Category Archives: Oldsmobile

Feral treasure found in Tucson

 

SAABaritic sports car

SAABaritic sports car

A hot weekend visit to Tucson, gem of the Sonoran Desert, yielded a diverse array of feral finds, kissed (well, maybe “baked” is more like it) by the sun.  Cars that don’t have to endure humidity and snow, not not to mention body corroding road salt, last longer and we found some excellent and rare examples parked all over that spread-out ‘burg in southern Arizona.

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

A yellow SAAB Sonett III was truly an exciting “get” during our desert sojourn.   It’s powered by a German-built Ford V4 that seems to be trying to pop out of the hood.  The federally mandated protruding bumpers peg this one to be a late run ’73 or ’74 and just one of 8,368 made over a four year model run.   Haven’t seen one of these in the “wild” for quite a spell — maybe 40 years.

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Less uncommon but still most noteworthy is this VW Thing, the civilian iteration of the World War II Wehrmacht Kübelwagen adaptation of the Beetle platform. The Thing was introduced more than 22 years after the “unpleasantness” concluded in 1945.   Those ribs in the body work are not for pleasure but, rather, to provide a modicum of structural rigidity.  Despite the off-road look, Things were not four wheel drive vehicles so being stuck in soft sand and/or mud is a distinct possibility if you insist on straying from the pavement. On the road or off, the look is as funky as you could possibly want it to be.  While safety regulations put an end to US sales in 1975, VW of Mexico continued to build these, under the model name Safari, until 1980.

Letting it all hang out back

Letting it all hang out back

Both more mainstream and more sun baked is this ’64 Ford Thunderbird.   The paint seems past the point of rubbing it out to restore the shine but we think it looks menacing in a Breaking Bad sort of way. We leave it to your imagination to guess what might be stored in the trunk, aside from the missing wheel covers.  Scary!

'Bird, man

Big, bad ‘bird, man

We were glad to happen upon this ecumenical tableau in an open car port.  Housed together were an upright sedan for formal occasions and a smart pick up for work, from GM and Ford, respectively.  The sedan is, of course, a 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, a conservative conveyance, swathed in velour that is a reflection of the era when George Herbert Walker Bush lived in the White House, declared a war on drugs and the Exxon Valdez hemorraged 12 or so million barrels of crude oil that had just been extracted from Prudhoe Bay onto the shores — and far beyond — of Prince William Sound.  Ah, what a glorious time it was!  The truck is a ’66 Fairlane Ranchero, a melding of Ford’s mid-size car of the time and a pick-up, long a favorite of pool service guys over the ensuing fifty years.

Yes, actually it is your father's Oldsmobile (and your pool man's Ranchero)

Yes, actually it is your father’s Oldsmobile (and your pool man’s Ranchero)

We like the juxtaposition of this 1968 Pontiac Bonneville and late model Honda Civic.  Both were common family sedans in their respective time and dramatically underscore how the definition evolved over the decades.  That big ol’ “Pon-ton” tips the scales at more than 4100 pounds and measures just shy of 19 feet in length; the Honda is 14+ feet long and weighs under 3,000 pounds.  Not sure what the point of this exercise is except to state the obvious: times sure have changed.  The motors?  The Honda is powered by a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder unit driving the front wheels; the Bonneville is powered by a 6.5 liter V8 powering the rear wheels.  Apart from the fact that they’re both painted blue, there’s very little else in common.

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

Remember that ’66 Ranchero that is bunking with the Olds 98?  By the late ’70s, it had evolved into this strange thing that’s finished a tasteful shade of Halloween orange with matte black accents.  If the hood isn’t as long as the pickup bed, it’s damn close.  This “only in America” beast is powered by Ford’s “Boss 302” V8.  We know this because we can read.

"Orange" you glad you saw this?

“Orange” you glad you saw this?

