The Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Was Yet Another Harley Earl Masterpiece

The sale of the fabulous 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 GM Concept Car was a revelation in a number of ways in that not only did it harken back to a golden age of automotive design, it was also a new benchmark for such concepts on the auction block.
Oldsmobile F-88 Concept 9 photos
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
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As seven bidders threw their hats in the ring to take ownership of the iconic set of wheels, the bidding flew past the million-dollar mark quickly. By the time the auction was over, the F-88 had set a record at $3.3 million.

The F-88 itself was yet another Harley Earl concept car that has become a legend, and it was a pet project of the great executive and designer. Earl worked alongside the forefathers of the Corvette - Bill Mitchell, Ken Pickering, and Zora Arkus-Duntov - on this daring and sporty idea for Oldsmobile. At the time, it was dubbed the XP-20 project, and though four design studies were created, this car which was known by "styling order #2265," and became the sole survivor of the process.

Oldsmobile created the F-88 in 1954, and Bill Lange made the initial sketches. The concept version took the chassis of a Chevrolet Corvette as base metal and also shared its 102 in (2,600 mm) wheelbase.

Just as with the Corvette and the Pontiac Bonneville Special, the F-88's body was wrought from fiberglass.

The car featured a 324 cubic inch (5.3-liter) Super 88 V8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor topped off with a small, flat air cleaner. The Corvette rear axle used in the car had a ratio of 3.55:1.

Its interior was built around the console from the 1953 Oldsmobile model, and it featured a tachometer customized fascia for the various gauges. The carmaker later used the instrument panel itself from the F-88 concept on Cutlass models. The F-88 was sold to John and Maureen Hendricks for over three million dollars.

Craig Jackson, the President and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auctions, said it represented a high-water mark in American automotive aspiration and design.

“The Olds F-88 became one of the most historically significant vehicles of its era. Many automotive historians consider the F-88 to be one of the greatest expressions of automotive design to ever come from North America,” Jackson said.
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