While Cadillac gets much of the credit for driving GM’s design revolution in the late 1940s, the mid-market Oldsmobile division was as much on the cutting edge as their flagship stablemate. Oldsmobile’s top model, the Ninety-Eight, actually shared the C-Body platform with the Cadillac Series 61/62, and in 1948, the Olds Ninety-Eight got a complete makeover that set it apart from the rest of the line. Olds dubbed their new design language Futuramic and the shape featured smoothly integrated fenders, sweeping pontoon rear quarters, and a lower, leaner overall look. Oldsmobile Marketing declared it “The New Look!”
For 1949, Oldsmobile adverts changed from “The New Look” to “The New Thrill!” as the brand again took a page from Cadillac’s playbook, pairing the Futuramic body with an all-new overhead-valve V8 engine called the Rocket. Oldsmobile thus endowed the stylish line with the ‘go-to match the ‘show.’ Buyers had their pick of multiple body styles and one of two trim packages, but those shelling out for the top-range convertible got the DeLuxe trim as standard, which included additional chrome, DeLuxe steering wheel, electric clock, power top, hydraulic window lifts, and leather seats. All V8 Eighty-Eight and Ninety-Eight models came with GM’s renowned Hydramatic transmission as standard. Sedan models made up the bulk of production, accounting for 49,001 units sold, compared to the Convertible Coupe, of which Olds sold just 12,602 units. Naturally, the convertibles are exceedingly rare today, and few, if any, are as well preserved as our featured example.
This unrestored 1949 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Convertible Coupe is an extraordinary, preservation class car with just 16,600 miles from new. It wears its original Almond Green paint, original black convertible top, and top boot and features the original dark green leather interior. From 1950 to 1963, it is believed that this top-line Oldsmobile was owned by Kay Field, the wife of Marshall Field IV, of Marshall Field’s Department Store fame. In 1975, it came into the care of noted collector John Petrozzini, who kept it largely untouched, stored in his private collection until his passing in 2019, when the most recent owner acquired it from his estate. It received a sympathetic yet thorough mechanical overhaul in its current ownership, taking great pains to preserve the exceptional authenticity. It is now presented with a delightfully honest patina to the paint and original brightwork and is road-ready and dialed-in for driving enjoyment.
The doors open and close with a satisfyingly solid feel that is often missing from most restored examples. Swinging open the door reveals the fantastic, beautifully preserved interior. Features include power windows and top, pushbutton radio, DeLuxe clock and steering wheel, searchlight, and leather upholstery. The owner elected to make an exact copy of the front seat cover in green leather so occupants can climb aboard without worry of damage to the 73-year-old upholstery. The original was painstakingly removed, carefully stored, and is included in the sale. While the carpets have dried out and aged somewhat more than the rest of the soft trim, the owner elected to leave them untouched. Otherwise, the door cards and interior panels are excellent, as are the painted trim and interior chrome.
The car’s new caretaker spared no expense in the mechanical service yet took great care to ensure the original patina and authenticity remained. The work included thorough maintenance of the brakes, fuel system, and power functions – including the power steering and hydraulics for the windows and top. A set of new Coker bias-look wide-whitewall radials improves handling and braking performance while retaining the authentic stance that is important for a preservation class car like this.
While any 1949 Ninety-Eight Convertible is a rare find, discovering one in such exceptionally original condition with just 16,600 miles that is both turn-key for driving enjoyment and ready to show in any concours preservation class is an opportunity not to be duplicated.
Offers welcome and trades considered