Rocket Engine


Rocket 88 Engine Fastest on Road in 1950s

My Rocket 88 song shoots to top of the Rock N Roll Charts

In 1954, Ike Turner’s song My Rocket 88, a song that one of Ike Turner’s band members, Jackie Brenston, recorded at Sam Phillips Studio hit Number One on the R&B chart.  Read lyrics to “My Rocket 88”

1954 Oldsmobile Stock Wins Grand National Race

The Oldsmobile Rocket 88 with its big V-8 was considered the fastest car on the road back then. In 1954, Gober Sosebee won the Grand National (Strictly Stock) in a 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. In May, 1954, Buck Baker also won in a 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 (Strictly Stock).

Rocket 88 California State Patrol Car in 1954

In 1954,the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was the official State Patrol car in California and was used in the California Highway Patrol TV series,according to Russ Lindenlaub who owns an authentic replica.

Overhead Cam

The Oldsmobile Rocket V8 was the first post-war OHV V8 at General Motors.

Gibson Butler, original designer of Rocket engine, says
In the post World War II period, there was tremendous interest in rockets. Werner von Braun, the brilliant scientist/engineer, was brought to America with many of his associates. They had successfully developed the German V-2, used against the British Isles during the waning months of the war in Europe.

This interest coupled with Oldsmobile’s success in weaponry and shell manufacture inspired Skinner to name our new power plant the Rocket engine. We, in Engineering, thought the name stunk! How wrong we were! However, as everyone knows, the choice of name was excellent.

The author, Gibson Butler, was a member of the postwar engine design group at Oldsmobile. He participated in the creation of the first Rocket V-8 engine.

Oldsmobile eliminated the need for a rocker shaft with sheet metal rocker arms. Another improvement was a lighter weight cylinder block and cylinder head casting.

Other facts about the Rocket 88 engine

  • The Rocket engine was used as an irrigation pump engine
  • GM developed a toroidal combustion chamber diesel engine in 1953 using the Rocket engine
  • This was the first successful over square
    Chevrolet and others auto manufacturers used Oldsmobile’s Rocket Engine as Standard
  • Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Buick’s 90-degree V-8 engines used the Oldsmobile Rocket engine as a design standard.



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