Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 1956

One of the stars of General Motors’s 1956 Motorama line-up, this space-age dream car certainly added sparkle to Oldsmobile’s dowdy image. Its interior, too, boasted clever ideas that made for easy access despite a very snug, close-coupled cockpit. When the driver or passenger door was opened, a roof panel would automatically swing upwards

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 1956
Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 1956

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 1956

  • PLACE OF ORIGIN  Detroit, Michigan
  • HISTORICAL STATUS  prototype
  • ENGINE  V8-cylinder, 371ci (6,079cc)
  • MAXIMUM POWER  275bhp
  • LAYOUT front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
  • BODYWORK  two-door, two-seater coupé
  • TOP SPEED  unknown

Simultaneously, the seat would rise by 3in (8cm) and swivel round 45 degrees to accept the occupant. Once enclosed, the driver was then faced with an incredible steering wheel. A thin rim was supported by two spokes that formed, de facto, the steering column, tapering right back into the dashboard to converge with the distant steering wheel “center,” which was actually a large speedometer.

Buttons on the wheel meant it could be tilted to suit the driver, or make access even easier-a genuine innovation. The rocket-inspired exterior suggested ultra-rapid forward acceleration. Positively glowing in its burnished gold paintwork, the plastic body featured prominent chrome warheads fronting each wing, which then tapered gently to two chrome tips.

The effect was like two torpedoes, enlivened with two small fins at the rear that looked something of an afterthought. Among its 1956 Motorama stablemates on their pan-US tour, the Golden Rocket was eye-catching; on its own, it was sensational. When it was exhibited solo at the Paris motor show 18 months after its American unveiling, it was still acclaimed as one of the absolute stars of the show.

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