By John Linhardt
I grew up in the family Oldsmobile. For 10 years straight, it was reliable and trouble free. Now we all know the brand does not exist any more. In 1976, the Olds “Cutlass” was the top selling car in the nation and made Oldsmobile one of the “hottest” car lines.
In it’s 38 year run, Olds sold more than 11.9 million Oldsmobile “Cutlasses”. That name was used on sedans, coupes, convertibles and station-wagons. It was introduced in 1961 as a compact coup version of the F-85. In the Mid-60’s, a muscle car “Cutlass” appeared as a “442”. In 1968, this was available with a scorching 455 cubic inch motor, producing 360 hp. In the last year for Cutlasses, 330,000 vehicles were made, but on July 2nd 1999, the very last one was made at the Oklahoma City plant. It went to the Olds museum in Lansing MI. It was a black car with saddle interior and numbered 11,909,036, and the underside of the hood and trunk lid were signed by 5,000 plant employees. Cutlass was replaced with the Olds “Alero” and we all know the outcome of that car and the Olds name.
Another GM Mistake in 2002 was discontinuing the “E-Body”, namely Camaro and Pontiac “Firebird”. So after 35 years of “Camaro”, introduced in 1967,—No More! GM finally realizing the Camaro mistake, came up with a new one in May 2009 with a “big” demand, selling over 5,500 units the first month. The 2002 Camaro Convertible was the last rear wheel drive convertible for Chevrolet. Now, in 2009, it is back once “again”. The last full size Chevy convertible prior to this 2002 Camaro, was the 1975 Chevy “Caprice” convertible. This same year was also the last full size Olds convertible and Pontiac.
Oldsmobile was the “first” for GM with regard to many accessories, such as “Hydramatic”, a proven transmission, started in 1940 in Olds. It was so strong, the US Army used it in WWII tanks and 2 1/2 ton Army trucks. To be the #1 selling car in 1976 for “Cutlass”, and producing almost 12 million models of it, is a record any car company can be proud of. The 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s proved a car company can be #1. The ride for “Lucille”, in a merry Oldsmobile, is in a collectible! Olds is gone F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!