History EditThe Starfire name was first used by Oldsmobile on a one-of-a-kind dream car that was shown at the 1953 Motorama auto show. Named after a Lockheed jet fighter plane, namely the F-94, the original Starfire was a 5-passenger convertible that had a fiberglass body, a 200 hp (150 kW) Rocket V8 engine, and a wraparound windshield like that used on the top-of-the-line and limited-production 1953 Fiesta 98 convertible.
The name was then used for the 1954–1956 model years to designate the convertible models of the 98 line in much the same way that the Holiday name was used to designate hardtop body-styles. The 1954–1956 Oldsmobile 98 Starfire convertibles were the most expensive Oldsmobiles offered during those years. During the 1957 model year, all 98 models were referred to as being Starfire 98s. The name was dropped from the 98 series beginning with the 1958 model year.
First generation (1961–1966) EditIntroduced in January 1961 as a convertible, the first Starfire shared its body and wheelbase with the Super 88 and the lower-priced Dynamic 88. It was loaded with standard equipment including leather bucket seats, center console with tachometer and floor shifter for the Hydra-matic transmission, and was the first U.S. full-sized production car to feature an automatic transmission with a console-mounted floor shifter, brushed aluminum side panels and power steering, brakes, windows and driver's seat. With a base price of $4,647 in 1961, it was the most expensive Oldsmobile, even more than the larger Ninety-Eight models. The standard 394 cubic inch V-8 Skyrocket V8 engine - Oldsmobile's most powerful in 1961 - used a 4-barrel Rochester carburetor and generated 330 hp (246 kW) at 4600 rpm. Sales of the 1961 model were 7,800 For the 1962 model year, the convertible was joined by a two-door hardtop, which featured a new convertible roofline shared with other Oldsmobile 88 coupes. Horsepower was increased to 345 hp (257 kW). 1962 was the best sales year for the first generation Starfire with sales of the hardtop coupe being 34,839 and sales of the convertible being 7,149.
Styling changes for the 1963 model year included a move away from the sculpted sides of the previous years model, to a flatter, more conventional look with an exclusive squared off roofline that included a concave rear window. Sales of the coupe were down to 21,489 and the convertible was down to 4,401, a drop of 38%,. probably due to intense competition from Buick's all-new Riviera, which was in the same price range as the Starfire but had its own unique bodyshell. The Pontiac Grand Prix was also restyled for 1963 with a similar squared-off roof, which no doubt stole some sales from Oldsmobile showrooms.
The 1964 model appeared very similar to the 1963. Curb weight was down, but overall length was up to 215.3 inches (5,468.6 mm). Sales dropped further, to 13,753 coupes (down 36%) and 2,410 convertibles (down 45%). The Starfire now shared its basic bodyshell with the new and lower-priced Jetstar I hardtop coupe which competed directly against the Pontiac Grand Prix. The Jetstar also used the Starfire's 345 hp (257 kW) 394 cu in (6.5 l) "Ultra High Compression" Rocket V8, but had a pricetag that was over $500 lower than the Starfire due to the use of a vinyl bucket seat interior and the fact that many Starfire standard features were optional on the Jetstar including Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and brakes. Front seat belts were now standard.For the 1965 model year, all Oldsmobiles would receive new styling, and the Starfire Hardtop Sports Coupe would receive a modified version of the 1963-64 unique roofline with an inversely curved rear window. The Hardtop Sports Coupe body-style was again shared with the Jetstar I. Other 88 models adopted a Holiday Hardtop Coupe body-style that featured more of a fastback roof design, while the Ninety-Eight featured a more squared-off formal roof-line. A new version of the Rocket V8 engine was offered for the 1965 model year, this one measuring 425 cu in (7.0 l) displacement, still using a Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, and generating 375 hp (280 kW) at 4800 rpm. This was still the most powerful engine in the Oldsmobile lineup and used only in the Starfire and the Jetstar I. Also new for 1965 was the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission which replaced the previous fluid-coupling Hydra-Matic used by Oldsmobile since 1940. Added to the option list for the first time on Starfires and other B-body cars was a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter that was rarely ordered.
1965 sales were 13,024 for the coupe and 2,236 for the convertible.
Only the Starfire coupe was offered for 1966 as the convertible was discontinued for this final year for that nameplate as a full-sized sporty/luxury coupe. The Starfire price and equipment level both dropped considerably from previous years and was now at the same level as the former Jetstar I series with a less plush interior thanks to the leather seats being replaced by Morroceen vinyl for both the Strato bucket seats or no-cost optional notchback bench seat, and the movement of power windows and seats from standard equipment to the option list. Also downgraded from standard to optional equipment were the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and power brakes. Horsepower was up to 375, but the Starfire no longer had the most powerful engine offered for sale in an Oldsmobile. The new Toronado had a similar engine offering 385 hp (287 kW). Sales of the 1966 Starfire coupe were 13,019.
Second generation (1975–1980) EditThe second generation Oldsmobile Starfire is a subcompact four-passenger automobile which was introduced in September 1974, and produced for the 1975 through 1980 model years. The Starfire is based on the Chevrolet Vega and shares its wheelbase and width. It would be the smallest car bearing the Oldsmobile name since before World War II. An upgraded SX model was available, and the GT was introduced in mid-1975.
The Starfire was Oldsmobile's badge engineered entry-level product of the Chevrolet Monza, which was a revised, second generation Chevrolet Vega. The Starfire was virtually identical to the Monza other than Oldsmobile specific badges.
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