Curbside Classic: 1960 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 – Reaching For the Stars


(first posted 7/24/2015)    There are few demarcations in time quite as pronounced as a new decade.  It’s like taking all the enthusiasm of each of the previous ten years and bundling it up into one big package of jubilation and excitement.

With each new decade, there are always a few carry-overs or lingering relics.  While this 1960 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 could be considered as such, it and its 1959 model cohort were more of a bridge between what was during the 1950s and what was hoped to be in the 1960s.


This Oldsmobile was a product of the Space Age, that time of glorious optimism about lassoing the stars and bringing them closer to home.  The sheer presence of this Oldsmobile emits the futuristic, Buck Rogers visage that was so popular at the time.  1960 was a new decade in a time when anticipation of future achievements ran high; the sky was no longer a constraint as man would be on the moon by the end of the decade and would later send exploratory devices on voyages to the furthest reaches of the solar system and beyond.  How could one be immune to the giddy optimism?

Few automakers were as overtly obvious and passionate about the new, uncharted territories to be conquered during the 1960s than Oldsmobile.  Having a rocket as your logo, that vessel for taking man to ever greater heights, was likely the most visible automotive recognition of this yearning to break free of the atmospheric confines always known to mankind.


Even if one’s new Oldsmobile was incapable of space flight, having a posterior mimicking the fins of a rocket certainly worked to build daydreams about such novel means of travel.  Not settling for simply thrusting a rocket name onto every V8 powered car it built, Olds took the vision of future endeavors to new heights – or at least accentuated the theme.


Dynamic 88.  Not just 88, but Dynamic 88.  Dynamic, a word that conjures visions of a fertile cocktail of motion, vigor, and vitality, a name that not only insinuated action but captivated the mind with fluid motion and effortless movement.  It was a grand name, a name too short for this world, a name that appeared more upbeat than Super 88 or even Ninety-Eight.  Not a bad trade-off for being the bottom trim level of the mid-grade GM product.

1960 Oldsmobile Ad-06

Marketing works wonders; an attractive car blessed with a captivating name yielded this Dynamic 88 sedan to be the most successful Oldsmobile of 1960.  While its standard 240 horsepower engine, or even the optional power plant packing an additional 20 horsepower, were never going to be adequate for interstellar travel, they worked quite well thrusting 4,100 pounds of B-body over prairie and mountains alike.


Despite being unable to deliver anything beyond mere earthbound voyages, Oldsmobile sure made ordinary journeys sound as if new adventure was lurking just around the corner.  Jet Away power steering; while less grandiose than a rocket, a jet was just about the next best thing.  Fabric on the ceiling billed as Star Lite, sure to add a twinkle to all your typically mundane adventures.  Roto-matic power steering, perhaps a less inviting sounding name, still worked to instill confidence of your Oldsmobile digging into a groove and safely delivering you to your next outpost.  All of this wrapped into a Quadri-Balanced ride that will make your Dynamic 88 feel as if you and your passengers were riding among the clouds.

Like the hopes of every new decade soon fade, so too does the orbit of every projectile before its inevitable return to the earth.  By 1967, the Dynamic 88 had fallen into the abyss, a black hole that has effortlessly swallowed terrific model names since the beginning of automotive industry.  Did the orbit of the Dynamic name cease due to a lack of sales fuel or did it fall prey to the relentless gravity of the surface?  It was likely neither; attention spans are short and another, seemingly better and more trendy, name was sought.  The newly christened Delmont simply did not possess the auditory splendor of Dynamic, a model name that upstaged so many of the others found at The General in 1960.


Every projectile has a duration of flight.  Our black Olds certainly was among the fortunate to have been able to bask in the beauty of movement, providing exhilaration to an unknown number of owners and passengers for decades. One can’t help but wonder about the scenery she has flown through, the changes she has seen, the many seasons she has weathered.  Each remarkable, each unique, all accompanied by the constant of a jet black Oldsmobile.


The eventual landing of all projectiles does create unusual landing places.  If one looks carefully, it is obvious our Dynamic 88 landed among a pride of Panthers but not in any pride of panthers to be found in Africa.  Landing in a safari of metal seems to be quite out of place for such a galactic inspired traveler.  Or perhaps it plays to the perception of providing exquisite journeys to faraway lands; landing among Panthers certainly sounds more exotic than landing in the midst of a group of New Yorkers or Celebrities.



While our black Dynamic 88 has landed in the automotive purgatory known as a used car lot, it has found a special one.  After being reunited with a cousin of the same age, our Dynamic 88 is refreshing itself for its next adventure.  Cars, like rockets and jets, do need a little love before heading out for their next grand adventure.