Born out of a 1953 Oldsmobile show car, the Starfire was the top of line Oldsmobile from 1954 to 1957. Even though the Starfire reached record sales figures in 1957, Oldsmobile pulled the plug on the Starfire name until its mid year reintroduction in 1961.
With advertising describing the Starfire as “Distinguished…Distinctive…Decidedly New” the Starfire was reintroduced as a personal luxury convertible to compete with the Thunderbird. Using a similar formula as the Thundebird, Starfires came with bucket seats, striking chrome and trim, fully powered appointments, a beefed up chassis and the famous Rocket V8. The Starfire would remain Oldsmobile’s personal luxury choice until the Toronado took over in 1966.
With the release of the all new F85 in the Fall of 1960, Oldsmobile chose to hold off on the release of the 1961 Starfires until January of 1961. Oldsmobile used the GM Motorama which opened in New York on November 3,1960 to unveil the new Starfire to the public.
1961 Starfires shared the same 123 inch wheelbase as the 88 models, but the grill and rear design treatment were more like the luxurious ninety-eight models. Exclusive Starfire styling included two parallel hood moldings and a four inch wide band of brushed aluminum on the sides. Starfires striking interior included leather bucker seats, a center console, chrome plated automatic transmission lever, tachometer, full power controls, and courtesy lights.
Starfire’s performance came from a 395 cubic inch V8 that cranked out 330 horespower and 440 lbs/ft of tourque at 2800 rpm. The engine also looked great with it’s chrome plated air cleaner, shiny valve covers and oil filler cap.
A $4,647 price tag made it $8 more than the Thunderbird. Considering it was only offered as a ragtop and it wasn’t introduced until January of 1961, the 7,600 Starfire production number was a good start to the model.
Today, 1961 Starfires are highly sought after cars. A Starfire in excellent condition will likely cost $50,000 or more.