The simple reality is that a substantial segment of the American market likes their things big, as long as it’s affordable. Big Macs; Big McMansions, Big Gulps; Big butts; Big cars and Big trucks. Already back in the early 70s, while Europeans were riding in cramped and noisy little R4s, VW Beetles, Fiat 850s and Minis, Americans were rolling in really big cars, like this Olds 98. The love for bigness is hardly new. As long as gas is cheap enough to feed them, big vehicles proliferate.
The 1971-1976 GM C-Bodies were the high-water mark for sedan bigness. Even this pre-5 mile bumper 98 stretches 228 inches (5.8 meters), and the Cadillac Fleetwood 75 took that right up to 250 inches (6.35 m), which made it the longest production sedan ever. Will we be saying the same thing someday about today’s mega-size pickups?
GM knew they had gotten too big before the energy crisis ever hit in late 1973, and the next generation was always going to be smaller, although it was shrunk some more thanks to that painful reality check. Not having unlimited domestic oil turned out to be a bit of a problem.
But that problem has essentially evaporated. Fracking and shale oil has made the US flush with hydrocarbons, and the results are obvious. Trucks, SUVs and CUVs are utterly dominating the market. Just like big cars once did when gas was also fairly cheap. The Olds 98 was a slightly cheaper Cadillac, and with a bit of squinting, its sometimes hard to tell them apart. When did Olds start sprouting fins again?
Under its highly ample hood, an Olds 455 V8 is ready to go to work, with a squirt of raw gas into its big four-barrel carburetor to jolt it to life. And it’ll gladly keep slurping as much as a pint of the go-juice per mile. Even at 36 cents per gallon, that added up, given that that’s $2.10 in today’s coin, not much different than current gas prices.
And given that today’s big pickups can get almost twice the mileage, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular.
Let’s talk more about this big 98 rather than gas prices. The front end is dramatic, very much in the style of GM studios during that last fleeting moment before 5 mile bumpers put the front end stylists out of work.
A bit busy and overdone for my taste, but it certainly conveys the point this car is making, from stem to stern. And the flames are a most excellent addition. Should have been a factory option.
The Olds dash of this vintage was quite odd, and not appealing to me. Olds had been working towards ever more eccentric instrument panels since the ’66 Toronado, but it just didn’t really work. Soon enough, they abandoned this line of narrow-focus thinking.
The rear seat was the place to be in these, with their expansive width and leg room. But the painful truth is this: it really is more comfortable to sit more upright in a modern SUV or CUV than plopping down and sprawling out in one of these. Given their huge length, the interior accommodations weren’t really all that glorious. Sorry.
This particular 98 has arrived recently in my neighborhood, and I’ve welcomed it with open arms; a most excellent addition. The side-mount exhausts are another fine touch. All the better to hear you with, my dear 455.
Those of you paying attention will have noticed that it swapped out its wide whitewalls for blackwalls in the three days that separated these two shooting sessions. I’m not so sure I agree with that choice, though. Even though they’re hardly period-correct, they work for me. But then the sidemounts are hardly period-correct either.
I won’t be around, but it’ll be interesting to see if today’s big trucks will end up reprising the role of these big cars 45 years from now, and will be similarly collectible as relics from a different era. Who knows? Certainly nobody could have guessed how things unfolded in the past 45 years. Energy is becoming ever-more abundant and cheaper, and as we figure out how to tap the sun’s bounty with ever more efficient and cheaper means—while housing gets ever more expensive—it wouldn’t surprise me if folks eventually end up just riding around (autonomously) in great big solar-powered electric vans that double as living pods. The tiny house that goes wherever you want it to.
While I’m not crazy about big butts, (Except on cars, I do like some trunk on my junk!) I admit to liking the American idea of big (I do my quota of Big Macs an Big Gulps.Though my house is only 850sf!)but especially on luxury cars (My love for the 71-73 GM C bodies is a thing.) While I’d prefer stock, I’m heartened that this beautiful design is getting some love. P.S. Who said that the ’64 Caddy was the end of the fin era, LOL! ? As far as I’m concerned the 1971 Oldsmobile 98 was an early “retro throwback” design, as it seemed to be a modernization of the 1960 Cadillac.
I like it with the blackwall tyres better, interesting about the gas prices I filled my old car yesterday it drank in $58.00 worth of motion lotion, way back in the mid 70s I had a near identical car you could not fit $10.00 worth of gas in it. Seven gallons imp has sure increased in price round here and yesterday was 12c per litre off day
The way the UK motoring press presented it, at the time, was that CAFE regulations killed the big car.
Small cars meant small profits, so the attention switched to pick-up trucks, to which the CAFE regs didn’t apply.
There are (insane) people who deny it to this day, but that’s exactly what happened. Take a look at the market share of pickup trucks pre-CAFE compared to today.
Another thing that’s been forgotten by those who weren’t scarred by it was that car loan interest rates went racing up while wages stayed low, lagging inflation, in the 70’s.
I can’t quickly find any data on car loan interest rates but average mortgage rate in July 1971 was 7.6%, and by July 1981 had reached 16.8% (plus two points). Car loan rates are generally higher than mortgage rates.
So – a lot of people were forced into smaller cars because they couldn’t afford the larger, nicer cars their parents had in the 1960’s.
A lot of people can’t afford to buy what they drive nowadays which is why leasing is so popular, and profitable for manufacturers. A new car dealer recently told me that well over half of the cars that he moves go out as leases.
Any idea what the average price of a new car is in 2017? I really don’t know; I’ll make an uneducated guess of $23,500 being the average.
Current average price is $34K.
It isn’t just profits that drove the move though. CAFE made it so that most Americans can’t afford the cars they want. The crew cab pickups and big SUVs served as the affordable full-sized family cars we’ve been denied by people who have no business being Americans. The last totalitarian in chief has set us on a path to have those reserved for the wealthy too.
This was discussed to death in the Silverado/Midget thread. I see a big part of the problem in the auto industry’s willingness to follow the “I want it big and simple!” crowd like lemmings toward ever bigger and simpler while taking away choices from those who *don’t* want a Canyonero (look at how many subcompacts are being withdrawn rather than refreshed as they reach the end of their design cycles, because “they’re not selling” after 2+ years of advertising neglect).
Except those small efficient choices aren’t being ‘removed’. Seems that it’s a return to the natural order of things: American manufacturers make large, powerful vehicles, Asian imports supply the small commuter pods. European manufacturers are some of both.
The harsh reality is, Americans will only tighten our belts and live/drive frugal when economic facors FORCE it and even then, we won’t be happy about it. There’s a simple reason why small cars aren’t profitable (steering clear of political issues like UAE and the sweetheart deals foreign firms get to build here etc) and its because buyers of big trucks/SUVs and powerful muscle cars actually WANT them.
In the case of smaller cars it’s an austerity measure. Whether the buyer is incredibly cheap/frugal by nature or is legitimately unable to upgrade, there is little profit to be made here. Sure, you have your GTI’s, Focus STs etc which cater to enthusiasts. But it’s hard to justify a tiny 4 cylinder hatch that goes for the same basic money as the current crop of V8 ponycars with mid/high 20 mpg, strong resale and a huge level of aftermarket support.
The problem with CAFE and other regulatory measures is that they are completely tone deaf and out of touch to market realities. The D3 have no desire to compete with Toyhonsan on their own turf and are ill equipped to do so. D3 customers certainly don’t want American knockoffs of Japanese cars. These beauracracies have set our home teams up for imminent failure.
