420 East Park Row, Henry IL, circa 1985-86
It goes without saying that the Midwest was much more resistant to the rising tide of imported cars. Even today, there are many domestic cars here in Northwest Illinois and Southeast Iowa, though with many more Camrys and Corollas in the mix. But in the mid-’80s, this was Cutlass Country.
302 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield IL, 11/10/87
For the middle-aged, upper middle class, Protestant businessman or woman in Des Moines, Kansas City or Galesburg, nothing said you arrived like an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. It said, I am comfortable but do not want to shout my success to everyone. As a kid in the Quad Cities in the ’80s, I saw a LOT more Oldsmobiles than Cadillacs. One of our neighbors, a middle-aged couple with no kids, had a beautiful 1983 or ’84 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Regency in triple midnight blue. It was very sharp. Hard to believe Olds stumbled so badly starting in the early ’90s, huh?
900 State Street, Quincy IL, 6/4/92
As successful as Olds was, really, ANY GM brand was doing quite well, thank you. A-bodies such as the Celebrity above were common as dirt. Even today, sixteen years since they were discontinued, I see Centurys and Cutlass Cieras everywhere. It is common for me to see 5-10 every day.
116 N. Chestnut, Champaign IL, 8/2/91
Here we have the least successful A-body, the Pontiac 6000. There is a lot of talk about the 6000STE here at CC, but I haven’t seen one in years. However, one of my Dad’s best friends was a real Pontiac nut. He had several Firebirds, including a dark blue ’84 and white ’89 Trans Ams. The white one was not a Turbo, but otherwise looked just like the ’89 Indy 500 pace car: white with gold lacy spoke wheels and a tan interior. Anyway, in 1985 he traded in the T1000 his wife drove for a white over gray 6000STE. I rode in it a couple of times and it was a nice car. I haven’t seen one since.
Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, Route 9 East, Bloomington IL, 12/9/85
See any foreign cars here? Well there is a Nissan 300ZX next to that ’78-’80 Monte Carlo, but American iron make up most of this airport parking lot. In the foreground we have what appears to be a Ninety Eight LS, judging from the non-wire wheel covers. I see at least two other Oldsmobiles too.
401 S. Chicago Street, Milford IL, 11/16/95
Fast forward ten years and we still have a majority of Big Three cars in view. Bonus points in this photo for the matching white and blue Luminas!
While American makes were still doing pretty well in the ’80s, not everyone was going that way. To prove it, let’s conclude with this photo of a first-gen Accord. Early Japanese cars were pretty reliable, but did not care for road salt. If you zoom in, our mint green Accord appears to be Bondoed up on the front fender. Still, it looks pretty good for being a 12-13 year old car at the time the photo was taken.
I bet that Minuteman station is a Casey’s today… These are great photos, keep ’em coming!
Google Street View shows it as a nameless gas station. http://goo.gl/maps/p7fN
Wow, I actually miss the mid 90’s… Look at those gasoline prices…
What kind of wheels are on that white Lumina? They don’t look like factory wheels that I remember.
Minuteman is not a Casey’s. There is one further down the street…right across the street from the old Casey’s. The Minuteman became a Marathon and then closed. Sits vacant today.
I always liked the standard full wheel discs with the body-colored insert on the late 70’s – early 80’s Cutlasses (first pic). They didn’t look quite as good to me on the post ’80 model coupe bodystyle though. (the Super Stock wheels & N95 wire covers were such a PITA to clean)
I prefer the 4-door Cutlass over the ’81-’87 2-door bodystyle. These are “my kind of Camry”.
My dad owned a slightly rusty worn-out ’81 Cutlass LS 4-door with an oil pumping 260V8, dull gray paint, wheel discs, & dark carmine interior. Few power or convenience options. The engine must have had a cracked ring since it belched out lots of blue smoke but the car ran so incrediblly smooth despite that. We drove it a lot and the people he sold it to drove it for years with no issues.
The 260s were not very strong but they lasted forever & had that wonderful Oldsmoburble.
Mr. Lundergaard? Is this your burgandy 98 parked out here?
The heck do ya mean?
You know if you dont get that TruCoat your gonna get corrosion……
Shoor! You bet! 😉
Dan, I think these pics sent Carmine to “Fargo.”
I know this was true in Saskatchewan. It was thought that anyone who was driving around in a Cadillac or Lincoln surely must’ve screwed somebody over to acquire such good fortune.
It was much more safe to drive around in a nicely appointed 88.
“nothing said you arrived like an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe”
How true! When I was 12 my parents bought a slightly used 1986 Supreme Brougham coupe, black, chrome Super Stock Wheels, burgundy leather. I think there was a bidding war to get it, they were so popular.
I was so not a popular kid in middle school. However, whenever my mom took me to school in that car, all the cool kids, even the ones who usually looked down their noses at me, would nod their heads in approval my way for the day.
Life was good when you had an Oldsmobile in your life 🙂
I knew you would like the top photo!
I don’t go by “supremebrougham” for nothing!
Great picture of two Cutlasses! The VFW has its equivalent in Canada as the Royal Canadian Legion, which in its heyday was by far the most popular drinking/social establishment. Those WW II vets were a hard drinking lot and most expired before their time. Not so many Legions these days.
The Accord in the Montrose (last pix at the bottom of the OP) really held up well for being approx 9-13 years old at the time. Does Illinois use less road salt than Ohio and Michigan?
That Accord should have returned to base metal by about year five, or at least it would have if it were in Cleveland.
My grandfather once said “The best thing about the good old days is that they are gone.” I love old cars (and Paul’s trucks) and the history behind them but these bleak pictures remind me why the rust belt folks drank so much! Spending your free time in windowless cinderblock bars does not bring out the best in people.
Well put, sir (or madam).
Pics remnid me of when I went to NIU in DeKalb IL, 1981-85.
Lots of GM boxes/barges with chrome and vinyl in town, but some classmates had Accords, Rabbits, and Celicas.
One other thing to note is many Mid-America Olds owners switched to Ford/Mercury cars; Crown Vic/Grand Marq, Taurus/Sable or T-Bird/Cougars, in the 1986-96 time period. By now, of this generation still driving have Camrys, Avalons, or maybe FWD Impalas.
Park Row sounds like a pretty ritzy address for a place like Henry, Illinois, which I think is probably not as populous as, say, Peoria.
I wonder if Dirksen Parkway in Springfield is still named that, or if some later senator’s name now graces it.
I went to college in Des Moines, Iowa, in the late 1950’s, and remember seeing a lot of places that looked similar to these. Des Moines seemed quite bleak to me in the winter, with bare black tree branches against the winter sky, and the ground usually covered with old hard snow that was gray from coal soot.
Even now imports are hard(ish) to find in the Midwest. I live in Chicago so I see cars of every make but a 3 hours drive in any direction will take you to a place that has maybe one Honda.