bodies had boxed side rails on all wagons.
Here is my model I refered to yesterday. It’s a Johan 63 Starfire (1/25 scale).
That’s a nice picture 210delray posted. Interesting to compare them. The main inaccuracy on my car is the red on the emblems. When I originally built the model long ago, I believe the box art showed the red, so I rather imprecisely painted that on the grill. Removing paint off chrome plated plastic is tricky, so I left it and painted the side ones to match.
Awesome job on the model, it looks fantastic. I built a lot of 1/24 1/25 plastic model kits as a kid, but never was great at the finer details. It seems to be a lost on kids today. Toy sections of departments stores used to loaded with kits but now they are limited to specialty hobby stores.
That’s a beautifully done model. The color appears to be about the same as the one I photographed.
I never developed the skill building model cars to paint the chrome trim around the windshield, side glass, and wheel openings.
Thanks! Here’s the trick: the chrome is done with Bare Metal adhesive backed foil. It’s a miracle product of modern modelling. Painting chrome is very hard, and there isn’t a paint that really captures the look of chrome well anyway.
With a couple models worth of practice, I’ll bet you could build better cars than you ever could as a kid.
Does anyone remember the cold light used on this generation of Oldsmobiles? Until the engine warmed up a green cold light would be illuminated on the gauge cluster. I think this might have been the last year for the cold light. Also, if I remember correctly the parking brake on light was on the parking brake pedal support arm.
Don’t recall the parking brake light but had to smile when you mentioned the “cold” light! Memories….
Our 64 Cutlass did not use a cold light, but then it was a less expensive car. My father’s 66 Country Squire (and my later 67 Galaxie) had one. My 2007 Honda Fit uses one as well. If a company is not going to give you a temp gauge, these are really nice for we in cold weather areas to let us know when it will do some good to turn the heater on.
Full size Chevrolets had the green cold light at least through 1966. My sister had an Impala from that year so equipped.
Yes, I remember the cold light on my aunt’s 61 Olds Dynamic 88 bubble top.
Some of today’s car’s use a cold light, but it’s a blue (not green) illuminated thermometer.
“… Oldsmobile full-size model line-up, are you confused yet?”
I know! Took years to figure out the names of the 1960’s 88’s, before they were all Deltas. And having Jetstar be both the base and top line, with others between? Also, Delmont sounded like an 1940’s brand name.
Olds wised up with calling all 88’s Delta in 1969, even though names got longer such as Delta 88 Royale Brougham… To finally called just Eighty-Eight in 1988.
“A large number of variations in nomenclature were seen over this long model run — Futuramic, Super, Golden Rocket, Dynamic, Jetstar, Delta, Delmont, Starfire, Holiday, L/S, LSS, Celebrity, and Royale were used at various times with the 88 badge, …”
Someone listed these on the Wiki Olds 88 page.
One of my favorite 1964 makes; when Oldsmobiles were still really Oldsmobiles. A well-maintained and sanely-driven one could go 150,000 miles before rebuild time.
A representative example, if not the poshest.
Acquaintances of my stepmom and dad had a mid-60’s Olds of some sort. F-85, maybe? I don’t think it was a full-size Olds, but don’t remember what model it was. It was an attractive dark blue with a white roof.
I remember thinking it was pretty good looking for a 4-door sedan.