Very well said, CJ, nlpnt, MoparRocker
Why is it a natural order? You are correct in your observation, in that historically, the US brands built large, but you overlook that we also had a thriving industry of smaller cars built by independents that also served that same market. We had both small and large cars built on US soil well before the Asian Invasion. The problem was that small cars did not sit well with the American ethic of happiness through conspicuous consumption. Nobody was lauded for buying a new car unless it was the biggest, most expensive one on the lot. You speak of austerity, but to many, it is true conservatism to own something that meets your needs and not more. Some are happy with having what serves them well, and some are only happy with the biggest, flashiest, and most expensive item on the menu. The small car can be profitable, as the Asians proved, and the Europeans as well, if they are done well and marketed correctly. The D3 never learned that lesson. Instead, they choose the easy answer, the quick sell, and more power to them. It works for them. But really, the whole CAFE/what buyers want argument will never be solved. In my eyes, marketing decides what is popular, not logical choices, not regulations. Manufacturers make what sells, and we buy it.
But that is the beauty of it all. We have a choice, and we can respect the other guys choice as well as ours. We often don’t, but we should.
Marketing power is overrated, trends happen independently. Marketing simply exploits the trends IMO. The growing success of smaller cars from the independents and imports prior to any regulation favoring them is proof of that.
The problem I find with the 1970s iteration of CAFE was that it clearly favored the still blooming imports. Their size and weight were seen as the logical solution to the energy crisis. Their cars were already well within the looming standards and all they needed to do was keep building what they were building, while the D3 did have their (troublesome) subcompacts but otherwise full model lineups to somehow squeeze in as well. Had it not been for forced compliance and the small car boom continued naturally (as it probably would have) the D3 may have simply shifted their resources into making truly good small cars and simply let their bigger vehicles wither on the vine and eventually drop them from the lineups. Instead CAFE put early pressure on them to make everything comply, and it utterly wasted resources for GM to miniaturize a car like the 98 rather than focus squarely on making a truly good J car and X car for the 80s.
JFrank–I definitely see your points. Believe me, Im not for throwing money away on the most expensive thing either. Blingy luxo cars and trucks are definitely NOT to my personal tastes at all. Every pickup I’ve owned has been the classic single cab shortbed variety. Any creature comforts were as a compromise to get the most motor or a sports or offroad package which is where my priorities lie.
Culturally, the whole concept of only using the bare minimum to scrape by doesn’t fly here in America. That won’t motivate people to want to educate and better themselves or to excel at a job. That said, you’re correct to imply that rampant consumerism is out of control. People have to WANT to re-think their choices and make some adjustments. You aren’t wrong to think that some restraint is needed. The current mantra among some circles (not to point fingers at you or anyone else) that since people don’t make the choices they find appropriate, it’s a good idea to tax, shame, regulate and bully them into it. That’s the best way to really piss people off and create a ton of tension, anger, division and outright hatred. The political climate right now is proof positive of this and its completely unnecessary.
You’re absolutely right in that if we don’t agree with someone else’s choice that’s fine. Respecting and defending the right to make those choices free from artificial inhibitors is what a free society is all about.
XR7: The problem I find with the 1970s iteration of CAFE
Do you even know when CAFE took effect? 1978 was the first year, and the mileage hurdle was a very low 18mpg, and that’s based on the old un-adjusted EPA mileage test. It wasn’t until the mid 80s that CAFE became a more serious challenge.
@Paul, yes. But it was enacted in 1975 and the standard was set to progress year after year after initial implementation in 1978. Automakers didn’t have their heads buried in the sand in 1975, they would need to focus resources into making ALL of their cars compliant for this, and they would be throwing money down the drain to make new 1978 models hit 18 mpg when at the presumed end of the model cycle they would need to hit an average of 22 (1981)
I reckon the only vehicle buying option missing from the 2018 Automotive Menu is the ‘Big American Car’. Monster-sized sedans like a ’74 Caddy Fleetwood, a ’76 Buick Electra 225 or a ’79 Lincoln Continental do not appear ripe for being re-produced! But I see lots of large trucks and SUV’s on the road. (I’m not sure what a ‘CUV’ is).
CJ: You keep spouting this like a broken record, but it doesn’t hold any water. The industry decided to downsize long before CAFE had even been dreamed of. And the downsized cars were just as roomy (if not more so) than these oversized ones. And why did GM eventually pull the plug on its RWD sedans? Because folks weren’t buying them in numbers to justify the factory space. And why did Ford eventually pull the plug on their RWD sedans? Essentially the same reason.
The simple and utterly obvious truth (which you perpetually deny) is that the market shifted. Big sedans and wagons were seen as old folks’ cars, and they didn’t want them anymore. If big RWD sedans sold well, Detroit would still be making them today.
The shift to trucks started in the 70s, as a consequence of the social changes underfoot at the time and that had its origins in the 60s. Younger buyers wanted something different than what their parents drove, and that meant anything but big sedans: VWs, Japanese and European sedans, SUVs, Jeeps, trucks, etc. It was all part of folks wanting a car that fit their particular self image. And the image of big sedans was that of old folks.
CAFE had essentially nothing to do with that. Fake news.
Actually you’re both making separate valid points but not acknowledging the other’s.
CAFE and other regs have conspired to kill off certain options. As I remember, the 304 V8 offered in Jeep CJs had a solid take rate until it was regulated of existence. The Wrangler has been slated to offer the 318, 4.7 and Hemi over the years, and regs are what keep killing it. Yet cottage house industries doing megabuck conversions aren’t short on paying customers, so there’s that.
You’re dead on about changing consumer demands and that can’t be ignored. The whole ‘big cars are for the elderly’ is a self fulfilling prophecy. The last big Ford/GM cars were clearly aimed at that crowd. BMW and Mercedes have no problem aiming powerful rwd sedans at younger more affluent customers. And I don’t need to tell you about the Mopar LX cars. GM had an even more comprehensive lineup ready to go in the form of the Holden Commodores but botched it by under marketing them and offering a stupidly cherrypicked options list. The Panthers were the go-to car for the AARP crowd because well…just look at them. Now, what if the Aussie Falcons were brought over in their stead? The reality is that many big cars were chasing a customer base that was dying off. The ones that remain successful do so because they offer the best blend of a traditional experience but modernized what was needed to stay relevant.
I think there is something to both of your points. However, as a guy interested in big cars during CAFE, there is no doubt that it made them less attractive to all but the die-hard old-timers.
The 1978-79 GM B bodies had a good range of engines that made them nice drivers, and they sold very well. But CAFE dictated increasingly tiny engines (like that horrid Cadillac 4.1) and increasingly tall final drives so that the things simply had no performance at all. Yes, GM screwed up the engineering but it would have been easy enough to bring back a decent engine in the B and C bodies to make them less of a chore to drive – but for CAFE. I could get a big torquey 5.8 in my Ford van but no way was it available in a car, even though it would have made a very pleasant engine in a Town Car.
The big cars also received very little investment because every one they sold required even bigger discounts and rebates on the small ones when gas was cheap. Which also starved the small cars of investment because they became loss-leaders.
Demographics definitely killed the big sedans but CAFE hurried that death along sooner than it otherwise would have come. I find it fascinating that we are still dealing with it (virtually alone in the world, we should note) in an era of plentiful, inexpensive fuel. CAFE is an artificial constraint which distorts the market in multiple ways.
