I love my Oldsmobiles. 1955 is my favorite year, but 1956 runs a close second. One of the reasons the 56 takes the back seat is the problematic “Slim Jim” transmission. But did you know that the early built 56’s had the durable Dual Range Hydramatic transmission? And this is one of those early built 56’s.
This car caught my eye for many reasons: blue is my favorite color, it displays originality, it was built in California and is still a solid car. Plus, it had come to the Midwest, so it was not too far away.
This car was built at the Fremont, CA Oldsmobile plant as number 2111 of the 88’s built there. That was early in the year. It was finished in the current colors of Artesian and Cirrus Blue. The original Medium Blue upholstery still is still in good condition. The car was sold new at Wilshire Oldsmobile of Los Angeles. We have the original Owner’s Manual and Warranty book that matches the car. There are other manuals and plenty of valuable spare parts, too.
The odometer now reads 10,534. Could it be 110,534? That is an unknown bit of information. The engine was likely rebuilt. Or at least the heads were. We found a box of valves in the trunk. This is a four barrel version of durable 324 Rocket V8. It has single exhaust. AND, it has its original Bat Wing air cleaner that is so highly sought after.
The Dual Range Hydramatic shifts properly. I just love driving these cars. The way they shift is unique and a bit harsh. If you are an Oldsmobile lover, you may recall that there is no park position on the shift pattern. When the engine is off, putting the transmission into Reverse will allow it to lock up and serve as Park.
It appears that this car was undercoated when new. Much of that has come off, but the floors and floor supports are perfectly solid. The undercarriage shows surface rust, but is extremely sturdy. The inner rockers look great with exception of a small spot at the rear on the passenger side. The trunk floor is solid as a rock.
In fact, the trunk is still covered by the original 1956 upholstery. The cardboard barriers are still in place to prevent items from dropping into the quarter panel cavities. The original spare wheel is there with a brand new bias ply tire mounted on it. The original jack set and lug wrench are properly stowed behind the spare tire. The trunk is half full of boxed spare parts, many of which are new.
These cars were really great to drive when equipped with power steering and power brakes. The brakes were recently replaced. The power steering unit was replaced, as was the rag joint. The entire front end has been rebuilt. When you couple that with the fact that new radial tires were just mounted, it makes for a great driving car.
The wheels are adorned with the correct and original Fiesta Spinner Hubcaps. The original Pushbutton AM Radio still plays perfectly. There is the optional rear speaker. All lights work properly, including the underhood light, which comes on when the running lights are on and the hood is open.
All features on the car function properly with exception of the fuel gauge, which is always on E. The horns blow, but they may blow more than you wish due to something grounding out the horn button. The wire from the button is disconnected at the relay. There are two sets of keys, which actuate the locks perfectly.
This car was repainted over a solid body. The paint was likely applied 30-40 years ago. It looks great from 10 feet, but you will notice small scratches, chip and dings when you get any closer. There is no sign of body repair or corrosion. The front bumper looks great, as does the grill. The rear bumper is in need of replating, but does not appear ugly. All the glass is good and the windows roll up and down with ease.
The original interior is in decent condition, but not show-worthy. There is a cigar burn in the seat. There is some staining. But the headliner and door panels still look good. The original carpet looks decent as well.
These are fine highway cars. With the overdrive automatic transmission, they will easily ellipse 100 mph. The 324 has plenty of grunt to get your there. Radial tires make a substantial difference as compared to the original bias ply tires. One finger will handle steering duties, thanks to the Power Steering option. These cars had big drum brakes for safe, secure stopping.
I love driving this car. It is one of my all-time favorite Oldsmobile’s. I believe you will like it a lot.