1955 Oldsmobile 88 Rocket “Holiday Sedan” (MKII)


  • A fine looking and rare in the UK example of the big 1950’s Oldsmobile 88
  • In the most powerful Rocket guise and having been lovingly restored
  • In a fully operational condition with just some minor finishing to undertake

The Appeal

The Oldsmobile 88 was first introduced in 1949 with a naming convention that designated its platform, 8, and its number of cylinders, 8. Prodigious NASCAR success for the 88 helped sell the car in significant numbers and made it Oldsmobile’s most profitable model for over twenty years. It also inspired the early 1950’s slogan “make a date with a Rocket 88.” In 1954 a heavily revised MKII car was launched with completely new styling and a host of enhancements.

Our example is a MKII car in four door sedan configuration and boasting the more powerful “Rocket” model designation. It has undergone a thorough and documented restoration but has remained faithful to the original factory specification and livery. It is now ready to enjoy regular use in the hands of its next owner.

The History and Paperwork

  • This example was built in 1955 and hails from GM’s Lansing, Michigan plant
  • The car spent the next 30+ years in the USA
  • The car was believed to have been imported to the UK in the late 1980’s
  • The Oldsmobile was first registered here in April 1989
  • Since in the UK the car has been cherished by seven former owners
  • It is understood that the car underwent a full restoration in around 2002
  • This is thought to have included the exterior, interior and mechanicals
  • Since then, the car appears to have covered less than 3,000 miles
  • The current owner acquired the Oldsmobile in 2022
  • It is only coming to market now due to a lack of use, currently
  • The Oldsmobile comes with a varied and interesting paperwork archive
  • This includes the current V5 in the name of the owner
  • The car is registered as a Historic Vehicle so is VED and MoT exempt
  • The car is currently registered as SORN
  • Many previous MoT’s are included to help verify mileage
  • Reams of invoices are present from the later parts of the car’s history
  • A full photograph album documents the earlier restoration
  • An 88 Rocket owner’s manual is also included

The Interior

  • Our example features a charming, restored interior
  • It is awash with period details and has remained faithful to the original specification
  • Full-width bench seats are fitted both front and rear
  • These have been retrimmed in period correct materials imported from the USA
  • This comprises Copper “hair cell” vinyl to the extremities of the seats
  • The centres are finished in a complimentary weaved fabric with flecks of black and gold
  • Both benches present in an excellent condition
  • The dashboard is topped with grey vinyl
  • The bottom portion of the dash is painted metal finished in white
  • The central portion of the dashboard is finished in chrome
  • In this chromed panel sits the instruments and a clock on the passenger side
  • The instruments comprise a large speedometer and four supplemental gauges
  • A number of chromed knobs take care of additional functions
  • A delicate, white twin-spoked steering wheel is fitted
  • This features a chromed horn-ring and embossed, chrome centre boss
  • Carpets are ribbed grey items and present in a good condition
  • This carpet extends onto the bottom of the door cards
  • The remainder of the door cards are trimmed in Copper and White vinyl
  • A machined chrome strip horizontally separates the two hues of vinyl
  • The perforated vinyl headlining is affixed via a series of chromed trim pieces
  • The huge boot is carpeted in grey and houses a vertically mounted spare wheel 

The Exterior

  • The exterior of this Oldsmobile just screams 1950’s charm and sophistication
  • This pillarless sedan design was introduced for the first time for the ’55 model year
  • It was known as the “Holiday Sedan” hence the Holiday badges on the wings
  • The car is finished in two tone coral and white paintwork
  • The white sections extend along the car’s flanks
  • The two tones of paintwork are differentiated via shaped, chromed trim pieces
  • The overall condition of the paintwork is very good indeed
  • Both hues seem to be deeply applied and exuding a deep shine
  • Likewise, the bodywork which generally appears solid and straight
  • There are a few areas on the exterior that ideally require finishing off, however
  • At the front the chromed, side trim pieces are present but not fitted
  • Ideally these would require re-chroming and re-fitting
  • At the rear the painted sections of the rear bumper have been ground back
  • These would either need chroming or repainting ideally
  • Otherwise, the paint and bodywork appear to be in an enviable condition
  • There was a crack noted and reported to the passenger side front window
  • As this is not laminated it is understood that a replacement can easily be cut to size
  • The all-important shaped screen and rear window are in great shape, however
  • This big car rolls on black painted steel wheels
  • These are fitted with the correct, shield-centred chromed hub caps
  • The wheels are fitted with the correct specification of radial type white-walled tyres

The Mechanics

  • In this “Rocket” designated model the engine is a 324 cubic inch (5.3L) V8
  • This higher compression unit was originally rated at 185 bhp
  • The all-important torque, however, was a mighty 320 Ib ft
  • Power is fed to the rear wheels via a four speed Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox
  • This is operated via a column mounted shift
  • We know that the mechanical systems were fully rebuilt during its earlier restoration
  • During its current ownership the drum brakes have been recommissioned
  • Since then, the car’s records suggest it has done less than 2,000 miles
  • During our visit the car started easily and idled evenly for an extended period
  • Both the under bonnet and underside areas present very well
  • The car is understood to run and drive well with no known issues


Despite the Oldsmobile 88 originally being classed as “full-sized” car it is actually one of the smallest models of its period. This helped the car perform very well against its contemporaries and endowed the model with a relatively sporting demeanour. Despite all this it seems like a big imposing car today and won’t fail to make the right sort of entrance in its bright coral and white livery.

Despite this car requiring few small finishing touches, all the key parts of the car are in excellent shape and all the harder to source parts appear to be present. That combination makes this fine example a car that can be used and enjoyed immediately with those finishing jobs attended to at the owner’s leisure. In this Holiday Sedan configuration, this is a rare beast too. All the more reason to snap this Oldsmobile up without delay.

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This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1955
  • Make Oldsmobile
  • Model Rocket 88
  • Colour Coral over White
  • Odometer 23,599 Miles
  • Engine size 5300
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Wellingborough
  • Location Northamptonshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
5 bids from 3 bidders
  • ra•••• £8,000 12/04/23
  • wi•••• £6,000 11/04/23
  • st•••• £5,600 10/04/23
  • ra•••• £5,500 05/04/23
  • ra•••• £5,000 05/04/23

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