In 1948, the first postwar GM cars to adopt the new C-body were Cadillac and Oldsmobile’s Futuramic 98. In 1949, Oldsmobile installed their all-new high-compression overhead-valve 303.7 cid 135 hp Rocket V8 engine in the 98. That same year, Oldsmobile adopted GM’s new A-body (used by Chevrolet and Pontiac) for the 105 hp 6-cylinder model 76. Then, in a step that created a legend and changed Oldsmobile forever, the Rocket V8 was installed in the Abody, creating the Futuramic Rocket 88, a mid-century predecessor to the muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s.
For 1950, the 98’s were again restyled, making 1950 a third year of major changes. The Abody 76’s and 88’s were unaltered. Both A-body series were available as 2-door convertibles, hardtops, sedans, coupes and fastbacks, plus 4-door sedans and station wagons.
Oldsmobile station wagons had been all-metal since mid-1949 when all tailgate and window wooden trim was replaced by wood-grained metal. Both models used the same body as the cheaper Chevrolet and Pontiac wagons. The main difference was better interior trim, plus the availability of GM’s fully-automatic Hydramatic transmission and the Rocket 88’s V8 engine. Nineteen-fifty station wagon prices started at $2,360 for the 76 (3,610 lbs); the 88 started at $2,585 (3,810 lbs). For the extra $215 and 200 lbs, an 88 buyer got 25 more hp, a 24% increase. The 88 station wagon cost more than any other 1950 Oldsmobile except for the 98 convertible.
Oldsmobile sold nearly 408,000 cars in 1950 but only 2,732 were station wagons: 350 76’s plus 2,382 88’s. That same year, Chevrolet sold nearly 167,000 station wagons starting at $1,994. Oldsmobile dropped both station wagon models during the year. At about the same time, after 33,257 cars, all 76’s were dropped, leaving an all-V8 lineup of 88 and 98 convertibles, hardtops, coupes and sedans. Oldsmobile was not to build another station wagon until their 1957 cars arrived in late 1956.
Now a sought-after collector car, this attractive Futuramic 88 wagon was a disappointing seller in 1950: only 2650 domestic wagons were built. Olds discontinued wagon manufacture until 1957. The Collection example shown here would have cost about $2600 new.
• “Standard Catalog of American Cars“ (1946-1975) p 484-485
• “Encyclopedia of American Cars“ pp.197, 631, 656, and 657