Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
IT
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Italy version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Blog > Labour of Love: 1957 Oldsmobile 88

Labour of Love: 1957 Oldsmobile 88
Classic American Magazine

Labour of Love: 1957 Oldsmobile 88

Posted martedì 19 marzo 2019   |   101 views   |   Aviation & Transport   |   Comments (0) Looking at Paul Wells’ 1957 Oldsmobile 88 convertible today, it’s hard to believe he bought the car as a rusted-out wreck.

There’s no denying that Paul Wells is an Oldsmobile enthusiast. It takes certain dedication to own four of them! Although, if anything could have put him off, it would have been his six-year nut and bolt, frame-off restoration on this 1957 Oldsmobile 88 convertible. Paul first dipped his toe into the waters of American car ownership with a Chrysler Cordoba. 

“I don’t remember anything about that,” smiles Paul, “I bought it sometime in the Nineties and it must have been cheap…” Otherwise he’s had mainly sports cars; a Healey Sprite, MGC, Austin Healey 3000 and a rare Renault Alpine A110, “until a mate at a local garage had a 1957 Olds Golden 88 four-door sedan for sale on behalf of a customer. He needed to sell in a hurry so I gave him £3000 and my Volvo 240.”

LovePaul found a 1957 Holiday coupe online and had that shipped over; it was featured in our August 2009 issue. “Then I bought a second ’57 Holiday, this one a four-door, with its headlining signed by Bill Haley’s Comets during a UK tour. There was another buyer, Ken, interested and the seller mentioned I had owned Oldsmobiles. Ken ended up buying my original sedan and became a good friend.

“I sold that ‘Comets’ Olds around 2012 to fund restoring this convertible – it went up north somewhere, then turned up again at a cruise 10 miles from where I live! Then I saw a 1957 Olds wagon I couldn’t resist.” Paul wasn’t finished yet. “I saw a fire-damaged 1958 Oldsmobile 98 coupe on eBay in 2014 and shipped it over. I’m currently restoring that and then the wagon.” If you’ve managed to keep up, you’ll realise Paul currently has three ’57s. The convertible you see here was bought sight unseen from eBay. “A mate in California offered to collect it – which was about a thousand-mile drive. It turned out to be an absolute basket case. He explained I’d need a parts car if it was ever going back on the road. So I bought a ’57 two-door hardtop - back then the pound to dollar exchange rate was really good.” The cars went to a California bodyshop to get made into one good one, but progress ground to a halt.


“I was getting worried since no one could tell me what was happening,” remembers Paul. “Over three years passed so I decided to get the convertible shipped to the UK.” In 2010 Paul and mate Steve collected it from Chatham Docks. “We were walking into the warehouse when Steve said, ‘how bad can it be…?’ Then we saw the car. Steve just walked away. I looked at the state of my Oldsmobile and wondered if I could push it off the dock into the water and walk away too…”

Longer, lower, wider

Paul’s convertible came with no previous history. We know from the VIN that it was built at the Lansing, Michigan plant and after that was obviously parked somewhere very wet for many years. Introduced November 9, 1956, the 1957 Oldsmobiles got a complete redesign, yet still strongly resembled the 1956 cars; this was deliberate since previous Olds had been great sellers in the mid-price market, meaning General Motors saw little need to alter a successful recipe. Yet, they were billed as “the most changed Oldsmobiles in 20 years”. 

Wheelbases remained the same at 122-inches for the 88 and Super 88, 126 for the 98-series, but those cleanly-styled bodies were longer, wider and lower - the latter helped by switching from 15 to 14-inch wheels. Underneath, was a new cow-belly frame and Olds’ first ball-joint suspension. The extra weight of 300lb which the ’57s now had, was hauled up by a 277bhp, 371cu in Rocket V8. Internal framework was shared with Buick and begat Oldsmobile’s first wagons since 1950. Badged Fiesta, they were all four-doors and even available as a stylish pillar-less model.


Sedans, coupes and, for the first time on an 88, convertibles, were available in base 88, mid-range Super 88 - both known as Golden Rocket – or, top model, Starfire 98s. It wasn’t Olds’ best year for production; 384,390 cars built was more than 25% lower than 1956, but enough to retain Olds’ fifth place overall; a 6.2% market share. For the first time ever, the cheaper 88 outsold the Super, and by better than 40,000 cars.

It wasn’t all bad news; a rare J-2 triple carburettor performance package could be optioned for any model. For just $83 it slashed the 0-60mph time to nine seconds, Lee Petty took one to more than 140mph at Daytona. Paul’s car is one of 6423 convertible 88s that sold for $2895 in 1957, but he’s spent a bit more than that to get the car looking like it does today…


For more great articles like this get the 330 October 2018 issue of Classic American Magazine below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - 337 May 2019 Replica Edition included
€4,49
Or 449 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only € 2,25 per issue
SAVE
50%
€37,99
Or 3799 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only € 3,33 per issue
SAVE
26%
€19,99
Or 1999 points

View Issues

About Classic American Magazine

Classic American is the biggest American car and lifestyle magazine in the UK featuring Classic American cars from the Twenties to the Seventies, as well as being the number one place for buying and selling cars, trucks and parts.

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to Classic American Magazine today.

SALE Classic American Magazine
Annual Digital Subscription Was €37,99 now €26,99 saving 50%

Most read articles this month


The 5 Best Classic Cars Magazines

The 5 Best Classic Cars Magazines

Classic cars are like a fine wine - they only get better with time. Whether it’s their extraordinary style, fascinating history or simply their authentic nature - they have certainly found their place in the world, as well as in the hearts of many true vintage car enthusiasts. More...
5 Best Classic Motorcycle Magazines

5 Best Classic Motorcycle Magazines

Want to give your old motorcycle a reboot? Or perhaps you want to surround yourself in extraordinary classic machines? Either way, take a trip back in time to appreciate the best classic bikes in the world with our list of the best classic bike magazines. More...
Johnny come lately! Riding the Cagiva V593!

Johnny come lately! Riding the Cagiva V593!

Jeff Ware rides the most beautiful two-stroke race machine ever, but it cost an arm and a leg! Find out about his historic Cagiva V593, plus a preview of some fantastic features on Japanese classics! More...
Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

There have been many arguments for the existence of God. In this cover story from Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018), Michael Shermer delves into the question that underlies all the arguments: Why is there something rather than nothing? More...
Vouchers Carte Regalo Un abbonamento rivista è il regalo perfetto , ma avrete bisogno di qualcosa da mostrare il grande giorno. Altro
Modalità di pagamento Pocketmags Payment Types
A Pocketmags si ottiene Fatturazione sicura Ultime offerte HTML Reader Regali Loyalty Points