My dad guessed a 1958 Oldsmobile — pretty close. When I pulled up behind Mystery Car 89 last Saturday, I had just gotten off work. It was a treat to pull up behind a classic from the 1960’s with such distinctive tail lights. But it was still one that I was unfamiliar with. The traffic light was still red, so I pulled as close as possible to read the name on the trunk lid … Starfire! Hmm… that really didn’t do much for me. I figured it was a Pontiac or some GM model of the mid 60’s. But it wasn’t until I got home that the internet revealed that Mystery Car 89 was an early Oldsmobile Starfire probably a 1961 or 62 model.
According to Wikipedia, Oldsmobile stole the name from a famous Lockheed fighter jet of the 1950’s. I guess jets were all the rage back then. In fact, when I was a kid our church youth group was still called the Jet Cadets in the 1970’s. So, this was probably a trendy name in the 60’s. In any event, the car eventually became a reality for model years 1961-66. The Starfire was produced as a convertible and coupe and came with either a 394 cubic inch (6.5L) or 425 cubic inch (7.0L) engine. As you can imagine, these engines put out as much as 375 hp (slightly more than my Corvair).
The Starfire name was discontinued until 1975 when Oldsmobile made their own version of the Chevy Monza (1975-80). That’s when every GM brand jumped on board: Chevy Monza, Pontiac Sunbird, Olds Starfire, Buick Skyhawk and … . Hmm … I guess Cadillac didn’t make an H-Body variant. But really, what would they have called a baby Cadillac in the 70’s anyway … a Catera? Nah! They’d never stoop so low.