The mighty Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 engine was the first modern OHV V-8 engine in the popular price field. In 1949, the only other OHV V-8 engine was the 331 cubic inch Cadillac that was introduced at the same time. Some say that when Olds took that Rocket V-8 out of the ’98 and put it in the lighter 6-cylinder B-body, they created the first muscle car. The Rocket 88 ruled the streets and the early days of NASCAR. Oldsmobile was the performance leader in the early 50’s, Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 in a ’59 Oldsmobile.
From 1949 ~ 1953 , the engine displacement was 303 cubic inches. From 1954 ~ 1956, the engine displacement was 324 cubic inches. In 1957 ~ 1959 the cubic inches were 371. From 1960 ~ 1964 the cubic inches were 394. These engines are still popular today in restorations, vintage street rods, and a few nostalgic race cars. In 1957 & 1958 a J-2 option with 3 2 barrel carbs were available.
An example of how popular the vintage Olds Rocket engine is – Speedway and others sell “Olds” valve covers for small block Chevy engines. These valve covers are even available with Oldsmobile Rocket decal set.