IMG_9568Where The Action Is declared ads for the newest Oldsmobile Eighty Eights in more than half a Decade. While there was more magic once you hitched yourself to these new rocket coupes, sedans and convertibles, they held a lot more common with relatives under the General Motors empire as well.

In the shift away from large and in charge chariots being the heart of the market place, where would the premium performance preference lead the super sonic Super 88 replacement series, the Delta 88 throughout its life as Oldsmobiles struggled with being the preferred pride of middle American patriarchy?

From the sides and rear, Oldsmobile traded most of what they’d define as their “Linear Look” that debuted for 1959 for subtle curves that had sprouted up underneath at the Pontiac division in 1962.

Oldsmobile’s tendency towards ruler straight reasoning as engineers favorites still clashed with some styling details, as the delicate, slim 2/3rds protrusion of the 1965-66 Eighty Eight sheetmetal to the rear wheel arches didn’t naturally meld with the buxom hips as they did on cousin Impalas, Catalinas and LeSabres.


IMG_9569Up front, All Oldsmobiles kept up their nerdy and charming seemingly bespectacled “barbell” headlamp arrangements. Out back, all the various full sized series made more efforts to differ themselves than in previous seasons.

On the various 88’s that meant quadruple lenses that glowed like squared off afterburners on space capsules aimed at the moon, all the more appropriate to continue the theme of supersonic travel strapped to the land. Starfires gained huge starburst earrings of tail lamps, Ninety Eights even larger lenses that draped like candelabra earrings off of their new gowns.


Under the hood saw the Generation II Rocket V8 that had been introduced for 1964 in 330 cubic inches for the new A-Body F-85/Cutlass intermediates that year, and found its way underneath the hood of Jetstar 88’s as well. In tall deck format, it spanned 425 cubes, and came in power ratings from 300 through 375 horsepower.

In the running edition to the 1965 line up, the Delta 88’s shared the standard tune 310 horse 425 that saw duty in the Dynamic 88. The 360 horsepower version from the Ninety Eight series was an option. Backing up this new performance package was the new to Oldsmobile Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission that was phased in at Cadillac and Buick during 1964. All it shared with the previous fluid-coupling Hydra-Matics of the past was name, as this was 3 speed Torque Converter unit.

IMG_9573Retained from Buick’s Dyna-Flow days was a switch pitch torque converter, however, in which the blades of the Torque converter would rotate depending on throttle position. This flexibility added to the potential of breathtaking performance in these beasts. Already zesty rides throughout the early 60’s, despite the limitations of the cost cutting Roto-Hydramatic, the confidence offered by V8 powered Oldsmobiles rebuilt a reputation for reliably robust performance that actually outlived the availability of such performance from Oldsmobile showrooms.

Even in base configuration, a typical 310 horse-Hydramatic 88 could smartly click off 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, on the way to 120 mph flat out should you find an unpatrolled open highway.

Opting up to the larger V8’s made sure moms and dads throughout the nation could show a thing or two to teens stepping up, wet behind the ears in their new Mustangs and GTOs a thing or two about where the action truly was. Perhaps we can Blame Delta 88’s for the DILF/MILF phenomenon.

As pristine as these Oldses were, with some of the most inventive interiors ever bestowed on the brand, some of the eventual undoing of General Motors that lead to bankruptcy were on full display all the way back in 1965. For the first year all full sized GM cars shared a common perimeter chassis. Alongside the common use of the Super Turbine 2 speed automatic and Turbo Hydra Matic by all GM full sized cars, there started to be an erosion of the little character differences that made an Oldsmobile feel different from a Buick, and seem like worth the few extra bucks over a Pontiac, or, embarrassingly, Chevrolet’s new Caprice.

IMG_9571It was better business to establish what was common among all of General Motor’s expansive collection of vehicles, and each brand struggled with trying to figure out customer retention versus courting newer, more youthful buyers.

The Delta 88 itself would soon dispense with the sex appeal of being that thrust in the butt many mainstream buyers sought as more muscle machines gravitated downstream smaller machines that could open wallets wide. By the time emissions regulations neutered most Delta 88’s, it had just became another chariot for the charmingly out of touch.

We honor Where The Action was in 1965 with this one of 23,194 Delta 88 Holiday Hardtop Coupes built.


4 thoughts on “(Found In) Chinatown (Fresno, California): 1965 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Holiday Hardtop Coupe

  1. I am loving all of your recent Oldsmobile coverage. I’m both a fan and a mourner of the brand. I haven’t quite kept up with all of your Olds posts but I will go back to read and comment on them. Speaking of comment, I thought this was a particularly poised piece of prose, precociously and potentially more palatable than previous posts. Why, you may ask? Because of this: “In the shift away from large and in charge chariots being the heart of the market place, where would the premium performance preference lead the super sonic Super 88 replacement series, the Delta 88 throughout its life as Oldsmobiles struggled with being the preferred pride of middle American patriarchy?” This, Laurence, is the kind of wit and writing that keeps me coming back for more. That and describing the taillights on a 98 as candelabra earrings!


  2. Peak Olds in my opinion. Personally Buick is my preferred GM but this I like and certainly wouldn’t kick out of the driveway.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s