A large number of variations in nomenclature were seen over this long model run—Delmont, Delta, Dynamic, Jetstar, Starfire, Super, Holiday, L/S, LSS, Celebrity, and Royale were used at various times with the 88 badge, and Fiesta appeared on some station wagons in the 1950s and 1960s. The name was more commonly shown as numbers in the earlier years and was usually spelled out in the later.
The Oldsmobile Eighty Eight was produced in Wentzville, Missouri; Flint, Michigan; and Lake Orion, Michigan.
Oldsmobile introduced the 88 badge in 1949. It was named to complement the already-existing 76 and 98. The new car used the six-cylinder 76's A-body platform with a powerful new Rocket V8 engine. This combination of a relatively small light body and large, powerful engine made it a precursor to the muscle car. The Rocket 88 vaulted Oldsmobile from a somewhat staid, conservative car to a performer that became the one to beat on the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuits. It won six of the nine NASCAR late-model division races in 1949, 10 of 19 in 1950, 20 of 41 in 1952, and eventually eclipsed by the low-slung, powerful Hudson Hornet, but it was still the first real "King of NASCAR." This led to increased sales to the public. There was a pent up demand for new cars in the fast-expanding post World War II economy, and the 88 appealed to many ex-military personnel who were young and had operated powerful military equipment. The 88 enjoyed a great success, inspiring a popular 1950s slogan, "Make a Date with a Rocket 88", and also a song, "Rocket 88", often considered the first rock and roll record. Starting with the trunk-lid emblem of the 1950 model, Oldsmobile would adopt the rocket as its logo, and the 88 name would remain in the Olds lineup until the late 1990s, almost until the end of Oldsmobile itself.
Styling changes for the 1950 model include the replacement of a two-piece windshield with a one-piece unit and the addition of the Holiday hardtop coupe to the line. Also a three-speed manual transmission with column shift became available as a "delete for credit" option to the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The 88 now outsold the six-cylinder 76 lineup, which was dropped entirely after the 1950 model year.