The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

Lot 152

1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Ninety-Eight Holiday Hardtop Coupe

Sold for $44,000

  • Chassis no. 579C06051
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


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.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

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California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more