1950 Oldsmobile 88: Coupe Convertible V-8

Staff reports
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When Oldsmobile introduced the 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 with a Rocket V-8 engine John McMahan was too young to drive — yet old enough to know what he liked. During the next half century, several cars came and went through his driveway, but he always kept his Oldsmobile dream alive.

A few years into the 21st century, McMahon saw an advertisement offering for sale a red 1950 Oldsmobile Futuramic 88 convertible. He quickly flew to Wichita, Kan., to inspect the restored car first-hand.

Upon first seeing the car, McMahon knew he had to be cautious about his enthusiasm in order not to surrender his negotiating position; however, he now admits that he thought to himself, “I’m not leaving without this car.”

Negotiations didn’t take long, and soon McMahon had purchased the car and arranged to have it transported to his Potomac, Md., home.

When new, the 3,510-pound convertible coupe rolled out of the Lansing, Mich., factory on its 119.5-inch wheelbase. A total of 1,366 such models were manufactured with a base price starting $2,162.

What helped make the 1950 Oldsmobile so popular is found under the hood: Lurking there is a 303-cubic-inch high-compression overhead-valve V-8 engine that develops 135 horsepower. All of that power is delivered to the rear wheels via a Hydramatic transmission. From left to right the automatic gear selection pattern is: Park – Reverse – Neutral – Drive – Third – Second – First.

To assist in starting the big engine, the original six-volt electrical system has been upgraded to a modern 12-volt system.

In order to make the operation of the Oldsmobile more driver-friendly the car now is equipped with disc brakes, as well as air conditioning and power steering.

“With disc brakes I don’t have to plan to stop so far in advance,” McMahon explains.

The upholstery is tan and the dashboard matches the red exterior. All of the windows are operated manually by hand cranks. In a nod to safety unusual for the time, the convertible is also equipped with seat belts.

When seated at the three-spoke steering wheel, the driver has a clear view of the 110-mph speedometer and the single outside mirror on the left side. The lengthy engine hood appears to stretch into next week when viewed through the one-piece tinted windshield.

Adding visually to the length of the Oldsmobile, both front fenders have chrome trim flowing from the headlights toward the rear of the car ending near the back of the doors. Fender skirts on the rear wheelwells add to the illusion of length. Two dozen evenly spaced snaps secure the boot covering the convertible top when it is in the lowered position. A chrome guard below the filler door on the left rear fender protects the red paint when refueling.

With safety in mind, each rear fender concludes with a backup light, a combination tail and brake light, and a red reflector. It’s said that the styling below the Oldsmobile’s headlights was inspired by the air intake and propeller of the World War II Lockheed P-38 fighter aircraft.

Since taking possession of the Oldsmobile McMahon has driven his dream car about 2,500 miles, all on sunny days.

“I’ve always liked the 1950 Oldsmobile,” he enthuses. “It’s my favorite car.

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