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> The Oldsmobile F-88 Concept, World's Rarest Auto
post Sep 3 2010, 10:41 PM
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World's Rarest Auto

The world's rarest automobile. A 1954 concept old's Rocket F88 - the only one in existence. (read the story below) John S. Hendricks, (Discovery Communications founder) paid in excess of 3 million to acquire.

1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Convertible Concept Car

After spending decades as a collection of parts stuffed into wooden crates – the F-88 was reassembled.

In 1954 – the F-88 was a Motorama “Dream Car” and was one of only two – or an unconfirmed possible three ever created. The F-88 seen here is literally the only car left of its kind – and was sold to John and Maureen Hendricks at the prestigious Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale , Arizona for an unbelievable $3,240,000. This acquisition made automotive history and is the “cornerstone” of the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum in its own special room in a rotating display worthy of the F-88!

Check the pics below and the video at the end then read on for more information.

Here's what the Corvette Oldsmobile Division wanted, but never had. This experimental sports car would have been in direct competition with the Chevrolet Corvette. While debating the matter, GM built three Olds F-88 showcars, each one slightly different, all with concealed folding tops. It is powered by a 324-cid 'Rocket V8' producing 250 bhp. Brought out of GM styling in pieces, and owned briefly by financier and luxury auto magnate, E.L. Cord (CEO of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg). One version was gifted to Harley Earl upon his retirement in December of 1985. The only surviving F-88 was sold at auction in 2005 for $3.2 million.

The XP-20 project, commonly known as F-88 was a pet project of Harley Earl (working with him was Bill Mitchell, Ken Pickering, Zora Duntov etc.). Four cars came out of the project, but only styling order #2265 (this car) survived. It was sold or given to E.L. Cord (Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg owner) in 1955. Hundreds of internal GM documents and original blue prints are still with this sole survivor.

Source - Barrett-Jackson

The Oldsmobile F-88 is one of the most historically significant vehicles of its era and considered by many automotive historians to be a great expression of automotive design from the 1950s Golden Age.
Designed during 1952-1953, around the same time as the first Motorama Corvette, the preliminary sketches of the F-88 came from veteran designer Bill Lange. The final deisgn was done in the main Oldsmobile studio under the direction of Art Ross. A very gifted designer, Ross is given credit for the 1941 Cadillac eggcrate ‘tombstone' grill, the World War II Wildcat tank destroyer, and the ‘rocket' beltline for the '59 Oldsmobile. The interior of the Oldsmobile was designed by Jack Humbert (who later moved on to become Pontiac's chief designer).
The first Oldsmobile F-88 was built for the 1954 Motorama show circuit and followed in 1957 by the Oldsmobile F-88 Mark II. The Oldsmobile F-88 shared the stage of the Motorama show with the Oldsmobile Cutlass fastback coupe that shared an identical instrument panel. Unveiled at the General Motors Motorama on January 21, 1954 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 was painted metallic gold with metallic green inside the fenderwells.
The golden Oldsmobile F-88 was a true showstopper. For six days the vehicle display and musical revenue ran, following that the Oldsmobile F-88 became part of a series of traveling Motorama shows that caravanned by both bus and truck to Miami, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago. Over 2 millions viewers saw the five Motoramas that season. Back in that day, after a show car had completed its Motorama duties, it was usually turned over to its sponsoring division. The division's top execs were then encouraged to eventually destroy it as they couldn't sell such vehicle, or they could give them away to favored dealers.
The Mark II looked entirely different than the first F-88 and featured quad headlights and blade-like vertical tailfins. The Mark III was introduced in the 1959 and unveiled for the GM Motorama, also looking nothing like the earlier two.
An experimental, high performance, two-passenger sports convertible, the F-88 was Oldsmobile's legendary dream car. A beautiful dynamo on wheel, the F-88 was Oldsmobile's experimental convertible that GM's stylists incorporated scores of striking innovations into. This spectacular sports car featured natural pigskin upholstery, low-poised fiberglass body, unusual rear deck design, sparkling interior trim and a special 250 hp ‘Rocket' engine. The elliptical grille mouth, ‘hockey stick' side trim and bullet tail lights were designed purely period Oldsmobile style.

Harley Earl, the legendary automotive stylist, designed the F-88 under the belief that it would have outsold the Corvette and forever changed automotive history. Unfortunately Chevrolet, which produced more GM products than any of its other divisions, convinced the GM board of directors to cut the Oldsmobile project. The F-88 never went into production due to that sabotage combined with lukewarm Corvette sales. The 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 was strictly ever a dream car.
Meant to compete with the similarly sized Corvette, the F-88 was one of the most significant concept vehicles ever designed by GM. Lightweight; the F-88 would have outperformed even the Ford Thunderbird. The Oldsmobile F-88 featured a Rocket 88 V8, 4 speed automatic hydromatic transmission, power windows and door latches, bullet tail lights, large vertical exhaust outlets for its ‘Rocket' V-8, and a distinguished wide-mouth grille, unlike the Corvette, which only had a 6-cylinder engine, a 2-speed automatic transmission and no windows.
Powered by hopped up 324-cubic-inch V8 from the '54 Oldsmobile Super 99, the F-55 engine used a stock four-barrel carburetor with a tiny flat air cleaner. The engine's 9.0:1 compression ratio plus additional modifications boosted the Super 88's 185 horsepower to 250 horsepower and an undisclosed amount of torque. With no trouble handling the Oldsmobile's V-8 torque, power flowed through a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission to a 3.55:1 Corvette rear axle. The F-88 took its off-the-shelf components, its instruments, from a 1953 Oldsmobile. Humbert turned the speedometer into a combined speedo/tach and gave the other three dials custom faces.

Only four cars were ever built, and one survives today and set a world record when auctioned in January 2005 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona for $3,240,000.00. The founder of the Discovery Channel, John S. Hendricks is the proud owner who has is displayed in its own room at the Gateway Auto Museum in Colorado.


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