Lastly, we encountered a very pristine Mazda RX7 rotary-powered sports car parked on a busy street.  This one is an early ’80s example wearing — how to put this?  — a see-through bra.  Yes, the RX7 of this era had pop-up headlights which necessitates the bra being roll up-able.  Sexy? Not really.  Ridiculous?  You be the judge.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

We sincerely enjoyed the time spent in Tucson where the saguaro grow tall and the cars just seem to last forever.  It’s kind of a low humidity paradise in some way.

We found a really sharp 1974 SAAB Sonett for sale in nearby Tallahassee, Florida for a mere $12000 here.  It’s orange, too, like a certain Ranchero we recently encountered.

We thought you might like to check out this Olds 98 commercial from ’88.  It’s lack of any real content is stunning but it does take a moment to disparage the imports that ultimately seals Oldsmobile’s fate.  Well done, Olds!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Everything Olds is old again.. and again

 

Big ass Olds

Big ass Olds

It was 15 years ago that Oldsmobile introduced its last new model, the third generation Bravada which was hardly an Olds.  Rather, it was a faintly re-badged Chevy Trailblazer/GMC Envoy that was only offered with a Chevy-sourced 6,  no “Rocket V8” was available for this pathetic last gasp offering.  The handwriting was on the wall and the oldest American marque, founded in 1897, would be completely eliminated by 2004.  Feral Cars Field Scout Ben Edge spotted a very real Olds that had been produced 50 years before that Bravada embarrassment. It’s a wild 1959 Ninety-Eight, the pinnacle of the Oldsmobile line at the time that’s a bit “distressed” but holding its own these days.

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Do we have to spell it out for you?

It’s a four-door (no pillars between the front and back doors) hardtop that wears GM’s cantilever design roof and wrap-around rear window.  Shared with Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet, the ultra horizontal roof, introduced that model year, was supposed to give the impression of floating above the car. The term “rollover standards” hadn’t yet been conceptualized so the fact that there was very little structure keeping the roof attached to the car was of no real concern.  Seat belts weren’t even an option; keeping one’s head attached to one’s body in this fine car was not even a secondary concern.  Ah, the Eisenhower era – the age of innocence and/or willful ignorance.

Dashing Cutlass

Dashing Cutlass

So we got on an Olds tangent and it’s been going great guns — would “roaring rockets” be a better way to phrase this? — ever since. Of course, most of the Olds seen in the wild are more recent Cutlasses.  These mid-sized middle class models were both aspirational and, for the most part, attainable. Cutlass was Olds’ bread and butter from the mid-1960s until the Cutlass hangover of the late ’80s/early ’90s when Oldsmobile just slapped the name “Cutlass” on a broad variety of cars that didn’t have all that much in common. This brilliantly successful youngish brand within the greater Oldsmobile brand became very diluted and, ultimately, meaningless.  Way to go GM brand managers!

Rocket 'n' roll

Rocket ‘n’ roll

We like this spiffy ’72 Cutlass Coupe that epitomizes the long hood/short or sloping rear deck school of design. Isn’t it classy looking, waiting at the valet stand of a hip Koreatown boite (admission by invitation only) for a “now” and very much “with it” local entrepreneur-irony peddler.  Here’s where you can insert your own “not your father’s Oldsmobile” comment.  Thank you.

Slippery slope

Slippery slope

In a somewhat less trendy setting, we noted this ’68 Cutlass wearing the de rigueur vinyl top as well as some apparently well earned patina.  That’s quite a bit of front overhang but, then again, there’s quite a bit of rear overhang, too,   The Olds logo rear side marker lights  are as swanky as you would expect in a car that proudly bears rocket imagery,  a tradition dating back the the dawn of the post war era, the beginning of what we like to call “the age of Oldsmobile.”

That'll buff right out

That should buff right out

This drool-inducing ’72 Cutlass convertible seems to have been artfully posed for us with just a tad of spillover on the eco-conscious xeriscape lawn of this stately home. The car appears to have been immaculately maintained and is finished in gleaming Antique Pewter.  Marvelous!

