- '62 Starfire *Courtesy: WheelsAge.org & GM Corp. Oldsmobile

The Torch in The Cave

5w ago

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Ahead of the coming conservative sweep, Oldsmobile had a straight, broad car in the Starfire when finned barges still ruled the pool. We're right in the meat of JFK's brief seat and if there was ever an automobile to reflect a nation's attitude, this must be one. Weighing over two tons assures passengers a forceful leave from their path will not go over easy. 345 horsepower bled from 394 equally impressive cubic inches moves the gleaming behemoth at a pace respected even in the digital age. As a nation, the United States stood firm with thick shoulders, casting bright eyes down upon the world in an era of justifiably argued supremacy. Starfires are meant to be noticed then observed as the beast beating the east.

Air conditioning, plush five or even six in a squeeze seating, and ample trim, is a must because this predates Oldsmobile's muscle with 442. In the name itself lies an assertion of American destiny among the cosmos. Interior room nursed a bulletproof attitude that reinforced itself the farther we traveled from Sputnik and nearer to the moon. It is blatant arrogance by modern eyes, but look through another layer. The Starfire represented a prosperous sense of wellness and exuberance among life's simplest pleasures. There was clean air, bright neighborhood picnics, the sight of full trees for miles over far from industry evils. You were closer to earth at this point and your fellow people felt it. Call the Starfire a member of the "feel good" crowd because families did not break apart, rather they bonded atop these wheels.

1964 interior *Old Cars Weekly

A three speed automatic kept those hands at 10 and 2 under all conditions and did not disturb passengers with an intrusive jerk. Something about these older mechanical devices always seems to win in smooth dependable operation. Maybe one shift is felt if that because the whole goal at this time was to make a road car turbine seamless (Yes Chrysler did it all the way).

Because this is a stretched and plumped machine, GM had no objection to the 345 horsepower (440 lb ft of torque none too shabby). It still shuffled up to 60 mph from a dead stop in under 9 seconds and about 120 at full stroke if a long enough road was ahead. But motoring a vehicle like this isn't all about numbers and charts. Anybody is expected to just get in and get away. A car can be the best office because there is no boss, no deadline, no curfew. You've got everyone you could possibly want with you on a journey to no one knows where and who cares how. That's the reality of living with a model like the Starfire. It's not a "Dad" car like so many others because people on the street see this and dig you instantly.

The Atom Reactor *Barrett Jackson

With all of the advertised good a Starfire means to provide, it is a rarely recognized figure among full-size performance crowds. On a sheet metal level this Olds looked like little else in '62, but maybe the reigns on style were pulled a bit too hard. Strarfires aren't an iconic silhouette because the 60s were crowded by rectangular bodies after 11/22/63. If you're aiming at looks go toward the Toronado that overshadowed the Starfire by 1966.

By then the world was headed toward a dark place marred by conflict, inflation, and blurring boundaries. We needed to look back on that short span between the 1958 recession and Kennedy's demise because that was the second, most powerful peak of optimism after the second world war. Now fathers were going to make up for all of the time they spent suffering through the great depression as children with their own in this prosperous era. A Starfire was the motivated heart of a world where school actually taught children and employers gave two damns about the laboring souls in their halls. Call it a period of arrogance, blind joy, ill-fated missions, or shady politics, this is all discussion on another board. Look at what moved generations to life's daily duty and pleasure: a full-figured, powerful, swift, smooth, and bright barge that is distinctly American.

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