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  #1  
Old 04-29-2004, 03:50 PM
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The Last Oldsmobile

Friends:

Today, in an ancient but modernized Lansing, Mich. plant, the very last Oldsmobile rolled off the line. The marque's demise was ordained some 3 years ago, a product of corporate mistakes in marketing along with changing demographics. Yes, it's just a car. But I mourn its passing like a member of the family.

Oldsmobiles were a formative presence in my early childhood. My Dad had a 1954 Ninety-Eight coupse, 2-tone, and packed with every then-futuristic device for whic Olds was famous: Rocket V-8, wraparound windshield, power windows and seat, automatic headlight dimmer, padded dash and Wonderbar radio. You could even change the station with your foot!! You still see examples of these beauties every so often - that's how unique their design.

I marked several passages in the rear seat of the '98: my first day of nursery school (now "pre-echool"); picking up our first puppy, Randy, a small, shivering miniature schnauzer. I even remember the day my Mom backed out of the garage and dented the right front fender. Dad was angry, but in his usual stoic way, kept it inside.

Fast forward to 1963, when Dad purchased the '63 white Cutlass convertible with pleated red upholstery. It was compact yet luxurious in a way not since duplicated. Six years later, I learned to drive with the top down!!

There were others......the 1964 red coupe and a 1990 silver Cutlass Supreme sedan. I leased that last one with my son Richard, then four, tagging along to the dealership at night. He may or may not remember the event.

In the years since, my love for cars has moved across the Atlantic to things more teutonic. And yet, I'll not forget that my romance with beautifully made machines began in a driveway on Buttell Drive, Clifton, New Jersey, some 50 years ago. Credit goes to that first family Oldsmobile.

So, this morning, a shiny, cherry-colored Alero came out the factory door and was promptly shipped to the R.E. Olds museum. One hundred years of production ending with a hush, as if the car was already a ghost.

R.I.P. my Detroit brother. You done well!!

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  #2  
Old 04-29-2004, 04:07 PM
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Location: Saugus, CA USA
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Olds good idea/mistake

They made the Cutless with as many off the shelf parts as they could. Less re-desigh for the model, easer to stock parts etc. Too good though, it was the most popularly stolen car for parts cause the parts could be sold to anybody with an Olds.
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  #3  
Old 04-29-2004, 04:54 PM
LarryBible
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I remember a day or two after Kennedy was killed in '63, my Dad brought home a new Dynamic Eighty Eight. The following summer I remember taking him to the dealer to pick it up after some warranty work. It was the only time I can remember my Dad REALLY losing his cool. His language got worse than I ever heard it.

We drove behind the dealer and there was our car with the engine idling and one of the dealers mechanics sitting inside with the windows rolled up eating a sandwich with the a/c going full blast.

My Dad walked over and opened the door. My Dad is a gentle giant kind of guy. The mechanic looked up and said "what do you want?!" My Dad said "Your sitting in my car )(^(*&)*&%^. You're letting it idle, everybody knows that builds carbon! You're eating in my car, I don't even let my own kids eat in my car! I want you out of there now!

My Dad then told me to take his pickup and go back to the shop. He drove up about 30 minutes later in the Olds. I have no idea what went on in the meeting he had after I left, but I'm sure that it wouldn't have gone over well in Sunday school. He loved that car.

I've never owned an Olds myself and I can't remember ever driving any Olds except for that one. In those days cars didn't last near as long as they do now. My Dad took great care of his cars, but I can remember a number of things going wrong with it.

When I went to Germany in 1969, the guys found out that I was a car guy and I ended up working on a number of the poor GI's rides. The first old MB I ever opened the hood on hooked me. I was so impressed at how these things were built.

The Olds was pretty typical of the American cars of the sixties and compared to the MB's of the sixties were pretty crudely built.

Also Olds is one of, if not THE oldest brand still in existence. It's akin to corporate downsizing I guess, except in this case consolidating brands. There is now no more Plymouth, so I guess losing brands is just Corporate America acting in their infinite wisdom.

