- Frame off restoration
- Burlingame Red / Polar White
- 324cid Rocket V8 / 202hp
- Hydra-Matic Transmission
- Factory Air Conditioning
- Power Steering
- Hydraulic Drum Brakes
- Original manuals
The mid-fifties were an amazing time for General Motors. Each of their brands had a distinctive identity and business was booming. While almost everyone recognizes Chevrolet's tri-five collection, Oldsmobile's offerings of the day were equally impressive, if not more so, than the tried and true Bel Airs. From upmarket to experimental to performance leader, Olds played a number of roles over the years and this '55 Starfire convertible manages to showcase nearly all of them at once. As both the subject of an extensive frame-off restoration and feature of a private collection, this car has received more attention than most – and it shows. Fully prepared for the show field, this amazing Olds hosts all the desirable features including a Rocket V8, factory air, factory power steering and a look that will stop traffic around you. If you're ready to dig deeper into GM's catalog and find a true gem, take a closer look at this Olds.
In 1955, business was particularly good for the Oldsmobile brand. With attractive styling and a growing performance reputation aided by drivers like Dick Rathmann and Jim Pascal, the brand was in position to make big moves…and they did. Production was ramped up a staggering 40% over 1954 numbers. While the car was essentially the same as its predecessor, some tweaks in the styling department proved enough to win buyers affections. This '55 wraps those updates in a combination of Burlingame Red and Polar White for a visual one-two punch. The paintwork is rich, even and accents the mile-long body panels perfectly. The pictures don't lie – the car practically glows. Restored to impressive standards, the body is straight and shows well from all angles. Gaps are even all the way around and doors make a satisfying “thud” when closed.
The most significant change for the '55 model came in the form of a revised front end. While the basic configuration could still be described as “open maw”, all new bumpers framed the opening as more of an oval shape. Chrome “teeth” were also added. As a former private-collection car, the chrome on this convertible is impeccable and free of any notable flaws. Crisp lettering spells out “Starfire” across the midsection of the front fenders while pristine moldings delineate contrast areas for the two-tone paint scheme. At the top, a fully wrapped windshield is framed by clean stainless and capped by a well-fitting white top that reintroduces the less dominate color to the back half of the car. At the rear, bullet-style taillights frame a decklid divided by a solitary trim strip. An Oldsmobile “globe” emblem framed by “Ninety Eight” script sits lower on the panel – level with the backup lights. Dual exhaust tips stick out from under a large show-quality chrome bumper, completing the rear view. The overall package is appealing, distinctive and sure to draw a crowd anywhere it sits still.
Lift the hood and you'll find the original 324cid Rocket V8 still in place. Olds was an early participant in the horsepower wars and this engine is a great example of what they were capable of. With a valve-in-head design and compression boosted to 8.5 for the model year, the Rocket V8 achieved 202hp and well over 300lb ft of torque. The bay wasn't a bad looking place either. At the top, a dual scoop air cleaner feeds air to the Rochester four-barrel carburetor, kicking off the stampede of mechanical horses. The block wears a period-correct coat of green as do the valve covers which feature “Oldsmobile Rocket” script highlighted in yellow paint. The correct generator, air conditioning compressor and power steering pump are all driven by belts up front, while the power brake booster takes up an entire corner of the bay for itself. A glass washer fluid reservoir hangs on a factory bracket while a era-correct Delco battery fills in the front drivers side corner. Even cooling remains an OEM effort thanks to the factory style radiator and correct hoses. Best of all, the engine starts easily and has a great vintage rumble through cast iron manifolds and an OEM-style dual exhaust system.
Underneath the car, a clean chassis centers around a supportive X-member frame design, introduced during the 1954 model year. In the center, a Hydra-Matic transmission takes care of gear selection while the stock differential puts the 324's power to the pavement. While the stock suspension is relatively simple with coil springs up front and elliptical leafs out back, the 126-inch wheelbase allows for the smooth ride typical of high-end cars of the time. The car is as pleasant to drive as it is to ride in thanks to factory power steering and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. At the corners, steel wheels wear red paint behind correct spinner hubcaps. A set of 8.00x15 Coker Classic whitewalls connect the vintage chassis to the road.
The red and white theme continues inside where the luxurious interior serves as a solid reminder that GM was truly at the top of their game in the mid-fifties. The sculpted dash features a white lower half, red padding up top and a healthy dose of chrome separating the two colors. The passenger side gets an electric clock, while controls for the AM radio, factory air conditioning and courtesy lights remain in the center. From the driver's seat, restored factory instrumentation keeps tabs on amps, temperature, speed, fuel and oil pressure. A pristine white steering wheel with a “globe” emblem horn button connects the driver to the road. Seating is handled by two rows of two-tone bench seats which sit on top of fresh red carpet and protective red mats. At the sides, stylish door panels continue the paint scheme while a thick trim strip completes the look. Look closely and you'll see that even the door jambs carry the two-tone – a detail that would probably be skipped over today. Behind the rear seat, a spacious trunk sports the correct floor mat and full-size spare, just like Oldsmobile intended.
An original owner's manual is included in the sale as well as an original shop manual that breaks down the intricacies of this pristine convertible.
It's difficult to find a '55 Olds fully restored – much less restored to this level. While Oldsmobile of the 1980's touted that their new models weren't “your father's Olds” that may have been the problem. With its Rocket V8, long list of amenities, great ride and looks that will keep you in your garage for days, this convertible is a shining example of what made GM so successful during the mid-fifties. Ready to own an amazing car and a piece of Olds history? Don't miss the chance to put this 1955 Starfire in your collection today!
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