For 1961 to 1964 the Oldsmobile 88 or Eighty-Eight was a full-size car. During this time the 88 was the Oldsmobile’s top-selling line, particularly the entry-level models such as the Dynamic 88. A large number of variations were used during the 1960s, including: Futuramic, Super, Golden Rocket, Dynamic, Jetstar, Delta, Delmont, Starfire, Holiday, L/S, LSS, Celebrity, Royale , and Fiesta.
1961 Oldsmobile 88
For 1961 the 88 featured an new body and chassis with perimeter “Guard Beam” frame and all-coil suspension replacing the previous leaf springs highlighted the 1961 full-sized Oldsmobiles. The 88 was now powered by the 394-cubic-inch Rocket V8 with the Dynamic 88 getting a two-barrel, 250 hp, while the Super 88 was powered by a four-barrel “Ultra High Compression” 394 Skyrocket V8 rated at 325 hp. The Skyrocket engine was available as an extra-cost option on the Dynamic 88. A new three-speed “Roto” Hydra-matic transmission that was smaller and lighter than the previous four-speed unit was introduced as an option.
The 1961 Oldsmobile body design focused on a trimmer, fuselage design. Wheelbases remained the same as in 1960, the overall length and width were reduced slightly. The bottom of the rear quarters featured a “skeg” a downward fin, jutted outwards to balance the rear point of the quarter panel. One round tail light per side was set into the rear panel. For 1961 and 1962 Oldsmobile adopted a new “A” pillar with a small curved switch back at the outboard base of the windshield.
Halfway though the model year, Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire, a sporty and luxurious convertible. It was based on the Super 88 ragtop and featured leather bucket seats, center console with floor shifter for the Hydra-matic transmission. The Starfire was the first U.S. full-sized production car to feature an automatic transmission with a console-mounted floor shifter. Other standard items included power steering, brakes, windows and driver’s seat. The Starfire was powered by an even higher-performance version of the “Ultra High Compression” 394-cubic-inch Starfire V8 rated at 335 hp.
1962 Oldsmobile 88
Changes for the 88 in 1962 included a face-lift with a revised grille and front bumper. Changes to the rear included the removal of the rear fender skegs and oval taillights replaced the 1961′s round units. The greenhouse was changed to included new roof lines for the four-door Celebrity and Holiday hardtop sedans. The two-door sedans and the two-door ”bubble-top” hardtop were dropped. A new two-door hardtop featured the convertible inspired roof line. Length was increased for 1962, which gave the 88 a longer look. Engines were uprated to 280 hp for the standard engine in the Dynamic 88 thanks to a higher compression ratio, 330 horses for the “Skyrocket” V8 and 345 horsepower for the top Starfire Rocket V8.
The interior of the 1962 Dynamic 88s and Fiesta station wagons each had their own upholstery patterns in single and dual-tone colors. Super 88s received tri-tone upholstery and trim. Heaters became standard equipment on all models. Vehicles not equipped with air conditioning received push-button vacuum-operated fresh air vents, called “Summer Ventiliation”. Dynamic 88s received aqua dashboard panel inserts with “OLDSMOBILE” lettering, while Super 88s received panels with that model’s nomenclature on the insert.
1963 Oldsmobile 88
For 1963, the 88 and the Starfire received new, squared-off styling. The 88 continued to have its own unique body style. Other changes included a straight angled windshield “A” pillar. New options that year included a “tilt-away” steering wheel that could be adjusted to six positions, AM/FM radio and cruise control. Models and drivetrains were unchanged from 1962.
1964 Oldsmobile 88
1964 brought a minor face-lift to the 88 that included new sculpted bodies, grilles and taillights. Also new in 1964 was the Jetstar 88, a new price leader model of the 88 series. The Jetstar 88 used the same bodyshell of the 88, but shared many of the components of the mid-sized Oldsmobiles. The Jetstar 88 used the smaller 330 V8 and Jetaway (Super Turbine 300) two-speed automatic transmission.
Also new for 1964 was the Oldsmobile Jetstar I. Not part of the Jetstar 88 line, the Jetstar I intended to be a competitor to the mid-size personal sport-luxury coupes that were becoming popular. The Jetstar I shared the Starfire’s body style and its powerful 345 hp Rocket V8 engine. However the Jetstar I came with less standard equipment and a lower price tag than the Starfire.
1964 was the last year for the Super 88 series and the Fiesta wagons. The Super 88 was limited to a four-door Holiday hardtop sedan and a four-door pillared sedan. The Fiesta wagon had never been strong seller for Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile tried to moved upmarket with the a new Vista Cruiser, based on the f-85/Cutlass line that offered more luxury and performance than the Fiesta wagon.
For other vehicles of the period, see our post on the 1964-1967 Chevrolet Malibu.