Mystery of the Manual Transmission

For years I’ve wondered if Oldsmobile ever actually made any ’60s with a manual transmission. The Factory Service Manual has a large section on rebuilding the 3 speed manual, as well as clutch replacement and adjustment, etc, so it made sense that it must have at least been an option. 3 Speed column shift equipped cars were fairly common in the late ’50s and early ’60s…automatic transmissions were still optional equipment and must have still been seen as an upgrade. I’ve looked at a lot of 1960 Oldsmobiles over the past 12 years, and they’ve all been equiped with the 4 speed Hydramatic…until now.

I’ve finally confirmed the exsistance of a three speed manual transmission ’60 Olds. Thanks to Larry from the Classic Oldsmobile forums for sending me pictures of his Dynamic 88. It looks like a really sharp restoration, and features a J2 equipped 371 and original early ’70s Cragars…but what really got my attention is that transmission. This must have been a very basic car when it was purchased new…the Dynamic was the least expensive model, and it’s a Celebrity Sedan, not a hardtop. Looking at the pictures, it doesn’t look like it has many of the power features a more expensive model would have been equipped with. It doesn’t even have power steering! This looks like a very basic, no-frills Oldsmobile, possibly purchased originally by a value conscience customer who wanted a more upscale brand of car. Very interesting to be sure. The J2 “six pack” intake manifold and 3 carburetors was not an option in 1960, but was added recently. This car would have originally had a Rochester two barrel carb and intake.

At any rate, here is the proof of Oldsmobile using manual transmissions…

3 Comments to “Mystery of the Manual Transmission”

  1. Are you sure that the Dynamic 88 was baseline? We had a ’60 Dynamic 88–with a 394.

  2. my 57 Pontiac had the same ribbon speedo. Manual steering must have been a bear–the PS boxes would tear away from the frame!

  3. My Dad had a 1960 Dynamic 88 with the manual transmission. It’s what I earned to drive on. I learned how to double clutch it and get it into 1st gear while the car was still moving. First gear was not synchromesh. I would always look at other 1960Oldsmobiles and see if it had the manual transmission. I never saw another one. I did see a 1960 Pontiac Catalina that had “three on the tree” but that was the only on I saw. FYI these cars were in northern New Jersey.

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