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 |  Dec 10 2012, 2:02 PM

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

“Step in my Rocket and don’t be late, baby we’re pullin’ out about half-past eight.”

A ground-breaking, toe-tappin’ tune (look it up, it’s great!), “Rocket 88” is likely the only song ever recorded about an Oldsmobile, but Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats had a lot to sing about.

Widely considered the world’s first muscle car, the Olds Rocket was introduced in 1949. It offered drivers potent V8 power in a relatively small package, hence the reason it was both the subject and title of the world’s first rock-and-roll song.

The car’s engine was on the forefront of a trend that would soon sweep Detroit. Displacing about 304 cubic inches it featured a large bore, small stroke and most importantly, overhead valves. Flathead engine technology was on the way out by the middle of the last century and Oldsmobile was part of the reason. Moving the valves out of the block and putting them above the pistons allowed for much greater airflow and more power.

Henry Ford had popularized the V8 engine layout. In 1932 he was the first to deliver an affordable car with a two-by-four under the hood. But Ford’s depression-era performance advantage was rapidly fading in the years following the Second World War. The flathead may have brought power to the people and spawned the hot-rod revolution, but it was completely outgunned by larger, more efficient powerplants in cars like the sprightly Oldsmobile Rocket 88.

  • Tomst37

    I loved this. It was really interesting and informative.

    Thanks

  • Greenjeep1998

    Don’t know if you knew this Craig, but the Eagles and Cherokees were sold side by side for a short period of time since AMC owned Jeep for the last 20 years before being bought by Chrysler for the Jeep brand. IIRC, Chrysler’s Turbine program was started shortly after WW2 and died right around the time they went bankrupt the first time. Even though the turbine engine has yet to make it into a regular production vehicle, Chrysler had some ownership in the manufacturer of the Abrams tanks and I’ve often wondered how much of their turbine tech went into the Abrams instead.

    BTW, the Turbine Cars weren’t the only Mopars capable of burning whiskey……..their 2.7l and Pentastar V-6′s as well as the 4.7l V-8 are all built to be capable of burning corn whiskey. The Pentastar is quite fond of the stuff and my 4.0l I-6 Jeep don’t seem to mind a couple gallons being splash blended every once in a while too :D

  • Craig Cole

    No, I had no idea!  That’s really interesting but not as interesting as Chrysler helping build tank engines.  That’s really cool.  You must be a Pentastar Historian.