What GM really needed for the downsized 77 models was an overdrive automatic transmission which they did not have, and should have been able to put into production by 1980. The 4100 would not have been needed till the FWD 85 models, but probably would still have been a big problem.
We’re hardly alone. The EU has had CO targets for all the manufacturers for some years. These are essentially comparable to our CAFE regs.
Initially they were voluntary industry goals (reductions from existing CO output), as a result of the Kyoto Accord. The industry has struggled to meet them, especially the German premium brands. But in recent years, there is a standard. The current standard is 130 grams CO per kilometer. By 2021, that drops to 95 grams.
Why do you think the Europeans decided to favor diesels so dramatically a couple of decades ago after the Kyoto Accord? They saw that as the solution to meeting their voluntary CO targets, and the country governments obliged by making diesel cheaper through lower taxes.
That’s why they’re in a panic, and rushing to EVs as the solution. of course the particulate issue is also exacerbating that.
I believe China has some form of standards too, but I’m not sure of the details. They’re certainly very aggressive about reducing CO levels, and mandating large numbers of EVs.
GM could have solved their problem back in 1980 or so with a proper well-developed diesel with a turbo. It would have had comparable output, especially torque, to the bigger gas V8s, and then some. Americans were very excited about diesels, given Mercedes’ success with them. The Olds 5.7 sold very well for the first few years. They totally screwed themselves with an under-developed engine.
And as others have said, they waited too long to introduce overdrive automatics, fuel injection, etc. GM had a scatter-shot approach that resulted in too many new engines that were under-developed. They should have picked one or possibly two, and really made sure they were ready for prime time.
Frankly, the diesel would have been a potentially brilliant solution, given that with a turbo, its torque would have been even better than the gas V8s.
I agree considerably. I’d even speculate the CAFE changed the large car in ways we may never really know. If they had been better able to retain agreeable powertrains and received more frequent relevant investment in style and platforms, history may have been very different. Instead, they became vehicles that were acceptable to those that were comfortable with 15 year old styling and 30 year old driving dynamics.
The primary reason for starving the big cars of investment was simply that it had become essentially illegal to sell them in large volumes.
CO and CO2 is not the same. The EU-regulations are CO2, but the american CAFE are older and the american EPA emission standards are harder. CO is Carbonmonooxide, CO2 is Carbondioxide.
Emissions from internal combustion:
NOx (NO and NO2), harder regulations in the US than Europe.
The problem with the diesel engines is that it runs with O2 surplus and the regular 3-way cathalyst don’t work. Then the NOx emissions is quite high, and even the EURO 6 engines in Europe don’t meet the EURO3 regulations in daily use. It’s very easy to pass the European regulations, and then the dieselengines was very popular because of it’s good fuel economy.
When the american cars came to Europe after 1975, the cathalyst was removed before it was sold because of leaded fuel. It wasn’t before 1989 the cathalyst was mandatory in Europe.
And your line about “CAFE made it so that most Americans can’t afford the cars they want” is utterly absurd, given that pickups and SUVs cost way more (inflation adjusted) than the typical sedans ever did, or the sedans that were still being made until a few years ago. You do realize what the typical big double-cab 4×4 loaded pickup goes for?
More fake news.
Gotta agree with Paul here. I’m stunned by the average selling price of the typical domestic large SUVs or pickups that are so popular even here in one of the most liberal and environmentally aware parts of California. They are NOT the affordable option, neither purchase price nor running costs (gas, huge tires). Second, there are lots of domestic small cars running around (again, even here in import-land) … Cruze, Focus, Fusion. They may not be profitable but they still sell. Finally, CAFE is far from perfect but it has certainly helped enable vehicles like a Chevy Equinox or Ford Escape that are more comfortable for 4 people than this Olds and consume half the fuel. On another note though, I’m old enough to remember when cars like this were ubiquitous, though no one in my family ever owned a full-size American car, but from today’s perspective it seems amazing that people could comfortably drive them. I see so many folks on the road today struggling to maneuver their much smaller cars, unable to thread through gaps or fit in parking spaces. And that’s with rear view cameras and other tech.
dman: That’s one thing I’ve noticed very often in parking lots! Esp. our local Wal-Mart. All these people with smaller cars cannot seem to grasp how to navigate these late-model vehicles into parking spaces properly. Boggles my mind when I think of how big American cars used to be and how people back then didn’t appear to have as much trouble parking their behemoths as modern folk do now. I don’t get it? Maybe I’m missing something.
When I drive around in my ’64 Falcon with no power steering (or brakes) I do quite all right navigating parking lots and spaces. It’s really not difficult for me.
Paul is correct. Cars have never been cheaper, nor offered better value.
My dad paid $3300 for a 1970 Pontiac, which translates to $22,000 today. That car didn’t even have power steering, brakes or a radio. By the time he got rid of it in 1976, it was full of holes and basically unsafe to drive.
When I returned from Alberta, I had a look at what the monster trucks cost. C$35,000 will get you a nice one, with 0% financing for 84 months.
Then there are used vehicles: cars are so good now, they last for years. I just bought a 2003 Accord Coupe for $6000, and drove it to the Rocky Mountains. The car is perfect, and it is 14 years old. Try that with ANY 1970’s car.
Being from the Good Olde Days, I can attest they weren’t always so good.
There was a lot of good cars in the 70s. I used a 77 Coupe DeVille as a daily driver for some years recently, very reliable and over 260.000 miles on the odometer (Title from California with the mileage) when I sold it. Before that I had one of the best cars that I ever owned, a 77 Riviera. A lot less problems with these cars than a 2009 BMW 5-series or even a 06 MB E-class.
I drove a 1979 Sedan deVille from Saskatoon to Victoria five years ago. Let’s just say that I’d rather do said drive in a 2003 Honda Accord V-6 Coupe.
Pretty any car would have fewer problems than a ten year old German car.
70’s cars weren’t so bad. They were simple and easy to repair.
Canuck, I’m not sure what 1970 Pontiac model your dad had, but I’d venture and think you agree that those $22,000 equivalent dollars spent later this year will get you or anyone else a 2018 Camry or 2018 Accord that by ANY objective measure simply puts that Pontiac into the weeds. Speed, fuel economy, safety, likely even interior comfort and space. And definitely longevity. ’70’s cars may have bee “simple to repair” but I’d guess there were a lot of “simple” repairs and much “easy” maintenance well before the 100k mark. Six years from now, that Camry or Accord will likely have retained at least half of its original value, will probably have about 80,000 miles on it and we ready for another 1.5x that mileage with minimal worries. And lest anyone think I have my import binders on, the same likely is true for a Malibu except for the retained value.
You guys up there have some amazing deals on large trucks. It’s one of the few vehicles that Canada gets the better part of the deal relative to down here. Although they really aren’t deals, they are likely reflective of the true value of the truck and I’m guessing the manufacturers are still making good money off them. Down here, even with the common $10k off the sticker, I’d guess that the manufacturers are still coming out WAY ahead. I don’t begrudge anyone a profit but it’s gotten to the point that you can offer $10k off, the buyer thinks he did great but the reality likely is that the manufacturer took at least as much again off the table into their pocket. Just do the math on the Canadian prices vs US prices.