Have a great day,
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  #4  
Old 04-29-2004, 05:31 PM
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Location: New Orleans, LA
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olds

the last olds I rode in was a early 90s crap mobile. incredibly, it had a stick shift, probably the last olds that had one. also, as for the suggestion in the last post that olds may be the oldest automake still in existence...daimler (mercedes) was started in 1890, over a decade before olds.
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  #5  
Old 04-29-2004, 05:40 PM
I told you so!
 
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Location: Motor City, MI
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Like my 95 E320 Cabrio, I didn't really know how popular and respected my Cutlass would have been when I bought it. I guess I just have a knack for picking out good cars. After 21 years the Cutlass is a member of the family and I'll probably never part with it.
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  #6  
Old 04-29-2004, 05:52 PM
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Last Oldsmobile, P.S.

I was going to shut my trap and just see the reactions, but I'm responding because I'm so stunned that you people missed the point. I wasn't offering the piece as a pean to Olds or it's lack of quality of recent decades, etc. None of that.

The entire point of my piece/reflection was on another level. That it marked a passage in time and of our lives, and how our lives over many years coincided with the objects, cars included, that filled them and our families.

A whole other level.

Let's get some responses on THAT level, and not on the surface stuff. we all know about that. Life is more than that.

Come on folks.

Or is it that I've got too narrow-vision or young an audience?

Come on!!!
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  #7  
Old 04-29-2004, 05:57 PM
Fimum Fit
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My parents were always Ford fans, but

my Uncle Ewald had a '57 Olds 4 door hardtop with the rare optional J-2 (as in JATO) triple carburetor motor at the same time (1957-early 1960s) as my father had a 1957 Mercury with the dealer installed dual 4-barrel solid lifter cam package on the Mexican Road Race Lincoln 368, and 1957 was the year my cousin Stevie and I got our driver's licenses. Somehow we survived our adolescent competitive instincts, but it was a miracle. There is also the legendary moment when my mother, in the Mercury, and my Aunt Delphine, in the J-2 Olds, found themselves side by side at the one and only stoplight on the 4 lane road in Little Falls, Minnesota, and both decided to put the pedal to the floor the instant the light turned green. Not often you see two early middle aged mothers (Delphine and Ewald had 10 kids!) dragging it out like that.
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2004, 12:36 AM
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My folks were loyal Olds people through the 50's and most of the 60's. There was the '50 88 coupe that was their first second car; I remember the starter button from when I was two or three. There was the used '53 98 with the auto-dimming eye on the top of the dash; it was Mom's for six years or so. Dad's '57 with the three-piece rear window; the F-85 he drove later; his '63 wagon, her Toronado, my '72 Cutlass (first car). My wife's had seven since we met in '77. My inlaws drove them too; I especially liked, in a slightly perverse way, the diesel 98 that was the next-to-last car my father-in-law picked out.

Oldsmobiles carried me around in my earliest years, as a learning and then ever more confident driver, on ski trips in high school, around town with friends. The Toronado was the first car I drove over 100--up to 125 indicated on a deserted freeway, and somehow to my slightly guilty 17-year-old ear the muffler never sounded quite right after that. The Cutlass got me through undergrad, med school and internship. Though I've driven a number of other marques, my wife's Oldsmobiles carried the two of us with our baby commuting every day, on vacations, to piano recitals, to funerals and weddings. An '85 98 was her first luxury car, and her '91 was the "Big Bertha" she and our daughter both loved. Her Aurora carried us to Boston and back checking out colleges, and to Notre Dame to take our daughter off to the next phase of her life.

Family story from maybe '55 or so: My grandfather drove a '48 Chrysler Town and Country convertible into the mid-50's. My grandmother was used to that when she borrowed Mom's '53 98 for a round-trip run on two-lanes, about 40 miles each way, and returned partly bemused, partly amazed: "Esther, that car's just too quiet and too steady--I scared myself. I was just getting going on the highway and it felt like I was up to about 50; I looked down and saw I was doing 85!"

That's how I'll remember Olds: solid road cars, often quieter or better-handling or better-riding than many of their American competitors, rarely demanding, and simply part of the family.
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  #9  
Old 04-30-2004, 07:54 AM
LarryBible
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I meant to say the oldest AMERICAN brand.

