The Oldsmobile Starfire was produced over three generations and spanned from 1954-1980. The generations were non-contiguous, as production ceased for periods of time before restarting. The original Starfire debuted in 1954, although the concept car was first shown at an auto-show in the summer of 1953. The Starfire was named after the Lockheed F-94 Starfire jet and originally was dubbed the “dream car”. The original model was a convertible that held 5 passengers, a Rocket V8 engine, and a wraparound windshield similar to the limited production 1953 Fiesta convertible.
When the Starfire officially debuted in 1954, it was officially dubbed the “98 Starfire”. The car was the most expensive car that Oldsmobile produced from 1954-1956. The Starfire was dropped from the “98” production line beginning in 1958.
The Starfire debuted on its own in January of 1961 and shared much of its body and design with the Super 88 and Dynamic 88. The features included standard equipment, including leather bucket seats. In 1961, 1,500 models were sold. In 1962, sales improved (and ended up being the best sales year in the car’s history) largely due to the new convertible roofline and increased horsepower. The 1963 version included a more squared-off rooftop. In 1965 the coupe model received a revamp in styling along with all other Oldsmobiles. When the Starfire ceased production in 1966, the Starfire coupe was greatly discounted and was the only model being offered at that time.
The second-generation Starfire was introduced in the fall of 1975 after a nine-year hiatus. The style changed dramatically from that of a luxury 5-person convertible to a compact car that sat 4 passengers. The body style resembled the Ferrari 365 GTC/4, although the car was most similar and comparable to the Chevrolet Monza at that time. This generation was the smallest model offered by Oldsmobile since before World War II. Upgraded SX and GT models were introduced shortly after. In 1976, Oldsmobile extended the option to upgrade to a Borg-Warner 5-speed manual with overdrive transmission.
In late 1978, Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire Firenza, which was a special package including features like:
- front air dam;
- special Rallye suspension;
- a rear spoiler;
- flared wheel openings; and
- sport wheels; and
- special paint and trim.
The year 1979 brought many changes, including a makeover with twin rectangular headlamps where quad rectangular were previously. Oldsmobile additionally declined to offer the V8 engine and 5-speed manual transmission options after the 1979 model year.
By the time 1980 rolled around, the hype around the Starfire had all but ceased. Oldsmobile made the call to cease production for the Starfire and its spinoffs in late December of 1979. The body production was traded by Oldsmobile to Chevrolet and Pontiac in exchange for a larger portion of the new X-bodies.
Oldsmobile attempted to replace the Starfire models with H-body cars with rear-wheel drive in the spring of 1981 and front-wheel drive J cars in early 1982- which included the Oldsmobile Firenza.
Overall, within the six model years, over 125,188 cars were produced.