Under The Hood

Inside the Olds Rocket Circle fraternity

The Oldsmobile Rocket Circle customer appreciation program

Those “Rocket Circle” ornaments on the dashboards of ‘50s Oldsmobiles are more than just another chrome trinket on a flashy ‘50s machine.

General Motors’ Oldsmobile division formed the “Oldsmobile Rocket Circle” for the 1956 model year as a type of customer appreciation program. Included in the Oldsmobile Rocket Circle program for each customer was a bi-monthly publication of the same name, a certificate that apparently showed the number of new Oldsmobiles the customer had purchased, and a chromed metal stand-up ornament that could be mounted at the base of the car’s inner windshield molding. Although this program was instituted in 1956, the ornaments are seen today in many 1955-and-earlier Oldsmobiles as they easily mount to the inner windshield reveal molding. (One has been fitted to my 1955 Olds 98 Holiday coupe since long before I obtained it.)

A Rocket Circle ornament on an original 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88. The gold Q-shaped oval “contrail” that would hold the owner’s initials is missing from this example. The silver character to the left denoted the number of new Oldsmobiles purchased by the owner. In this case, five new Oldsmobiles by 1958. (Phil Skinner photo)

 

The Rocket Circle ornaments featured a rocket leaving a circular contrail in which owners could include their initials (up to three characters). At the left of the ornament was a space for the number that represented the number of new Oldsmobiles the customer had purchased thus far. Olds dealerships were supplied with a kit of tiny silver letters and numbers for mounting on the ornament. A complete Rocket Circle ornament kit includes the chrome base, a gold Q-shaped contrail, one screw for fastening the ornament to the car, oval gaskets for between the contrail and base, and installation instructions

New-old-stock Rocket Circle ornaments are easy to find and are inexpensive ($10-20), but new characters are very difficult to source. I have seen only one or two of the kits of NOS letters and numbers priced at about $100.

A typical and common new-old-stock (NOS) Rocket Circle ornament kit with the box. Note the numbers and letters were not supplied with the ornament; these characters were separately supplied to the dealer. This kit is missing the mounting instructions.

 

At least one accessory was also either sold or given away under the Oldsmobile Rocket Circle program. Recently on eBay, a polishing cloth made by the Las-Stik Mfg. Co. was being offered with “Oldsmobile Rocket Circle Owner Relations” packaging.

From what I have found online, Oldsmobile Rocket Circle was discontinued in the late 1960s (the latest Oldsmobile Rocket Circle publication I have seen is 1967 edition Vol. 12, No. 4). I am not sure how long the Rocket Circle ornament was installed on cars, but I have only seen them mounted in 1950s Oldsmobiles. It’s possible they were also used into or even through the 1960s.

The “Rocket Circle” name lives on as the name of the publication of the chapter of the .

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