Oldsmobile was a former automobile maker that was previously owned by General Motors. Oldsmobile was known for producing innovative and iconic vehicles with iconic engines, such as the Oldsmobile 88, Oldsmobile 98, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Oldsmobile 442. The company went defunct in 2004 due to declining sales. However, these cars are now popular and are still driven today thanks to the resale of their cars.
|Founded||August 21, 1897in Lansing, Michigan|
|Founder||Ransom E. Olds|
|Fate||Went defunct in 2004.|
History[change | change source]
Founding[change | change source]
Oldsmobile was founded in 1897 as the "Olds Motor Vehicle Company" by Ransom E. Olds located in Lansing, Michigan as a competitor to Buick and Cadillac. It was the first high-volume gasoline-powered car manufacturer in 1901. That same year, Oldsmobile was renamed Olds Motor Works and moved to a new plant in Detroit. Not only that, Oldsmobile had a bunch of prototypes ready to be put into production, but the factory that had those prototypes caught on fire and destroyed all of the prototypes except for Oldsmobile's first ever car. In 1903 and 1904, Oldsmobile was the best-selling car company. However, in 1904, Ransom E. Olds left the company due to arguments and disputes with Frederick Smith, his sales manager. Frederick was questioning if Oldsmobile cars had no defects when they were fully produced. This caused Olds to create an experimental engineering shop without Frederick knowing, which would soon go on to create the REO Motor Car Company. Throughout the early to the late 1900s, Oldsmobile produced the first mass-produced car, the Oldsmobile Model R "Curved Dash" on the first ever assembly line, which is incorrectly credited to Henry Ford. The cars were colloquially referred to as "Oldsmobiles", popularizing the lyrics of the 1905 hit song "In My Merry Oldsmobile". It was eventually bought out by General Motors in 1908. Platforms that were shared with Buick had a "Series" prefix, while pre-GM vehicles had a "Model" prefix.
1910s to 1940s[change | change source]
In 1910 (1910s), Oldsmobile produced the Limited Touring Series 23, which had a new body designed by Fisher Body, was considered to be the start of Oldsmobile's innovations throughout the years. Costing US$4,600 at release with an 11.6 Liter engine producing 70 hp, it was considered to be technologically advanced. A Limousine version was introduced the same year, costing US$5,800 at the time. It sold only 275 units but is remembered for winning a race against the 20th Century Limited Train. Oldsmobile then released the Oldsmobile Series 40 and Oldsmobile Light Eight in 1912 and 1916, which had a Cadillac Flathead V8 until 1923 and division-exclusive OHV Straight 6 engine until 1930. In the 1920s, the Oldsmobile Six was released in five body styles using the new "GM B platform". The "Viking" automobile was introduced, but discontinued in 1930 (An additional 353 cars were sold as 1931 models).
In the 1930s, Oldsmobile introduced the Series F and Series L on both Straight-Six and Straight-Eight engines while also introducing the Automatic Safety Transmission, which was originally built by Buick. In the 1940s, Oldsmobile introduces the "Hydramatic", which was the United States' first automatic transmission with four forward speeds. In the early 1940s, Oldsmobile body sizes ranged from 6 to 9 with Straight-Six and Straight-Eight engine, serving as the origin for Oldsmobile models such as the Oldsmobile 98 and Oldsmobile 88. Oldsmobile was a pioneer again in 1949 when the "Rocket" V8 engine was introduced. This engine proved to be popular for hot rodders and stock car racers. This engine would later be redesigned in the 1960s.
1950s to 1990s[change | change source]
Oldsmobile in the 50s was centered on the Rocket engine and the Space Race. During this time, Oldsmobile cars with the Rocket V8 were considered to be the fastest and were redesigned with a wide "open maw" grille. Oldsmobile changed its logo to reflect its "universal appeal" from its customers while changing the grille again in 1958 to reflect the Rocket image. Oldsmobile, along with Buick and Cadillac, were the first to have a hardtop (Cadillac's was the Coupe DeVille, while Buick's was the Riviera) and a wrap-around windshield. Trim models were also introduced in the 1950s that connected with base models. Examples include the Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 and Oldsmobile Super 88. However, the introduction of the "Forward Look" design by Chrysler along with cars by DeSoto and Mercury made Oldsmobile outdated. This made General Motors design the "StratoRoof", which had negative reception from customers and owners alike. 1958 had a decline in sales while also introducing a major facelift for Oldsmobile, especially the 88. Oldsmobile models had another major redesign a year later in 1959 for the exterior and interior. Oldsmobile's peak was in the 1960s, being one of the most innovative companies in automotive industry, such as the first Turbocharger and Water Injection (Oldsmobile Jetfire) and first Front-Wheel-Drive car in the United States since the 1929 Cord Phaeton (Oldsmobile Toronado). It also included Oldsmobile's most known models (Oldsmobile 442, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, and more).
Oldsmobile's best era was the 1970s and 1980s, with sales being in the all-time high due to positive critics, iconic designs and models, and quality/reliability with the best-selling model being the Oldsmobile Cutlass. This caused it to go into the millions in terms of sales and displacing Pontiac and Plymouth as the third best-selling, just behind the two most popular/known car companies, Chevrolet and Ford. However, this soon became a problem for Oldsmobile, as the production capacity was too high for the Oldsmobile V8 engine. As a result, the engine of Oldsmobile models was replaced by Chevrolet's 350 cubic inch V8 engine, which was discovered by customers years later, which turned into a nightmare for GM. This declined sales, causing GM to create a new 5.7L Diesel V8, which soon turned out to be one of the worst engines in history, causing it to be discontinued in 1985, quickly being replaced by newer, more reliable engines.
1990s to 2000s (2004)[change | change source]
However, Oldsmobile started to decline in the 90s and the 2000s, going from 1 million sales to approximately 40% of its record sales in 1985 (Approximately 1.1 million sales), new competitors such as Acura and Lexus, along with discontinuing its most iconic models (e.g. Cutlass, Cutlass Supreme, 88, 98, and more). Oldsmobile also received a new logo during this time, replacing the iconic Rocket logo. In the mid 90s, Oldsmobile introduced the Oldsmobile Aurora, which would have its models designed derived from the Aurora. In the 2000s, General Motors announced that it would shut down the Oldsmobile brand, while also announcing one of its last models, the Oldsmobile Bravada. Oldsmobile's last cars had the "Final 500" emblems/markings. Then, on April 29, 2004, Oldsmobile filed for bankruptcy with its last model being an Oldsmobile Alero GLS sedan, which was sold for $42,000 at an auction in New York City.