1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car
The car we will look at today is a true mystery, which is fitting or what looks like a spy car. The 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car is one of those “James Bond” type of cars. This would be the car a spy, foreign agent, or even a rock musician would have driven in the early 1950s. Take a look at this wild ride, and read about the mystery!
Stylish Concept Car
The F-88 was a “dream car”, created by the folks at Oldsmobile in 1954. They wanted to get in on the action their sister companies were enjoying with their roadsters. The styling of this car demonstrates clearly that this is a General Motors product, without a doubt.
The intiial drawings were done by designer Bill Lange. The body of this car was made of fiberglass, just like the Corvette, the Bonneville and other GM production and concept cars of that era. The F-88 used the chassis from the Corvette as a base, and shared its 102 inch wheelbase. It was, essentially, an Oldsmobile Corvette.
The power source for this little car was a modified 324 cubic inch V8 with 4 barrel carb, which was borrowed from the 1954 Olds Super 88. The engine was modified to give it a 9 to 1 compression ratio, as well as giving it a unique flat air cleaner, shown below, These and other mods brought the total horsepower up from 185 to 250, which was plenty for this little car. The transmission was a Hydra-Matic 4 speed, mated with another borrowed part – a 3:55 to 1 gear ratio Corvette rear end.
The interior is another place where they borrowed parts from the parts bin. The interior console, which runs between the seats and up the dash, was a modified version of the 1953 Oldsmobile console. It was customized to include a tachometer and custom gauge faces. The instrument panel would later be used on the Cutlass, as it was well designed and a great combination of function and form.
The F-88 was a popular car at the car shows, and they seriously considered making it a production car. One interesting, yet mysterious fact about this car, is that the car you see here was sold at auction for $3.2 million USD in 2005 to a TV executive. When it was researched by the auction house, they found some inconsistencies that did not make sense, which opened a can of worms that has never been closed. This is why the car is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Mystery Behind The Car
The mystery came about when the experts were validating the car for auction. What they found, ironically, probably increased the value of this car. Normally, any inconsistent parts would lower the value of a car that is not 100% original. This is where the story gets strange. There were supposedly two of these cars built. The first one was a gold one, and it was the car that was first shown at the car shows. The second one was a red one, which was built later in the year and had a few parts that were slightly different. Various reports indicate the red F-88 was heavily damaged in transit to a car show and was scrapped long ago.
The Rabbit Hole Goes Even Deeper!
These two cars, the red and the gold, were both built using stock Corvette frames, as mentioned earlier. The frame on the car you see here carries a Corvette VIN number that indicates it would have been built much later in the year. Since the red car was built after the gold one was already on the show circuit, the red car should have a frame that has a later build date, as it is a newer car. The gold car shown here also has all the parts that were listed as being on the first prototype. It has a frame that is newer, yet parts that are older.
This has confused many experts. Is this the newer car – the red one – that has been repainted gold? If so, was the gold one the car that was actually damaged in transit? Could this be some sort of conglomeration of both cars? Is this actually the original gold car that somehow had the frame replaced at some point? How could the gold car have a frame that was built AFTER the car was already on the show circuit? So many questions, yet the facts are few and far between.
One, Two, Three?
What we do know is this – the VIN number for the frame of the car seen here indicates it was produced after the gold F-88 was already built. No one seems to know the answer as to why this car has a newer frame than it should. It also has all the original parts from the gold car, many of which were custom built when the car was new. To further cloud that mystery, rumor has it Harley Earl, the chief designer of many of the cars we cover here, had a THIRD Olds F-88 made for his own personal use.
If that is true, what happened to it? What color was it? Is it possible this car is actually the one owned by Harley, since it was built later in the year? Did someone perhaps find that car and restore it, thinking it was the original? Record keeping for prototypes and concept cars was not a priority in 1954, and it was all done on paper. Since these were one-off prototypes, there is no record that matches which car was painted which color, so the VIN number doesn’t help in that regard.
Another odd fact you may have noticed is the dash, inner fenders, engine bay, and floorpan are dark metallic green. This is not something that was common on prototypes, as dark metallic green was expensive paint. Why did Olds decide to do this? Was this meant to become a working prototype? Did someone simply find a gallon of this paint in a parts bin and decide to use it? Is this even the right original color? So many questions, and no one knows the answers for sure.
There is speculation and guesswork, but no real answers to be found. Other than that, we have more questions than answers. No one that worked on the original project is alive to confirm nor deny any of this, so there is a lot of investigating going on to figure out this mystery. What we do know is this – as far as anyone knows, this is the only surviving 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car that is known to exist.
What do you think of this cool little roadsters? Do you think the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car should have been produced? Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments down below!