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Oldsmobile (or Olds + Mobile) was a brand of automobile owned by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds, and was produced in the United States from 1897 to 2004. In its 107 years, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing factory. When it was phased out, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Daimler and Peugeot. The spirit of Oldsmobile has lived on in GM's Buick brand as the Intrigue lives on as the Buick LaCrosse, the Aurora lives on as the Buick Lucerne, the Bravada lived on as the Buick Rainier, and the Silhouette lived on as the Buick Terraza.
Oldsmobiles were first manufactured by the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan, a company founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In 1901, 425 cars, becoming the first high-volume car of the day. Olds became, for a few years, the top selling car company in the United States. Ransom Olds left the company in financial difficulties and formed the REO Motor Car Company. The last Curved Dash Olds was made in 1907. General Motors purchased the company in 1908.
Both before and after acquisition by General Motors, Oldsmobiles were marketed for their technical sophistication. The list of "firsts" is quite extensive:
In 1893, Ransom Eli Olds' company (Olds Motor Works, the predecessor of Oldsmobile) becomes the first American car company to export an automobile. It is a four-wheeled steam-powered vehicle sold to a citizen of India.
In 1901, three Oldsmobile innovations occur. The first speedometer to be offered on a car is on an Oldsmobile. The US Postal Service orders its first motor vehicles from Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile becomes the first car company to outsource parts to third-party suppliers. It is forced to do this when a fire destroys the main Oldsmobile plant in Lansing, MI, and cripples the company's ability to build cars using its own parts.
In 1926, Oldsmobile begins chrome-plating the radiator surrounds and other parts on its cars. This was the first automotive use of chrome plating.
In 1929, Oldsmobile introduced the first monoblock V8 on its Viking model.
1932 sees Oldsmobile become the first manufacturer to offer an automatic choke on an automobile.
In 1940, Oldsmobile introduced "Hydra-matic Drive," the first fully automatic transmission to be offered on a widely-available automobile. This is the forefather of every automatic transmission offered today.
1962-1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire: Oldsmobile brought the first turbocharged passenger car engine to market in its Cutlass F-85 coupes and convertibles. The aluminum-block 215 in³ V8 engine with turbocharger produced one horsepower per cubic inch.
While not the first American-built passenger car to use front-wheel drive, the 1966 Toronado was the first of its type to prove successful in the American marketplace. It won Motor Trends Car of Year in 1966 with its unique and innovative styling.
In November 1973, Oldsmobile became the first car company to install airbag as a factory option (driver and passenger side) in a 1974 Toronado. Airbags were also available the other full size Oldsmobile models as well as Buick and Cadillac models before the end of 1973 on the 1974-75 models.
The 1978 model year saw the debut of Oldsmobile's 5.7-liter 350 cid diesel V8, available in all General Motors large and intermediate cars. (A 4.3-liter 260 cid diesel V8 from Oldsmobile would follow.) Popular at first due to diesel fuel's economy (better mileage than and cheaper than gasoline), sales of GM cars with these diesel engines plummeted when diesel fuel became more expensive than gasoline and the engines themselves proved to be extremely unreliable. Oldsmobile was forced to abandon its diesel program in 1985 due to these factors. At the time GM decided to get out of the passenger diesel market, Oldsmobile had been working on an experimental diesel engine called "Tuned Inductuion Diesel" system. The system was innovative in its use of tuned-port air induction to increase performance capabilities. However, it was never produced.
In 1988, Oldsmobile broke a world closed-course speed record with the Oldsmobile Aerotech, driven by legendary race car driver A.J. Foyt.
1988 also saw Oldsmobile introduce a heads up display option on the Cutlass Supreme International Series. When turned on, it allowed drivers to view the speedometer reading on the inside of the windshield. This option later became available on the Corvette.
The 1988 model year also saw the debut of Oldsmobile's "Quad 4," GM's first American-built four-cylinder, four-valves-per-cylinder engine.
Oldsmobile was also the first carmaker in the world to offer a GPS-based navigation system on a production automobile. The system, called GuideStar, was a $1,995 option on the 1996 Eighty-Eight LSS. This in turn led to the introduction of GM's current 'OnStar' system.
