• Jason Chandler

So what was the first muscle car?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

This is open to some debate but we will go over a few different early examples to give a basis for a informed decision. The first car we will cover is the 1949 Olds 88. The first generation Oldsmobile 88 was a hugely important car. When it came out in 1949, it introduced one of the first postwar overhead valve V-8 designs, the famous “Rocket” V-8. That large and powerful V-8, combined with relatively light body, was a formula that later blossomed into the muscle car.

1949 Olds 88 Futuramic Club Coupe

The Olds 88 was also one of the fastest automobiles in America at the dawn of the 1950s, and it was the car to beat in NASCAR racing, winning 10 out of 19 races in the 1950 season. The same year, an Olds 88 won the grueling 2000-mile-plus Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico. An 88 convertible served as the pace car for the Indy 500 in 1949, and the Ike Turner/Jackie Brenston hit “Rocket 88” is one of the very earliest rock and roll songs.

But despite all that rich history and performance street cred, fewer and fewer people seem interested in actually owning one. Olds 88 values are way down over the past year, as much as 29 percent for some versions, while buyers are showing less and less interest. Even among other 1940s-50s American cars, which are down pretty much across the board, the Olds stands out as a car that people seem to be forgetting about.

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