Your dandy's Oldsmobile

Your Dandy’s Oldsmobile

We found another ’72 Cutlass convertible that’s all buttoned up.

Potentially topless Cutlass

Potentially topless Cutlass

That factory pin-striping really pops off the white body but, come on, how about sending the front bumper out for re-chroming?  Jus’ sayin’.

Stowe 'n' go!

Stowe ‘n’ go!

The next generation Cutlass, like this  ’76, used GM’s new “Colonnade” architecture: no more pillarless hardtops and convertible production ceased.  On the other hand, the federally mandated energy-absorbing bumpers look strong enough to take on a runaway locomotive

Twin falls

Twin falls

While the Cutlass name ended up on quite a number of disparate models, the essence of the original Cutlass carried on into the 1980s  by coupes wearing the Cutlass Supreme designation.  We kind of fell hard for this shovel nosed ’84.  “Central Car Casting? Send over a car that represents the fallen decadence of the ’80s.  No, don’t bother to wax it.”

Diana, Mary + Flo reign..

Diana, Mary + Flo reign..

During the swashbuckling Cutlass years, Oldsmobile still produced conservative sedans, most of which went by unloved or unnoticed.  Here’s a 1998 Olds Eighty Eight, one of the last of Oldsmobile “big cars” appropriately finished in vanilla.  By 1959 standards, this was kind of a small car.  It’s 200 inches long while the ’59 is a foot and a half longer and weighs almost a half ton more.

Profiles in discourage

Profiles in discourage

We captured an Eighty Eight of the same vintage speeding down an inner city street in the small hours of the night.  If only GM had thought to market it as a film noir homage.  But, dash it all, they didn’t and what remains of Oldsmobile is a gnawing feeling that keeps reminding you that something important is missing that hits you in the gut every now and then. That’s the heartbreak of Oldsmobile.

Ghostmobile

Noir star car

Want the most perfect ’59 Olds Ninety Eight convertible you could ever imagine?  It’s all yours here in nearby Plymouth Township, MI for a measly $72,900. Yikes!!! A tad less costly is this ’59 Ninety Eight two door hardtop, topped by GM’s “postage stamp roof” and offered for a mere $39,500 in nearby Clearwater, FL.

We couldn’t help ourselves when we remembered that Ringo and his daughter Lee Starkey did a “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” commercial at the start of marque’s death spiral in the 1990s. You didn’t ask for it but here it is.  How do you supposed they licensed the original version of “A Hard Day’s Night” for this?  Theories? Peace and love, peace and love!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

Big ol’ Olds

Ninety-eight and counting

Ninety-eight and counting

When it registered just how huge this ’72 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight LS (Luxury Series) is when we happened upon it the other day it was kind of shocking.  The thing measures 19 feet from bumper to bumper, weighs 4,431lbs and its tank holds 25 gallons of (premium) gasoline.  The pistons on that massive V8 displaced 7.5 liters and fuel consumption was, on a good day, in the 14 – 15 mpg range though miles per gallon was a term never used in Olds advertising or promotional literature because nobody really cared.  Soon came the OPEC oil embargo and a very rude awakening.

Size mattered

Size mattered

Still, we love its over the top excess.  Fender skirts?  Check! Vinyl-clad roof?  Check!  Insanely long hood? Check!  Rear deck big enough to land a small helicopter? Check! Vestigial tail fins? Check!

Something finny this way comes

Something finny this way comes

Yes, it’s actually been suggested that this generation Olds Ninety Eight sported the very last tail fins appended to any American car. This was a mere thirteen years after the ’59 Cadillac marked the apogee of the upswept hind quarters school of design.  Insert obligatory Kardashian reference here.

