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It has been more than 11 years since Oldsmobile vehicles became extinct. Nonetheless, the brand did not lose its ancient glory and is frequently resonating with the survived General Motors’ marques. Being an old-timer in automotive industry, the company has pioneered in various segments, paving the way to the hearts of fastidious customers. For a centenary-long history of existence, Oldsmobile provided more than 35 million cars. The result is praiseworthy, isn’t it?
Pioneer in All Ways
Founded in 1897 as Olds Motor Vehicle Co., Oldsmobile has managed to marvel the world with a range of innovative elaborations. In 1901 it became the first company to produce gasoline-powered vehicles in high volumes (Curved Dash line) – a record frequently misattributed to Ford Motor Company.
In 1910 the maker sparkled with Limited Touring edition. This five-seater car featured factory white tires, goatskin upholstery, Bosch Magneto starter and straight 6 engine, making it a rather precious acquirement; it was worth as much as a new three-bedroom house! This unit went into history for winning an immortal race with the 20th Century Limited train.
During 1930s-1940s Oldsmobile has made a breakthrough in transmission design. It showcased a 4-speed semi-automatic gear (Automatic Safety Transmission) with a conventional clutch pedal that was to be used only on selecting between low and high drive ranges. What is more important, it developed a totally automatic four-forward transmission (Hydramatic) that had only gas and brake pedals.
In 1949 the manufacturer popped up with a revolutionary Rocket engine with an integrated overhead valve V8 design. At that time, vehicles of other brands featured flathead straight-8 engines which proved to be less efficient than Oldsmobile’s innovation.
During the consecutive decades the company made a few significant presentations. Its cars were the first from GMs brands to receive a genuine hardtop and a wraparound windshield. Moreover, the maker pioneered in the design of the first turbocharged engine and the first in the USA front-wheel drive car.
In the 1990s, trying to survive a tough competition from imported makes, such as Lexus and Infinity, GM introduced the other outstanding vehicles under Oldsmobile brand – Toronado Trofeo and Aurora. The first model boasted an integrated visual instrument system with climate control, calendar, etc.; the second one was distinguished by an inspirational design that could deliver a battle to imports.
Oldsmobile inventory amounts to dozens of vehicles of a multipurpose destination. Still, there are solutions which turned the course of automotive industry history. Here are only a few of them:
- Oldsmobile 442. This was the first muscle car in the inventory with 4-speed manual transmission and 4-barrel carburetor. In 1965 it was named the ‘The Top Car of 1965’. Five years later the maker substituted an initial engine by a larger V8 7.5 l 445 CID.
- Cutlass. This mid-size model had been in production from 1961 till 1999. It was destined to become a best-seller and to receive a top-tier follower – Cutlass Supreme. The latter was a 4-door hardtop sedan, equipped with Jetfire Rocket V8 engine.
- Vista Cruiser. This station wagon boasted an elevated rooftop over rear seats and glass skylights.
- StarFire. This line was introduced by sports coupe and convertible models, both with luxurious interior (i.e. leather bucket seats). They featured a typical Hydramatic transmission & Rocket V8 engine.
- Oldsmobile 98. Built primarily as a full-sized luxury sedan, it was transformed into a front-wheel drive for modernization purposes.
- Calais. This iconic compact sedan or coupe was based on GM’s N-Body platform.
- Ciera. This model was one of Oldsmobile’s best-sellers by then. Besides, it received ‘Best in Price Class’, ‘Top-Ranked American-Made Car’ & ‘Safe Car of the Year’ awards in 1992.
It was in 2000 that General Motors announced it would phase out Oldsmobile brand due to loss of bygone popularity and poor sales. The closure of files presupposed a range of activities to be completed. The latter included: the introduction of the last new model – Bravada – in 2002; the halt of Intrigue and Aurora V6 models production in 2002; the halt of Aurora V8, Bravada SUV, Silhouette minivan and Alero models production during 2003-2004.