Although still tied to the Futuramic Ninety Eights that pushed Oldsmobile into the stratosphere of the 1950’s a few years too early, the once again warmed over line topping Rocket Oldsmobiles had plenty of new before they were more fully redesigned for 1954.
Like a sneak preview of the potential return to the showroom in the years to follow, enough goodies went above and below the skin for 1953 the keep viewers glued to the screen for the latest flight into the Pre-Interstate highway space. Here’s why folks continued to make dates with rocket powered Oldsmobiles in 1953.
As the horsepower race warmed up even further, Oldsmobile couldn’t be left out as the the brand that threw the first punch in the battle in 1949. The last upgrade to the original 303 cubic inch Rocket V8 saw a reworked manifold and upped compression ratio to allot for 165 horsepower in Super 88’s and Ninety Eights. 170 was on tap for the new glamour boat Fiesta Convertible.
As the weight continued to increase on the Ninety Eight in particular, each new horse under the hood kept it competitive with other horses in the race, notably DeSoto’s Firedome, Chrysler’s lesser New Yorker, The Hudson Hornet, Buick’s new nailhead powered Super and Roadmaster and even Lincoln dipping into the price zone of Oldsmobile with their downmarket Cosmopolitan.
A number of these rivals borrowed what was native to Oldsmobile however; the Hydra-matic fluid coupling automatic brought 4 firmly self shifting gears to ease the process of ambling away from town into the country.
However, a fire at the Hydra-Matic plant during the model year meant some Oldsmobiles (and Cadillacs and Pontiacs as well) mean some 1953 Oldsmobiles are blessed/cursed with the silky smooth and sluggishly shifting Dynaflow Automatic from the Buick division.
Power assisted optioning was everywhere elsewhere, as Power Brakes and Air Conditioning joined Power Steering on the options list. It’s strange to think of assisted driving as being line options in our modern world where a crank window is virtually no existent and power seats find their way into price leaders.
Once upon a time, a fine near luxury boat like a Ninety Eight Olds offered all of these items as options, slowly rolling them in as standard equipment as time went buy and these features became more commonplace purchases among buyers. Honestly, to handle the bulk of these beasts, a little non-human muscle was needed to steer and stop these behemoths, so they were more-than-welcome additions to the 1953 options list.
New starting power in the upgrade to a 12 volt electrical system facilitated all of the new gadgetry to function with less trouble than the competition. Mild styling updates, including a surprising de-trimming of the Ninety-Eight in the ever-increasing chrome sweepstakes and a pod-intake scoop grille that hinted at 1954 styling features kept the zaftig body as fashionable as possible.
The Ninety-Eight continued to carve out a vehicular perspective of “why pay more for.” It was a high enough hill with capable performance and well-crafted luxury that would constantly trouble two tiers of GM finery above it. In that reality, the 1953 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight would be the last fully “C” bodied ones through 1961, when the larger Buick and Cadillac ones were slightly downsized.
The New for 1954 Ninety-Eight came to life as an extension, and exclusive modification of GM’s new “B” body shell, adding wheelbase and length, if not interior room over the 88 models. All of this, along with an ease on Korean War manufacturing limitations saw healthy sales for all Oldsmobiles. 27,920 people saw the $2,771.00 entry price (approximately $25,500 in 2017 dollars), started adding options and agreed “why buy more” and break the bank on a Cadillac Coupe DeVille or Roadmaster Riviera. This formula would serve the Ninety Eight righteously until there became too little a price, styling and feature difference between it and its more snobbish sisters.