Right now Ford and GM are increasing base prices of V8 pony cars to curb demand, much as they did when the target fuel economy numbers were out of reach to them over thirty years ago. Full sized American cars disappeared from the market after their renewal cycles went from five years to fifteen, and after available engines tumbled from seven and a half liters in displacement to four point six. A 500 ci Cadillac was a symbol of power and prestige. A 4100 cc Cadillac was a cruel joke. CAFE did that, not big American cars suddenly being a symbol of old age. Why wasn’t that the case in 1977, when big American cars had been the only volume aspirational cars from after the second world war until the early ’60s?
Look at the price on Tahoes right now if you don’t think CAFE is costing Americans choices. Sure, GM likes making fat margins on the ones they can sell under CAFE. Do you know what they’d really like? Keeping factories turning them out around the clock and making money on scale because they’d still make money on them if they were selling 400,000 a year for $36K. Doubt it? Look how many Ranger-based Explorers Ford sold when technology had the upper hand on CAFE.
“Right now Ford and GM are increasing base prices of V8 pony cars to curb demand,”
Wait, _WHAT_ ? . GM and Ford DON’T WANT TO SELL NEW CARS ?! .
You’re joking or trying to make some point I missed, right ? .
This makes no sense to me .
You aren’t wrong in regard to Tahoe – It is not too difficult to get a Chevy Tahoe priced up beyond the starting price of Mercedes’ largest SUV, the GL450. And there are not the same discounts to be had on a Tahoe or Suburban as on the pickup version of the same.
That being said, there is no real reason why the base engine in a Tahoe has to be a 5.3liter churning out 355hp. Next year the 6.2liter will be an option in a few certain configurations as well for the first time. They are also adding a slightly cheaper trim level that removes the third row and a few other niceties so one some level they or their dealers obviously want a lower priced option and additional volume. But I don’t see why they can’t make a 6cylinder option too. Not everyone tows, not everyone is at elevation, plenty are sold as RWD. Paired with an 8-speed, the fuel economy rating should/could be miles ahead of the current offerings.
Nate, they appear to want to alter the mix to sell more of the versions with more economical engine choices. Which now still outperform the V8 models of maybe a decade ago. The easy way to do that is to increase the price spread between engine levels and get people thinking about it a bit more. For example if you really wanted a Mustang and a V8 was the same price as a 4T and gas/insurance prices were not a consideration why wouldn’t everyone go for the V8. If the spread was $1500 some people might say they like the Mustang but do they really need a V8 for driving to the office 95% of the time. If the spread was $5000 more people would consider their real needs vs wants. And so on. (the price examples are just random numbers I plucked out of the air). Most people who want a Mustang, get a Mustang so the absolute sales numbers of the model aren’t affected so much. The cars aren’t as interchangeable as a Sonata/Altima/Malibu etc.
“CAFE made it so that most Americans can’t afford the cars they want”
I’d have to agree with this to an extent. While big trucks are selling well, there is a large population out there that would love to purchase such a vehicle new, or in good late model used condition that cannot. The trucks are priced very profitably. In Ford’s case, the current premium for each engine upgrade has become almost absurd. They REALLY want you to buy the 2.7T, and while it is from many reports an agreeable engine, Ford wouldn’t have even bothered with it if not motivated by the necessity of CAFE.
Large BOF SUVs are definitely another case of CAFE restricting sales to the well off. Sales of these vehicles still have not recovered since the recession, and the reason is that they are sold exclusively loaded at very profitable price points.
Even simple V-6 engines are an example. They are suddenly very scarce, and they are pricy options when available. To get a V-6 in most years of the current generation Ford Fusion / Lincoln MKZ, you had to pay the premium to buy the Lincoln to get a 6. When VW came out with the Tennessee Passat, a V-6 was reasonably available, and then sudden restricted to the top trim cars, I think the second year of production.
There is very little doubt that as you work your way up the fuel use / displacement spectrum that vehicles suddenly become disproportionately more expensive.
You forget that some countries traditionally slap high taxes on engines over a certain displacement, usually 2 liters. In the UK and EU the tax is based more on CO2 emissions now, but back in the ’80’s even Ferrari came out with a 208 Turbo version of the 308 models to dodge the tax in Italy.
The UK used to have a tax based on bore size, so engines came out with very long strokes. Then you have the Reliant three-wheelers whose sole reason for being was to be taxed as motorcycles.
And didn’t we just read an article on how they tax new cars in Denmark, the country that’s considered the best place to live in the world?
How ’bout this absurd line: ‘TEA has made it so Americans cannot afford the LEAVES they want!’. You betcha!
Anyway, back to being a lil’ more serious. Good point, about how expensive these larger pickups and SUV’s are today (inflation adjusted). I know a few folks who have big trucks and when they say how much these late-model vehicles cost I’m astounded. Jeepers.
(I suppose my surprise at the cost is partly because I still drive a cheap old car so I just don’t think about prices for new vehicles).
What if I told you the entire shrinkage of American cars was a government \industry collaboration to make it possible to have worldwide platforms so as to increase profits thru standardization? Most countries can’t afford traditional American cars, so we had to be forced to drive foreign cars. The trucks remain large because the same engineering is necessary for commercial purposes, and as a safety valve against consumer resistance.
What if I told you the entire shrinkage of American cars was a government \industry collaboration to make it possible to have worldwide platforms so as to increase profits thru standardization?
What if I told you your theory is not backed up by any facts or reality? It’s classic conspiracy theory BS.
There has been no such collaboration between govt. and industry. And your theory about pickups is also baseless.
Observation, and outside the box thinking. Why didn’t, with all their money and leverage and political power, the Big Three fight the standards harder? Generally businesses don’t meekly agree to go along with regulations that will help their competitors grab a huge portion of their market. You can’t tell me they didn’t get that companies that have always built little cars would be better at it for the foreseeable future and that it would drastically cut their US market share.
There was only a very small window where CAFE didn’t apply to “1/2 ton” class trucks. Yes the number was lower but it still applied, and the boom in the 1/2 ton pickup being the family ride did not come until much much later.
The difference in target consumption was drastic though, and it was avoidable by upping GVWR to 6,000 and then 8,500 lbs until 2010.
This owner appears to be trying to apply 1950s styling cues (flames, pipes, fuzzy dice, wide whitewalls, steel wheels), to a car from an entirely different era. I’m not seeing the nuance so much. 🙂
Design in general appears headed towards minimalism. It can look very clean and elegant, or occasionally sterile. Depending upon how well it is done.
It’s likely that the fins are the inspiration for it.!?
“Design in general appears headed towards minimalism.”
Maybe in some areas, but not in automotive design. Even luxury cars – once the prime example of restraint and taste – are today overwrought with fussy details, character lines that don’t relate to the form of the car and grossly odd proportions in many cases.
I have to wonder what they’re teaching at Art Center or in various industrial design programs any more – certainly not what was drilled into me in the 1980s.
Interestingly, the architecture program at Georgia Tech at that time was teaching what I’ll call ‘funky’ design (think John Portman on drugs). Thankfully that trend/fad burned itself out by the time I graduated.
(full disclosure, I took two years of architecture at Tech, then changed majors to the industrial design program, graduating with a BSID)
So, basically the 1950s again with tailfin-era cars out of step with midcentury modern design in art and architecture, only without the Googie countermovement to apply automotive-inspired flashiness to other things.
This is why I said, ‘design in general.’
