1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Ninety-Eight ‘J-2’ Convertible

1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Ninety-Eight ‘J-2’ Convertible


Following WWII, Oldsmobile went from strength to strength, giving the fast-growing and increasingly affluent middle classes sleeker, faster and better-equipped automobiles with many standard features that were extra-cost options with the competition.  Oldsmobile also led the performance charge in 1949 with its all new, overhead-valve “rocket” V-8 engine.  Modern and compact, it grew from 303 cubic inches and 135 bhp to 371 cubic inches and nearly 300 bhp by 1957.


  • YEAR & MAKE - 1957 Oldsmobile
  • MODEL NAME - Starfire 98 Convertible
  • SERIES - OHV “Rocket” V-8 w/3 2bbl Carburetors
  • BODY TYPE - 2 Door, 6 Passenger Convertible
  • BODY BY - Fisher Body Corp.
  • # CYLS. - V8
  • TRANSMISSION TYPE & NUMBER - 4 Speed Jetaway Hydramatic, RWD
  • WEIGHT - 4,747 lbs
  • ESTIMATED PRODUCTION - 8,278 (750 with J-2 Option)
  • HP - 300
  • C.I.D. - 371
  • WHEELBASE - 126″
  • PRICE NEW - $3,838
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Oldsmobiles continued to run on the oval tracks of NASCAR including a 1957 Golden Rocket 88 piloted by a rookie driver named Richard Petty sporting the now famous #43. The Starfire prefix was added to all 98 models, not just the convertible models as in previous years. This engine was so fast that it was eventually banned by NASCAR yet it made its way into a luxury convertible. Despite the fact that this was Oldsmobile’s most expensive model ($3,838.00 before options), the Starfire 98 convertible was the division’s most popular open car with 8,278 made. And, like this car, for a mere $83.00, you could order the hot J-2 engine option. Breathing through triple carburetors, with 10:1 compression, the hopped up Rocket 371 c.i.d. V-8 yielded 300 h.p. In normal driving, only the center carb operated. Oldsmobile also offered an engineering first for 1957 with the first printed electric circuit for the instrument cluster.

Lee Petty’s J-2-outfitted ’57 Olds sailed down Daytona Beach at 144.9 mph. Bill France Sr., recognizing an unfair advantage when he saw it, complained that Oldsmobile wasn’t offering the J-2 to the public, and he was right. Oldsmobile responded by putting the J-2 on the options list for the general public for the 1957 and 1958 model year, but fewer than 750 1957 Oldsmobiles were so equipped making this top-of-the-line Starfire Ninety Eight Convertible a rare survivor.