Excuse me,
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  #10  
Old 04-30-2004, 11:49 AM
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When I was a kid, my Grandmother got a 1974 Olds 98 with a 455cu in V8. So quiet and smooth. Silent boat-wave ride. AC that could frostbite. Power everything. Auto dimming lights, outdoor temp thermometer, 8-track and even TV band. State of the art stuff in those days. She would often pile 10 grandkids in there (that was the first year of shoulder belts, pre-carseats) and take us to the lake, the amusement park, or just for ice cream.
Those are the best times I can recall.

The car outlived her, and I later spent some time driving it with my learner's permit. I would set up 3 cars, and practice parallel parking this beast between them. Figured if I could park that land yacht, I could park anything.

Despite the weight, that 455 had some serious pull. The tires and suspension were completely inadequate for the thrust, of course. This car represented the pinnacle (and the end) of the big car era. Detroit soon fell into the dark ages (late 70s-early 80s), and nothing would ever be the same.

By the mid-80s, it no longer mattered whether one bought a Chevy/Olds/Buick/Caddy/Pontiac. They were all the same, other than badges and trim. It's no great surprise that GM (and DC) have been unable to keep all of their nameplates alive. They lost the differentiation that made them marketable brands. No great surprise that I (and most everyone of my age cohort) fled for Asian and European marques.
I fear GM is destroying Saab in the same way. The new Saabs are basically the same as other GM models, other than the skin.

It's a sad ending for the invention of Mr. R.E. Olds, but I would say the marque really died years ago.
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2004, 01:23 PM
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I grew up in Olds. Right after I was born my mom sold her Bug and bought a new Olds Cutless. That was a cool car, kind of cheap, but a lot of memories in it, 1st day of school, trips. Now she has a 96 Cutless and I have to say that car drives like my MB, GM really improved them. GM killed this brand Olds could have done better.
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2004, 02:06 PM
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It's a shame that such an historic automobile had to go, but it is just one more example why product planners should be kept on a short leash. Any company that could not make money selling 300,000 cars a year needs to do some serious thinking about why this happened.

Like so many others, I have an Oldsmobile in my background, a '56 four door 88 hardtop. It was a very nice car, well made and reliable when not suffering from the ineptitude of a 17-year old. I put a '57 J2 engine in it, installed a Dempsey Wilson 707 cam (there's a name you won't hear very often), Mallory ignition, & lotsa other good stuff, beefed the hydro ala B&M, lowered the front 3", and painted it yellow, actually '59 GMC Inca Gold, a true pure yellow that still looks good today. I called it the 5,000 pound canary. It was fast, for the time, but something of a maintenance headache, mostly because my interest in cars and engines was far greater than my skill. But I had a lot of fun in that car and still pause to admire the few I see at car shows.

Adios, Olds.

230/8
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2004, 02:31 PM
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Well, I gotta tell ya, the only "new" Olds I ever bought was a 84 Delta 88. The last of the big Olds. I owe that car my son's life. He took it to school one day in 86 and was broadsided in a intersection by a fully loaded gravel truck. The car was totalled of course. But due to its robust frame and body, he survived with a few scratches. No body thought he should have survived that accident. Try that in a Camry! Thank you Mr. Olds. As for GM, You guys screwed the Olds name years ago when you went all front wheel drive. I now drive a 300E and the wife has a 2000 Grand Marquis. Yeah,,, I like em big. So there!
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  #14  
Old 05-02-2004, 03:44 PM
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I'm stilll holding on to mine..
1987 Cutlass Salon
V8, factory sunroof , buckets, gauges

I need to rebuild it one day.. I have 2 more payments on the e-class... WHOOO WEEEEEE...

\\\\


Peter
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  #15  
Old 05-02-2004, 07:40 PM
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I used to own a 1978 Oldsmobile 98. Power everything, and everything worked. It was mint condition when I sold it in 1998. Great highway car, it had a V8 (403 I think). But the gas mileage was horrendous.
My new toy is a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis with 63000 original miles. What a car!!

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