In 1997, Oldsmobile turns 100 years old. It is the first American car company to reach this milestone.
In 2001, the fully redesigned 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV became the first truck ever to pace the Indianapolis 500. It was the eleventh and final time an Oldsmobile would pace the open-wheel race.
Oldsmobile was also frequently early with other features, such as automatic headlight dimmers and the 1950's panoramic windshields. Their "Rocket 88" theme hood ornament treatment was also the reference name for their advanced over-head valve V-8 engines, from 1949 onward. Also, in the 1980 model year of California models, and in 1981 in the 49 other states, Oldsmobile introduced the first modern computer engine management system. While this was common across all GM divisions, this early system lasted almost unchanged the longest of any other division. The Oldsmobile 307 engine with the computer controlled Quadrajet carburetor remained in production until 1990, all the while meeting emmisions standards without the benefit of electronic fuel injection. This is a testament to the engineering standards in which Oldsmobiles were built.
The 1901 to 1904 Curved Dash was the first mass-produced car, and was also the first American car to be exported. Oldsmobile set a land speed record of 54.38 mph at Daytona Beach in the 1903 Pirate. The 1903 Model R curved dash was the number one selling car in the United States, selling for $650. Ransom Olds left Oldsmobile in 1904. Oldsmobile advertising pointed out that keeping a horse cost its owner and estimated $108 a year, whereas the owner of an Oldsmobile spent an average of $35 per year in fuel and maintenance.
In 1908, Oldsmobile became the first manufacturer to begin using nickel, rather than brass, trim.
The 1910 Limited Touring was a high point for the company. Riding atop 42 in wheels, and equipped with factory "white" tires, the Limited was the prestige model in Oldsmobile's two-model lineup. The Limited retailed for US$4,600, an amount greater than the purchase of a new, no-frills three bedroom house. For their money, buyers received goatskin upholstery, a 60 hp (45 kW) 707 in³ (11.6 L) straight-6 engine, Bosch Magneto starter, running boards and room for five. Options included a speedometer, clock and a full glass windshield. A limousine version was priced at $5,800. While Oldsmobile only sold 725 Limiteds in its three years of production, the car is best remembered for winning a race against the famed 20th Century Limited locomotive, an event immortalized in the painting "Setting the Pace" by William Harnden Foster.
In the 1930s through the 1990s, Oldsmobile used a two-digit model designation similar to that used by the European makes today. As originally implemented, the first digit signified the body size while the second represents the number of cylinders. Body sizes were 6, 7, 8, and 9, and 6 and 8-cylinder engines were offered. Thus, Oldsmobiles were named 66 through 98.
Olds dropped the 66 before the introduction of its "Rocket" engines, leaving only the 88 and the 98. In the 1950s the nomenclature changed again, and trim levels also received names that were then mated with the model numbers. This resulted in the Oldsmobile 88 emerging as base Dynamic 88 the better trimmed Delta 88, and the highline Super 88. Other full-size model names included the "Holiday" used on hardtops, and "Fiesta" used on its station wagons. When the 98 was retired in the 1990s, its length of service was the longest of any model name used on American cars.
Oldsmobile entered the 1950s following a divisional image campaign centered on its "Rocket" engines, and its cars appearances followed suit in their themes. By the mid 1950s, their styling was among the first to offer a wide, "open maw" grille, suggestive of jet propulsion. Oldsmobile adopted a ringed-globe emblem to stress what marketers felt was its universal appeal. Throughout the 1950s, the make used twin jet pod-styled taillights, again, as a nod to its "Rocket" theme. Oldsmobile was among the first of GM's divisions to receive a true hardtop in 1949, and it was also the among the first divisions (along with Buick and Cadillac) to receive a wraparound windshield - a trend that eventually all American makes would share at sometime between 1953 and 1964.
GM styling as a whole lost its frontrunner status in 1957 when Chrysler introduced Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" designs. When compared side to side, Oldsmobile looked dated next to its price-point competitor DeSoto. Compounding the problem for Oldsmobile and Buick was a styling mistake which GM called the "Strato Roof". Both makes had models which contained the heavily framed rear window, but Detroit had been working with large curved backlights for almost a decade - consumers disliked the roof and its blind spots, forcing GM to rush a redesign into production on some of its models.
