OLDSMOBILE 88 Oldsmobile introduced the V8-engined 88 in 1949. Its design was hugely important as well as being one of the fastest automobiles in America in the early 1950s. The Oldsmobile 88 had a relatively small, light body and a large, powerful engine qualifying it for muscle car status. The car enjoyed great success, inspiring a popular 1950s slogan, “ Make a Date with a Rocket 88 ,” and also the Ike Turner/Jackie Brenston hit record, “ Rocket 88 ,” often considered the first rock and roll song. The Rocket 88 was so successful that it became the one to beat on the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuits. As a consequence, this led to increased sales on the forecourt. The 88 name remained in the Oldsmobile lineup until the late 1990s.

movement, and a whole generation of hot-rodders grew up with it, coaxing ever higher speeds from Ford’s first V8, which after all, is what defines a muscle car. Then there was the Oldsmobile 88 of 17 years later. Once peace had been restored following World War II, most manufacturers made do with rehashes of early 1940s models, but the “Rocket V8” was the first of a new generation. The name alone indicated where Olds was heading: performance had by then become a key selling point, and the Rocket made an Oldsmobile the hottest American car of the early 1950s. With overhead valves , the Rocket could rev harder and faster than any flathead, and was so successful that Olds dropped

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its other engines and sold nothing but V8s until 1964. Other manufacturers took note and swiftly introduced their own overhead-valve V8s, each attempting to outdo the other on sheer horsepower. Chevrolet’s small-block motor, nicknamed “the hot one,” was produced in a 265-cu in (4.34- liter) “Power Pack” version in 1955, with a four-barrel carburetor, dual exhaust, and 180hp (134 kW). That same year, Pontiac unveiled its own new V8, overhead-valve, of course, and in 1957 introduced the famous “Tri-Power” option: three two-barrel carburetors. Some Bonnevilles were given fuel injection in 1958 and the famous Super Duty parts began to appear the year after that.

10 Pre-Muscle Cars & GTOs

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