(first posted 7/8/2016) My neighborhood of Edgewater in Chicago’s north side really comes alive in the summer. Clean, sandy beaches along Lake Michigan attract a melting pot of students from nearby Loyola University, families of all different ethnic groups, and mere sun-and-fun seekers. Vendors selling frozen treats walk along the sidewalks and waterfront, pushing carts accompanied by the sound of tinkling bells that make my mouth water like one of Pavlov’s dogs. It is against the backdrop of this neighborhood beachfront paradise that I spotted this Dynamic 88 Celebrity in the driveway of a neighborhood building. Model year ’66 would be the Dynamic’s last.
The “Dynamic” moniker has been discussed before within the CC forum in comments, with reactions ranging from thinking it sounds stupid, to defense of the imagery of motion and power that word conveys. Personally, I like the name and find it a lot more honest-sounding than the “Olds Rocket” / aeronautical associations of its upmarket “Delta” and downmarket “Jetstar” siblings. The Dymamic 88 itself was no less dynamic than a same-year Chevy Impala was like an antelope. In today’s alphanumeric hodgepodge, I’d be more driven to purchase or lease something “dynamic” than something that sounded like a callout from a Midwestern bingo hall.
This particular example had a few aftermarket accessories, including chromed fender skirts, custom wheels, and fat exhaust tips. It also appeared to be loved and well cared for – which will always be my defense when it comes to haters of the so-called “donk”. The look of this car is very much in keeping with the multicultural character of this neighborhood, and of Chicago as a whole. Much like disco music had been maligned in the late-70’s by some who were less than friendly toward sub-groups to whom that music primarily appealed, I wonder if dislike of the donk sometimes simply veils prejudice against certain ethnic groups most commonly associated with these types of cars. I’ll just say that if this car was my toy and I owned it, I’d be damned if I let someone else tell me how to play with it.
That said, we like what we like, and there are folks who will genuinely cringe at the sight of a donk because they simply don’t like the way they look. It’s also true that some mild customs are done more tastefully than others. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a purist, but I do tend to like my classic cars looking factory-stock. Nevertheless, I would be incredibly bored if absolutely everyone shopped at one clothing store, listened to the exact same music, watched the same movies, and never otherwise stepped out of a box of some sort. It’s cliché, but it’s true: variety is the spice of life, and age has only reinforced this idea within this Michigan kid from a cross-cultural and multi-ethnic background.
I happened to meet the owner of this Dynamic 88 one day while walking past this building on a Saturday afternoon, and he was more than happy to show off not just this car, but also his ’64 Impala that was parked below in the garage. There’s a certain kind of excitement that spills over to you from the owner when they’re telling you about his or her car that he or she loves – it was there when my now-friend Adam showed me his ’81 Chrysler Cordoba. It’s this very type of enthusiasm that brings us car-lovers together – especially within the CC community, regardless of where we come from or what cars make our individual motors rev.
I managed just a few shots of this car, as I was late for my spot on the sand, but I was happy for this interaction with its owner. This car was just one of just over 38,700 Dynamic 88 pillared “Celebrity” sedans produced for ’66, out of just over 95,800 total that year. It was the most popular bodystyle of four, accounting for about 40% of total sales. (The least popular Dynamic 88 that year was the convertible, of which only about 5,500 were sold.) The $3,013 starting price for the Celebrity sedan translates to just over $22,100 in 2016 – a bargain, if you ask me. A 300-hp 425-c.i. Olds Rocket V8 was standard, to power this two-ton car.
Olds may be gone, and this car may not be stock, but I am thankful for the flavors and colors – both figuratively and literally – associated with this season in my kaleidoscope of a neighborhood. Well-loved examples of once-workaday cars like this Dynamic 88, tricked out by their adoring owners to their liking, also make me smile for the experience of being a part of this community. To quote Salt-N-Pepa, “you only live once and you’re not coming back…so express yourself.” Amen.
All photos taken in Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
The Olds was as photographed on Saturday, June 2, 2012.
The ice cream man was as photographed on Sunday, September 4, 2011.
Related reading from Paul Niedermeyer: Curbside Classic: 1966 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 – The Best $3,000 Big Sedan In 1966?.