Oldsmobile's only off year in the 1950s was 1958. The nation was beginning to feel the results of its first significant post war recession, and all U.S automobile sales were off for the model year. However, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac received a heavy-handed makeover of the 1957 GM designs. The Oldsmobile that emerged in 1958 bore little resemblance to the design of its forerunners; instead the car emerged as a large, over-decorated "chromemobile".
Mechanix Illustrated automobile writer Tom McCahill liked the cars performance, but felt that the outside appeared to be designed by two separate studios, working without knowing what the other was up to. Up front, all 1958 Oldsmobiles received one of GM's heavily styled front fascias and quad-headlights. Streaking back from the edge of the headlights, was a broad belt of consisting of two strips on regular 88s, three strips on Super 88s, and three strips (top and bottom thin, inside thick on 98s) of chrome that ended in a point at mid-body. But the bottom of the rear fender featured a thick stamping of a half tube that pointed forward, atop which was a chrome assembly of four horizontal chrome speed-lines that terminated into a vertical bar. The tail of the car featured massive vertical chrome taillight housings; two chrome stars were fitted to the trunklid.
Ford styling consultant Alex Tremulis (designer of the 1948 Tucker Sedan) mocked the 1958 Oldsmobile by drawing cartoons of the car, and placing musical notes in the rear trim assembly. Another Detroit stylist employed by Ford bought a used 1958 Oldsmobile in the early 1960s, driving it daily to work; he had detached and rearranged the OLDSMOBILE lettering above the grille of the car to spell out SLOBMODEL as a reminder to himself and his co-workers of what "bad" auto design meant to their business.
Notable models produced from 1939 to 1959:
- Oldsmobile Series 60 Special - 66/68
- Oldsmobile Series 70 Dynamic Cruiser - 76/78
- Oldsmobile Series 90 Custom Cruiser - 96/98
- Oldsmobile 88 (1949-1999) - Oldsmobile's standard model. Introduced with Oldsmobile's new overhead valve, high-compression Rocket V8, it gave the 88 a reputation for performance.
- Oldsmobile Super 88 (1951 - 1964} - an upgraded 88 with a more powerful engine and luxurious interior trim.
- Oldsmobile DeLuxe 88 (1952 - 1953} - lowest priced Oldsmobile model that replaced the original 88.
- Oldsmobile 98 (1946-1997) - Oldsmobile's premium model.
- Oldsmobile Fiesta (1953) - an ultra-luxurious and expensive convertible based on the 98 ragtop and featured distinctive two-tone paint scheme and one of the first automobiles to feature the wraparound windshield that would appear on all Oldsmobiles (as well as Buicks and Cadillacs in 1954 and most other American cars by 1955). The Fiesta nameplate would reappear on Oldsmobile station wagons from 1957 to 1964.
- Oldsmobile F88 (1954) - a concept car designed by Harley J. Earl. Four were made but only one survived. The last one, styling order #2265 (which sold for $3 million at the 2005 Barret-Jackson Auto Auction), was snuck out of the Oldsmobile factory in pieces, then rebuilt and either sold or given to E. L. Cord. The F88 was intended to be Oldsmobile's response to the Chevrolet Corvette; which was also designed by Harley Earl. GM terminated the project as it was a threat to its strong Corvette fanbase.
- Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88 (1957) - a one-year only nameplate used on Oldsmobile's lowest-priced model.
- Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 (1958 - 1966) - Oldsmobile's lowest-priced line of full-sized cars, usually powered by a lower hp Rocket V8 engine than its Super 88 and 98 counterparts.
In the 1960s, Oldsmobile's position between Pontiac and Buick in GM's hierarchy began to dissolve. Notable achievements included the introduction of the first turbocharged engine in 1962 (the Turbo Jetfire), the first modern front-wheel drive car (the 1966 Toronado), the Vista Cruiser station wagon (noted for its roof glass), and the upscale 442 muscle car. Olds briefly used the names Jetstar 88" (1963-1966) and Delmont 88" (1967-1968) on its least expensive full-size models in the 1960s.