In automotive design, specifically interiors, I had in mind what Tesla is achieving in the Model 3. With virtually all controls located in a central touch screen. I see other manufacturers aiming to emulate this. Given it lends the appearance of advanced and practical design. Even if it appears stark and impractical to some. I’m not defending it. It’s what I had in mind in terms of what I see setting design trends at present. Depending of course, upon whose design philosophy is seen as trendsetting.
While I can certainly appreciate the clean lines and lack of fussy buttons/switches, that still looks like someone glued a computer monitor to the dashboard. A bit jarring.
I agree, I’m not a big fan. It doesn’t exude a lot of ‘warmth’. You feel less a part of the experience. Even if the display offers a great deal more data. They clearly wanted to push the envelope. Eschewing familiarity, to appear leading edge.
I’m hopeful future design doesn’t mean stark or sterile. However much it appears to be a real possibility.
I love it. I’ve been wondering for about ten years when someone would do that, as it makes a lot of sense. One screen, which can easily be replaced instead of having to tear apart a dashboard to get at some little instrument.
The access to data, serviceability and convenience potential is great. As cars become more autonomous, I’m sure the user interface and experience will evolve as well, to be a very comfortable and safe place to travel.
If you look at it another way, it’s probably in Tesla’s best interest to lead the trend and design a car that makes the owner as passive and fully reliant on their technology as possible.
I recently drove a friend’s BMW i3. A car had no interest in and found jarringly fussy from the outside. In a sense, not unlike a modern version of a ’50’s car, using colors instead of chrome. And I had never even looked inside one till my friend opened his door. The interior … wow! Simple, elegant, spacious, in fact a modern version of 1950’s Scandinavian design with the airy feel of a 1602/2002. The driving experience wasn’t bad either. Small hatchback, rear wheel drive, 0-60mph in 7 seconds. I came away very impressed.
I just imagine the creaks and groans coming from the pedastal area of that screen after a few years of fatigue, and given Tesla’s quality thud far i don’t believe that to be an unfair thought.
I don’t wholly disagree that there’s a shift back(all trends are cyclical) towards minimalism, but what separates modern minimalism from previous cycles of minimalism is it is let down by a big bold statement about how minimalistic it is. That would be that ridiculous screen in this instance. Now just imagine that interior if that were gone and it had conventional gauges, radio, climate control – tidily integrated mind you -, and it wasn’t a Tesla for that matter.
You remind me of my son. 🙂
I don’t understand what you’re getting at in your second paragraph. Minimalism isn’t static. The solution that Tesla came up with wasn’t available in the previous minimalistic era. If it had been, it would quite likely have been adopted. It’s the minimalistic solution given today’s technology.
Similar to all glass aircraft panels. These reduced maintenance significantly.
Heh, I don’t wholly disagree with that premise, I do however think the pedestal mount makes a statement unique to present day aesthetics more than it would have in a previous era. I could imagine a large central touchscreen interface but I also imagine it would be integrated into the dash like it is in the existing Model S or Model X.
Id be more concerned about the electronics being shaken apart over time than the physical construction of the dash. As solder joints soak up bumps and impacts, things start getting real glitchy real fast. Add a healthy dose of battery degradation into the mix and its obvious that these cars wont have a long lifespan.
The way that screen is mounted brings up something that has always bothered me about in dash nav systems: That stuff is INSANE expensive to replace when it shits the bed. And its obsolete in no time. Automakers need to start simply integrating a dock for tablets and smartphones. Those are much cheaper to replace, and already have the user’s preferences set to go. People already regularly upgrade every couple of years. And having it on the dash and synced with the car would stop the texting/driving if implemented properly. Besides, why are people paying for the same redundant hardware twice?
With 1970s electronics, maybe. Modern smd components have so little mass to them vibration fatigue is a non-issue. Beyond that that’s not been a problem for ECMs in all these years, which with some engines that transmit a lot of real vibration through the chassis. Fatigue at the pedestal is where I expect failure, or at the very least stress cracking eventually. Depends on the dash construction though, but I was able to make the standup screen in a newer Mazda 3 “creak” when I curiously pulled on it with not much force.
I agree with the latter point of making it a removable and updatable real tablet, using a “Tesla app” in this case to interface.
On my downscale car with old-fashioned analog knobs on the dash, I can easily change the fan speed on my HVAC, for example, without taking my eyes off the road. That’s not possible with this setup.
I see this is a step backwards, not forwards.
Others with more technical knowledge are welcome to correct me. In a car designed to be autonomous, there is less risk of you swerving into another lane, or otherwise creating an accident while being distracted in driving. Than say reaching for the radio in a conventional car. Not everyone keeps their eyes on the road now while driving, as we clearly know.
IF level 5 autonomy were here and reliable in the present where these cars exist. That point is still somewhat in dispute though, and in the near future these setups are no less fantastical than tailfins before cars could fly, or 400 horsepower engines before brake and tire technology caught up.
It’s very much a novelty as you say, and when we’re being shuttled around to our jobs (the ones not replaced by robots) it’s a perfectly logical interface. But who knows, maybe by the time everyone is being driven by full autonomous vehicles our telepathy chips will render these interfaces obsolete too, haha
Actually you don’t have to take your eyes off the road long, and then not completely. At least on my CUE Cadillac system (and the fan speed is not on the touch screen anyway) you have to bring up the basic screen for whatever, which requires a touch, then while the screen load you should look at the road, then another touch should take a fraction of a second… However, I find that I can look at the screen and still have some view of the road.d Generally I don’t mess with the screen if there is traffic around me. To use the touch screens while driving you need to be familiar with them.
I think since technology has really started to play a big role in our lives, the novelty factor is still huge. And those leading the way are capitalizing. Many people in Tesla’s demographic are loving what they are doing. It makes driving a car closer to the experience of using an IPhone. However, much it may be disconcerting to those who feel trepidation to new technology.
The trouble is once the Audi 100 / 5000 had been done, it became difficult to be much more minimalist without being just another me too car.
The current Passat seems to carry on the ethos of the 100 / 5000, and while I very much appreciate its simple and purposeful looks, it is fairly apparent that the market has done little but yawn at it.
I suppose this can be viewed as minimalism -ostentatious minimalism though
That looks like a car wearing a lobster bib.
At least, with the small bumpers, this 98 still looks halfway decent.
In early 1973, I got my driver’s license and Dad let me use his ’67 Chevelle coupe, which was almost a compact car compared to this Oldsmobile.
But even at 33 cents per gallon, the Chevy’s 283 V8 was gobbling up ALL my lawn mowing money.
So we wound up getting a neighbors, derelict, beat-up ’61 4-cylinder Mercedes for $200, which got more than double the gas mileage of the Chevy, and taught me how to work on cars and drive a stick-shift!
Happy Motoring, Mark
So funny, I had to comment. Also in 1973, a good friend was driving his parents’ ’61 Mercedes 190 with 4 on the tree but wanted or needed his own car. So he got a ’67 Chevelle with 283 and Powerglide. I guess every action does have an equal and opposite reaction.
That ’67 Chevelle coupe was probably a teenager’s dream car back then (wish I had it now), and my Dad gave me the choice of keeping it or getting the Mercedes – a moss-green Ponton 180 with a 4-on-the-tree.
I simply couldn’t afford to keep driving the Chevy!
Happy Motoring, Mark
When I was a kid we had a 76 Buick Park Avenue. 455 with a four barrel carb.
On a good day it got 11 miles per gallon. Our 2003 Dodge Ram quad cab with the 5.7 Hemi. Got about the same.
