Category Archives: Oldsmobile

For Olds time sake: tear the roof off the sucker!

Souped up tomato

Souped up tomato

We happened upon three Oldsmobile Cutlasses, each representing a different era and each with its own way of dealing with the ever present need to go topless by hook or crook.. or hatch.

Wild Colonade style

Wild Colonnade style

The first of these is a fairly together ’73 Cutlass Supreme, finished in Crimson Red and equipped with an oh-so-seventies T-top.  Convertibles were on the wane back then when Federal roll over standards loomed large and manufacturers were so spooked that convertible variants disappeared from product lines.  The T-top was a way to let the sunshine in, Aquarius style, without having to deal with fabric of any kind.  Hatches over the front driver’s and passenger seats were removable like rooftop emergency exits on a school bus.  Hardly a wind-in-your-face solution, T-tops were, nonetheless, comparatively popular at the time.  Supreme or pedestrian, it seems as though the rubber gaskets on this one had grown brittle so the owner resorted to the age-old duct tape remedy to keep moisture intrusion at a minimum.

Weather tight and outtasite

Weather tight and outtasite

By the 80s and 90s, true convertibles had made something of a comeback.  This Cutlass was, in truth, an adapted 2 door coupe from which the roof had been torn away while the B-pillars, aft of the front windows, remained, with a hoop extending across the span from port to starboard.  Like the Volkswagen Cabriolet of the time, it was a compromise that recalled the heyday of the convertible while giving in to structural compromise.

Necessity is a mother

Necessity is a mother

This Cutlass was a dulled compromise that pleased very few and presented a lumpy silhouette.

It was 20 years ago today..

It was 20 years ago today..

The final example in our Cutlass showcase  is this noble 1970 model, a true convertible.  You put the top down and that’s it.. no residual superstructure to obscure your view of the world and vice versa. As it should be.

Ain't nothin' like the real thing

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing

Badge of honor

Blade runner

They don’t make Olds Cutlass convertibles anymore.  In fact, they don’t make Oldsmobiles of any kind at all any more, the last one having rolled off the assembly line in Lansing ten years ago.  It wasn’t a Cutlass and it wasn’t a convertible so very few took notice.  Living and dying by the sword, anybody?

Full boat

Full boat

Let’s go back to a time when Cutlass was a newly sharpened blade.  Here’s a commercial from 1964 in which a Cutlass convertible — a true convertible — was showcased for all the world to see.

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.

DRIVEN was a wild ride

FeralCars is delighted to have played a role in last week’s DRIVEN installation at Palm Springs’ Stephen Archdeacon Gallery, attended by scores of cognoscenti in town to celebrate Modernism Week.

Art parked

Art parked

“Bob,” a swanky orange Mercury Bobcat begged the question, “Would a Pinto, by any other name, would still explode on impact?” Bob, along with an anonymous though glamorous, in a 1984 K-car kind of way, Chrysler LeBaron convertible greeted guests at the event celebrating the ‘car noir’ art of Eric Nash, hosted by ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons.

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

Matthew Reader, a/k/a “Mr. Palm Springs Modern,” curated the collection of cars deployed in the area that included a “Smokey and The Bandit” style Pontiac Trans Am, complete with “screaming chicken” hood treatment, an Oldsmobile 98 the length of three Smart cars, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV plus a “plain Jane” Ford station wagon that is the subject of one of Eric’s pieces.   His set design sense was spot on with matches strewn around the Bobcat along with a gasoline can, a vintage lunchbox exhibition in the “wayback” of the Ford wagon and a literal “trunk show” of women’s shoes in very large sizes next to the Olds.

"Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain't never been done before." "That's cause we ain't never done it."

“Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain’t never been done before.” “That’s cause we ain’t never done it.

Kickin' it Oldschool

Kickin’ it Oldschool, curbside

After sundown, Feralcars presented a breathtaking slideshow in which 190 images were projected on an outside wall of the gallery.  We’re told that some of these could be seen from the International Space Station but this has not been confirmed.

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Let’s take stock: great art, legendary rock ‘n’ roll star host, curated cars, Feralcars slideshow. And, oh yeah, our friends at Pura Vida Tequila were kind enough to send along Sara Abbas who most artfully and responsibly poured the finest agave-based cocktails we’ve ever enjoyed at an art installation.

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Life imitates art

Life imitates art

When she pours she reigns

When Sara pours she reigns

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.

 

 

 

 

Chevy rolled the dice: Monte Carlo

Chevy's broad strokes take on personal luxury

Chevy’s broad strokes take on personal luxury

When Ford’s Thunderbird grew from two-seat roadster to four-place grand tourer in 1958 the car business took note of the market for “the personal luxury coupe.”  Other makes soon fielded entrants into the new sector, some with great aplomb.  Think: 1963-’65  Buick Riviera, ’62-’64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, ’63-’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’66-’70 Olds Toronado, ’75 – ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. As Jimmy Durante might have suggested, everybody wanted to get into the act.