Notable models for the 1960s:
- Oldsmobile 442 - began as a 1964 muscle car option package (4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, 2 exhausts) on the F-85/Cutlass. In 1965, to better compete with the Pontiac GTO, the original 330 in³ V8 rated at 310 hp was replaced by a new 400 in³ V8 rated at 345 hp. The 442 definition was changed to "4" hundred in³ V8 engine, "4"-barrel carburetor, and "2" exhaust pipes. In 1968, the 442 became its own model and got an even larger 455 in³ (7.4 L) V8 engine in 1970.
- Oldsmobile Cutlass (1961 - 1999) - mid-size car. Oldsmobile's best seller in the 1970s and 1980s, and in some of those years America's best selling car. In 1966, a top-line Cutlass Supreme was introduced as a four-door hardtop sedan with a more powerful 320 hp 330 in³ Jetfire Rocket V8 than the regular F-85/Cutlass models, a more luxurious interior and other trimmings. In 1967, the Cutlass Supreme was expanded to a full series also including two-door hardtop and pillared coupes, a convertible and a four-door pillared sedan.
- Oldsmobile F-85 (1961-1972) - compact sedan, coupe and station wagon powered by a 215 in³ aluminum block V8 engine from 1961 to 1963. In 1964, the F-85 was upgraded to an intermediate-sized car and the aluminum V8 was replaced by conventional cast-iron six-cylinder and V8 engines. The Cutlass was initially the top model of the F-85 line but became a model in its own right by 1964 with the F-85 nameplate continued only on the lowest-priced models through the 1972 model year, after which time all Oldsmobile intermediates were Cutlasses.
- Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (1964-1977) - a stretched wheelbase Cutlass station wagon (to "120" in from "115" in) featuring an elevated roof over the rear seat and cargo area and glass skylights over the rear seat. Three-seat models featured forward facing seating, at a time when most three-seat station wagons had the third row of seats facing the rear.
- Oldsmobile Starfire (1961-1966) - a sporty and luxurious hardtop coupe and convertible based on the 88. The Starfire featured interiors with leather bucket seats and a center console with floor shifter, along with a standard Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and brakes (and power windows and seats on convertibles). It was powered by Oldsmobile's most powerful Rocket V8 engine, a 394 in³ engine from 1961 to 1964 rated from 330 to 345 hp, and a larger 425 in³ Super Rocket V8 from 1965 to 1966, rated at 375 hp.
- Oldsmobile Jetstar I (1964-1965) - a sporty hardtop coupe based on the 88/Starfire with a sporty interior, featuring Moroceen vinyl bucket seats and console along with the powerful Rocket V8 shared with the Starfire. It was offered as the lower-priced alternative to the Starfire. Transmission offerings included a column-shift three-speed manual, Hydra-Matic or four-speed manual with a floor-mounted Hurst shifter. (Note, between 1963 and 1966, Oldsmobile named its least expensive full-size model the Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 which the Jetstar I was not related to, and priced $500-$600 below the Jetstar I.)
- Oldsmobile Toronado (1966-1992) - a front-wheel drive coupe in the personal luxury car category, introduced in 1966; at the time, the largest and most powerful front wheel drive car ever produced - and one of the first modern front wheel drive cars equipped with an automatic transmission. The original Toronado was powered by a 425 in³ Super Rocket V8 engine rated at 385 hp, mated to a three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. The Toronado was Motor Trend magazine's 1966 "Car of the Year."
Oldsmobile sales soared in the 1970s and 1980s based on solid car reviews from critics and the reliability of its legendary Rocket V8 engines, with the Cutlass and Cutlass Supreme becoming the best-selling vehicles in the United States. In fact, from 1976 to 1987, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was the number 1 selling car in North America. In 1984, it was claimed that Oldsmobile was making more vehicles per year than the Ford Motor Company.
- Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1970-1996) - more performance and luxury than the lower priced Cutlass and Cutlass S models, fitting in at the bottom of the personal luxury car market. Rooflines of the coupe models were generally shared with the lower-priced Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
- Oldsmobile Omega (1973-1984) - compact car based on the Chevrolet Nova and later the Chevrolet Citation.
- Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (1982-1996) - mid-sized car based on GM's A platform.
- Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (1971-1990) - full-size station wagon.
- Oldsmobile Starfire (1975-1980) - sporty compact car similar to the Chevrolet Monza, which was itself a spinoff of the Chevrolet Vega.
- Oldsmobile Firenza (1982-1988) - compact sedan, hatchback, coupe, and station wagon based on GM's J-body, sharing the same bodyshell with the Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk and the Cadillac Cimarron.
By the 1990s, Oldsmobile had lost its place in the marketplace. The performance cars Oldsmobile had been known for gave way to rebadged models of other GM cars, as GM had shifted the performance mantle to Chevrolet and Pontiac. GM continued to use Oldsmobile to showcase futuristic designs and as a "guinea pig" for testing new technology, with Oldsmobile offering the Toronado Trofeo, which included a visual instrument system with a calendar, datebook, and climate controls. Later on, Oldsmobile introduced the Aurora, which would be the inspiration for the design of all Oldsmobiles from the mid-1990s onward. However, by this time, GM had shifted Oldsmobile from a technology leader to a manufacturer that filled the slot between Pontiac and Buick. Oldsmobile also received a new logo, but by 1997, all of the earlier best-selling models (Cutlass Supreme, 88, 98 and Toronado) were gone. New models were introduced with rounded designs, inspired by the Aurora.
Notable models, 1990–2004:
- Oldsmobile Achieva (1992-1998) - compact sedan & coupe
- Oldsmobile Alero (1999-2004) - compact sedan & coupe
- Oldsmobile Aurora (1995-1999, 2001-2003) - luxury sedan
- Oldsmobile Bravada (1991-2004) - SUV
- Oldsmobile Cutlass (1997-1999) - mid-size sedan
- Oldsmobile Intrigue (1998-2002) - mid-size sedan
- Oldsmobile Silhouette (1990-2004) - minivan
Due to falling sales, General Motors announced in December 2000 they would be phasing out the Oldsmobile brand, which had become the oldest surviving American automobile brand. The 2004 model year was to be Oldsmobile's last, with the last new Oldsmobile model being the GMT360-derived Bravada introduced in 2002.
The actual phaseout of Oldsmobile models was conducted on the following schedule:
- Late 2001: The 2002 Bravada becomes the company's last new model
- June 2002: production ends for Intrigue and the Aurora V6 sedans
- May 2003: Aurora V8 sedan
- January 2004: Bravada SUV replaced by the Buick Rainier
- March 2004: Silhouette minivan
- April 2004: Alero compact car
The final production occured on April 29, 2004, when the last Alero was built in Lansing, where Ransom E. Olds first began his company. The last 500 Aleros manufactured were painted a metallic cherry red and carried special "Final 500" markings. The last of these cars went to the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum.
- Oldsmobile Curved Dash
- Oldsmobile Limited Touring
- Oldsmobile 40
- Oldsmobile 53
- Oldsmobile 66
- Oldsmobile 88
- Oldsmobile 98
- Oldsmobile Series 60
- Oldsmobile Series 70
- Oldsmobile Series 90
- Oldsmobile 442 (1968-1971)
- Oldsmobile Cutlass (1964-1999)
- Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1970-1996)
- Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais (1985-1991)
- Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (1982-1996)
- Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (1971-1990)
- Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (1964-1977)
- Oldsmobile F-85 (1961-1963)
- Oldsmobile Toronado (1966-1993)
- Oldsmobile Starfire (1975-1980)
- Oldsmobile Firenza (1982-1988)
- Oldsmobile Achieva (1992-1998)
- Oldsmobile Alero (1999-2004)
- Oldsmobile Aurora (1995-1999, 2001-2003)
- Oldsmobile Bravada (1991-2004)
- Oldsmobile Intrigue (1998-2002)
- Oldsmobile Silhouette (1990-2004)
Oldsmobile in popular culture
The Oldsmobile is notable for having inspired several popular songs:
- "In My Merry Oldsmobile", a 1905 song with music by Gus Edwards and lyrics by Vincent P. Bryan; the song enjoyed a second round of popularity in the 1920s.
- "Rocket 88", a 1951 song by Ike Turner said by many to be the first rock and roll record.
