1951 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Custom
The Oldsmobile 88 was the division’s most profitable model line for decades, essentially saving the company from ruin many times over, and today these cool vehicles make for rare yet incredibly handsome hotrods. This killer 1951 Oldsmobile 88 2-Door Sedan, for example, emphasizes all the clean lines that made the “shoebox” sedan from that era so famous, but it packs a thundering 350 LT1 V8 under the hood, a quick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, and a sporty air-bag assisted suspension that’s transformed it into an incredibly exciting restomod. Impressive as all that upgraded hardware is, this classic’s good looks take the cake, with a show-stopping custom paint job and bespoke leather interior combining to make this Oldsmobile a dynamic touring cruiser that’s ready for the big time.
Burgundy Metallic-over-Champagne is a wonderful color combination, professionally applied to a high standard and cleverly separated by custom airbrush work at the profile and precisely-applied pinstripes. The custom two-tone paintwork is certainly attention-grabbing, but the good news is that it even with all of its glitz it still stands up to scrutiny rather well. The finish is very bright and shiny, and it’s obvious that when the work was done there was no expense spared. Since the car was completed, it has been used and enjoyed as intended, so it’s not a trailer queen and it’s no longer perfect, but it’s still incredibly nice and I’d bet you can’t remember the last time you saw one of these 88’s finished to this level. Custom touches range from the nosed and decked hood and decklid, shaved door trim and handles, the frenched-in license plate holder and flush fuel door out back, and the smooth one-piece bumpers fore and aft. It also has quite a bit of artistic pinstripe work too, from the aforementioned bright colors that separate the two-tone theme, to the airbrushed emblems on the hood, fenders, and below the decklid. It’s a great mix of old-school and new-school, and really gives this low-slung hotrod a unique curb appeal that draws lots of stares. Chrome pieces like the front grille, headlight rings, and ornate taillight housings are in excellent condition and it appears that most of the glass and weather-stripping is newer, so it seals up well.
The custom Shawn Cook leather interior has been thoroughly updated, featuring light tan power bucket seats and a custom center console. The seats appear to be from a late-model but the vertical pleats are straight out of the 1950s, so they look right, and the rear bench, plush door panels, thick carpets, and taut headliner were all custom-stitched to match. A tilt column is fitted with a leather-rimmed, dual-ring steering wheel that anchors the cockpit, matching the high-end style of the custom center console that houses switches for the power windows/locks, controls for the upgraded Vintage Air A/C system, a digital gauge that monitors the air-bag settings, and an incredibly cool 6-speed manual shifter topped with an 8-ball knob. The entire dash was reworked and painted tan to match the soft stuff inside, and it offers bright billet switches, polished accents, and a digital gauge pod that monitors the engine’s vitals. An auxiliary tachometer was mounted at the center of the dash, reminding everyone that this isn’t just some pedestrian grocery getter (in case the 6-speed shifter wasn’t sporty enough), and the headliner includes an incorporated Alpine AM/FM/CD player that powers the upgraded speakers stashed throughout the cabin. A full-sized back seat makes this a very practical hot rod and the massive trunk has been custom upholstered with hidden storage compartments, more reminders that nothing was overlooked in this build.
That powerful 350 LT1 V8 is a perfect fit in the Oldsmobile’s engine bay, where the builder’s finished it for show with custom fenders, a smoothed firewall, and a gorgeous engine cover that was painted to match the exterior. There’s power at just about any speed thanks to modern fuel injection, a serpentine belt system, and long-tube headers, and the polished valve covers and bright details add to the custom feel. It’s quite tidy and well-engineered, and much of the wiring and plumbing has been hidden out of sight to help with that show-worthy look. A big radiator helps keep the powerful small block from getting too warm, and power steering and power 4-wheel disc brakes allow for regular, easy-going driving at just about anyone’s experience level. For a car full of incredibly cool upgrades, the 6-speed manual gearbox might just be the most exciting, turning this Oldsmobile into a Pro-Tour ready machine that’s a blast to drive, and it and the heavy-duty 10-bolt rear end are capable dance partner for the feisty LT1. The suspension has been completely upgraded as well, featuring tubular A-Arms up front, a panhard bar with 4-link setup in the rear, and a full airbag suspension with actuators fore and aft that help set the stance and improve the car’s ride quality. Twin pipes with throaty Flowmaster mufflers give it just the right hotrod soundtrack that doesn’t get annoying on long hauls and the flashy 18-inch polished wheels are punctuated with custom ’88’ center caps that finish the killer look perfectly, all wrapped in 245/40/18 radials with plenty of grip.
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Location: Fort Worth, Texas, United States