Futuristic styling, plus the new high-performance Rocket V8 engine and effective Hydramatic automatic transmission, made the 1949 Oldsmobiles hugely desirable. Nineteen forty-nine is the year that put Oldsmobile on the map for performance. After the highly successful introduction of the first newly designed postwar Oldsmobile, the "Futuramic" 98, Oldsmobile further upped the ante with the introduction of the first modern overhead valve V8 engine.
Pumping out 135 horsepower at 3600 rpm, the new V8 was used as standard equipment in both the 98 series and the new 88 series, sometimes referred to as the "Rocket" 88. The V8 was mated to the Hydra-Matic fully automatic transmission, now standard equipment on both the 88 and 98 series, making Oldsmobile the first manufacturer to have this feature as standard equipment on two-thirds of cars sold. The 88 series used the lighter weight body of the newly redesigned 76 series, and with the V8 engine, it quickly became a hot commodity on the street and on the racetrack. In fact, a Series 88 Convertible was selected as the official 1949 Indianapolis 500 pace car.
With the 76 series and the new 88 series now using "Futuramic" design, signs of the old Oldsmobile began to fade away. The Dynamic Series 60 was discontinued, and the Dynamic Series 70 was dropped to the bottom line Olds as the 76, now available only as a 6-cylinder. In place of the former Dynamic eight cylinders (68 and 78) was the new 88. The Futuramic 98 continued in its place atop the Oldsmobile pecking order, giving Olds its typical three series lineup. As for the new styling, the Seventy-Six and Eighty-Eight series utilized the corporate A-body structure shared with Chevrolet and Pontiac. This meant a full line of body styles in both series, with notchback (Club Coupe and Sedan) and fastback (Club and Town Sedan) designs, convertible and wagon, as well as standard and DeLuxe versions. Interiors were similar to those of the lower-priced corporate siblings. Also new for the year was Oldsmobile's first 2-Door Hardtop model in the Ninety-Eight series, known as the "Holiday." Sharing its style with the Buick Roadmaster Riviera and Cadillac Coupe de Ville, the Olds 98 Holiday was essentially a convertible body and frame with a steel hardtop for all-weather protection.
Exterior styling features of the 76 and 88 included integrated front fenders with a lower hood line and rear quarter panels that were more closely blended into the body. Frontal features echoed those on the revised Ninety-Eight, continuing the arching two-bar design, but new parking lamp/turn signal units were in a rectangular housing under the headlights with a three bar intake vent between the two that oddly seemed to support the "pouty" look. It was a unique look that proved popular with traditional Oldsmobile buyers, and sales continued to climb steadily through the end of the fifties, with only minor stumbles. Bodyside trim varied by series slightly, with all cars having stainless steel rocker panel and rear fender moldings and rear fender gravel shields. DeLuxe models in all series added additional chrome to window and trunk trim.