The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

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Lot 152

1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Ninety-Eight Holiday Hardtop Coupe

  • Chassis no. 579C06051

Sold for $44,000

300 bhp, 371 cu. in. “J-2” OHV V-8 engine, three 2-barrel carburetors, four-speed Jetaway Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • Stock car-specification J-2 engine, as used by Lee Petty
  • Loaded with options, including factory air conditioning
  • The hottest engine in the most luxurious model

Lee Petty’s son would become a racing driver, as would his grandson and great-grandson. In 1957, however, there was only one Petty on the track, and he was a force to be reckoned with. When the skilled driver arrived at Daytona Beach from Level Cross, North Carolina, for that year’s Speed Week, he came with an Oldsmobile with a little something special under the hood. The factory four-barrel carburetor had been replaced with a trio of Rochester two-barrels, the center unit running 280 CFM and the two outer units 290 CFM. Under normal operation, say, driving to and from the transporter, only the center carburetor functioned, producing a friendly, docile car that probably raised no eyebrows.

Once on the beach, Petty floored it. Now all three carburetors engaged, the outer pair running off the windshield wiper motor, in a nice hat trick, and with 300 horsepower and 471 foot-pounds of torque carrying him across the sand, “Mr. Consistency” hit nearly 145 mph. His factory-supplied hot rod engine was almost immediately banned, despite Oldsmobile’s attempt to qualify it as a “production” unit by offering it as an option to the unknowing Mr. and Mrs. America. It would remain on the option books into 1958.

The Starfire Ninety-Eight Holiday Hardtop Coupe offered from Don Davis’ collection is a rare top-of-the-line Oldsmobile with the “J-2” engine, as well as the Jetaway Hydra-Matic transmission, power brakes, power windows, power steering, power seats, radio with power antenna, rear fender skirts, and even the highly desirable factory air conditioning, which was rare in such a deluxe model with the hottest available powerplant. The car remains a virtually all-original example, save for a single respray some time ago in its original color of Coronado Yellow. Accordingly, it still retains its fine original interior and remains in outstanding, well-detailed, and largely original, as-preserved condition throughout. It joined the Don Davis Collection out of a well-established West Texas collection that also focused on highly desirable and well-optioned Oldsmobiles.

A hot car with a hot engine, loaded with options—what could be more desirable?

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

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