A Malibu lurks within

A Malibu lurks within

For the 1970 model year, Chevy adapted its mid-size Chevelle platform to do duty as a snooty upscale personal luxury coupe dubbed Monte Carlo, not to be confused with Dodge’s Monaco the nameplate of which dates back to 1965 — so there!   Monte Carlo followed the personal luxury coupe styling convention of long hood, short rear deck, thick C-pillar and vinyl roof, denoting formal, yet sporting, elegance rather than straight-up muscle car macho.

Monte Carlo was a runaway success with sales of over 130,000 the first year, generating significant profits for the company insofar as development costs were minimal thanks to shared architecture with the lesser Chevelle.  The model’s slogan was “At $3123, a lot more car than it has to be.”  The subtext seems to be that Chevy is doing you a favor selling you such a nice Malibu for comparatively little money.

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Many surviving first generation Monte Carlos have been customized and/or turned into street hopping lowrider cars as in this video.  In light of that reality, we like this minimally messed-with example, finished in Laguna Gray, that we found sans wheel covers.  Not sure about the red outline around the grill that matches the left rear wheel’s sidewall; they didn’t come from the factory this way.

Here’s a must-see commercial from the car’s introduction, wherein government agents harass a hard working paisan because they confuse his new Chevy Monte Carlo with an expensive imported exotic.   It’s a great example of Nixon era paranoia.  Did someone just say “I am not a Malibu”?

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.

 

Going, going, gone the way of the dodo and the Daihatsu?

Our friends at Hagerty Insurance have an ongoing web series called “Threatened, Endangered, Extinct”  wherein certain vehicles, once quite commonplace, are singled out for their rarity or the non-existence of examples found other than on scrap heaps.  It’s right up our alley here at FeralCars.com.  We’re in the business of celebrating the uniquely ordinary — an oxymoron, perhaps, on par with “irregular pattern” and “mournful optimist,” so this is of consummate interest. We offer several candidates for one or the other of those categories. When was the last time you saw a ’77 Chrysler LeBaron coupe?

Thought so!

Thought so!

What about an ’87 Dodge Colt Vista?  A Mitsubishi-built cross between a mini van and a station wagon. Perhaps utilitarian but definitely proportionally challenged and rarely, if ever, seen these days.

Horse of a different color

Goofy looking horse of a different color

Check out Hagerty’s latest (video) episode which covers the mid-70s Mercury Grand Marquis (Threatened), Isuzu Impulse (Endangered) and Fiat Strada (Extinct). What are your candidates for future consideration?

Here’s a list of previous T,E,E nominees: 1984 Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan, 1978 – 80 Oldmobile Starfire Firenza, 1986 – 87 Renault GTA (heck, just about all Renaults belong on the list), 1974 Olds Toronado, 1979 – 80 Plymouth Fire Arrow, 1975 – 1981 VW Scirocco, 1971 – 74 Mazda RX-2, 1981 – 85 Chevy Citation X-11, 1963 – 66 Studebaker Wagonaire, 1979 – 81 Toyota Supra, 1974 – 81 VW Dasher, 1985 – 85 Chrysler Laser XE, 1983 – 86 Chrysler Executive (K car-based!) Executive Limo, 1971 Plymouth Cricket, 1988 – 89 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo, 1980 Dodge St. Regis, 1984-85 Ford EXP Turbo, 1985 – 87 Renault Alliance Convertible, 1987 – 91 Sterling 825/827 — extra credit if you saw one of these in ’92!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com                                                                                                                            Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted.

Oldsmobile’s mighty sword

En garde!

En garde!

Ransom E. Olds started building his eponymously named Oldsmobile in 1897, eleven years before the company was acquired by the newly formed General Motors.  During the post war era, Oldsmobile was truly an aspirational brand for the haute bourgeoise for whom Chevrolet was too common and Cadillac too expensive and, perhaps, too ostentatious. By the 1980s Oldsmobile Division’s best sellers were badged Cutlass, the model having been a more deluxe version of its earlier F-85 “medium” compact.  This Cutlass Supreme was the sporty version, a two-door coupe with a long hood and a short trunk that helped Olds to a 10% market share back in 1985.  Yes, Americans bought twice as many Oldsmobiles as Toyotas a mere 28 years ago.  Yet, by 2000 GM had thrown in the towel and announced it would phase out its oldest brand.  What’s extraordinary about this one, spotted in San Francisco the other day,  is that it hasn’t been turned into a low rider or “donk” custom — it’s pretty much the way it was, with that swank half-vinyl roof treatment and fake-o wire wheels, when it rolled off the assembly line almost 30 years ago.

 

More merry making..

More merry making..

Check out this TV commercial wherein Cutlass is pronounced “the most popular car of the 80’s” — we’ll assume this is based on sales of individual model nameplates but, still, very impressive.  The slogan “There Is A Special Feel In An Oldsmobile” didn’t stick, nor, alas, did Olds.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com                                                                                                                            Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted.