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1948-1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic 98

Why Oldsmobile Got a Leg Up on Buick

We've often wondered why Oldsmobile got a leg up on Buick in terms of body styling. Buick retained General Motors' 1942-1947 C-body for its 1948 Super and Road-master models, while Oldsmobile and Cadillac adopted the fresh styling of the corporation's first all-new postwar body.

The stylish new C-body formed the 1948-1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 design.
The stylish new C-body formed the 1948-1949
Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 design.

Was it because the 1947 Buicks, with their massive grille and front fenders that swept the entire length of the body, were so attractive that Buick officials were reluctant to change? Or -- was General Motors seeking to give Oldsmobile a boost in order to help close the historic sales gap between its two oldest divisions?

Recently, we put the question to Richard H. Stout, who was a Buick stylist when these cars were built -- as well as a close personal friend of Ned Nickles, Buick's chief designer. Here's the story, as Dick Stout told it to us in a recent letter:

"Actually, a 1948 [Buick] version with the all new C-body was tooled and ready for production. It was very rounded at the front, especially the hood, which was somewhat like the first postwar Chevrolet truck. Fenders, too, were rounded near the headlights. Harlow Curtice, so the story goes, had a nightmare in which he dreamt this looked like an Airflow Chrysler, so wham -- cancel production for 1948!

"Story true or not, the reason for the postponement was the soft front end. Nick [Ned Nickles] had just been appointed Buick chief designer and his first job was to fix this for 1949. Only the hood panel was retooled -- much more bold like previous Buicks ...

"Incidentally, this 1948 C-body was originally designated the 1948 B-body. This is why wheelbases on the new jobs were the same as the old B-body and three inches shorter than the previous ones. GM simply did not have time to get a C-body done, so this was rechristened 'C' from 'B.' Cadillac had to be first with some all-new stuff."

Continue on to the next page for Oldsmobile specifications from this era.

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