I really like the big old cars and the new trucks are really nice too.
But for daily drivers I prefer smaller easier to park cars that break the 20 mpg barrier.
This olds looks great and I’m glad to see someone enjoying it.
The paint pipes and tires might not be for everyone but if that’s the style the owner likes that’s a pretty cool choice. Probably cheaper than trying to find an era specific car to apply that look to.
And I really love the Ralph Wiggum air freshener ?
To quote Benny Hill, She’s big, really biggggg!
“But the painful truth is this: it really is more comfortable to sit more upright in a modern SUV or CUV than plopping down and sprawling out in one of these.” Ummm, no. To YOU it’s more comfortable. I’ve had this discussion with others in the past… comfort is subjective. Highly subjective. What one finds comfortable another might find to be torture. Example: I have a friend who’s a normally proportioned 6″ tall and he prefers to drive with the seat WAY close to the steering wheel with his legs all folded up and the seat back damn near vertical. At 6’3″ I can’t even skooch myself behind the wheel of one his vehicles without moving the seat all the was back where I like it. What does this have to do with GM’s ’71-’76 big car interiors? As a former owner of both a ’73 Impala and a ’73 98 I found them to be incredibly comfortable cars, moreso than just about every SUV/CUV I’ve ever driven/ridden in.
It’s kind of a moot point in the really big pickups and SUVs that are body-on-(truck-style ladder) frame which leads to a sufficiently high seat height that you have to climb UP onto a running board and then duck sedan-style to get into a cab with surprisingly low floor-to-ceiling clearance. Still, their margins are high enough that as far as I know moving to a perimeter frame like the old big cars used hasn’t even been considered.
The compact/midsize unibody CUV’s party trick that’s making it the default car is that it disguises its’ floor-to-ceiling height as ground clearance so buyers are offered ideal-for-most step-in height and the ability to strap in a kid without bending too deeply in a car that looks “adventurous” rather than “accessible”.
Roger, your friend is like I am, but taller. I like an erect seatback. It’s more comfortable for me to be seated this way and I have never liked the driving position of sitting with my a** on the floor with my legs stretched out. Some people love that. So, yes, there is a wide variety of what people find comfortable.
The 95 Saturn SL1 I owned was like that, seeming to mimic the Japanese imports of the time. The backup, drop in and twist around method of entry was one of the reasons my brother owns the car now.
I am not the truck/SUV/CUV type though and would love to see the practicality of sedans that has been edited out for so long, return. Perhaps then sales would increase.
What popped into my head was the “Deathmobile” from Animal House. Then I remembered that the movie was filmed in Eugene. Time for a remake?
Honestly, none of the modifications to that car should work, but somehow the whole package is oddly appealing.
I wonder if this is a Swedish re-import? It has the definite look of the Swedish Raggare-subculture. 70’s land yachts, flame jobs, and painted white walls are de rigueur for that look. It looks a little too nice, though, because they usually took a low value beater and had some fun with it and painted it up as best as they could just for the hell of it. It shouldn’t be too nicely done, it should look like the paint job is spray canned in a garage. Perfection is boring, it’s so much more fun with things that are slightly skewed and only just so.
Beat me to it. The Raggare thing runs parallel to the rockabilly culture here. Im a fan of both…especially the pinup betties and psychobilly music!
I very much doubt it. There’s other cars like this around. You swedes don’t have a monopoly on that. 🙂
Well, I suppose I have to eat some crow in re my snarky comment about yesterday’s Silverado/MGB comparison, because I love this car in spite of its completely impractical…well…everything.
Me, too, but I embrace my duality. I grew up with big cars, and now drive small ones as it fits in with my needs and sensibilities now. I can enjoy a big car for its bigness, or even (heaven forbid!) a big pickup, but it doesn’t fit my needs. I really would love a full size convertible from the 60s, but for me, part of that is enjoying the impracticality of it, and it would never qualify for a daily driver. Small for small’s sake is just as bad as big for big’s sake. It goes both ways.
I love it! Wish it were in my driveway. With the wide whites. I think I’d go with the “lake pipe” instead of the side pipes, but to each his own. Maybe a Mexi blanket interior front and rear. All the “tacky”, or maybe I should say anachronistic, cues I could find. Just for the fun of it and making people shake their heads at the gross excesses that could be applied. But no stick on portholes – it is an OLDS after all. Would prefer a better set of flames – those are a bit wonky. But I love them nevertheless. Or maybe some 50’s scallops.
This is the best car in days, imo.
This takes me back to the summer of 1972 when I spent quite a lot of time in the showroom of Collins Oldsmobile in Fort Wayne while my mother shopped for a 72 Cutlass Supreme. The gold 98 4 door hardtop was my favorite car in the showroom, bar none. The Regency package had just come out, but I could only sample that one via the brochure. I knew that there was not the slightest chance that Mom would splurge on a 98 – those were just way, way over her price range. I thought it was a beautiful car in 1972 and I still think so.
As for the mods on this one, I’m right there with Dan Cluely – I should hate this car but I don’t. And if there was ever an engine that demanded side pipes and extroverted mufflers it is an Oldsmobile 455. Whatta sound!
That is a car that somebody enjoys.
Cars can be fun; they don’t have to be serious. This 98 is a cheap way to have vehicular fun.
This brings back memories of childhood and our ’71 Olds Ninety-Eight, aka “Big Blue.” Kinda like this car, except no flames or red wheels or even the upmarket LS trim (ours was a base model with black ScorchUrButt vinyl seats). But it was Dark Blue with a black vinyl top, and it was a great hauler for our family of five. My parents bought it to be a nice, big family car and it served that role admirably. I remember some huge road trips in it, like the time we drove from New Orleans to New England, over the span of 2 weeks. And yes, the huge trunk pretty much held everything.
“Big Blue” was replaced by “The Banana Boat” which was a pale yellow/white top/white vinyl ’75 Ninety-Eight LS (when that had dropped to become the base trim). As Paul notes, the ’75 had a more traditional instrument panel (the earlier one was a bit odd, especially with the speedometer down in sort of a tunnel), but the gargantuan bumpers and square headlamps somehow didn’t work as well as the earlier cars. However, like the ’71, the ’75 also was a family workhorse and really was the Yukon Denali XL equivalent of the day (at that time, Suburbans and GMCs were “work trucks” and my mother wouldn’t have been caught dead in one). Funny how times change.
Needs full Moon style hubcaps – then those whitewalls would be really righteous.
Several years ago Car and Driver published a chart showing the best selling vehicles pre-gas crisis and the best selling vehicles in the late 2000s. Cars had been replaced by trucks but the shipping weights of said vehicles? Almost unchanged.
‘Mericans Like Em Big.
I like this car, always did like Olds 98s, until 1985 anyway, then liked them again from ’91 to ’96.
I also liked the days “when folks drove big cars instead of big trucks”. There is nothing inherently wrong with the size, power and style intrinsic to classic American Land Yachts. And this is a very attractive MY for the Olds 98, one of my favorites. I usually prefer them Stock (whether well-preserved or weathered), and while I don’t hate what they’ve done with this one, I’m not a huge fan of slapping 1950s trappings on 1970s cars, such things look at home on a car from the 50s or early 60s, but don’t always work on cars from later eras. Of course, I’d much rather see it done up as it is, than ruined by some idiot with a set of Dumbs, I mean Dubs.
