The Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, forerunner of the Futuramic 98s of 1948-1949, was clearly targeted at Buick's new Series 50 Super, with which it shared General Motors' new-for-1940 C-body. The two cars make an interesting comparison:
| ||Oldsmobile 90||Buick Super 50|
|Price, 4-door sedan||$1,131||$1,109|
|Wheelbase, inches||124.0 ||121.0 |
|Length, inches||210.75||208.81 |
|Weight, pounds||3,555 ||3,790 |
|Engine, cid||257.1 ||248.0 |
|Valve configuration||L-head ||ohv |
Horsepower @ rpm||110 @ 3,600||107 @ 3,400 |
|Compression ratio||6.20:1 ||6.10:1 |
|Weight, pounds per bhp||32.32 ||35.42 |
Braking area, square inches||170.5 ||158.7 |
|Production||44,251 ||129,527 |
So here was Oldsmobile with a car that was comparable in most respects to the Buick Super, though it enjoyed a significant edge in wheelbase, power-to-weight ratio, and braking area. It sold for nearly the same price as its rival from Flint, and it offered, for a very reasonable $57 extra, the new Hydra-Matic transmission. Yet the Buick Super outsold the Oldsmobile 90 by a ratio of three-to-one.
By 1947, the Buick Super's sales advantage had grown to four-to-one, and the Oldsmobile Division badly needed something new and attractive to call attention to its forthcoming 50th Anniversary.
Even the planet-and-stars steering wheel hub
gave the Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 unique styling.
Fortunately, help was on the way, for by February 1948 there would be a stylish new C-body, scheduled for use by Cadillac and the senior Oldsmobile, but not by Buick. Oldsmobile called its version "Futuramic," and it was obviously on target with the public.
For the first time since its introduction eight years earlier -- and despite a price handicap of several hundred dollars compared to the six-cylinder models -- the Series 90 was Oldsmobile's bestseller! It was still outsold by the Buick Super, but this time the ratio was reduced to something like five-to-three.
The copywriters waxed ecstatic. The opening page of the 98 brochure made the point: "Presenting ... the Futuramic Oldsmobile! Here is a car that marks a milestone in automotive history -- a car specially designed to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of America's oldest motor car manufacturer. The Futuramic Oldsmobile stands as the first of a whole new cycle of 'motor cars of tomorrow.' Ahead of the times in dramatic styling ... ahead of the times in Hydra-Matic driving ... the Futuramic Oldsmobile heralds the dawn of a new Golden Era in Oldsmobile history!"
And that wasn't all, as the ads pointed out: "This entirely new 1948 model captures the tempo of the big things happening at Oldsmobile today, and heralds the dawn of a new Golden Era for America's oldest motor car manufacturer. Only a brand new word -- 'Futuramic' -- can describe this new type of automobile. ... There's a new conception of automotive styling -- a sharp departure from the commonplace in this dramatic design of tomorrow ..."
To learn more about the 1948 Oldsmobile Futuramic 98, continue on to the next page.
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