1957 Oldsmobile 88 Yard Find Is All-Original, Flexes Super-Rare V8 Banned by NASCAR

While most enthusiasts argue that the muscle car era started with the Pontiac GTO in 1963, it actually began much earlier than that. And I'm not talking about the 1955 Chrysler C-300, also credited as an early muscle car. Nope, America's muscle car roots can be traced back to the late 1940s.
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-2 11 photos
Photo: Old Skool Rides/YouTube
1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-21957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J-2
That's when Hudson began working on the Hornet, a full-size car that rose to fame by dominating NASCAR from 1952 through 1954. I know, the "Fabulous" Hornet featured an inline-six engine instead of a V8, but I'm not here to talk about that. In 1949, a few months before Hudson unleashed the Hornet, Oldsmobile introduced the 88.

Powered by a then-new 303-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) V8 mill, the "Rocket" 88 not only won the NASCAR championship twice but also took first place in the inaugural Carrera Panamericana.

Its motorsport success came to a halt in 1952 and the 88 slowly morphed into a larger, heavier rig, but that's not to say that Oldsmobile didn't try to bring the nameplate back to the oval track.

It happened in 1957 when Oldsmobile redesigned the 88 for the third generation and introduced the J-2 high-performance option. Essentially a three-two-barrel carburetor upgrade similar to Pontiac's Tri-Power option, J-2 bumped the output of the 371-cubic-inch (6.1-liter) Rocket V8 from 277 to 300 horsepower. Torque was just as impressive at 415 pound-feet (563 Nm).

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J\-2
Photo: Old Skool Rides/YouTube
With the 88 now back into muscle car territory, Oldsmobile hired NASCAR legend Lee Petty to drive the car to oval-track glory. However, the J-2's racing adventure came to an abrupt end when NASCAR outlawed multiple carburation during the 1957 season.

The engine remained available in road-going cars for the 1958 model year, but it was discontinued when Oldsmobile embraced the Automobile Manufacturer's Association recommendation that U.S. carmakers move away from racing.

Most experts agree that between 2,000 and 2,500 Oldsmobile 88s were fitted with the J-2 option in 1957 and 1958. With many of these cars wrecked or abandoned in junkyards, the J-2 is now an extremely rare classic.

The 1957 Super 88 you're about to see below is one of the lucky ones that got rescued after sitting for years in someone's backyard.

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J\-2
Photo: Old Skool Rides/YouTube
Amazingly enough, the four-door sedan is still in good condition. Yes, the red paint has seen better days there's plenty of surface rust on the body, but most of the chrome is still there and the car appears to be complete.

The interior is also in great condition with the original upholstery still in one piece. Impressively enough, the headliner is not saggy, which is a common issue with 1950s classics.

But the most spectacular thing about this Olds is that it still rocks its original, numbers-matching J-2 engine. It could use a good cleaning and most likely won't run without a bit of work, but it's downright fantastic that this 65-year-old mill is still complete. Now that's what I call a perfect candidate for restoration.

Unfortunately, the fate of this 88 is a bit of a mystery right now. The car was recently documented by YouTube's "Old Skool Rides," but he says he's not interested in putting the car back on its feet. But the owner is looking for someone to take it off his hands. And all I can hope is this J-2-powered land yacht will get a new loving home soon.

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 J\-2
Photo: Old Skool Rides/YouTube
The third-generation Oldsmobile 88 was built in 1957 and 1958 only. The lineup included everything from two-door coupes and hardtops to four-door sedans, as well as a pair of station wagons. The latter was also available with the J-2 engine.

While regular 1957 88s are usually valued at around $30,000 in Excellent condition, J-2 versions are known to fetch more than $70,000 in Concours-ready condition.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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