As it sits now, with blackwalls, it’s a mish-mash of mismatched styling cues. The blackwalls make it look like a beater. To pull off the pseudo-50s look, it needs those wide-whites back, desperately. Hopefully the blackwall tires were installed temporarily for improved driving dynamics, as the wide-whites were likely bias-ply tires (they looked very square-shouldered), and they will soon be replaced by the proper size and style of whitewall tires (yes they’re still available from various manfacturers), as the first step of a restoration, or at least a refurbishment, back to it’s original beauty. I know that’s not likely, but I can hope.
But as long as it doesn’t end up ruined with 22″ inch rims (or hydraulics, hacked-up underneath and sitting on the ground, looking like a car in a junkyard with broken springs), or otherwise permanently butchered, I wish him luck with it.
Oversized? Certainly. But man, does that thing have some great lines. The ’72 front ends were fine pieces of work across all of the big three–a last hurrah before the megabumpers hit.
As several others have noted, the customizations shouldn’t work. but they somehow do.
GM played around with the headlight treatment used on this Olds for some time, having used it on the ’63-’64 Cadillac and ’70 Impala. One thing that could be said about the ’71-’72 Olds is that it looked like no other car and could be identified miles down the road.
You are absolutely correct in predictions – in 1980 no one could believe the products in a 2017 Lincoln or Cadillac Showroom and that Tahoes sized vechiles would be the norm. I hope Electric cars will become the new normal.
First, I love hearing your voice on a full-on CC here, Paul. I know you’re crazy busy but I miss your more frequent missives.
Second, back in the day there was this desire for cars to project an elegance, with finely dressed people truly lounging in big-car back seats. The barge-era C bodies were the last gasp, past the point when this might have actually still happened.
Big looks bigger to me in height than width and length. Being behind one of these behemoths in traffic(other than choking on some unburied hydrocarbons) is a pleasure compared to being behind tall tinted glass hatchback SUVs and CUVs even when driving one of them.
I think seating posture is subjective. I hate sitting upright, every chair I get into, even the upright ones, I’ll scoot my butt forward, kick back, leaning on the two back legs of the chair, And plop my feet up on another piece of furniture nearby. Maybe it’s a height thing, I’m only 5’9″.
Chris, the 72s had 2.5 mph bumpers in anticipation of the Fed regulations. Because of that I prefer the 71s, both Olds and Cadillac. The differences are subtle, but they always bugged me, as I thought the first year’s offerings were better integrated.
73 was when it really started to go downhill: all the delicate details rounded off and dumbed down to make way for the battering ram bumpers.
The bumper are changed on the 72 models, but whether they actually meet a standard is not clear to me. The actual standard required the front bumper to meet a 5 MPH standard and the rear bumpers 2.5 for 1973. That when the bumpers really looked like after thoughts. What was different was that the 72’s got a rubber strip on the front bumper that was not pretty compared with the 71’s chrome.
Great read, Paul, but I must disagree on one thing: the comfort of the back seat in these C-bodied beasts. In the late 70s, I had the pleasure of riding in the back of my neighbors 73 Sedan Deville on a nice little road trip. Even at 6’3″ and sharing the rear sofa with 2 others, I was soon asleep as the Caddy floated its way up Interstate 80. In the 40 years since, I have never been able to sleep in any automobile-not even the largest of today’s mommy-wagons. Just dont have that homey feel!
I remember a cross country trip in summer ’72, seeing regular [leaded] gas as low as 24.9 cents/gal, in OK/TX and Plains states. My dad was thrilled, to say the least.
Todays Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck with crew cab and standard box is 240 inches long, which is nearly as long as the 1960’s Cadillac limousines. The C bodies were about 230 inches even with the bumpers. Even so I found the mid 70’s Cadillacs to be too big at the time.
Neat Oldsmobile, though that Camry probably gets around 32 MPG just like my 1993 does.
Having just purchased one of the generations of trucks that sealed the pickup as the replacement for the full size car, a Jelly Bean F150 and having owned the 2dr Buick version of this I quickly noted just how many similarities there were in the basic dimensions. In fact since that truck was purchased so we had a 4×4 pickup that the wife and kids could drive when my wife commented on adapting to driving it I told her that it was pretty much the same dimensions as our old Buick except when it came to height. (And step bars/running boards will be added because of that). With this article I had to get the real numbers.
So here are the specs from Ford on the F150.
And the numbers on a 75 Buick Electra 2dr.
http://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/buick/full-size_buick_7gen/electra_4gen_hardtop_coupe_custom/1975.html be sure to click through for full specs.
As you can see they take up very similar amounts of real estate and many of the inside dimensions are surprisingly close. This also shows why this generation of F150 was so pivotal in sealing the full size truck as the new full size family sedan. The extended cab trucks were a great replacement for the full size coupes of yore with ocassional use back seats. However the F150 Super Crew showed that now, just as back then there are a lot of people that want a rear seat suitable for full time use. It didn’t take long for GM and Dodge to follow and now the full size “1/2 ton” 4dr truck is the family sedan of choice for many.
The 455 in the Buick wanted a gallon of gas every 11 miles or so. So far the 330 in the F150 looks like it will go about 14 before it wants another, in day to day driving. Of course mine is an XL so its lacking in some of the creature comforts that the Buick had but of course the higher trim would have all the the Buick had and more.
One of the Buick crossovers would have given you something close to the 75 Buick size/cargo space and better fuel economy. However, if you need or can use the pickup truck in spite of the horrible fuel consumption then perhaps it makes sense. The Cadillac XT5 is rated 26 highway.
You missed my point which was how close in dimensions the current crew cab trucks are to the full size cars like this feature machine.
In a twist on the CC effect after I made that initial comment I went out and about to do some errands. I pulled up to a light and the left turn light went on for the cross street. The first vehicle to pass was a car of some sort but it was followed by a 1st gen F150 SuperCrew, 4×4 in the two tone. Behind it was one of the next generation SuperCrew, another mid trim 4×4 with a Canopy this time. Next to pass was a Harley Davidson, so low and 2wd, this one with the fiberglass tonneau cover. The 4th Super Crew was one of the last steel F150’s in Platinum trim and 4×4. Then the streak was broken by a Ram Quad cab. 40 years ago that scene would have been Impala, Impala, Impala SS, Caprice.
The F150 certainly wasn’t bought to replace the Buick in my case. Though it like the F150 was never intended as a daily driver. The Buick was bought because it was a fun car call it my version of a ironic hipster vehicle.
The truck was bought to earn its keep. It will stay in the county where I own a number of houses and where my kids go to school. The one that my son lives in was selected to be our summer house when school is out an his roommates are gone and once he graduates and leaves it will transition into our weekend house and then retirement home. So it is out in the mountains where it does get snow several times per year and there are some steep hills between the house and the main road. That meant I had to leave my SUV with him last winter.
My wife and I had been taking my 12.5 mpg F250 when I’d need it to haul stuff to work on the houses. That also meant that my wife and I would have to share a car. Because the community where my son lives has a marina, dry slips and a separate vehicle storage yard, I’m planning on getting a boat soon and will probably forgo the more expensive wet slip for dry. So next summer I expect it will tow a boat many times even if it just across the marina.
So it serves many purposes, and has already started earning its keep, having hauled ~2 tons of gravel/rock, a big load of brush and lumber.