Trunk junk

Trunk junk

Olds’ top of the line model lumbered on until 1996 and, as we know, the Oldsmobile brand was deep-sixed by General Motors when the very last new Olds (oxymoron, anyone?) was built in 2004.  It made us sad in light of the fact that, until that moment, Oldsmobile was the longest lived domestic nameplate. Founder Ransom E. Olds had started his namesake company way back in 1897.

Lotsa Something

Lotsa Something

Public Enemy, the much lauded hip-hop practitioners, celebrated the best of the Oldsmobile range with their 1987 rap rocker “You’re Gonna Get Yours.” The lyrics include the following verses which enumerated  the vehicle’s many attributes most emphatically:

“My 98 is tough to chase
If you’re on my tail – better watch your face
Smoke is comin’ when I burn
Rubber when my wheels turn
A tinted window – so super bad
Lookin’ like the car the Green Hornet had
It’s the reason I’m ahead of the pack
It’s the reason I left them back
It’s the reason all the people say
My 98-O blows ’em all away”

How Swede it is!

How Swede it is!

Swedish pop-rock group Melony chose a big, bold “triple black” Ninety-Eight to adorn their 1996 album release Satisfaction on the Minty Fresh label and the inner sleeve is festooned with images of the full line of Oldsmobile’s offerings for 1971.  It’s a mystery why the band’s Peter Kvint, Mana Eriksson and Gunnar Norden chose this graphic approach but we’re glad they did. The album makes no specific aural Oldsmobile references but does include a track entitled “My Corona.”  For a compact alternative, give it a listen.

Wagon mastered

Wagon mastered

We’re pretty sure Chuck D, Flavor Flav and the others in the PE crew did not have this Ninety Eight-based family values laden ’76 Custom Cruiser station wagon in mind when they recorded “You’re Gonna Get Yours.”  Just the same, we’re pretty lyrical about its massive presence.

Custom

It’s fin-damental!

What a delight it is to have found a commercial for Gulf’s low lead gas starring Dick Van Patten and a 1972 Olds Ninety Eight.  Nixon was in the White House and all was well.. until it wasn’t.

OK, that’s enough traipsing down memory lane.  Why not bring a gigantic ’72 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight into your life like this one in nearby Manhattan, KS?  Purchase price is a measly $7500 but, of course, you’ll have to fill it up every now and then.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Red gets to choose her Halloween ride to Grandma’s

Not your grandmother's Oldsmobile

Not your grandmother’s Oldsmobile

Feral Cars friend and fan Amy got in touch with her inner Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween.  Before setting out for Grandma’s she had to choose between a slick ’64 Oldsmobile Starfire and and sensible ’74 Dodge Dart Custom.  The Olds was fielded at the time of the “personal luxury” explosion, an analog to Pontiac’s Grand Prix, though it was far less popular with just over 15,000 sold that year.

Dodge that Big Bad Wolf!

Dodge that Big Bad Wolf!

The Dart  was long in the tooth by the ’74 model year as it was, for the most part, an update on a car that had been introduced eleven years earlier.  Energy absorbing bumpers were fitted to comply with new federal safety standards but locomotion was provided by Chrysler’s fabled “Slant Six” motor that kept going, zombie style, long after it could have been declared dead.

Room for a whole pack of wolves

Room for a whole pack of wolves

Ultimately, “Red” chose the Olds in light of its 345 hp motor that helped her race away from the clutches of the Big Bad Wolf.  Then again, that “means business” look on her face has us convinced that she clobbered ol’ Wolfie and stuffed him in the Starfire’s very commodious trunk.

Speaking of scary stuff, check out this commercial for the ’64 Starfire in which the car is used to tow an intrepid hang glider.  Be afraid, be very afraid.  Equally scary is the asking price for this ’67 Dart GTS convertible.  Yes, it’s just one of five made and has just 37 miles (!!) on the odometer but $109,900 still seems frightening to us.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

10 years ago: Oldsmobile’s chickens came home to roost

Finger lickin' 98

Finger lickin’ good 98

It was ten short years ago that the very last Oldsmobile, an Alero sedan, rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan. It was in Lansing that Ransom E. Olds started building vehicles in 1897; General Motors absorbed the company in 1908 before which Olds had departed and founded REO,  building cars and trucks that bore his initials.

