Oldsmobile doesn't have a lot of iconic cars to its name, such as the Pontiac Trans Am or Chevy El Camino. Even so, many enthusiasts want to keep the legacy alive since the brand was an essential foundation to the car industry. Here's a look at the history of Oldsmobile, based on reports from
The rise and fall of Oldsmobile
The founder of Oldsmobile, Ransom E. Olds, built his own motor vehicle in 1896. He would start his company one year later, with four models available at its launch. Oldsmobile was the first automaker to make production cars instead of one-off models. The company was bought by
General Motorsin 1908 alongside Buick.
Oldsmobile developed its first V8 engine in 1916, which was implemented on the Limited Touring Series 23. They were one of the first automakers to offer innovative options like a glass windshield and speedometer. As vehicles evolved to have roofs and full-length doors, the brand started offering two trendsetting body styles.
In 1940, Oldsmobile made another landmark accomplishment in the automotive world with the first automatic transmission. The company grew rapidly in the following years, selling its one-millionth vehicle in 1935. By 1958, Oldsmobile was the fourth-largest automaker in the United States.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass was born in 1961, which would become America's best-selling car for many years in the 70s and 80s. Oldsmobile created the first turbocharged engine in 1962, along with the first modern front-wheel-drive car. Demand for the Cutlass led to its own dedicated plant in Lansing, which opened in 1978. Oldsmobile had its best sales year in 1984, but things would change rapidly in the 1990s.
Unlike the early days, the automotive market was saturated with more unique rivals. Oldsmobile designs largely remained static with each decade. This caused its sales to drop from over one million models per year to 402,936 units in 1993.
Unfortunately, other automakers were doing the same on more interesting vehicles.
When did Oldsmobile stop producing cars?
After a consistent decline in sales, GM officially announced the closure of Oldsmobile in a December 2000 press release. The remaining Oldsmobile models in production would be phased out yearly, with the last Alero produced in 2004. Oldsmobile had a brief sales spike after this announcement, with the new Bravada SUV taking the bulk of the success.
The last 500 units of each of these models received special "Final 500" badging. GM kept one for itself, currently on display at the GM Heritage Center.
Why is Oldsmobile still so popular?
Even the sportiest Oldsmobile isn't known for having as exceptional handling abilities as its rivals. However, Oldsmobile is still a highly respected automaker years after its demise. It’s considered to be a pioneer of car making, bringing firsts to the industry that helped build modern cars. Without its contributions, it's likely that GM wouldn't be as successful today.
If you plan to purchase a used Oldsmobile, you’ll want to make sure it has adequate car insurance coverage. On average,
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