The Oldsmobile Rallye 350 is unlike any other muscle car: it was a junior muscle car released in a time when big block muscle cars were the norm.
From the release of the Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO in 1964 until 1970, car manufacturers scrambled to make muscle cars with the biggest blocks and the most insane performance.
Chevrolet released the Chevelle SS, Buick released the Skylark GS and Oldsmobile released the Cutlass 442. All American car makers with an interest in muscle cars stretched the big blocks to their limits.
When 1970 came, however, there was a shift in demand for muscle cars. Environmentalists were calling for heightened emission standards, and this would significantly affect muscle cars, which utilized high-compression engines and had poor emission standards.
In addition, insurance companies were increasing their premiums for muscle cars with big blocks and fuel costs kept increasing. All these led to a decrease in demand for big-block muscle cars and a call for performance that was more affordable.
Oldsmobile took note of this. They learned that even though demand was moving away from pure muscle cars, most people still wanted a car to look like a proper muscle.
This inspired them to develop a junior muscle car, the 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350. This car was powered by a relatively small 350 cubic inch V8 engine that produced an outstanding 390 lbs of torque and 310 horsepower. And it was quick, too: it could go from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds–quite impressive at the time.
There were faster options, too. Buyers could upgrade the differential from the standard 3.23:1 open differential to the 3.42:1 and 3:91 ratio.
The Oldsmobile also had a distinct look. You could only find it in Sebring Yellow, with color-matched wheels and bumpers. This was strikingly different to the other, more powerful muscle cars, which used a lot of chrome.
Sadly, the Oldsmobile did not sell well; only around 3,500 Rallye 350s were made in 1970. After one year of production, Oldsmobile discontinued the model. Most of what made the Rallye 350 unique later became standard in lots of muscle cars, proving that the car was indeed ahead of its time.