The Fascinating History of the Oldsmobile F-88


Vehicles that were designed and produced by Oldsmobile are rare, but none is rarer than the F-88, which was built in 1954. Deemed to be a concept or dream car, it is widely believed that there was only one F-88 made, but there are some saying that there are actually two that exist today. However, the second F-88, if it does exist, is still not seen in the public eye. What is the F-88? And what made it one of the rarest cars in the world? We’ll find out as we take a look at the fascinating history of the Oldsmobile F-88.

Origins of the F-88

The design of the F-88 was first sketched by Bill Lange, a veteran designer at Oldsmobile. Then, the final design was tweaked and improved by another designer named Art Ross. Besides the F-88, Ross is also responsible for design the M18 Wildcat tank destroyer used by American soldiers in the Second World War, as well as the iconic egg crate grill found in the 1941 Cadillac. While Lange and Ross designed the exterior of the F-88, the interior designer of the vehicle was Jack Humbert, who would soon become the chief designer for Pontiac.

rusty Oldsmobile logo

The first F-88 was built in 1954 and was going to be showcased at the Motorama show circuit in the same year, while the alleged second F-88 was built in 1957. When the first F-88 was shown at the 1954 Motorama show circuit, it shared the spotlight for the Oldsmobile brand with the Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe that the company has also released recently. The Motorama show, hosted by Oldsmobile’s parent company General Motors, was held on January 21, 1954, at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Motorama show has been conducted by General Motors since 1949 to showcase the newest cars built by the companies that they own. Unfortunately, the show would end in 1961, and the four locations that the Motorama visited for the tour were Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

After the first 1954 Motorama show, the F-88 was showcased four more times in the Motorama shows held in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco. When the Motorama show tour was over, the company thought about what to do with the F-88. Like most concept cars, most companies that build these “dream vehicles” would often destroy it after a certain period of time, mainly because of the fact that they cannot mass-produce these cars because its parts were too expensive. Nonetheless, the Oldsmobile company liked the F-88 so much that they decided to keep it intact, although, at an unknown point in time, the first F-88 was disassembled. Furthermore, the F-88 even has a second version that was built in 1957, as mentioned earlier. However, the first F-88 was painted gold, while the 1957 version was painted in silver and was called the “F-88 Mark II.” While there were photos of the F-88 that exists, no one actually knows what happened to the vehicle after 1957. Most car enthusiasts say that the Mark II burned while it was being loaded to be transported to another show, but some are still skeptical of this story.

In addition to the two F-88 cars, there was also a Mark III that was built by Oldsmobile in 1959, and this time, the third version is painted in red. But, much like the Mark II, no one is sure where the Mark III is, although some have suggested that it was destroyed by Oldsmobile after performing its duties, which was to be a showpiece. Even though it was originally planned to only be a “show car,” Oldsmobile expressed interest in producing more F-88 to be sold to the public. However, the F-88 never went into production due to Oldsmobile lacking funds to build more units, as well as the sabotage made by sister company Chevrolet, who was believed to have been afraid that the F-88 would compete well with the Corvette. Because of those reasons, the F-88 strictly became only a concept car.

The speculations don’t end there, as there are people saying that there was a fourth car made somewhere in the 1960s, but there are no photos existing today that prove its existence. The only existing F-88 that we have today was the gold-painted first version, which was bought by the Hendricks Collection during the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction that was held in 2007 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Hendricks Collection purchased the F-88 for the price of $3,240,000, making it one of the most expensive cars in history. Years before the said auction, the F-88 was disassembled by Oldsmobile, with some of its parts being used for other concept cars. But in 2007, Barret-Jackson acquired the vehicle and reassembled it so that it can be put up for sale again to a worthy auctioneer.

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