The 1949-53 Oldsmobile 88 was a breakthrough design, so why doesn’t anybody want one?


I totally agree that value does not really matter. I have been building a 50 Olds coupe with a muncie 4 speed on the column, 57 posi, and #10 heads on a built 303. The value is it’s not another boring chevy or ford, or any other kit car. If you are looking to make money play the stock market or buy property, cars are a reflection of another time. My Rocket 88 is just that, a rocket.


When I was in high school in the early 50s, the club Coupe nd hard top were my dream cars. Dual exhaust and glass pack mufflers, that sounded like pure heaven. And the fastest thing on four wheels. Jim.


I just sold my Black 1953 Ollds Rocket 88. It was a beautiful car and I really loved it, but it did not have power steering. I had come down with a older man’s muscle disease, so it was difficult for me to handle. I thought it would sell fast but it took a long while, and the car was basically perfect, and my asking price was down to almost give away. I finally sold it to a gentlemen in New Mexico. I live in Pennsylvania. I am 70 and he was 79; what does that tell you. So, I guess us old farts will just have to put up with enjoying our real classics ourselves, and believe me, I have had them all and still have some. I wouldn’t have parted with the 88 if it would have power steering. I still have a 52 Chevy 2 Door Deluxe, 54 Chevy 2 Door 210 (with power steering), 64 Falcon Ranchero (Hi-Po 289), 1974 Mercury Comet (Hi-Po 302), and I love them all. I realize what they are saying about those 50’s cars, but you should also remember that our age group, 65 and up is the largest segment of the population and we will still be Cruisin for a while yet, depending upon our health. I still live in those great days of the past, and have always told everyone that those were the best days of my life. So, if you are in my age group, 65 to 80, enjoy your life and your cars and don’t worry what they are worth as much. Regardless of your age be a part of something, maybe a an oldies car club, or a Cruisin Club. It doesn’t take that much energy and you will enjoy life a lot more. Let your old car or cars from times past help you enjoy the rest of your life. There is nothing like an old 50’s car, street rod, old school drag car, or resto rod that can put a smile on my face any quicker. I chat with friends that I have made all over the country talking of the old days, and the cars that I enjoyed, and those friends also have stories for me. Now, have a great day with your car. CGS


I’m 51 years old, been fixing, buying, selling and occasionally racing cars most of my life and I’ve never known about this generation of Olds 88s. So yeah, it’s not a popular model even for car guys. But it does not end there - watch this space for a similar decline in all muscle cars. As intimated earlier in the discussion, the 'boomers brought this on themselves with their good ol boy club attitude and focus.

Collecting and wrenching aside, young guys just aren’t into cars nearly the the same level as their dads and granddads are, for a variety of reasons. They sure don’t care about anything with “Old” in the name.

Add to this the utter illiteracy of the TV car auction commenters on anything that isn’t domestic and either pre-1973 or with a pushrod V8 and it’s no wonder the market is where it is. There are only so many old white guys to prop up the values.

It’s a bit sad to watch, but not at all unpredictable.


Agree that a big part of the problem is that the audience for 50’s cars are now in their 80’s. Another problem: so many baby boomers (like me) are at an age where they’re trying to sell their car collection that it’s driving the price down. Also true that since the dawn of the EPA era cars have more and more become an appliance rather than something to get excited about; the average buyer today has a better idea of how many cupholders a car has than how many cylinders. Not mentioned in any of the above comments is the fact that the value of collectibles of all kinds (stamps, books, furniture, etc.) has been dropping; younger people today don’t collect things and tend to spend their money on experiences rather than things.


Whether you are a millennial or a boomer, the down side of this car has to be the styling. I have always thought that the personality or overall appeal of a car is usually shown in the style of the front of the car. This one looks tired and sad if it were a person’s face. The trim under the lights make it look like it has droopy, sad eyes and the grille looks like a turned-down mouth. I looks like it wants to cry

Now look at this 1957 Chrysler Windsor, it has a big grin on the front and wings on the back and looks like it wants to take off and have fun. Hard to believe there are just 7 years between the two.


