15 Oldsmobile Muscle Cars No One Bought

Every so often, the world must say goodbye to a legendary automaker. Pontiac and Oldsmobile are two such infamous examples, having once produced innovative and market-leading vehicles, but dying a slow and painful death at the hands of cost-cutting and badge engineering.

Oldsmobile, in particular, was one of the premier names in muscle cars during the golden age, having pioneered the world’s first true muscle car, the Rocket 88, they were one of the names to beat in the muscle car wars. But that dominance was a fleeting moment, once the gas crisis hit, their stride was broken, and sales were destabilized.

While Oldsmobile continued to have decent, but unstable sales, nearly any attempt at creating a new muscle car failed. Even then, looking back at their catalogue, some of their spectacular cars of the ’60s failed to sell as well. Car buyers and the trends they follow can be unpredictable, but junk will always be junk.

So read on, to see 15 of Oldsmobile muscle cars that were complete sales flops:

15 1961-1966 Starfires

Some cars sell poorly because they are shoddily built, ugly, uncomfortable, or lack performance. The 1961 Starfire was none of those things. A big, properly built American luxury muscle machine, the Starfire was Oldsmobile’s competitor to the Ford Thunderbird.

Unfortunately for Oldsmobile, the Thunderbird had already carved out its niche, selling 10 times what the Starfire did in 1961 – a mere 7604 units. Sales improved to around 35,000 for ’62, but immediately fell back down in ’63, and continued to do so until the end of the “true” Starfire in ’66.


14 1975-1980 Starfire

I mention the “true” Starfire, as this Chevy Monza in disguise paraded around with Starfire badges in the ’70s. Packing a meek 105 hp with its optional V8, few people were fooled into thinking this was a proper muscle car.

While sales of the H-Body platform that spawned the Monza and Starfire were good, the Starfire sold a fraction of what the Monza did, racking up around 120,000 sales over its lifetime, compared to the 800,000 Monzas sold in the same time.

13 1964-1965 Jetstar I

Intended as a mid-level luxury muscle car between the high-end cruiser like the Starfire, but above the normal Cutlasses, the Jetstar I had plenty of potential. Unfortunately, Oldsmobile decided to give an options list that could easily push the Jetstar’s price into Starfire territory, and also confused potential buyers by naming their new entry-level muscle car the “Jetstar 88.” The Jetstar I lasted for only 1964 and ’65, selling a mere 16,000 in ’64, and 6,500 in ’65.

RELATED: 10 Cars That Made Oldsmobile (and 5 That Broke It)

12 1983-1987 Cutlass Ciera GT

The Cutlass name was built upon some serious muscle car foundation. With Rocket V8 powered screamers providing a comfortable cruiser option during the golden age of muscle cars, Oldsmobile had a beloved name on their hands.

However, that all came crashing down when the fuel crisis hit, turning Cutlasses into dull, corporate, cookie-cutter cruisers. A shining example of this is the Ciera GT, packing only 150 hp. Official sales figures are unavailable, but the same year and similarly positioned Ciera International Series sold less than 5,000 per year.


11 1975-1981 Omega SX

While the Cutlass at least had been proven as a performance name, the Omega was far from what you could call a respectable muscle car. Developed as a cheap economy car, Oldsmobile did their best to market the “Sports Pack” as an option that would turn it into a muscle car.

Optioning a Sports Pack Omega with bucket seats as well as sport gauges and wheels you got the “SX” package for free. However, it retained the Omega’s dinky 105-hp V6. No official sales figures are available, but very few people were fooled by this “muscle” car.

10 1983-1984 Hurst/Olds

A legendary partnership during the age of proper Cutlass muscle cars, the Hurst/Olds name meant absurd power in a comfortable cruiser. While the ’80s Cutlass can at least be called comfortable, the absurd power was gone. While you still got a V8, it made a mediocre, yet decent for its time, 180 hp. Fans of the Hurst and Oldsmobile partnership were nonetheless delighted to see the name make a comeback, but that was the extent of who was interested in buying one, only 5,500 were ever made.


