1954 Oldsmobile: A new dream car
In 1954, Oldsmobile offered a completely new type of car. This was to be the "New Dream Car" of the 1950s. It was "new" in many ways with a body silhouette that was longer, lower, and more beautiful than ever. It had a panoramic curve-around windshield with a new tasteful slant. It also had exciting sports car flair with new sweep-cut fenders and doors. Buyers could expect many turned heads while driving this beauty around town.
Features to dazzle the buyer
The design wasn't the only thing that was new on the 1954 Oldsmobile. It also offered new power in many functions. The safety power steering was a new feature that removed 80 percent of the driver's steering effort, but still allowed the driver to have full control of the wheel. The pedal-ease power brakes were also new. They enabled the driver to slide only a toe from the gas to the brake pedal. The brake pedal was low and required little pressure for easier and safer stops.
For ultimate driving comfort, the new four-way power seat controls provided adjustment for the front seat. It could be moved forward or backward, up or down, at the touch of a button.
The Power-Ride chassis provided for a brand new foundation, giving the car what was often called the "Rocket" ride. This chassis featured a heavier, longer I-beam, new front coil springs that gave better stability and more comfort, and a longer wheelbase for a better balance. The chassis featured an x-member frame, which gave a smoother ride and more rigidity. There were more rugged, heavier universal joints to give longer life to the car, and the car would require fewer trips for service. For improved driving control, the rear springs and shock absorbers were moved to a new location.
Hydra-Matic Super Drive
The Hydra-Matic Super Drive transmission was the first automatic transmission and was introduced by Oldsmobile. This year it had been improved and became a great engine companion. It had three forward gears to give needed acceleration and power in any situation. The three ranges were labeled as such: "Drive Range" for country or city driving; "Super Range" for driving on hills; and "Special Passing Gear" for driving on the highway.
The Spectacular front end
At a glance, you'd think the car was "sad" with its droopy look at the front end. Instead of a regular grille, it had chrome lines curving downward and around the sides connecting with the bumper beneath, forming the elliptical grille mouth. There were two round headlamps with small parking lights beneath each. The Oldsmobile emblem was front and center on the car's nose with the word "Oldsmobile" spanning across the front beneath the emblem. A hood ornament decorated the hood.
1954 Oldsmobile Super 88
The Super 88 was Oldsmobile's best performer this year. It was the luxurious version of the standard Olds 88 model. It had a 324-cubic-inch V-8 engine with hydraulic valve lifters. The engine was called the "Rocket V-8." It had 16 valves with 2 valves per cylinder. Its horsepower rating was 170 horsepower at 4000 RPM. It had 300 foot-pounds of torque at 1400 RPM. It had a bore and stroke of 3.88 inches by 3.44 inches. The compression ratio was 8.5:1. It used an automatic transmission. The more powerful 324 V-8 engine had 185 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque.
Some of the optional equipment available for this car included power brakes, a day-night rearview mirror, rear speakers, a clock, Super Deluxe AM radio, power steering, a tissue dispenser, Deluxe disc wheels, back-up lights, and a courtesy light package. The trunk came with a spare tire, trunk mat, lug and spare tire, and a jack.
Three body styles for the 1954 Oldsmobile 98 series
There were three basic body styles for the 1954 Oldsmobile 98 series. These were the hardtop Holiday Coupe, a Convertible, and a four-door Sedan. The two-door Holiday Coupe and the Convertible were available as standard models or with deluxe trim. The Deluxe models had a unique side trim to distinguish them from the others. The Deluxe Holiday Coupe came standard with leather and cloth upholstery, a padded dash, and wheel covers made of full stainless steel.
The windows were powered hydraulically on cars built early in the year, but electrically-powered windows were used on later models that year. The engine used on the 98 series was a 324-cubic-inch V-8 engine, also called a Rocket V-8, with a horsepower rating of 185.
1954 Oldsmobile F-88
A concept car was also built by Oldsmobile in 1954. It was called the F-88 concept and was designed by Harley Earl. Its engine was a Rocket V-8 with a displacement of 324 cubic inches and 250 horsepower. The F-88 was a project of Earl's which resulted in five concept cars over the next few years. Only one of these concept cars survived - model #2265. In 2005, a 1954 F-88 concept car broke an all-time auction bidding record at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. It sold for a whopping $3.2 million after being the focus of a bidding war. It was about the same size as a Corvette with a fiberglass body. It had the 324-cubic-inch V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, and 250 horsepower.
For 1954, the "all-new" Olds models brought about a new way of thinking for car buyers. They could have great styling and driving ease all in one beautiful car.