- "You're Gonna Get Yours" from Public Enemy's 1987 debut album Yo! Bum Rush The Show, an ode to the Oldsmobile 98.
Oldsmobile cars can also been seen in several popular movies:
- The Blues Brothers (1980) - During the famous chase scene inside the Dixie Square Mall, the Blues Brothers skid through the windows of an Oldsmobile showroom filled with 1980 models. As they pull away, Elwood remarks, "New Oldsmobiles are in early this year."
- Any Which Way You Can (1980) - When Clint Eastwood arrives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the big fight, his opponent and friend William Smith is driving a brand-new, red 1980 98 Regency sedan which is featured prominently in the end of the film.
- A Christmas Story (1983) - Ralphie says, "Some men are Baptists, others Catholics, my father was an Oldsmobile man."
- Lethal Weapon (1987) - Murtaugh and Riggs drive around most of the movie in a gray 1986-87 Delta 88 (look closely and you'll notice the transmission lever is in PARK most of the time while doing this). A mid-1980s Ninety Eight Regency is also seen as the villain's vehicle, gets T-boned by a bus. Gary Busey's character hijacks a red 1979 Delta 88, catches it on fire and crashes it (also shoots Riggs in a drive-by earlier in the movie using an identical car).
- The Dead Pool (1988) - Clint Eastwood's character, Harry "Dirty Harry" Callahan, is pursued by a remote controlled bomb disguised as a radio controlled car through hilly San Francisco in a late 1980s Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight.
- Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - A 1989 Custom Cruiser wagon driven by Danny Glover (his wife's "new car") throughout the movie, mercilessly and constantly abused, especially in the opening scenes. Also a blue Ciera coupe (with sport roof option) is used by one of the bad guys in the opening scenes.
- Turner and Hooch (1989) - this comedy stars Tom Hanks as a police officer who is in charge of a dog that destroys the interior of Hank's character's 1989 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Regency Brougham.
- King of New York (1990) - A 1977-79 Ninety Eight Regency is used as a undercover vehicle by crooked NYPD narcotics where they pursue Frank White (Christopher Walken) in a mid-1980s Cadillac Fleetwood limousine. The Ninety Eight was totalled.
- The Hunt for Red October (1990) - Alec Baldwin can be seen getting out of a dark-colored early 1980s 98 Regency just before he enters the White House briefing.
- White Men Can't Jump (1992) - Woody Harrelson's character drives around a dark green 1967 Cutlass convertible ("Hey, this is one CLASSIC automobile!"). It's also the car where Wesley Snipes's character accuses Harrelson of not being able to "hear" Jimi (Hendrix).
- The Dark Half (1993) - The villain, Stark (played by Timothy Hutton), is seen driving a jet-black 1966 Toronado.
- Demolition Man (1993) - Set mostly in the year 2032, a bright red 1970 Olds 442 is discovered by police officers John Spartan (played by Sylvester Stallone), Lenina Huxley (played by Sandra Bullock) and Alfredo Garcia (played by Benjamin Bratt) in the slums beneath San Angeles. Using an old elevator, the car bursts up through the floor of a modern-day Oldsmobile dealer, and Stallone's character drives it out of the showroom onto the street, beginning an extensive car chase scene. Many other GM cars and concept vehicles were used in the film including the GM Ultralite, which was featured prominently. Ironically, since Oldsmobile folded in 2004, the Oldsmobile dealer set in the year 2032 is now an anachronism. The dealer was also still using the early-90s version of the Oldsmobile logo, which was replaced only 3 years after the release of the film.
- The Getaway (1994) - Kim Basinger's character uses an early-80's Cutlass Ciera as a "decoy" car to distract armored truck drivers before a heist.
- Get Shorty (1995) - John Travolta's character is incredulous at being given an Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan for a rental instead of his requested Cadillac, to which the rental clerk responds, "You got the Cadillac of minivans," a line oft-repeated outside of the movie.
- Fargo (1996) - late 1980s Oldsmobile cars including the Cutlass Ciera and Ninety-Eight Touring Sedan were featured, as William H. Macy's character was an Oldsmobile salesman.
