CC Capsule: 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera SL – Uncommonly Common

Here is suburban Ohio, we don’t have a lot of run down neighborhoods with on street parking, so literal Curbside Classics (as in parked alongside the curb) are hard to come by. We therefore must find our prey by other means. My favorite hunting grounds are the ample parking lots of low-income apartment complexes. While enjoying an atypically warm Ohio February, I decided to go hunting for some “curbside” classics, and came up with enough material for another month or so.

Pay no attention to the expired tags – this Olds still earns its keep.

GM A-bodies are like the cockroaches of the automotive world. Made in the millions, they are still common two decades after the last one was produced in 1996. There is nothing particularly special about this 1995 Oldsmobile, which is precisely what makes it special. While badly rusted from Ohio road salt, it is still being used for its originally intended purpose, as point A to B transportation, after several decades.

The last Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line in April 29, 2004. The average age of of a car in the US is now around 11.5 years. Simple math tells us that Oldsmobile ever made is now on the downward side of this bell curve. Many, like this 22-year-old example, are already well along that path.

While I could have picked a relatively shiny Alero or Aurora to maker this point, the featured Ciera served my purpose better, precisely because all daily driven Oldsmobiles will eventually end up looking like this, until there are no more left in daily use.

Oldsmobile sightings like this will become increasingly less common, until eventually they leave the realm of daily use altogether to become exclusively the domain of the collector and hobbyist.

Studebaker and Packard reached this milestone years ago. AMC will reach it soon, if it hasn’t already. When the last daily driven Oldsmobile is finally retired from service, the event will likely go unheralded. Indeed, it will probably take the form of a car in worse condition than our featured car, whose owner will be just trying to get to work or perhaps dropping their kids at school. The car will refuse to start, or maybe die and leave them stranded. However it happens, the owner will decide that the last daily driven Oldsmobile is no longer worth fixing, and move on to another brand of beater. At this point Oldsmobile will cease being just another car, and belong to the ages.

Doesn’t look so bad from this angle

I always try to point out sightings of dead brands like Oldsmobile and Pontiac on the street to my kids, because at some point they will only be viewable in captivity. Then my kids will be able to tell their children that they remember seeing Mercurys and Plymouths on the road when they were growing up.