Third generation (1948–1953)
For the first time since 1940 Oldsmobile offered totally different styling during a single model year. The top of the line 1948 Oldsmobile 98 drew heavily from the Futuramic styling concept that would be used on all 1949 Oldsmobiles. Standard equipment on 98s included a solenoid starter, fender skirts, E-Z-l rearview mirror, and foam rubber seat cushions. The 98s also included front and rear bumper guards, vacuum booster pump, plastic radiator ornament, dual horns, dual sun visors, and cigarette lighter. Deluxe equipment added front and rear floor mats, Deluxe steering wheel, wheel trim rings, rear seat armrests, and hydraulic window, seat and top controls on all convertibles. Upholstery was either broadcloth or leather. The standard tire size was 6.50 x 16. With the introduction of new postwar styling Custom Cruiser 98 was renamed the Futuramic 98. The Custom Cruiser name would be revived to denote full-size Oldsmobilestation wagons in 1971. The new styling was apparently popular with a record 65,235 98s sold, exceeding the number of 90s sold in 1940 for the first time.
The following year the new styling was joined by a new engine, the now famous Rocket V8. In February 1949, several months into the model year, General Motors introduced three highly styled “hardtop convertible” coupes, the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, the Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville, and the Buick Roadmaster Riviera, the first hardtop coupes ever produced. The Holiday was exclusive to the 98 series that year. Available in four special Holiday colors, as well as four two-tone combinations, it was priced the same as the convertible, and was similarly equipped, with hydraulically operated windows and seat. Only 3,006 Holidays were sold in its first year compared to 20,049 Club coupes. Total sales reached 93,478 in 1949, setting yet another record.
The 1950 Oldsmobile 98 repeated its 1948 precedent of previewing some of next years styling cues for the 88. The 98 was restyled after only two years. It was the first totally slab sided Oldsmobile and the first sedan with wraparound rear windows. A 4-door 98 fastback appeared for one year only in 1950 and was called the Town Sedan, selling only 1,778 units. Standard equipment included bumper guards, dual horns, parking lamps, dome light, rubber floor mats, aluminum sill plates, foam rubber seat cushions, chrome interior trim, lined luggage compartment and counterbalanced trunk lid. Deluxe 98 equipment included rear seat armrest, Deluxe electric clock, Deluxe steering wheel and horn button, special door trim and stainless steel wheel trim rings. Upholstery choices spanned nylon fabric, striped broadcloth or leather. Standard tire size was 7.6 (193) by 15 inches (381 millimetres). In 1950, Oldsmobile stopped naming the 98 series and so from then through 1996, with the exception of 1957 when it was called the Starfire 98, and in 1961 when it was called the Classic 98, it was simply known as the Oldsmobile 98. Sales of the 98 Holiday nearly tripled to 8263, approaching the 11,989 sold of the Club coupe. Given the rapidly growing popularity of the 2-door Holiday hardtop, 1950 was the last year for the pillared Club coupe. Total sales set yet another record of 106,220.
The 98 topped the Oldsmobile line again for 1951. Three body styles available. The 4-door sedan and convertible came only with Deluxe equipment, while the Holiday hardtop was available with either Deluxe or Standard trim. The 98 standard equipment included bumper guards, cigarette lighter, dome light, rubber floor mats, stainless steel moldings, lined trunk, illuminated ashtray, foam rubber seat cushions and extra chrome moldings. Deluxe equipment was special rear door ornament, rear center armrests, Deluxe electric clock, Deluxe steering wheel with horn ring and special chrome trim. Upholstery choices were nylon cord, nylon cloth and leather. The pillared Club coupe was no longer offered. With the only choice in a closed 2-door 98 now being the hardtop, Holiday sales nearly doubled to 17,929 units.
In 1952 the 98 remained as the top of the line Oldsmobile. The series shared the higher output 160 HP Rocket V8 with the Super 88s. Standard equipment on the three body styles included bumper guards, gray rubber floor mats front and rear, electric clock, dual horns, aluminum door sill plates, chrome gravel guards, foam rubber seat cushions, turn signals, carpeting front and rear, stainless steel wheel trim rings, windshield washer, and Deluxe steering wheel with horn ring. Upholstery selection was broadcloth or six colors of leather. Standard tire size was 8.00 (203) by 15 inches (381 millimetres). For the first time power steering was an option. Another new option was the Autronic Eye, an automatic headlight dimmer, which in its initial year was shared only with Cadillac.
Mechanically, the Fiesta had a special version of the 98 engine which gained 5 horsepower to 170 through manifold streamlining and compression increased from 8.1:1 to 8.3:1. A four speed Hydramatic automatic transmission and faster rear axle rato were designed to keep the 4459 pound shipping weight Fiesta (336 more than a standard 98 convertible) up to Oldsmobile performance standards. At $5,715 (over $700 more than the Skylark) the Fiesta was nearly twice the $2963 price of a standard 98 convertible, with only 458 units produced to its 7,521.
Standard equipment for 1953 included bumper guards, electric clock, lined trunk, dual horns, cigarette lighter, chrome moldings, twin interior sun visors, rear seat robe rails, special rear stainless steel trim, chrome window ventiplanes, windshield washer, and Deluxe steering wheel with horn ring. In 1953 a padded safety dash also became standard on the 98.For the first time air conditioning was an option.
The Fiesta convertible would be gone the next year but its name would be resurrected in 1957 for Oldsmobile station wagons.