- The X-Files (1998) - an Oldsmobile Intrigue was heavily used by the characters as part of a promotional tie-in between General Motors and the movie's producers. Earlier on in the series, Oldsmobile Cutlass Cieras were featured.
- Kingpin (1996) - Roy Munson's car is a Cutlass convertible that he received new when he left home, but after several years pass, the car is in very questionable shape.
- Reindeer Games (2000) - a 1989 or 1990 Cutlass Ciera sedan is used as a getaway vehicle.
- The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - many Oldsmobiles are used as cameo vehicles, especially during the famous highway chase scene. Even though the characters never drive an Oldsmobile in the film, there was interaction between Oldsmobiles in the scene. There is one part when Agent Johnson jumps on top of the front of an Aurora, completely destroying the front end and causing the car to do a front flip and land on its roof. Another scene involves the Twins gunning down an Intrigue and shoving it into the divider wall, causing it to do a barrel roll and land on its roof.
- Sam Raimi, the film director, tends to feature a yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 as a cameo in many of his films, particularly the Evil Dead films where it is driven by main character Ash. This vehicle was personally owned by Raimi.
- That 70's Show (1998-2006) features a 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser driven by lead character Eric Forman, and many scenes take place in or around "the Vista Cruiser".
- An Oldsmobile 88 is featured on the cover art and opening sequence of the video game Driver 2.
- According to Jim (2001-) Jim's best friend, Andy, drives an Intrigue.
Early on in their history, Olds enjoyed a healthy public relations boost from the 1905 hit song " In My Merry Oldsmobile". The well known song was updated in the fifties to sing about "The Rocket 88".
The strong public relations efforts by GM in the 1950s was epitomized in the GM Motorama auto show. The impact of that traveling show, was literally a "one company", auto-show extravaganza. Millions of Americans attended, in a spirit not unlike a "mini-World's Fair". Every GM division had a "Dream Car". Oldsmobile's dream/concept car was called "The Starfire".
While Oldsmobile had long promoted its "Rocket" engines heavily, GM's cost containment program of engine sharing emerged in 1977 on its "downsized" full-size vehicles. Consumers buying an Oldsmobile soon found out that their Oldsmobile was powered by a Chevrolet-built engine. Some discovered this when they attempted to change the engines air filter and discovered that the standard 1977 Oldsmobile filter replacement wouldn't fit in the air cleaner. Others discovered this either from their mechanics or from GM which sent notices to owners explaining the situation and assuring them that a GM-built engine was a GM-built engine, regardless of what division built it. Ohio Attorney General Anthony Celebreeze was the first State Attorney General to reach a settlement with GM, which resulted in claimant owners each receiving a small portion of the multimillion dollar settlement.
In the 1970s, the mid-size Oldsmobile Cutlass was the division's best-selling model, and for several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was the best-selling car in America. But the sales of the Cutlass and other Oldsmobile models fell beginning in the 1990s. The brand was hurt by its image as old and stuffy and this public perception continued despite a public relations campaign in the late 1980s that this was "not your father's Oldsmobile." Ironically, many fans of the brand say that the declining sales were in fact caused by the "not your father's Oldsmobile." campaign, as the largest market for Oldsmobiles was the older population whose parents had in fact owned Oldsmobiles.
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|Ransom E. Olds||Corporate website||A brand of the General Motors Corporation|
- R.E. Olds Museum
- Oldsmobile Official Website
- The Oldsmobile Connection - The Site For Oldsmobile Enthusiasts
- Open Directory Project list of Oldsmobile sites
- Oldsmobile Prepares For The End, published in June 2003
- Dead at 106: Oldsmobile, published in April 2004
- Oldsmobile Club of America
- Oldsmobile Vintage Ads 1940-1960
- An Oldsmobile Community
- National Antique Oldsmobile Club 1897-1966
- www.442.com A place for Cutlass / 442 owners and enthusiasts.
- Outright Oldsmobile History, photos, owners registry.
- Kimes, Beverly R., Editor. Clark, Henry A. (1996). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1945. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-428-4
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3
- 1957-58 Oldsmobile: From Beautiful to Baroque. John Lawler, author. Collectible Automobile Magazine. February, 1994, pp.22-37.