Automobiles of Amelia Island
14 March 2009
1953 Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta Convertible Coupe
To be auctioned on Saturday, March 14, 2009
Sold for $143,000
- Chassis no. 539M26760
Oldsmobile, which had steadily grown in market share with strong engineering and excellent value for the money, added trendsetting style to its repertoire with the dashing Fiesta Convertible. The most luxurious and powerful model Oldsmobile had offered to date, the Fiesta was based on the 98 model and originally created for the GM Motorama travelling auto shows of 1952. It clearly represented a styling preview of upcoming Oldsmobile models and included a fashionable panoramic wraparound windshield, distinctive “spinner” hubcaps, and a multitude of impressive options and amenities.
The production car was available from Oldsmobile dealers in 1953 and was priced at a then-lofty $5,715. The Fiesta carried an impressive list of standard features, many of which were previously unavailable, including power steering, power brakes, a deluxe radio, a heater/defroster, whitewall tires, backup lights, hydraulic servos for the windows and seats, a custom leather interior and a shiny black or natural tan Orlon convertible top. Up front, the Fiesta’s “Rocket” V8 engine was equipped with a larger, less restrictive carburetor and air cleaner assembly as well as special high-compression cylinder heads and larger exhaust manifolds. Producing 170 horsepower, this 303 cubic inch V8 engine was mated to a standard Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
Oldsmobile produced just 458 Fiestas in 1953, and while the model reportedly never generated any profits for the marque, it certainly fulfilled its intended purpose – drawing many potential buyers to Oldsmobile showrooms and encouraging additional sales. This excellent example continues to draw crowds of admirers to this day. Upon its acquisition by the current owner, it received a comprehensive, professional restoration to original condition and specifications, and it shows approximately 80,000 miles. Thanks to careful and knowledgeable ownership, maintenance and storage it continues to present very well.
Its characteristic two-tone exterior finish remains glossy and beautiful and is joined by very impressive brightwork, as well as dual sideview mirrors, rear bumper guards, and a set of period correct wide whitewall tires and skirted rear fenders. The roomy leather-trimmed interior is likewise period correct and impressive in its presentation, with comfortable seating accommodations and a padded dash, as well as correct and handsome instruments and controls.
The current owner is an astute collector of the finest American cars and this car is no exception. It remains in running order and benefits from strict maintenance, as do all the cars in his collection. Beloved by collectors, the number of surviving Fiestas is relatively low, particularly when compared to the original production run of nearly 500 cars. In fact, some enthusiasts believe fewer than 50 remain today.
Elegantly finished and presented, this wonderful example is sure to please the collector who is looking for one of the most rare and stylish automobiles of the 1950s, built by the sole American marque to be established in the 19th century and survive into the 21st. Additionally, as one of the original “Triple Crown” of GM Motorcars, which includes its Eldorado and Skylark counterparts – both of which also made their debut in 1953 – the Fiesta holds tremendous value in the eyes of astute collectors.
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