GM styling as a whole lost its frontrunner status in 1957 when Chrysler introduced Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" designs. When compared side to side, Oldsmobile looked dated next to its price-point competitor DeSoto. Compounding the problem for Oldsmobile and Buick was a styling mistake which GM called the "Strato Roof." Both makes had models which contained the heavily framed rear window, but Detroit had been working with large curved backlights for almost a decade. Consumers disliked the roof and its blind spots, forcing GM to rush a redesign into production on some of its models.
Oldsmobile's only off year in the 1950s was 1958. The nation was beginning to feel the results of its first significant post war recession, and US automobile sales were down for the model year. Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac received a heavy handed makeover of the 1957 GM designs. The Oldsmobile that emerged in 1958 bore little resemblance to the design of its forerunners; instead the car emerged as a large, over-decorated "chromemobile."
Up front, all 1958 Oldsmobiles received one of General Motors' heavily styled front fascias and quad-headlights. Streaking back from the edge of the headlights was a broad belt consisting of two strips of chrome on regular 88s, three strips on Super 88s, and three strips (top and bottom thin, inside thick) on 98s that ended in a point at mid-body. The bottom of the rear fender featured a thick stamping of a half tube that pointed forward, atop which was a chrome assembly of four horizontal chrome speed-lines that terminated into a vertical bar. The tail of the car featured massive vertical chrome taillight housings. Two chrome stars were fitted to the trunklid.
Ford styling consultant Alex Tremulis (designer of the 1948 Tucker Sedan) mocked the 1958 Oldsmobile by drawing cartoons of the car, and placing musical notes in the rear trim assembly. Another Detroit stylist employed by Ford bought a used 1958 Oldsmobile in the early 1960s, driving it daily to work. He detached and rearranged the OLDSMOBILE lettering above the grille to spell out SLOBMODEL as a reminder to himself and co-workers of what "bad" auto design meant to their business.
In 1959, Oldsmobile models were completely redesigned with a rocket motif from front to rear, as the top of the front fenders had a chrome rocket, while the body-length fins were shaped as rocket exhausts which culminated in a fin-top taillight (concave on the 98 models while convex on the 88 models). The 1959 models also offered several roof treatments, such as the pillared sedan with a fastback rear window and the Holiday SportSedan, which was a flat-roofed pillarless hardtop with wraparound front and rear glass. The 1959 models were marketed as "the Linear Look", and also featured a bar-graph speedometer which showed a green indicator through 35 miles per hour (56 km/h), then changed to orange until 65 miles per hour (105 km/h), then was red above that until the highest speed read by the speedometer, 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). Power windows were available on the 98 models, as was two-speed electric windshield wipers with electrically powered windshield washers. The 88 still relied on vacuum-operated windshield wipers without a washer feature. 1959 Oldsmobiles were offered with "Autronic Eye" (a dashboard-mounted automatic headlight dimmer) as well as factory-installed air conditioning and power-operated front bench seat as available options.
The 1959 body style was continued through the 1960 model year, but the fins were toned down for 1960 and the taillights were moved to the bottom of the fenders
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88
Oldsmobiles weren't raced much by 1957 and didn't need to be, having become consistently good-selling medium-priced cars known for innovation, as with the 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88. Even so, one Lee Petty and his son Richard drove Olds convertibles on the sands of Daytona and hardtops at other stock-car venues. And if a little heavy in street form, a '57 Olds could still be quite rapid with a new performance option called J-2.
Available for any model at just $83, the J-2 included a trio of two-barrel carburetors, plus higher compression and low-restriction air cleaner to take the 371-cubic-inch "Rocket" V-8 from 277 stock horsepower to 300 -- good for 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds. There was also a racing setup with radical camshaft and heavy-duty internals, but at $385, it was seldom ordered.
The J-2 added spice to an Olds lineup that didn't look new but was. Basic appearance and even wheelbases stayed the course of 1954-56, but bodies were two inches lower and longer, so styling was a bit more rakish. Olds turned 60 in '57 and celebrated by adding models, including a convertible to the base Golden Rocket 88 series to join a Super 88 and Starfire 98. The last sold best despite costing the most ($4217), attracting 8278 orders. Next came the Super ($3447) with 7128 sales, followed by the 88 ($3182) with 6423.
Any '57 Olds made a fine road car, though switching from 15- to 14-inch tires -- an industry trend that year -- was more for appearance than handling. Yet even a ragtop looked good only until a '57 Chrysler pulled alongside. Olds styling had become dated, and it would only get worse before it got better.
1950 Oldsmobile 88
1957 Lincoln Premiere
1955 Mercury Montclair
1958 Continental Mark III
1951 Rambler Custom Landau
1956 Ford Thunderbird
1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta
1959 Cadillac Series 62
1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham
1956 Packard Caribbean
1959 Dodge Custom Royal
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
1955 Buick Century
1957 Chrysler New Yorker
|Fiat V8 , Fiat Supersport|
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Oldsmobile entré les années 1950 suite à une campagne d'image de la division centrée sur son «Rocket» des moteurs et des vêtements de l'aspect suivi ses voitures '. Oldsmobile Rocket moteur V8 a été le leader de la performance, généralement considéré comme le plus rapide des voitures sur le marché et par le milieu des années 1950 leur style a été parmi les premiers à offrir un large éventail, "gueule ouverte" calandre, évocateurs de la propulsion par réaction
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