1954-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire

1962-1964 Oldsmobile Starfire
The 1962 Starfire coupe featured a creased roof with a smallish backlight to give it the flavor of a ragtop.
The 1962 Starfire coupe featured a creased roof with a smallish backlight to give it the flavor of a ragtop.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Along with the exterior restyling, the 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire's exclusive V-8 turned out an additional 15 HP -- 345 from the same 394 cubic in. as the previous year. For 1962 it featured a new combustion chamber shape and a slightly higher 10.5:1 compression ratio.

The exterior styling treatment centered on an expanded brushed-aluminum side trim package. The standard equipment list was as impressive as previous model years. Sticker price on the new coupe started at $4,131, actually $50 less expensive than the Ninety-Eight Sports Coupe. The Starfire convertible remained the most expensive car in the Olds lineup at $4,744.

The sales slide for the Starfire began in 1963. For the second consecutive year both a coupe and convertible were offered, but production dropped to 25,549, and only 4,401 of those were convertibles. Competition for sales came from within and outside the division.

The $600-cheaper Pontiac Grand Prix outsold the Starfire by an almost three to one margin, even without the extra sales appeal of a convertible. The first-year Buick Riviera almost doubled Starfire production totals, and the Thunderbird outdid it by two-and-a-half to one.

Olds product planners added a bit to the sales plight as well with the new Ninety-Eight Custom Sports Coupe. It featured some previous Starfire exclusives -- leather bucket seats, power console, and top-of-the-line Starfire Rocket V-8.

For 1963, the Starfire continued to roll on the 123-in. wheelbase it shared with the Dynamic 88 and Super 88 models. Power came from the 345-HP Rocket V-8. In addition to standard equipment in previous models, the 1963 convertible's standard equipment list included a power driver's seat and electric window lifts.

Styling, of course, received the mandatory annual revision. Although the Starfire continued to feature brushed-aluminum side trim, the sheetmetal was new, and so were the grille and taillights. The main attraction on the Starfire coupe was the addition of a concave rear window that blended well with the hardtop roofline and looked quite similar to the backlight on the Grand Prix.

Oldsmobile billed the 1963 Starfire as its full-size sports car.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The Starfire coupe listed at $4,129, while the convertible remained at $4,742.

Its slide continued into 1964, Thunderbird, Riviera, and Grand Prix represented the outside enemy, while other enticing Oldsmobile models sang a "Siren's Song" from across the showroom floor. For the first time since the J-2 package of 1957 to 1958, Olds offered a basically solid performance option.

Additional competition for the Oldsmobile sales dollar came from the new Jetstar 88 and Jetstar I models, the former bowing as the least expensive full-size Oldsmobile series. The latter served as the sportiest model in the Dynamic 88 series. Like the Starfire, it featured a concave rear window and the big V-8. It undercut the Starfire hardtop coupe by over $500.

Meanwhile, Starfire pricing remained at the same basic level for 1964: $4,100 for the coupe and $4,700 for the convertible. Production of the coupe slipped to 13,753 and 2,410 for the ragtop. Meanwhile, the new Jetstar I found a home with just over 16,000 buyers.

Once again, the 394-cubic-in. Starfire Rocket V-8 was rated as Oldsmobile's highest output engine at 345 HP. The convertible added power windows and seat as before. A couple of popular options fitted to many Starfires this year were T-87, a new cornering light package for $34, and N-33, the Tilt-away steering column for $43.

Was Oldsmobile able to stop the sliding sales figures? Turn to the next page and find out.

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