It’s been well over a decade since General Motors put a formal end to Oldsmobile production, but you often still see these vehicles on the road. Why is that? Well, Oldsmobiles have a reputation for solid engines and lasting bodies. In fact, the exterior of your Oldsmobile may very well give out due to age and rust well before your engine will need replacing.
In the 107 years that Oldsmobile was producing vehicles, it turned out some truly impressive models. Although its final years offered nothing that deviated from standard early-aught vehicles, there have been quite a few notable models from Oldsmobile over the years. From very early production models on through the 60s and early 70s, Oldsmobile produced reliable and often powerful cars.
The Curved Dash.
Oldsmobile made this car from 1901 to 1907, and it has several key factors that set it apart from other early vehicles. The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first mass-produced vehicle made on an assembly line with interchangeable parts. Although that is standard practice today, it was a groundbreaking change in production at the beginning of the twentieth century. These vehicles were often well-loved, and it’s not unlikely to find one at classic car shows or cruises. These babies were built to last!
Compared to modern vehicles, the five horsepower this motorized buggy produced may not seem very impressive. To the people who were purchasing it, however, the top speed of 20 miles per hour was earth-shaking and incredible. It may have taken a while to reach that speed, but the Curved Dash could run at that speed for much longer than any horse.
The First Generation 88.
The model known as Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight was produced for decades and followed up by the also well-loved Ninety-Eight. While the vehicle boasted long road life and many years of production, the first generation of the vehicle was the most impressive. Produced from 1949 to 1953, these vehicles are considered by many to be the original “muscle car,” even before the term was coined. It had push-button ignition, which was fresh and exciting technology for vehicles in that period.
It was designed to be both smaller and more powerful than other passenger vehicles. It featured a Rocket V-8 engine, which made it popular in the streets and in NASCAR races. It also inspired one of the first popular rock songs, “Rocket 88,” by Jackie Brenston.
The most exciting and special thing about the 1966-1970 Toronado wasn’t its boxy, muscular design. It was the return of front-wheel drive, something that hadn’t been done since 1937. It was similar in appearance to two other GM vehicles from the same period, but both of those were rear-wheel drive.
While many car lovers write off front-wheel drives as boring and a way to improve gas mileage, there was nothing dull about the Toronado. You could select the engine you wanted from a 7.0 or 7.5 V-8. Although it took a while to get it up to 60 miles per hour, there’s no question that this car was packing a lot of power.
The Second Generation Vista Cruiser.
From 1968 to 1972, this station wagon was an incredibly popular and powerful choice for a daily driver. Many people scoffed at putting a V-8 in a station wagon, but the end result was a car with manual transmission and a lot of oomph.
While many feel that there’s nothing aesthetically exciting about a station wagon, the second generation Vista Cruiser featured two sleek options for shifters and a single-piece skylight that inspired the modern moonroof you may find in your vehicle. It also featured a dual-action tailgate. That means you could open it at the bottom or from the side.
The 1968 Hurst/Olds.
We’ll finish off this list with one vehicle whose parts aided in its rise to popularity. Hurst is a well-regarded performance parts maker whose components had featured in several popular Oldsmobiles before this point, including the 442. The 1968 Hurst/Olds shared the same body as the 442 and the Cutlass, but it packed a lot more engine than its siblings.
This car persists in popularity because of the powerful engine and the fact that it was a limited edition production model. Some enthusiasts will gladly show off a fully restored ’68 Hurst/Olds as the pride of their classic car collection.