Oldsmobile's golden 1954 F-88 show car

(January 2, 2014) Here's what the Oldsmobile Division at General Motors wanted, but never got. A production model of the experimental show car, Oldsmobile F-88. It would have been in direct competition with the Chevrolet Corvette.

While debating the matter, GM built three 1954 Olds F-88 show cars, each one slightly different, all with concealed folding tops. They were designed under the direction of famed GM designer Harley Earl.

The surviving car is powered by a 324-cid "Rocket V8" producing 250 horsepower. Brought out of GM styling in pieces, and owned briefly by financier and luxury auto magnate, E.L. Cord (CEO of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg). One version was gifted to Harley Earl upon his retirement in December of 1985. The only surviving F-88 was sold at auction in 2005 for $3.2 million.

The XP-20 project, commonly known as F-88 was a pet project of Earl — working with him were Bill Mitchell, Ken Pickering, Zora Duntov and others. Four cars came out of the project, but only styling order #2265 (this car) survived. It was sold or given to E.L. Cord (Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg owner) in 1955. Hundreds of internal GM documents and original blue prints are still with this sole survivor.

It set a world record when auctioned in January 2005 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., for $3.24 million. The founder of the Discovery Channel, John S. Hendricks, is the latest owner and has it displayed in its own room at the Gateway Auto Museum in Colorado.

Jessica Donaldson on the Conceptcarz web site writes, "The Oldsmobile F-88 is one of the most historically significant vehicles of its era and considered by many automotive historians to be a great expression of automotive design from the 1950s Golden Age.

"Designed during 1952-1953, around the same time as the first Motorama Corvette, the preliminary sketches of the F-88 came from veteran designer Bill Lange. The final design was done in the main Oldsmobile studio under the direction of Art Ross.

"The first Oldsmobile F-88 was built for the 1954 Motorama show circuit and followed in 1957 by the Oldsmobile F-88 Mark II. The Oldsmobile F-88 (was) unveiled at the General Motors Motorama on Jan. 21, 1954 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

"The F-88 was painted metallic gold with metallic green inside the fenderwells. For six days the vehicle display and musical revenue ran, following that the Oldsmobile F-88 became part of a series of traveling Motorama shows that caravanned by both bus and truck to Miami, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago."