Hot as the muscle car escalation was in 1968, the majority of passenger vehicles lining city streets were rather benign. Giant sedans, station wagons, and light duty trucks in particular were among the bulk. A few Mustangs or Camaros might break a row, but it's the boat with two doors that becomes peculiar.
The Oldsmobile Delmont 88 is essentially a longer, wider, heavier Cutlass. Big power is on tap like in the intermediate sibling and we've returned to the debate on road presence. In a hot Cutlass, you were well off enough to get Oldsmobile's "Hip" machine, but a Delmont 88 said, "Here's someone going not for speed, but maximum metal per dollar." Although the Delmont 88 was only in the showroom for 1967 and 1968, there's enough affordable mass here to make Chevy's Biscayne sweat rivers. Depending on body-style, MSRP ranged between $3100 & $3500 not including optional equipment.
Available in two four-door sedan, one coupe, and one convertible variants, fit any age bracket into an Oldsmobile painlessly. If the checkbook was really thin, a base two-barrel 350 ci small block ushered 250 horsepower for casual road-boating. A 60 horsepower bump accompanied a four-barrel carb.
For the big block bunch a 455 cubic inch acted more like an anchor with 310 hp and two-barrel carburetion. Those who knew were calculating in their exact Delmont desires sprung for the optional police package. 455 performance under this package jumped to 390 horsepower via a four-barrel carburetor, maintaining respect for those extra cubes.
From quarters to fender tip, the Delmont 88 hides elegant lines from casual glances. It's fastback roof rivals Ford's Torino, but a big game frame does enough to discourage most. At two tenths under 218 inches long, start rolling comedic scenarios in your head of rookie drivers parallel parking. After you pulled a Mustang out from the front bumper, it becomes clear that a Delmont 88 belongs in mature hands.
However, mature hands work for brains that say, "Oldsmobile isn't meant to be a bare bones brand." Chevrolet's Biscayne could get a 427 and four-speed manual in certain model years so there's a race winner. What the Biscayne didn't give was the Delmont 88's sense of road owning and increased base comfort. Oldsmobile's entry level was still above Chevrolet, but it was just too basic for an uptown reputation.
Exiting quietly when the tide turned against the United States in Southeast Asia, the Delmont 88 maintains a reputation as the capable insulator. Large and obviously numb regarding road-feel, these interstate whales just make pilots feel so good that they themselves become impervious to social/political rifts. Nobody cares if your red, blue, pink, or gray in car culture and those who saved Delmont 88s are another respected sect. It's not always about hanging with a front-running torque monster or track record boasting precision machine. Off the lot a youngster who wanted to feel a bump in social status could get into a cool cruiser without saying, "Hey I stole my dad's keys!" Today those kids now dads and granddads alike are still turning a key few so wanted from the start.