(Found In) Elmwood (Oakland, California): 1953 Oldsmobile Ninety – Eight Holiday Hardtop Coupe

IMG_9731Although still tied to the Futuramic Ninety Eights that pushed Oldsmobile into the stratosphere of the 1950’s a few years too early, the once again warmed over line topping Rocket Oldsmobiles had plenty of new before they were more fully redesigned for 1954.

Like a sneak preview of the potential return to the showroom in the years to follow, enough goodies went above and below the skin for 1953 the keep viewers glued to the screen for the latest flight into the Pre-Interstate highway space. Here’s why folks continued to make dates with rocket powered Oldsmobiles in 1953.

 

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(Found In) Chinatown (Fresno, California): 1965 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Holiday Hardtop Coupe

IMG_9568Where The Action Is declared ads for the newest Oldsmobile Eighty Eights in more than half a Decade. While there was more magic once you hitched yourself to these new rocket coupes, sedans and convertibles, they held a lot more common with relatives under the General Motors empire as well.

In the shift away from large and in charge chariots being the heart of the market place, where would the premium performance preference lead the super sonic Super 88 replacement series, the Delta 88 throughout its life as Oldsmobiles struggled with being the preferred pride of middle American patriarchy?

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(Found In) West End (Alameda, California): 1992 Oldsmobile (Toronado) Trofeo

IMG_8932The Oldsmobile Toronado tried time and time again to break the molds of what it meant to be the most premium offering in the middle of the General Motors Hierarchy. Where it initially channeled the elegant grand touring ethos of the Cord 810 upon introduction, it became an off the rack designer clone of the Cadillac Eldorado for its 2nd Generation. That tradition continued through its 3rd Generation as well.

As the automotive landscape changed and the definition of personal luxury shifted once again, it seemed the original thesis statement of the Toronado seemed relevant once again. Up against more budget constraints, the 4th Generation Toro found itself a compromised return to its roots.

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(Found In) Park Merced (San Francisco, California): 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Coupe

IMG_9002The Oldsmobile Ninety Eight once sat in a rarefied holy trinity at the temple of General Motors opulence. The eldest and the most modest of the trio between the most Senior Buick, the now Electra 225, and the myriad of Cadillac DeVilles and Fleetwoods, the Ninety Eight negotiated for the least of your finances for the most security and the most sensible set of luxury trappings for your dollar.

Often great enough for many a generation of buyers who felt like they had “made it” the Ninety Eight was ready, willing and able to celebrate Oldsmobile’s 75th year of manufacturing automobiles with a even more goodies for customers on deck after a full redesign for 1971.

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(Found In) Mission District (San Francisco, California): 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass “S” Hardtop Coupe

IMG_8691As Oldsmobile rose to their zenith in the 1970’s, it started to do so by playing musicial chairs with the various marketing images that made for being the toast of the town image that it had fostered since the 1950’s. The Olds-multiplicity of the brand had been a constant mix of practicality, performance and posh since the end of World War II. For the Elegant Ninety Eights there were the Superlative Super 88’s. For the practical F-85 there was the swashbuckling Cutlass. For the sword of intermediates, a crowned princess Supreme started an ascent to the top of the charts like Diana, Mary and Florence starting in 1966.

The “Little Limousine” sparkled the most when it focused on a formal roof’d coupe. Where did that leave it’s athletic, buxom and liberated sister ship the Cutlass S? In a curious place as Oldsmobile never wanted to commit to one specific identity.

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(Found In) San Gabriel Triangle (Albany, California): 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air Sport Coupe

IMG_8460One thing that General Motors mastered to gain the meat of the US market share was planned obsolescence. GM tricked buyers better than any other corporate behemoth on the wonders of superficial change to convince them that the purchase they just made suddenly wasn’t Spring Fresh.

Underneath all of the dazzle, the majority of what American cars were stayed the same: Rear Wheel Drive, Drum Brakes, Solid Rear Axles and Body On Frame Construction had been mainstays under swoopy bodywork since the great depression.
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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Two Door Hardtop Coupe

img_6866Cadillac seemed more than likely a place for a closed coupled, personalized touring coupe to flourish. It may seem a bit surprising that Cadillac, given its success in the post war era and bountiful resources sitting on top of the General Motors throne, waited until 1967 to field one. Granted the financial losses on the Eldorado Brougham of the late 1950’s informed the decision to make the risk a cautiously executed once there had been a market determined.

Cadillac got a season and a half jump on Lincoln making a similar decision to re-enter this segment of the market with the personalized Mark Series Continental. The front wheel drive Eldorado ditched the premise of being the most deluxe of Cadillac convertibles in 1967. For the second full year jostling for King of The Road status, how did the ’68 Eldorado shape up against the pending Continental Mark III, and its lesser siblings the Riviera and Toronado for that matter?

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(Found In) Ralph Bunchie (Oakland, California): 1962 Buick Invicta 4 Door Hardtop Sedan

img_6097Buick was never really known as the flamboyant choice of cars in the General Motors stable. However, starting in the Mid 1950’s, Buick found its way to being one of the most fashionable plates car buyers dined off of. For the 1954-57 models it seemed more keeping up with the Jonesin’ for wild color and fabric combinations. However, by 1958, the glittery flamboyance jumped the shark, followed by the Batman inspired ’59, and the relatively less marvel superhero themed 1960 version.

By 1962, under the influence of ever calming industrial design, Buick found itself refining into the solid state of automotive conservatism it has been long term known for. Gone were the protrusions of previous years for a statelier ride. How did that graft onto the Banker’s Hot Rod Du Jour, The 1962 Invicta?

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(Found In) Wedgewood Triangle (Alameda, California): 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88 Celebrity Sedan

img_5673Caste systems find their function in strict boundaries. If there wasn’t exclusive traits to one station in life, the combination of fear and desire wouldn’t keep products in their proper places. As something that humans have created for each other, we oft find these systems in play in the products humans create as well.

This of course means that there’s rebellions and compromises throughout caste systems to gain more for the privileged. What does this have to do with an ordinary Oldsmobile sedan from 1964 you may ask. Plenty, when you’re one step up in the prestige sweepstakes, yet see a family rival walking away with spoils of riches.

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(Found In) Islais Creek (San Francisco, California): 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible Coupe

img_2170While once upon a time rival the Ford Thunderbird always seemed ready to switch up it’s identity to keep up with the party, the Chevrolet Corvette stayed very close to its roots. Nearly 65 years later the Corvette remains the longest running mass produced sports car on offer from the good old United States of America.

It wasn’t without many a harrowing challenge, questions about its credibility as such, and many many death watches. How did it stack up during it’s sophomore season of its 3rd generation?

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