Friday, December 2, 2016

Livermore Street Sighting - 1955 Oldsmobile 88 Holiday

One of the defining characteristics of 1950s car styling is ostentation. Two- and three-tone paint jobs, tail fins, whitewall tires and lots of chrome trim everywhere are what most people associate with the era. But occasionally one comes across a car that does an awful lot with very little. I have come to really like the simpler designs of cheaper models that make do with less ornamentation. Some mildly customized cars like this 1955 Oldsmobile 88 can also pull it off.

The '55 Oldsmobiles were thoroughly facelifted from the previous year and wore fairly handsome styling, especially on the new Holiday hardtop coupe and sedan. The product was more formal and expensive-looking than the popular Chevy and oddball Pontiac, about on par with its Buick counterpart but without the Buick's pronounced fins and radiused wheel arches. The Olds looks like a cruiser car right from the factory. Judicious and restrained customization yielded the car you see here, finished in beautiful black cherry with white vinyl interior. The badges front and rear have been removed and smoothed, and a pair of chrome spotlights added. Fat whitewall tires on red steel rims with tri-bar spinner hubcaps tuck neatly under the fenders. Subtle rectangular tailpipes exit just under the rear bumper. A nodding-head dog accessory sits in the rear window to complete the look.

I couldn't tell you what motivates this car. It could be the stock 324 cubic inch Olds Rocket V8 or some crate engine. I don't even know if it's a regular 88 or a Super 88 since the badges are gone. What I can tell you though, is that I like it a lot. There are a few bits and pieces I might change if it were mine, but since it's not mine I'm happy to enjoy it from a safe distance and hope it brings its owner enjoyment for years to come.

Photographed May 2015

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