In 2000, more than four years before that last Olds was built, GM had announced its plan to phase out the brand, a sharp contrast to the comparatively instant deaths of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer in the wake of the company’s 2009 bankruptcy.

Sharp Cutlass

Sharp Cutlass

Olds had been on a downward spiral since the mid-90s, despite some innovative offerings. That decline followed tremendous success: Olds’ domestic market share was over 5% as recently as 1985 — actually higher than Toyota’s that year.

We offer some Oldsmobiles, captured in the wild, as a tribute to what had been American’s longest running marque.  That distinction has been ceded to Buick which started up in 1899 and, miraculously, survived the infamous GM brand purge of 2009.

First is a 1990 Toronado Troféo: It’s certainly a big come down from the original ’66 streamline moderne-styled Toronado in terms of groundbreaking design. Its front wheel drive technology had become common place by this time so, as is said, “no big whoop.”

This is what a Toronado looked like in 1990

This is what a Toronado looked like in 1990

 

..and here we've been thinking this is the name of some kind of flourless choclate cake.

..and here we’d been thinking it’s the name of some kind of flourless chocolate cake.

Olds dabbled with smaller cars over the years.  Here’s a brazenly badge-engineered ’73 Nova that masquerades as an Olds Omega.  Nobody was fooled at the time but now it’s a nifty left-field leftover from a bygone era.

Omega: NOT a Nova (much)

Omega: NOT a Nova (much)

What about this ’77 Cutlass Supreme?  Does it recall a soda fountain treat or a Motown girl group on any level?

Waterfall grill before the fall

Waterfall grill before the fall

If you want to live really large we suggest an ’86 Custom Cruiser wagon. This particular one commutes regularly between Provincetown, MA and Palm Springs, CA. We think this very merry Oldsmobile in the very embodiment of the “Family Truckster” paradigm.

Wood is good!

Wood is good!

Cutlass was a hit name for Olds, having been launched in 1961 as a bucket seat model of the mid-size F-85.  It soon became its own line and, thereafter,  branched into Cutlass Supreme and Cutlass Ciera sub-models. Their shared root name was just about the only thing the two had in common with Supreme continuing as a traditional rear wheel drive car with Ciera a front wheel drive mid-size line. Here’s a Cutlass Ciera S with international flair.

Flag Day fender bender

Flag Day fender bender

Oldsmobile’s 88, introduced in 1949, was the inspiration for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s first hits:  Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88.”  This ’92 Eighty Eight Royale is one of the last generation of 88s and soldiers on despite some gnarly roof scale.

Eighty Eight is classier if you spell it out

‘Eighty Eight’ is classier if you spell it out

Throwback Thursday special

Throwback Thursday special

At the time of its final demise, only Daimler, Peugeot and Tatra had longer runs in the motorized vehicle business than Olds.  Daimler is still very much with us through Mercedes-Benz and Peugot was just revitalized with a boatload of yuan from China’s Dongfeng Motors. Tatra made  absolutely the hippest behind-the-iron-curtain cars of all time: full Buck Rogers/AstroBoy styling plus a rear-mounted air-cooled V8.  We could go on but note that Tatra still makes huge trucks in the Czech Republic to this day. Olds was GM’s first (of many) sacrificial lambs.  Let’s hope it’s the last.  Did you hear that, Buick?

Fast fade for Olds

Slow fade for Olds

Check out this Toronado commercial from 1966, the first year for the most innovative model ever offered by Olds in the post war era. The spot stars race driver Bobby Unser and, ironically, Shorty Powers, the voice of NASA’s Project Mercury.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.