SEMA 2022: Body Dropped 1954 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible Went From Rusty Shell to Twin-Turbo LS Gem

Turning a rusty shell into a restomod that not only stands out, but gets its immaculate paint caressed by the SEMA lights is one of the modern American dreams. And this 1954 Oldsomobile 88 Convertible is the living proof that such an idea can come to frutition, with the reimagined classic set to make its debut at the 2022 SEMA.

When most enthusiasts think of the first muscle cars, 1960s heroes are the ones that come to mind. However, the mix between an arguably lightweight body and a large, powerful engine showed up on Detroit’s agenda much earlier. For one, some credit the original 1949 Oldsmobile 88, with its Rocket V8, when it comes to pioneering the muscle recipe.

Of course, the machine we have here is the second iteration of the Oldsmobile 88 (the first year), but its newfound twin-turbo firepower certainly turns it into a force to be reckoned with.

That being said, this creation isn’t dominated by its engine. Headed for the Young Guns (under 29YO) category of SEMA’s Battle of the Builders Competition, this Oldsmobile aims to shine in every way possible.

Rusty no more

Some 14 years ago, when Dayton Jacobson first started working on the open-top classic, this was nothing but an example of what oxidation can do to a an automobile. The Minnesota-based builder and fabricator, who runs his own shop, may be familiar to die-hard SEMA fans, as his 2000 Chevy S-10 truck project made it to the podium of last year’s edition of the said competition.

And, for the better part of this year, Dayton has dedicated many of his active hours to completing the transformation of this ’54 Olds. And with sponsors backing him up following the said 2021 accolade, the resulting piece of Americana isn’t just about its specs, as the devil is in the details all around the vehicle.

The 88 Convertible is body dropped, so the floor is no longer in its original position, sitting higher, so the body panels can almost kiss the road. Plus, the myriad of custom bits adorning its exterior keep things consistent with the factory look of the Oldsmobile. And yes, you could easily use the immersive green finish of the vehicle as a mirror.

Modern Cadillac V interior for this Oldsmobile

Modern bits? Sure, it’s got plenty of those, starting with the 20-inch wheels and the cabin. For one, the dashboard was borrowed from a second-generation Cadillac CTS-V, albeit with a custom infotainment screen, while the front seats are bespoke, V-destined Recaros. By the way, have you seen this third-gen Camaro with a full C8 Corvette interior swap?

As expected from such a build, the trunk area is cleaner than your [insert favorite shoes here]. And yes, there’s a hydraulic top in there, so this Oldsmobile isn’t afraid of dealing with the weather.

The monstrous LS under the hood works with a pair of turbochargers for some serious muscle, while being mated to an automatic. And the fit and finish of the engine bay is a sight for sore eyes—we’ll be able to get our hands on the horsepower number next week, when the Las Vegas event opens its doors. Meanwhile, here are some other otherworldly 2022 SEMA projects we can look forward to.



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