Oldsmobile occupies a special place in America’s automotive history. A company that survived for over a century before it crumbled under the weight of GM’s financial burden and bad car releases. It was established in 1897 by Ransom E. Olds and was purchased in 1908 by General Motors. The Oldsmobile brand was used as a testbed for many of GM’s innovations and was responsible for several iconic vehicles that are still remembered with fond nostalgia today.
It is so unfortunate then, that the latter years of the company were filled with mediocre cars. Here, we shine the spotlight on cars that really showcased the capabilities of the once imperious brand.
8th 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
Today’s muscle car scene is dominated by a slew of Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers. However, before these power-crazed machines arrived on the scene, there was one that’s often regarded as the first true muscle car – the Oldsmobile Rocket 88.
The Rocket 88 was powered by a GM-designed V8 that cranked out 135 hp and 283 lb-ft of torque. That power combined nicely with an aerodynamic design made for an exciting driving experience, at least compared to other cars of that era.
7 Oldsmobile 98
The classic 98 had its debut in 1941 and remained in production for 56 years, earning the title of the brand’s longest-running nameplate. The Oldsmobile 98 was also marketed as a flagship model for much of this period and was available in various body forms.
The fifth-generation iteration launched in 1957 is often considered one of the best. It was equipped with a host of features that were considered premium at the time. The twelfth-generation model arrived in 1991 and coincided with the car’s 50th anniversary. A special ’50th-anniversary’ edition was offered with 2 color options and an interior trimmed with walnut wood and gold accents.
6 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire
The Starfire nameplate was first used for the Oldsmobile 98 convertibles during the ’50s but after a 2-year break, it reemerged as the name for a standalone model. The 1961 Starfire was also a convertible-only model and was one of America’s first full-sized production models to offer an automatic transmission with a floor shifter.
The Starfire featured some bold styling cues and came loaded with features like leather seats, a tachometer, and power steering. At the time of its launch, it was the most expensive Oldsmobile vehicle on the market.
5 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire
The Jetfire does not have a good reputation, mostly due to reliability issues. That does not detract from the fact that it was one of the automobile highlights of the ’60s and definitely deserves inclusion on this list.
The Jetfire and the Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder were the first production cars to feature turbocharging technology. In the case of the Jetfire, the engine generated 215 hp and up to 300 lb-ft of torque. That powerplant, however, required some delicate maintenance Steps that proved too much for consumers and Oldsmobile ceased production of the car after a short 2-year run.
4 1968 Oldsmobile 442
Spurred by the success of the now-iconic Pontiac GTO, GM decided to offer another muscle car in the form of the Oldsmobile 442. The muscle car was the high-performance variant of the existing Cutlass vehicle. The first-generation models were powered by a V8 engine that cranked out as much as 360 hp.
The second-generation cars, launched in 1968 when the muscle car craze was in full swing, were even more potent with a powerplant that produced as much as 390 hp. It was enough to get the cars to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds; a performance that was close to the class-leading muscle cars of that period.
3 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado
Oldsmobile was responsible for many automotive innovations back in the day and the Tornado was one of such bright ideas. It was the first front-wheel-drive from General Motors and the first American car with such a system since the 1937 Auburn Cord.
The early Tornados were fitted with a 7.0-liter V8 engine, good for 385 hp. Oldsmobile kept the Tornado in production until 1992; a run that witnessed 4 different generations of the model.
2 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Hurst
In terms of performance, the 1983 Hurst was no way near the capabilities of the ’60s era Hurst Oldsmobiles. However, its 185 hp power output was still very decent in an automobile world where the excesses had been largely curbed by the fuel crisis.
The V8 powerplant was mated to the highly popular Lightning Rod shifter and could send the car to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. Oldsmobile made about 6,500 units and today, they are considered a collector classic.
1 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva SCX W41
Oldsmobiles explored a different body type during the ’90s and ditched the boxy vehicle designs that dominated much of the previous decade. The 1992 Achieva was one of the finer examples of this new design; one that was decidedly more aerodynamic for improved performance.
The Achieva SCX W41 was a limited-edition variant, set up with a reworked suspension setup and sportier wheels. It was only built for the 1992 and 1993 model years even though the mainstream Achieva model was carried through to 1997.
Next: 10 Historic Automotive Recalls That Threatened Car Companies
1000s Of Rare Classic Cars Found Rotting In UK Scrappage Scheme Graveyard