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.)
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.
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.