I think the growth in size of these sedans was a result of the “bigger than” philosophy. The cheapest compact, like a Chevy II was bigger than a VW bug. The Chevelle was bigger than a Chevy II. The full size Chevrolet was bigger than the Chevelle. The senior GM cars, Buick, Cadillac, and Olds had to be bigger than the rest of GM’s full size cars. It’s the same with SUVs. The Ford Excursion was bigger than the Expedition, which was bigger than the Explorer, which was bigger than the Escape. The Taurus is bigger than the Fuzion which is bigger than the Focus…
Whether or not there is any more usable space between the different models is left for the consumer to determine. Personally I didn’t find much improvement between a three row Explorer or an Expedition. The really big trucks and SUVs are mostly just bought by most as status symbols, though they are more useful and versatile than the big boats of yesteryear.
I love big GM cars from the late 60s and 70s, before the big bumpers ruined the look.
I still remember my neighbor the dentist picking up a 76 Olds 98 for his 50th birthday, the same day my parents picked up a lowly Cutlass S sedan, and wondering what the heck was wrong with my parents for cheaping-out.
The only people I knew when I was a kid with SUVs had horses or RVs that needed to be towed. Wagoneers and Suburbans with vinyl seats, not a proper luxury conveyance by any stretch of the imagination. Still remember the painted steel lower dash in the neighbor’s 81? Suburban that would get condensation on it when the A/C was blasting. How things have changed…
Well I like it, especially with the wide whites .
I too think the dashboard over done but maybe once you’re driving it it’s good ? .
That 455 CID V-ATE would sound nice uncorked ! .
Worse things have been done to these Oldsmobiles.
Ha! That’s hilarious, sad end to a grand Olds. Looks like you captured that at Palisades Park, my mother would take my brother and me there as small children in the 50’s to feed the pigeons. She used to go to the more northerly end in her declining years, early 90’s, to spend an afternoon. But she disliked the encroaching homeless problem throughout the park and stopped going. Hope that has improved?
That “cockpit” dash was part of a brief trend and it appears the market didn’t really care for it. Ford and Cadillac started it in 1969, both making something of a big deal of it. It was a pain in the ass for the passenger to do anything with the radio or HVAC controls. There is a reason that center stacks in vehicles have such uniformity these days (the controls are so damn complicated, you need a co-pilot). 🙂
I think the ’73 Olds was the last car with a fairly extreme version of it. I completely disliked it in my dad’s company ’72 Olds, and his ’74 was a much more agreeable design.
Where it started……..
I would argue that the cockpit style dash (at least in the 60s) got its start with the 1962 GT Hawk and the 63 Avanti. You are right that it became a brief epidemic around 1969-70.
At least the early ones kept the radio out of the central command center.
“It was a pain in the ass for the passenger to do anything with the radio or HVAC controls.”
Funny Dave B, I distinctly recall riding with an acquaintance for the review of his then-new ’70 Ford. At the time the dash was quite an “ooh ahh” feature. Owner emphasized that to him the isolated controls were much appreciated.
The featured Oldsmobile’s type of dash layout I liked because it allowed for convenient radio fumbling with one’s forearm lazily resting on the shift lever.
I saw this car about 3 weeks ago in Eugene. But, I forgot where I saw it. Great car with cool details!
A sad story…
My sister passed away at the young age of 36 in 1982. Her last car was an Olds 98, probably made in the late 1970’s. Her husband hadn’t dated many women and my sister was the love of his life (still is, I think). He kept her car in the garage for at least 20 years, never drove it, and, in fact, he bought another house and kept the house (and car) for many years. I lost track of the car and house so I don’t know the end of this story. He remarried on the rebound, had 4 kids (in addition to 2 from my sister), divorced and is now with someone else.
Bought a triple green ’72 98 coupe from a buddy at work back in 1979 for $800.00…as I recall, the 455 V-8 could easily smoke the tires as well as comfortably float down the road after doing so. I really liked the car, but as my wife’s least favorite color is green and she did not particularly like big cars, it did not remain in my custody for too long. (I remember having to move the vehicle forward and/or backward to get the whitewalls clean under the fender skirts…LOL!)
That’s a beautiful car! My dad bought a ’73 Electra 225 when I was a kid, and I also remember not being able to clean the whitewalls all the way around without moving the car … you brought back a fond memory.
Old (primarily American made cars) are nothing more than over weight, gas guzzling, ozone depleting, ill handling, underpowered, under braked, smelly, ugly, uncomfortable, poorly constructed, rust prone, poorly engineered, unreliable, short lived, 2.5 ton death traps.
Thanks to the aftermarket, most of that is easily fixable with a decent amount of cash and elbow grease, as well as a little imagination. As far as looks are concerned- much like artwork or a woman, opinions on what’s attractive and what’s not is highly personal and highly subjective.
For example- I feel that my 1972 Olds Delta 88 convertible is absolutely gorgeous, while the Pontiac Aztek is a vomit-inducing nightmare and the first-gen Scion Xb is simply boring. That’s just my opinion though.
That’s the beauty of the car hobby. There’s a flavor for every pallete, and a seat for every butt.
Despite the fact my comment about ‘Christopher H.’s post got deleted sometime between last night and when I looked today I’m going to repeat it . . . mostly. Maybe it won’t get deleted today!
This is the single most ignorant post I’ve ever read on here. And so I congratulate the obviously trolling poster who hasn’t the slightest idea of what he’s talking about. Not all old cars, for instance, weigh 5,000 pounds. My Falcon weighs approx. 2,500 lbs. or 500 pounds over a ton. “2.5 ton death traps” indeed. Just stupid. And since when are all “Old (primarily American made cars) *ugly*? More rubbishy twaddle.
So if whomever deleted my post from yesterday wishes to delete this one, too, so be it buy why not delete Christopher’s post, too? How ’bout it?
Some things are just too daft to let pass.
I deleted your comment because you called him an “idiot”. That’s against our commenting policy. You can disagree, but you can’t call folks names or disparage them for having a different opinion.
You called him an idiot again now. I’m going to edit that out, but if you keep it up, you may lose your commenting privelages.
Why should I delete his post? he didn’t disparage anyone, or resort to name calling. he has the right to express his opinion in that manner.
You should delete his post because it’s utterly stupid. And you know it is, Mr. N.
I’ve considered this site a place with bunches of intelligent opinions — and I’m not including my own — and I’d never let something that ignorant stay put if I read it. But since you’re The Boss I’m not arguing the point it’s your privilege.
I will apologize for calling Mr. Christopher H. the word you ‘bleeped’ out. I will not apologize for calling him a ‘troll’.
Paul has enough on his plate running this free site for us all to enjoy, he shouldn’t have his time wasted mediating petty one-sided arguments.
Considering the site is called Curbside Classic, the fellow in question is probably not going to have many like-minded peers here. He did make a sweeping statement but you can respond intelligently, like you saw our community is known for. If he is a troll though, have you not heard the expression, “Don’t feed the troll”?
We won’t delete comments because we disagree with a commenter. We will if people are calling each other idiots and imbeciles. End of story.
Nevertheless christopher ;
They’re loved, revered and maintained by many .
There are many who say the same thing about any Import Vehicle .
Me, I love some of both and accept that others have a right to have differing opinions .
Grotesque best describes those baroque land barges of the 70s.
Then isn’t it a wonderful thing no one’s going to force you to drive one in 2017? 😀
I can’t believe my car is in an article. I literally own THAT car.