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 Oldsmobile Series L photo

1938 Oldsmobile Series L

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

1938 Vehicle Profiles

1938 Oldsmobile Series L vehicle information

Convertible

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]

1938 Oldsmobile Series L vehicle information

Convertible

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]

Convertible
 
Convertible
 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1938 Series L
$1,160-$9,500
1938 Oldsmobile Series L Price Range: $989 - $1,160

Other 1938 Oldsmobile Models

Series L

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
119.00 in.
8 cyl., 240.00 CID., 90.00hp
$885 - $995
40,696
121.00 in.
8 cyl., 240.00 CID., 100.00hp
$810 - $935
42,321
124.00 in.
8 cyl., 257.00 CID., 110.00hp
$925 - $1,075
19,987
124.00 in.
8 cyl., 257.00 CID., 110.00hp
$989 - $1,160

Industry Production

#1#2#3Oldsmobile
1942Chevrolet (254,885)Ford (160,432)Plymouth (152,427)67,783
1941Chevrolet (1,008,976)Ford (691,455)Plymouth (522,080)270,040
1940Chevrolet (764,616)Ford (541,896)Plymouth (430,208)192,692
1939Chevrolet (577,278)Ford (487,031)Plymouth (423,850)137,249
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)99,951
1937Chevrolet (815,375)Ford (765,933)Plymouth (566,128)200,886
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)198,987
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)126,768
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)79,814
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)36,673

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