While there are attempts to kidnap professor Calculus and an investigation underway by the special police, Capt Haddock requested the venerable Thomson and Thompson, not to reveal the goings on at Marlinspike to any one. He was promised that “mum is the word” and “dumb is the word” are the motto followed by Thomson and Thompson. Whatever happened, the news was all over the papers and not surprisingly, a crowd gathered at the gates of Marlinspike. The people forming the crowd obviously came in cars. So, the first car I am going to take up from the numerous parked is the American Oldsmobile 88, 1955 model.
The Oldsmobile 88 was what the Americans call a full size car. That means a huge aircraft carrier sized car which would not generally fit in any parking slot outside USA. These cars are designed to seat six people comfortably and have huge boots to accommodate all the luggage these six people would need. They usually have large engines and are designed for long distance driving. These cars varied in length from 4.95 m (195 inch) for low priced family sedans to 5.35 m (211 inch) for the luxury ones. They have a wheelbase of 110 inches (2,794 mm) and a combined passenger and cargo volume not less than 3,300 litres (120 cubic feet). Outside USA, cars like the BMW 7 Series meet these requirements of dimensions.
The Oldsmobile 88 was manufactured for 50 years from 1949 to 1999. Ten generations of the car, covering approximately five years each. The car depicted in the book “The Calculus Affair” is a second generation car which was manufactured from 1954 to 1956. The cars were offered as the lower spec 88 or the higher spec Super 88. It was offered in a number of body shapes that included:-
- 2-door “Holiday” hardtop.
- 4-door “Hoilday” hardtop.
- 2-door coupe.
- 4-door sedan.
The “Holidays sedans with removable hardtops and pillar less windows. All these cars were offered with the Rocket engines. The Rocket was a naturally aspirated V-8 petrol engine displacing 5,314 cc (324.3 cubic inch). They had a two barrel carburettor in the 88 and a four barrel in the Super 88. As a result, these engines produced 185 BHP of power at 4,000 rpm and 450 N-m (332 lb-ft) of torque at 2,400 rpm in the 88s. In the Super 88, the same engine produced 202 BHP at 4,000 rpm and 460 N-m (340 lb-ft) at 2,400 rpm. The engine drove the rear wheels through either a three speed manual gearbox or a four speed “Hydramatic” automatic gearbox.
Air conditioning was offered as an option on these cars. These were large cars with a wheel base of 3,098 mm (122 inches). Over all length was 5,166 mm (203.4 inches). To seat the mandatory six people, they were 1,976 mm (77.8 inches) wide. The over all height of the car was 1,580 mm (62.2 inches). They weighed between 1,678 to 1688 Kgs (3699 to 3721 lb). The V-8s could push these cars to a top speed of 171 km/h (109.7 mph). Stopping power was provided by hydraulically operated drum brakes on all four wheels while the emergency breaks operated on the rear wheels.
The car was considered a good compromise between the ride and handling as compared to most other full size cars which traditionally had a wallowing nature. The car was offered with Tubeless tyres in 1955.
These cars were a success for Oldsmobile and GM as out off 583,179 Oldsmobile produced in 1955 464,553 were the 88s and Super 88s.