Arguably America’s first muscle car, the 1949 Oldsmobile 88 combined the new 135 HP, 303 CID overhead valve Rocket V8 engine topped with a dual plane manifold and a two-barrel carburetor from the bigger, heavier Olds 98 into a lighter, more streamlined design which was just 202-in long, almost the same as a 1970 Chevelle.

Its top speed was just 97 mph, and a lesiurely13 seconds would pass until the car reached 60 mph (not much of a problem as work didn’t start on the US Interstate Highways until 1956). The full potential of the engine was limited by the fuel of the day – finding 88 octane gas called for a cold beer – so the compression ratio was a low 7.5:1. By 1953 as better gasoline became more widely available, a four barrel carb was could be ordered with a compression ratio of 8.0:1 for 165 HP.

However, with the introduction of the new Chevy V-8 in 1955, it was clear that spotlight would soon shift away from the Rocket 88 to the small block Chevy, where it’s remained since.