As the 1930s continued, the effects of the Great Depression dwindled and the economy continued to pick up steam. Oldsmobile restyled many of their vehicles for the 1937 model year and did mild refreshing for 1938. A new 'Automatic Safety Transmission' was introduced in 1937 which was a clutchless manual gearbox. The following year, it was optional on both the six- and eight-cylinder Oldsmobiles.
Oldsmobile offered two engine sizes for 1938, a six- and eight-cylinder unit. The six-cylinder had an L-head design with a cast-iron block and a displacement size of 230 cubic-inches. Power was rather impressive at just under 100 bhp. The eight-cylinder displaced 275 cubic-inches and produced 110 horsepower. Both had a three-speed sliding gear transmission with synchromesh as standard, with the 'Safety Automatic' unit costing an additional $100.
There were two series, the Series F and the Series L. The Series F vehicles rode on a wheelbase that measured 117-inches. The Series L were fitted to 124-inch frames. Both the Series F and Series L could be purchased in a convertible, touring sedan, club coupe, two-door sedan, business coupe, two-door touring sedan, and four-door sedan. The most popular body style was the Touring Sedan for both the F and L models. The Series F Touring Sedan saw production reach 36,484 while the similarly designed Series L saw about half that figure, at 17,987.
Among the more rare and sought after in modern times is the L-38 convertible. There were 475 examples produced, each having a base price of $1,160. A mere 68 were ordered with the factory side-mount enclosed tire - an important feature as this would be the final year Oldsmobile would offer a convertible with rumble seat and the side-mounted spare. by Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2008
Ransom E. Olds began producing automobiles in 1897. Oldsmobile was the first company to use the assembly line, but Ford Motor Company later added the conveyor belt. General Motors acquired Oldsmobile in 1908 and Mr. Olds later pursued another of his ....[continue reading]
This 1938 Oldsmobile Series L Convertible Coupe was one of the first equipped with the new four-speed semi-automatic transmission called the 'Automatic Safety Transmission.' This accessory was actually built by Buick and they would begin using it on....[continue reading]
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1938 Oldsmobile Series L Production Figures
2-Door Touring Sedan 1,948
Business Coupe 1,098
Club Coupe 1,136
2-Door Sedan 143
Touring Sedan 14,987
99,951 total vehicles produced by Oldsmobile in 1938 The 1938 Oldsmobile Series L accounted for 20.0% of Oldsmobile's 99,951 production.