" they are ridiculously ugly" and “They don’t mean much to people born after that era” really does kind of sum it up. They’re upside-down bathtubs, and while upside-down bathtubs may be slightly interesting, there simply aren’t going to be a lines forming to buy them.


Quad headlights on a 1957? Are you sure it is not a 1958?

(Asks one of a disappearing number of people who will notice that detail…)

And yeah, younger people are generally not into collecting at all since collections of any kind not only cost money but tie you down. If your job, interests or lifestyle could uproot you to a different part of the country or world from one year to the next, who can blame them for not trying to maintain a hobby inconsistent with their habits?

A rootless, shiftless and largely childless population is already incompatible with the automotive world. For younger folks, older, unfamiliar cars with no warranty and few modern creature comforts are the last thing on their minds or in their budgets.


Err… Aren’t new cars “ridiculously ugly”, too? I know that’s one of the many reasons I’ve been put off from buying one. Add poor quality, massive money loss (from depreciation, increased reg, interest paid [assuming a loan], etc), it’s actually more than selling an old car would be. But oddly, lost money on a new car seems to be acceptable, but not in a collector’s item.


The reasons: 1) As another person already said, they’re ugly. (2) Anyone who owned one in their youth is dead. The remaining people don’t care about these older cars. (3) Not many people want to drive a highway-wandering, non-air conditioned, no rack-and-pinion steering, bias-ply equipped car. (4) I recently sold my 1956 Thunderbird because of the ride, steering, and lack of power. They’re decent to look at but far short of the ride, handling, power, and equipment of modern cars. (5) They’re not reliable.


I have 4 third gen Trans AMs, and I usually make the joke that these cars come to me to die. I have two that are somewhat rare though, but I do not see the valuations jumping up much. Some of the readers are hitting the reasons. Yes, the millennials are mostly not interested in the cars. There are exceptions. I am somewhat associated with the self-driving car thing and unfortunately, there are people that just do not want to drive. The car will be like a private bus that will drive around. I am glad I will not be around to watch this and its going to be quite a few more years before this completely happens. But, as I go from car show to car show, I will see the 80 year old guy polishing up his Chevelle SS and he is worried who will be the next caretaker of his car. In a lot of cases, the family members do not want them. I have been through this myself. The market is getting soft. And look at Dodge, you can buy a complete street legal race car and drive it home. It takes a lot of time to work on these old cars and projects can take years. The new generation just does not have the patience, and they seem to want to keep possessions light so they can move around … Just remember, someone who is 21 years old today, does not know what life is like without a cell phone. Its different.


Really getting off topic here, but in response to bdz6vbje, the headlights on 1957 Chrysler products is a bit confusing. The lower priced 1957 Chryslers had single headlights and the New Yorker and 300 had quads. The same with the De Soto. The Plymouth had single headlights and signal lights where the second set of lights would be in 1958. My research shows that high beams were not legal in some states until 1958, so that would be the reason for single lights like Ford and Chevy. Was Chrysler looking ahead (The Forward Look?) to 58, knowing the laws would change and be ready? How were the 300s sold in all states if this is true? Were all 4 just low beams? The lower priced Saratoga had single lights, the picture is of a lower priced Windsor, Canadian only I think and high beams were probably legal in Canada at the time. Not sure how accurate all this is, but I try.


