The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 for 1959 is longer, lower, and like the rest of the full size GM offers from entry level to the Cadillac is on the B-body. Semi-fastback with a clean more linear look; much less chrome is “in” and the entire 88 collection is on a longer 123 inch wheel base. The power offers are getting bigger with a four barrel on a 394 cu in putting out 315 hp (235 kW) as standard equipment on the Super 88. The basic Dynamic 88 has a two barrel 371 cu in power plant putting out 265 hp (198 kW) although that could be optioned up to a four barrel developing 300 hp (220 kW).
The grill and tail light revision is the biggest change for the 1960 model year with the same engines as last year in the Super and Dynamic but the basic 371 is detuned somewhat to put out only 240 hp (179 kW) although it will run well on regular gas. The transmission casing is a slimmer design this year giving a bit more room in the passenger compartment.
The Oldsmobile 88’s are on an all new “guard beam” frame in 1961 and coils have replaced the older leaf spring design on all models. The late 50’s recession is over and the Olds is slightly shorter, narrower, looking trimmer but on the same wheel base. The windshield does not have the compound curve any longer and is mounted in a straight angled “A” pillar eliminating a dogs leg where the pillar meets the body. The tail lights have also been modified are now with one each side and recessed inward. The whole 88 line up now comes with the 394 V8 but the Dynamic version has a two barrel giving 250 hp (186 kW) and will run on regular fuel while the Super has a four barrel sitting on the intake with a newer higher compression 394 engine developing 325 hp (242 kW). The optional automatic four speed has been replaced by the three speed “Roto” Hydra-matic for those that do not want to shift.
In the summer of ’61 Olds introduces a new luxury sport convertible called the Starfire based on the Super 88 but this model comes with bucket seats and a floor console-this is the first American made car to feature an automatic transmission shifter mounted in a console. The Starfire’s other basic goodies include the steering, brakes, windows, and driver’s seat are all power activated with the engine being an “ultra high” compression 394 offering 335 hp (250 kW).
The 1962 Oldsmobile gets a new grill, new front bumper, and the tail lights are now oval replacing the rounded style with the uptown Super and Starfire getting two tail lights instead one to differentiate it from the lesser Dynamic model. The entry level engine now puts out 280 hp (209 kW) but needs high octane gas or a no cost option is a regular fuel burning 260 hp (194 kW) version for the frugal consumers. The Skyrocket 88 puts out 330 horses but the Super 88 and Starfire have the 394 developing 345 horse power for more get up and go. The ’62 models all have a speed bar style speedometer with a rolling cylinder that changes color as the speed increases being green at low speed, yellow as the car moves quicker, red at freeway speed, and then turns black in excess of 100 mph. Heaters in ’62 become part of the basic package on all models and versions without air conditioning have button operated fresh air vents mounted on the dash to the right of the steering wheel where the air con unit is mounted if you chose that option.