9 1978-1980 Cutlass 4-4-2

Widely reviled as a complete joke of a muscle car, the 1978 4-4-2 was an insult to the name it tried to ride the success of. Buyers of previous-generation 442s took one look at the 160 hp choked down V8 and walked away.

Only 30,000 of the standard 1978 Cutlass slant-backs were sold in 1978, there’s no existing data on the number of 4-4-2 packages sold, but sales for the slant-back Cutlass falling to 12,000 the next year should tell you enough.

RELATED: Why The 1979 Oldsmobile 442 Was A Muscle Car Disaster

8th 1985-1987 Cutlass 4-4-2

With the 1978 Cutlass 4-4-2 being a failure, you’d think Oldsmobile would have learned their lesson about using beloved names for appearance packages on cheap cars. But come 1985, they did the exact same thing all over again. Power was bumped to a still mediocre 180 HP, but the optional extras didn’t come cheap. At least though, they decided to use a traditional sedan instead of a slant-back, but still, less than 5,000 442s were sold per year.


7 1986-1992 Toronados Trophy

Right off the bat, this generation was the death knell for the Toronado. Potential buyers went straight to Cadillac or Buick if they wanted a luxurious yet “powerful” cruiser, causing sales to fall to less than 16,000 Toronados per year in 1986. The Trofeo was an attempt to salvage the Toronado’s image, with surprisingly impressive options like a touch screen info center (in 1986!). But still, no one wanted a new Toronado over a Buick Regal, and in 1992 the name was finally put to rest.

6 1982-1987 Firenza SX/GT

Nothing more than a typical cookie-cutter economy car of the ’80s, the Firenza replaced the Starfire, and was a complete sales failure out of the gate selling less than 45,000 per year. Utterly terrible for an economy car. Even worse, Oldsmobile tried to pass off the SX and GT trim Firenzas as sporty little muscle cars, buyers didn’t fall for that obvious lie.


5 1992-1999 88 LSS

It’s hard to feel any pity for the failed muscle cars Oldsmobile made during the ’80s and ’90s, but the LSS was an actual step in the right direction. Slapping on some luxury options, and a supercharger under the hood, the LSS made 225 hp and carried the traditional muscle car spirit of a big and comfy cruiser with enhanced power on tap. Sales were impressive for the first year at 110,000, but immediately dipped to almost half of that in ’93, and never recovered.

RELATED: 15 Terrible Cars That Led To The Demise Of Oldsmobile

4 1988-1995 Cutlass Supreme Convertible

With all-out performance names like the 442 being butchered into dull and slow little cars, it’s not hard to imagine that other Cutlass marques took a hit as well. The Supreme was no exception. Even with the introduction of a 210-hp V6 in 1991, the Supreme was far from the sumptuous yet powerful trim level it once was, and buyers knew this. Less than 2000 Supreme Convertibles were sold in 1991, the following years didn’t fare much better.


3 1992-1993 Achieva SCX

The standard Achieva was already a sales flop, and Oldsmobile’s addition of a 190-hp Quad-4 motor didn’t help. A pathetically low 1146 Achieva SCXs were sold in 1992, and in 1993 that number fell to 500. Rightly so, the SCX didn’t make a return for 1994.

2 1995-1999 Aurora V8

With so many cheap cookie-cutter shared platform cars in their catalogue, Oldsmobile needed to distance themselves from their past if they were to survive. The Aurora was their answer to this problem, being a completely unique car designed and made by Oldsmobile was promising.

Its freshness was promising, and so was the Cadillac Northstar V8 under the hood, but none of this was enough. With a luxury price tag, few wanted to take the risk of buying an Oldsmobile. Sales started off decently strong at 46,000 per year, but immediately dropped to 22,000, and never recovered, when Oldsmobile raised the price.


1 1968-1970 Toronados

The spectacular, if not strange, Toronado of the 1960s was never a huge seller for Oldsmobile, but it remained a solid luxury powerhouse within the brand, selling around 41,000 per year. However, starting in 1967, the car got heavier, and sales got lighter. When a facelift for the Toronado was introduced in 1968, sales hit 26,000 per year and stayed that low until the end of the Toronado’s first generation in 1970. A real shame, as these first-generation Toronado’s are downright awesome.

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