I’m 77, and one of my first cars (around 1959 or so) was a black ‘54 Olds 88 2-door post; it brought a touch of class to the grouping of my friends’ cars, most of which were older Fords or Chevys. :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m 25 years old. I’ve been getting into cars more recently, specifically olds. I daily drive a 1978 Delta 88 (2 door) and I very much appreciate it. People my age don’t “get it”. And it’s hard to explain to them why I enjoy it so much. I don’t think these cars are ugly. I’d kill for a coupe. I see a few comments about millennials buying experiences instead of things . To me, at least, it’s been both. I wish my generation understood more


There were two ‘51 coupes parked side by side at a car show I participated in last summer. I found them interesting and studied them for a while, finding many differences in equipment even from my ‘57 Chevy. I bought another car in October, but never considered buying anything from the fifties. My ‘57 is a bit before my time, but it is enjoyable to drive.


I’m an old fart and agree with a lot of the younger posters. The same exclusion happened to us old Vietnam Vets. We were looked down upon. My feelings are that if somebody likes these Old’s and enjoy driving then have it. I hate car shows that have the hoods up. Makes for a crummy picture. It’s a car show, not a chrome motor show. I like the fact that Japanese cars are becoming classics. Some of them were really ahead of their time. Look how they pretty much destroyed the American auto industry. Ford can do so much better. There last attempt at a Thunderbird failed because of a crummy motor. The car is beautiful, but otherwise is a dog. That’s why they never pass you on the interstate. It’s an old woman’s car. With a lot of old farts like me who have money to burn, Ford should make a Thunderbird that was born with two balls!


I have said it before and I will say it again, most people of all ages have no interest in owning a classic car. Most people look at a car as an appliance, something to use and throw away. Classic cars take time and attention that most people aren’t willing to spend. This is not an age thing, it’s a cultural thing. We live in a throw away society. Fortunately there are enough people of all ages who still love these cars to keep the hobby going. As for this particular car and those of its age group, design is peculiar thing, some people love them, others think they are the ugliest thing ever! My advice to any collector is, don’t look at your car as an investment. Buy what you like and drive it till it or you die. Have fun and let someone else worry about its value!


I bet Cuba would be a great market for 1949-1953 Oldsmobiles. Back in the 50’s I had a 1950 Rocket 88. Must have been a late
49 or early 50, as it had a split windshield & three on the tree.
Fast car for that era. Motor Trend claimed it would do 0-60 in 12 seconds. I won a stock class drag race in 1954 at Linden, N.J. airport. It was only 1/5 mile strip and they couldn’t record the speed as it was to slow. Highway speeds were much slower back then. I enjoyed pulling onto the highway & in short time, passing slower traffic with the Olds screaming at 60 in second gear.


It is sad but true about the declining interest in old iron. The many reasons mentioned are spot on. That being said, the 49-50 Olds fastback was not an ugly car. I remember a bright red mild custom that was nosed and decked, lowered with dual exhaust and a louvered hood. The interior was white Naugahyde.The owner had replaced the original motor with a worked over 1957 tri-power coupled with a B&M Hydro. It was fast and sweet.I guess it is just an old man’s fading memory now, but damn, would it not be fun to see those cars of our youth again?
I have some suggestions that may be of help to get the younger generations interested and that is to cater to them. Ask the Boy Scouts if they would like to help out at a show as a fund raiser. Offer your ride for the Homecoming parade maybe.Play their music not just the oldies we like at your car shows.


I have a 1950 88 Club Coupe and am driving it around the World - it isn’t My Father’s Oldsmobile and I love it. I left from Dallas under the ‘Traveling Man’ sculpture about a year ago, and have so far gone West to San Diego and up to Oakland, shipped to Singapore and did a loop around S.E.Asia finishing in Saigon in March this year. Next year it is up the East Coast of Australia and in June/July across Eurasia on the ‘Peking to Paris’ rally - after that I’ll figure out how to get across the pond and back to Dallas.
It has a '57 371 and a '58 9.3 diff. The steering and suspension is basically stock '50 and the only truly modern major component is a Tremec 5-speed and it is a tough and powerful car. Can’t argue that the steering isn’t heavy by modern standards but my wife drives it too. But for sure you have to do this for the love of it and if you are going to spend a lot on them you have to be prepared to lose that money.