With many Tri-Five Chevys attracting seriously high prices that drive more modest buyers away, cars like this 1955 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday hardtop coupe are heating up, and fast. For years cars like this have lived in the shadows of their Chevrolet cousins, but recent activity in the market has made cars like this far more popular and attractive. After all, its bigger, more powerful, and full of luxury options you just couldnt get on your Chevrolet. And even though this one is wearing a fresh, 0-mile restoration, its bargain priced.
Oldsmobiles were all-new in 1954, and in 1955, the styling was an evolution. It featured a revised grille, joining the oval outline of the Starfire concept cars air intake with a horizontal crossbar and twin bumper "bombs" like those used on the 1953 and 1954 production cars. A strip of chrome similar to that used on the previous year's Ninety-Eight started ahead of the front wheel well and tapered back to meet an elongated S-curve snaking down from the beltline. The result is a stylish car with the same handsome curves as a 1955 Chevrolet, but rendered 15% bigger. As the recipient of a massive, frame-off restoration that surely cost three times the asking price on this car, the bodywork is beyond reproach on this Holiday coupe. There are no replacement panels, no aftermarket fenders, nothing that makes restoring these cars easy, so it took the talents of some ace metal smiths to get this car to look as good as it does today. The body was stripped bare and hoisted onto a rotisserie so it could be restored inside and out, top and bottom. Restoration photos show that those massive rear quarters were obsessively block sanded until they were straight enough to reflect like mirrors. The original color combination, code 60 Polar White over code 70 Turquoise, has been accurately duplicated and highlights the sweeping trim that carves through the doors and into the quarter panel, separating the two colors. The finish is exceptional, panel gaps are precise, and the final effect is nothing short of stunning. Rendered in traditional colors like this, the big Olds is epitome of luxury performance in the 1950s.
On any car of the 50s, the restoration of the chrome and trim can be a daunting task, not only for the plater, but for the guy writing the checks. On cars like this, where there are massive bumpers, intricate grilles, and all kinds of beautiful little trim pieces, the chrome bill alone can be tens of thousands of dollarsoften the most expensive part of the entire restoration. The results are worth the expense, however, and the chrome on this car is brilliant and virtually without flaws. There are no waves, ripples, or grinding marks on the bumpers, the detail in the grille has been expertly preserved, and the Olds rocket hood ornament is as crisp and sharp as it was the day it popped out of the mold. That distinctive stainless trim that creates the dramatic body line, as well as the window surrounds, has been straightened and buffed to show condition. Glass is spectacular, with wrap-around front and rear windscreens with that distinctive 50s Soft-Ray tint. Building on their rocket theme, Olds designed conical tail lights that were supposed to remind viewers of a jet exhaust, and they are beautiful reproductions that are correct down to the casting numbers.
While the small block Chevy was getting all the press in 1955, the Olds motor was quietly powering some of the fastest stock cars racing on Daytona Beach. The top-of-the-line power plant for the 98 was a 324 cubic inch Rocket V8, which makes 202 horsepower and can hurl the big coupe to more than 120 MPH. A quarter-point increase in compression added some power to the worlds first high-compression, short stroke modern OHV V8, and it runs beautifully. It ticks over with a whisper from the exhaust and a pleasant mechanical symphony from under hood, which is a nice change from the isolation chambers we call cars today. Bathed in Oldsmobile Green and flashing Oldsmobile Rocket text on the valve covers, this was an engine of which GM was justifiably proud. Detailing on this one is exceptional, and youll note that it is equipped with power steering, still a rare feature in 1955. Decals and labels are correct, hoses and clamps are authentic, and it is all cooled by one heck of a big radiator up front. This is an engine compartment thats ready to win some shows.
When you show the car, be sure to insist that the judges climb underneath and have a look around as well, because its every bit as nice. The transmission is a 3-speed automatic driving a traditional rigid rear axle. The front suspension uses GMs familiar knee action independent setup, but direct-acting tubular shocks within the coil springs were new for 1955, as well as a thick sway bar. In back, it still uses leaf springs, but again, has been upgraded with tubular shocks for a smoother ride. The dual exhaust system features Flowmaster mufflers to give the big V8 a bit of a voice, and it terminates in a pair of polished tips right under the rear bumper. 1955 was also the first year for tubeless tires, and this one sports 235/75/15 BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whitewall radials on the original steel wheels, which wear timeless spinner hubcaps.
The interior has been expertly restored to show condition as well, and youll notice that this car is equipped with cool options like power windows and a rear speaker for the radio. The two-tone upholstery works perfectly with the exterior colors, blending just enough white to keep it bright and airy inside. Overhead, the white headliner is secured by shiny chrome header bows, and if you look carefully, youll see that the white trim on the door panels mirrors the trim on the outside of the car. Gauges have all been rebuilt, as has the AM radio, and it all works as it should. The steering wheel has been recast, and features a horn ring and button that shows a globe design that was used in Oldsmobiles for years. A surprisingly spacious centrally mounted glovebox has ribbed panels on the lid, while the passenger gets a matching pod and clock. The massive trunk is in show condition, with a correct mat, matching spare tire and wheel, and a complete jack assembly.
Documentation on this freshly restored car includes an album of restoration photos, receipts, and original documentation such as an original brochure, owners manual, and shop manual.
With only test miles on the restoration, this car is as fresh as they get. With tens of thousands spent on the restoration, it has not yet been shown, so it is ready to start collecting trophies at the highest levels. Or perhaps youre the kind of guy who likes to drive his hardware, and there are no better-sorted, ready to drive cars available anywhere. With an attractive and correct color scheme, a powerful V8 under the hood, and bunch of power accessories, this is a spectacular 50s cruiser that will be a pleasure to own and drive. Take advantage of someone elses work and put this beautiful Holiday coupe in your garage today. Call now!
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