Oldsmobile Futuramic 98
While the Oldsmobile Futuramic was not entirely a new car, it certainly looked like one. Technically, the engine and internal parts of the car were all the same. However, it received a new look which was more defined and sleek than ever. Oldsmobile marketed it as “satin smooth” with extra power and economical to boot. The car was nicknamed the “New Airborne Ride of the Future” to appropriately reflect its title.
Oldsmobile designed and developed its own unique version of the C-body. A new grille featured only two upside-down chrome bars instead of the original four. Also new to Oldsmobile was a two-piece curved glass fitted windshield. Oldsmobile would beat Buick to the punch by an entire year with this feature. To go along with the sleek theme, smooth front fenders blended into the doors as opposed to being fasted on as previously done. The wheelbase was also reduced by two inches, length by three, and height reduced only fractionally. However, because of the sleek design of the car, the Futuramic looked longer than the 1947 version.
In total, there were five 98 models offered in three different body styles. These included two and four door sedans, available in standard or Deluxe trim. The convertible was the only car that was not offered in a standard model. The convertible did however include hydraulically powered windows, seats and top. Upholstery came in two different options. The four door sedan could be outfitted with special upholstery, deluxe steering wheel, stainless steel wheel trim rings, and rear fender skirts for a mere $105 extra.
Because the government was in charge of ceiling prices at that time, automakers could only increase prices at the pace of the Office of Price Administration. Automakers jumped on these increases due to the cost of inflation. It would seem that Oldsmobile successfully persuaded the government to compensate them for the cost of the new C-body, as the price increased 12.2 percent from 1947 to 1948. The Series 70 would rise a total of 8.2 percent that year.
Some of the things modern America takes for granted when purchasing a car were not available in the 1940s. For example, a radio was available in the Futuramic only at the extra cost of $84-$94. A heater/defroster combo was an additional $56, turn signals were $16, and the Hydra-matic was a whopping $175 extra.
When the Futuramic was first introduced in 1948, it was its own unique brand of car. By 1949 however, the complete Oldsmobile line was a reflection of the Futuramic. 1949 brought minimal changes to the line, including minor trim differences such as:
- Ring-around-the-planet medallion on the hood
- Jet fighter inspired air scoops under the headlights
- Reshuffled side trim; and
- Small chrome fins above the taillights
The only major cosmetic change would consist of the large “Futuramic” emblem included at the bottom of the front fenders behind the wheels. The 98 emblem would not appear until 1952.
The official 1949 version would be dubbed the “Rocket” and would include the powerful V-8 rocket engine which the 1948 version lacked. Horsepower was also increased from 115 to 135 and torque raised from 218 to 263 – an increase of 21 percent.
While Oldsmobile had produced quality machines in the 1940s, it would still only rank seventh in production in 1949. 1958 would bring a brighter era of sales to Oldsmobile.