For model years
1961 to 1963, no other Oldsmobile commands as much attention or
interest than the Starfire. With their unique trim, full
compliment of accessories, and powerful V8 engines they were the
hottest medium-priced cars of the day. However, there are two big
factors which has severely limited the number of these cars still
on the road today.
relied on the Twin-Turbo Hydramatic transmission for all of its
shifting duties in the early Starfires. While these were
tough and reliable when new, a decade of service often meant that
a rebuild or maintenance was required. By 1973, the cost of
rebuilding one of these units often exceeded the current market
value of the car, which often meant that the scrap-yard was the
The other factor
has to do with popularity. Although a sought after car when
new, Starfires seemed to drift into obscurity more so than other
"personal luxury" cars such as the Thunderbird, Riviera, and Grand
Prix. As a result, the supply of Starfires today is often
less than many other similar models. This has led to an
interesting market shift.
well restored or preserved examples of the early Starfires can
dazzle a customer with its chrome and style, and command a price
well above most comparable models of Thunderbird, similar size
Buicks, and most Chrysler products of the era. Prices of
these top-line first year models can exceed the $40,000 mark in
today’s very active market. The 1962 editions also command strong
prices with convertibles just a bit below 1961 levels, while the
hardtops can bring about 60% of the drop-top’s values.
Prices do take a
a hit with the 1963-64 editions due to the styling changes, but
those in the know are often able to secure a great car for a
bargain price. The best bargain in the Starfire family is
probably the 1965 editions, with the more potent V8, all the
little touches of luxury, and pure performance. Very good
examples of these cars should be found in decent condition for
well under the $10,000 mark.
There are several
areas that require close inspection. Starfires boasted the most
powerful engine Oldsmobile had for each year of the Starfire’s
run, so make sure the right block is sitting under the hood.
Particularly on the early models, make sure the soft-trim is the
proper color and materials, both inside and out. Chrome plated
trim is plentiful on many of these cars and it doesn’t hurt to
give it an up-close inspection. Particularly since unique
Starfire trim in good condition is both expensive and fairly rare.
The recent demise
of the Oldsmobile nameplate will probably have little or no effect
on the value of Starfires as they were produced 35-40 years ago.
These were up-scale cars, something that many admired but simply
could not afford when they were new. As a nostalgia driven model,
these cars have limited appeal. However, those who like flash,
classic styling and some very interesting and non-traditional
color combinations of lilacs, coppers, and burgundies, Starfires
are just the ticket.
the 1960's, Oldsmobile had a strong market presence and created
several “icon” cars such as the 4-4-2 and front-drive Toronado.
However, before either of those cars ever hit the road, there was
Starfire, the car that lead Olds into the space-age.