CC: 1991 Oldsmobile 98 – 1961 Revisited

I’ve been wanting to find a really nice Olds 98 of this vintage for some time. But then two of them suddenly appear at the CC Cohort, as if by magic, this moody shot by Laurence Jones, and the rest by Mike Butts. I guess it’s time to retire my camera.

And why have I been wanting to find one? Because I have an odd fascination with these cars. Odd, as in it’s pretty well known that GM cars of this general vintage have not played an important part of my life, although I’ve come to appreciate them more in recent years, thanks largely to you all. But for some reason, when this 98 came out in ’91, it reminded me of some of my favorite cars from my childhood, from 1961. Odd indeed.

Not so much any particular car, but just the general feeling that the airy and graceful 1961 GM cars evoked. I’d never thought about which model exactly, but if I had to finger one (or two) it would have to be the ’61 Buick Electra.

Or is it its actual namesake, the 1961 Olds Ninety Eight?

Perhaps some melding of both. What can I say? That’s what popped in my head the first time I laid eyes on on of these new ’91 98s.

A more pristine example would perhaps better convey my sentiments, especially so in white or black. Its airy and rectilinear greenhouse was surprising, given that it arrived in the vortex of the aero-era. And the strakes on the lower body evoke more than a bit the chrome still being applied in 1961.

I much prefer the egg-crate grille of the ’91; this one is a ’92 or ’93 or so. There’s just one problem a number of problems with these cars, one of the most obvious being that the exterior trim is junk.

I realize this is not a prime example, but good luck finding one. On everyone I’ve ever seen, trim is either falling off, or mismatched, or discolored with the thin fake chrome veneer peeling off the plastic base.

Actually, this one isn’t as bad as I thought at first glance, but they just don’t hold a candle to the 1961s, obviously. Good luck trying to restore one of these in thirty or forty years. But then would anyone want to?

If I remember correctly, even though these Olds shared so much with the Buick Park Avenue, the Buick generally scored much higher in quality assessments back then. Different plant, perhaps? Or was Buick just much more solidly on the quality bandwagon?

Too bad, because if there’s any GM sedan from these era I ever had any feelings for, fleeting as they were, it’s this one. Odd indeed. That explains it: because of its oddness, actually. It may have evoked a fleeting sense of the ’61s, but it certainly didn’t succeed.