No car enthusiast was happy with GM’s decision to kill the legendary Oldsmobile brand back in 2004. In fact, everyone was flushed and couldn’t believe their ears. How can one of America’s most iconic car manufacturers, one that has produced over 35 million vehicles, just go away? Bad news or not, GM wasn’t joking. Oldsmobile really was gone.
Updated May 2021: If you’re a fan of Oldsmobile, or just a classic car enthusiast in general, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve updated this article with more relevant and accurate information.
Unfortunately, the renowned muscle car manufacturer didn’t keep up with the latest technology, which explains their sales and the economic impact that had on General Motors. To this day, one thing is for sure; We miss Oldsmobile. How can we not? The brand produced some of the fastest and most powerful cars. They defined what a muscle car is. With that in mind, let’s look back at some of the coolest cars ever built by the now-defunct brand.
10 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
Remember the old blues and rock and roll song called rocket 88 by Kings of Rhythm? Those guys actually loved the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 so much, they decided to write a song about it. We totally understand why they did though! The Rocket 88 is credited by some as the first muscle car to emerge from Detroit, combining a light car and a potent V8 engine that delivered 135 horsepower.
The Rocket 88 isn’t just Oldsmobile’s arguably most historic car, it’s also one that went on to influence the entire American car industry, and it did so in fascinating ways. And of course, this car had to be a winner. The Olds 88 won six out of nine NASCAR races in 1949, proving to be a champion that’s worth remembering.
9 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta Wagon
The Fiesta Wagon’s exterior design might look ridiculous to some in this day and age, but in the 50s, this car was a hot wagon only owned by cool people. Nowadays, the Super Fiesta is extremely rare, due to it only being produced for two years.
The Super Fiesta featured a V8 engine that produced either 277 or 300 horsepower. Maybe we just love Oldsmobile too much, but such numbers are really fascinating. Considering it’s from the 1950s, it just proves our point of how capable Oldsmobile really was.
8th 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire
Although Oldsmobile did produce one of the very first muscle cars, they didn’t really become active in the segment until 1961. After seeing the potential and following in the footsteps of other automakers, they introduced the Starfire, which featured a V8 engine (obviously ) that produced a very decent 330 horsepower.
Nevertheless, the Starfire actually wasn’t so much about raw power as it was about the luxury and fun it offered. After all, this was a convertible that was built to be driven by the seaside at slow speed. Still, it was an amazing introduction to their muscle car lineup and most enthusiasts would be happy to have one of these beauties in their collection.
7 1964 Oldsmobile 442
Here it is; a true gentleman’s muscle car, the one and only Oldsmobile 442. For whatever reason, many people forgot about the Oldsmobile 442, which is a shame as it was a truly awesome machine, just as good as the competition, if not better.
The Oldsmobile 442 was a brutal car, in the best possible sense of the word. Under the hood, there was a 330 V8 engine that pumped out 310 horsepower. This car wasn’t just a pretty face, it also packed a serious punch. Basically, it was the perfect combination of classy styling and great performance. Unfortunately, it’s way too expensive today.
6 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar I
In the beginning, Jetstar was the entry-level model of the Oldsmobile Starfire. Eventually the Jetstar I received features such as power steering, power brakes, and leather seats. It would then be sold as a separate, more expensive model. After all, the car had 345 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to compete with the Pontiac Grand Prix.
Judging by sales, the Jetstar I was somewhat successful for Oldsmobile. More than 16,000 units were sold only in 1964. Inspired by the sales figures, Oldsmobile decided to turn the 1965 Jetstar I into an even more radical model, in which the V8 engine would deliver 370 horsepower. Definitely one of the coolest Oldsmobile cars.
5 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado
The Oldsmobile Toronado was truly a cutting-edge type of car. It was something as rare as a front wheel drive luxury coupe. While we’re used to FWD cars today, it wasn’t very common in 1966. However, as always, Oldsmobile decided to introduce something groundbreaking, and new for the American market, and it has since turned into an icon.
The overall design of the Toronado, with the stunning shape, low roof, and hidden highlights takes our breath away, even today. And let’s talk about that incredible power; the Toronado’s 455 V8 engine delivered 385 horsepower, and remember, this was sent to the front wheels. And considering how huge this car was, it handled fantastically, like a dream.
4 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88
The Oldsmobile 88 was one of the best-selling vehicles, however, it was expensive. That’s where the Delmont comes into the picture. It was an entry-level full-size car for those who were on a tight budget. Unfortunately, the Delmont was only on the market for two years.
But for those two years, it offered performance like no other entry-level car. The Olds Delmont was powered by a 390 horsepower V8, plus, it came loaded with advanced equipment and all the latest technology, making it a bargain in 1967.
3 1968 Hurst Olds
The Hurst Olds marks one of the most successful collaborations ever between a car manufacturer and a small aftermarket company. In the late 60s, Hurst developed the Oldsmobile 442 into one of the fastest production cars in America. Although GM’s ban forbid using any engine larger than 400CID, Hurst was an independent company, so the rules didn’t apply to them.
Oldsmobile always had a thing for disobeying the rules and stepping out of their comfort zone, and that’s why they hired Hurst to install the biggest engine Oldsmobile had, the massive 455 Rocket V8 with 390 horsepower. Unfortunately, being a special model, it goes without saying that these things are quite expensive today.
2 1970 Oldsmobile Rally 350
By 1970, Oldsmobile was already in danger of going extinct. The oil crisis, emission regulations, new technology, fuel injections, and many other trendy things threatened the big-block muscle cars of that era. Nevertheless, Oldsmobile decided to introduce the Rallye 350, a “junior” muscle car, as they called it.
The Rally featured numerous upgrades, such as a V8 engine with 310 horsepower, a new suspension, a new rear spoiler, dual exhaust, and sport mirrors. Plus, all the original rallies were painted in Sebring yellow, but don’t get fooled. Many people have modified their cars to look like the Rallye, so don’t purchase one unless the owner can prove that it’s the real deal.
1 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442 W41
While the automotive industry was moving on with many trends, Oldsmobile was still hanging on to the magic of muscle cars. They tried to bring back that enchanting feeling throughout the late ’70s and the ’80s, but no car could capture the glorious spirit of the 442.
However, there was an interesting model that deserves a mention; the 1991 Cutlass Calais 442 W41. The Calais was actually a truly capable Oldsmobile, even if it didn’t look like one. Although the Calais only had a measly 190 horsepower, due to its light weight it was fun and quite quick, providing owners with the most fun Oldsmobile since the ’70s.
NEXT: 10 Cars That Made Oldsmobile (And 5 That Broke It)
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