Lot 337: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Convertible
*394ci, 315hp Rocket V8 *4-barrel carburetor *Freshly restored *The rarest of GM's 1959 convertibles *A fantastic example of GM's "Linear Look" It was inconceivable that the Harley Earl/General Motors juggernaut could be knocked off its pedestal, but that's exactly what Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" did when it debuted for the 1957 model year. Every Chrysler Corporation brand was lower and wider, with soaring fins and solid engineering. Harley ditched GM's 1959 product line after a bit of soul searching and dragged his team on an 11th-hour crash-course to redefine GM's style leadership. In spite of this, GM's styling in 1959 ended up having more significance than just to one-up the industry: it was the ray of hope for a market that had been decimated by a recession from the year before. Medium-priced makes like Oldsmobile were hit hardest, which resulted in the demise of DeSoto and Edsel a few years later. So when the 'Chromesmobile' was replaced by 'The Linear Look', for 1959 it was clear that Oldsmobile was back to form. To exhibit revolutionary change, Oldsmobile started under the skin. Wheelbases barely changed, but the new "Guard-Beam" chassis was nine inches wider. The stylists then wrapped a body that was up to 10 inches longer. Height was reduced 1.5 inches, although it appeared sleeker. Quad headlights set inside a full-width mesh grille were a new styling direction. Ornaments atop each fender gradually led to swept-back fins capped by oval taillights scalloped on Ninety-Eights. Optional two-toning accentuated the sweep of the fins since they were actually parallel to the beltline. Adding to the svelte new look were several new rooflines, most notably the 'Holiday SceniCoupe' two-door hardtop and the 'Holiday SportSedan' four-door hardtop, the latter featuring a flat-top roof with a lip hanging over the wrap-around backlight. The famed Rocket V-8 continued Oldsmobile's evolution: the Dynamic 88 came standard with the 371, which offered 270 horsepower with a two-barrel carburetor, 300 with a four-pot. The Super 88 and Ninety-Eight came standard with a brand-new 394, which put out 315 horsepower with a four-barrel. The famed J-2 tri-carb option was no more. All told, sales from Oldsmobile's 1959 model year were up almost 87,000 from the year before. One of 7,514 built, this Cardinal Red/Polaris White Ninety-Eight convertible once was a multiple award-winner and has now just emerged from a two-year restoration, better than ever. Everything has been redone including chrome, top, interior, and dashboard instruments. With complementary red, white and charcoal interior and loaded with options like power vent windows and antenna, she just could be the quintessential Olds cruiser from a decade that produced plenty.
The Scottsdale Sale|
Bonhams & Butterfields, Arizona, Scottsdale
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||$70200|
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