Vintage Review: 1966 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 – “Like A Solid Citizen”

(first posted 5/3/2018)       Earlier this week, Paul reran a post featuring a long-forgotten staple of the American Middle/Upper-Middle Class driveway.  It was great to see that old Olds once again, and to give that “solid citizen” its due, here is Motor Trend’s take on the Dynamic 88 in this March 1966 review.

The subdued praise afforded to the Oldsmobile reminds me of how automotive testers reacted to the Honda Accord in the 2000s: highly competent, family-car comfortable, good value and just a smidge dull—the quintessential “nice” car.  But for undemanding transportation needs, the Olds (like later Accords) was hard to beat for delivering what was desired by the target audience.  This “Rocket” was for marrying, not for flings.

Though not fully loaded, Motor Trend’s test car was well-equipped with all the basic niceties that upmarket buyers would see as necessary. The middle-of-the-road equipment for a middle-of-the-road car brought the price-tag up to $4,507 ($35,372 adjusted), with the most expensive extra being air conditioning at $421 ($3,304 adjusted).  While buyers in many parts of the country might have skipped A/C (though not in the Deep South!), power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, whitewall tires, tinted glass and AM radio would have likely been found on most all of the Dynamic 88s sold.

Bodystyle Jetstar 88 Dynamic  88 Delta 88 Starfire Nintety-Eight
2-Door Hardtop  8,575  20,768  20,587  13,019  11,488
4-Door Sedan  12,734  38,742  30,140   –  10,892
4-Door Hardtop  7,938  30,784  33,326   –  23,048
2-Door Convertible   –  5,540  4,303   –  4,568
4-door “LS” Sedan   –    –   –   –  38,123
Total 1966 Sales  29,247  95,834  88,356  13,019  88,119


The mid-range of the 88 Series proved to be the most popular Full-Sized Oldsmobile for 1966.  Solid results for a solid citizen.  However, despite the sales success of the not-so-Dynamic 88, the nameplate was retired for ’67.  Oldsmobile clearly noted the trend upmarket among buyers of Medium Standard cars (as well as the Caprice, LTD and VIP from the “Low-Priced Three”), and therefore placed more emphasis on the fancier Delta 88s while merging the Jetstar 88 and Dynamic 88 lines to create the new “most-affordable full-sized Olds” Delmont 88 (which would also soon be gone as Deltas came to dominate).  Hard to believe it now, but for predicting buyer preferences, there once was a time when GM was ahead of the curve, rather than years behind it.

Full-Sized Car 1966 Sales Full Size Share
Chevrolet  1,499,700 31.2%
Ford  1,040,930 21.7%
Pontiac  477,993 9.9%
Plymouth  330,487 6.9%
Oldsmobile  314,575 6.5%
Buick  301,160 6.3%
Chrysler  262,495 5.5%
Cadillac  194,212 4.0%
Mercury  172,727 3.6%
Dodge  142,600 3.0%
Lincoln  54,755 1.1%
Imperial  13,742 0.3%
Total 1966 Full-Sized Segment  4,805,376 100.0%


And Full-Sized Oldsmobiles were big business, with sales ranking just behind Plymouth in the Full-Sized Category, and ahead of all other Medium-Priced (besides #3 Pontiac) and Luxury brands.  Right smack in the middle, for a well-executed middle-of-the-market car.

So let’s give a CC shout out to this obscure series that once represented one of the many solid profit pillars that boosted the mighty General Motors to dazzling heights.  “Stable, quiet, predictable” indeed!