1956 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Sedan - $19,900
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Being an original car, it has an intangible feel of sturdiness that's challenging to restore back into a car, and there’s a charm to parts that have aged gracefully rather than being refinished to better-than-new condition.

Oldsmobile ads of the early '90s seemed to suggest that your father's Oldsmobile wasn't such a great car, but what about your grandfather's Oldsmobile? Cars like this 1956 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday sedan were cutting-edge machines in their day, debuting the high-horsepower OHV V8 that revolutionized the industry, not to mention the dramatic hardtop styling that was a smash hit when it arrived in showrooms. From an era that cherished horsepower and luxury in equal doses, Oldsmobile had a combination that offered handsome styling, impressive performance, and plenty of luxury to satisfy enthusiasts as well as guys who just wanted a big, comfortable car. The biggest, most luxurious Oldsmobiles, the 98s, were every bit the equal of their Buick and Cadillac siblings, offering perhaps a more driver-oriented experience that makes these the unsung heroes of the 1950s.

This particular 1956 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday sedan is a nicely kept car that shows what we believe to be 41,149 original miles. I hesitate to use the word "survivor" because it has been repainted in its original Festival Red over Alcan White color combination, but the rest appears to be the way it was in 1956. Being an original car, it has an intangible feel of sturdiness that's challenging to restore back into a car, and there’s a charm to parts that have aged gracefully rather than being refinished to better-than-new condition. The repaint was nicely done, and you can see that this was always a clean car because it sure looks like the paint in the door jambs is original and in fantastic shape. All four doors fit properly and close with the most wonderful mechanical click and their heft makes them feel substantial. The hood opens and closes on well-oiled hinges and there's not a single bad line on the entire car. There’s a lot of chrome and stainless on this car—obviously—but it remains in excellent shape with no notable demerits beyond a few signs of age on some of the detail items. Bumpers are straight, the stainless is bright, and details like the ornate taillights give the Olds its signature look. The 98s received longer trunks and quarter panels to fit their newly lengthened wheelbase in 1956, so this is definitely a very big car, but the proportions are exactly right. When combined with the hardtop styling and accessory fender skirts, the car's mass is cleverly hidden and it looks sporting, not frumpy, reminding us all why Oldsmobile was a best-seller, year after year.

Aside from the carpets, the interior appears to be almost entirely original. The funky patterned cloth with white leather and silver piping is the perfect ‘50s contrast wo the bright exterior bodywork. The upholstery remains in very good overall condition with no split seams, cracking, or any significant fading. You'll note that the steering wheel is not cracked, the gauges are bright and crisp, and the chrome-laden dash shows extremely well with no fading or pitting. Noteworthy options include power windows, a power front seat, and an AM/FM/cassette stereo head unit hidden in the glove box to supplant the original Wonderbar radio. Sadly the clock is not functional, but all the gauges and courtesy lights work as they should. Overhead, there's a delightfully ornate headliner with chrome header bows and thanks to the hardtop styling, even the back seat is bright and airy—a wonderful place to spend some time. The trunk is completely original, right down to the multi-piece liner and cardboard bulkheads, and it includes a full-sized spare and a jack.

Oldsmobile's "Rocket" V8 should need no introduction, as it formed the basic architecture that defined OHV V8s for the next six decades. In 1956 it displaced 324 cubic inches and made about 200 horsepower, which gives this big luxury car the ability to cruise the interstates at modern freeway speeds without apparent effort. With just over 41,000 original miles, it has never needed any major work and we don’t think it has ever been out of the car. There's an electric fuel pump that bypasses the original mechanical pump, but otherwise it remains quite stock, including the generator and 4-barrel carb. The 1950s concept of luxury wasn't total isolation like we have today, but rather a very precise, high-quality feeling, as if every moving part were lined with silk and you can definitely feel a very big machine doing its thing, but doing it softly. The engine bay is tidy but original, so it's not sparkling clean, yet on the other hand all the original markings are quite visible, making this a slam-dunk in preservation classes. It burbles quietly through a fairly recent dual exhaust system and thanks to a giant radiator up front, it never threatens to get hot. And, of course, on any car this size, power steering and brakes are standard equipment, so it’s easy to handle.

Underneath, the chassis is quite original but in excellent condition. The original floors are protected by a textured undercoating but you can clearly see that there's nothing to hide underneath. The aforementioned exhaust system fits well and uses the cool tips under the rear bumper for an OEM look and sound. In 1956, the GM Hydra-Matic was supplanted by the Jet-Away 3-speed automatic transmission, which is a lot smoother yet gives up nothing in durability. In back, it feels like it has 3.23 gears, so it's a superlative highway cruiser that's always on its toes and it has a wonderful luxury car ride. Going down the road it feels right, with a buttoned-down feeling that's not at all like the floaty luxury cars that those old Oldsmobile ads were deriding. Somewhere along the line some white paint got splashed onto parts of the rear suspension, that would be easy enough to clean up if you don’t like it—we decided not to cover it up so the car’s originality wouldn’t be at issue. But there’s no rot or rust issues in the rockers or floors and you can see that even the spare tire well and trunk floor are completely solid. Standard steel wheels with spinner hubcaps (priced a set of those lately?) look great inside a set of G78-15 wide whites that dress the luxurious Olds properly.

A beautifully preserved, top-of-the-line luxury car that you just don't see all that often anymore. In terms of sheetmetal for your dollar, this big Olds will be tough to beat, but you'll also find that you get sparkling performance, a unique look that stands out, and a lot of features that few cars of the era could match. This is a lot of car for the money and you’ll quickly figure out that when Oldsmobile got things right, everyone’s father wanted to own one. Call today!

Harwood Motors recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any car in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1956 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Sedan
Price: $19,900
Stock Number: 116129
Mileage: 41,149
VIN: 569M37427
Engine: 324 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.23
Wheelbase: 126 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: G78-15 wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Festival Red over Alcan White
Interior Color: Black and white cloth and leather
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