Curbside Classic: 1972 Oldsmobile 98 Hardtop Coupe – “Not Just Another Pretty (Huge) Car”

I first spotted this 1972 Bill Mitchell-era General Motors C-body a couple years ago down here in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. Yeah, I’m clear across the continent from the publisher of this blog out in Eugene, Oregon. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to stop at that auto repair facility and get a few images of it.

These “gentleman’s coupes” were built in both Lansing, Michigan and Linden, New Jersey back in the heyday of this now defunct automaker. I have been unable to locate any production numbers [Ed: 37k] for this sweet old coupe but I am fairly confident they are a rare breed these days. Unlike the often seen Coupe de Ville of this era, this may be the first one of these this olelongrooffan has ever seen.

It does, however, possess the Oldsmoble Rocket 455, spec’ed at 340 horsepower, mated to a TH-400 three speed automatic transmission. The Rocket is the first post war over head valve motor produced by General Motors. That introduction was in 1949 and later a newer generation was introduced in 1964. Until the demise of that highly regarded motor, they all were built at the Lansing, Michigan Oldsmobile plant.

This 8th generation 98, totally redesigned for the 1971 model year, contains all of the controls oriented to the driver. GM was big on that at the time, making the radio and climate controls off limits to the lowly passengers. That 3 spoke steering wheel was another component of their higher end offerings. The condition of the black leather seats and overall pampered condition of this ride reflect the care that it has been given to this land yacht over the past 39 years. When I saw it first in June, 2008, it had 73,000 miles on the clock. Today it has 89,000 so someone has clearly been enjoying this elegant coupe.

And please pardon the inability of my ultra cheap point and shoot image taker to obtain crisp, detailed images of specific points of interest. I should note that in its early years, Oldsmobile provided names to their offerings. In the late 40’s and early 50’s they offered a Holiday, Custom Cruiser and a Futuramic but by the late 50’s all of the nomenclature was provided in numerical form only. This continued on their top of the line models until the introduction of the Oldsmobile Aurora.

The early 1950 Futuramic 88 had a split windshield while the later production runs had the one piece version.

As I mentioned earlier, I had first spotted this ride a couple years ago. I have been mulling over what my introductory offering would be here at Curbside Classics. I usually capture just a front and rear image of a vehicle and while looking through my library, I realized this was the case with the majority of the images of automobiles in it. And it was true of this 98.

However, today while I was cruising up US 1, Ridgewood Avenue here in Daytona Beach, I spotted this previously seen 98 and I was able to stop and gather a few more images for this offering. This coupe is now for sale for $4,900 by the person who bought it from that wholesaler having the air conditioning system repaired when I had seen it last.

Divine Driven Intervention, if you will.

Now, I have this to say about that. The over all package of this luxury coupe is attractive in its own right but when you break it down into individual components, the styling can be rather subjective. I’m not a major expert in early 70’s American automotive styling cues so I have little experience in what Mr. Mitchell and his team were trying to achieve with the split grille of this offering. I know this was a common theme for Oldsmobile throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s but I would, in retrospect, have thought that with a new decade and a new generation coming of age in their respective auto purchasing abilities, “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” would have arrived around this time.

And I can share this with you: If my father had owned one of these back in the day and I ever got to drive it, I would have stuffed at least fifteen of my buddies in this trunk and snuck the whole lot into one of the last remaining drive in movie theatres in the Missouri Ozark Mountains back in the early 70’s. I should note this vinyl top, cracked dash and Flowmaster exhaust possessing coupe does have some significant rust bubbles showing just below the left side of that rear window. I hear it’s a rather notorious issue with vinyl-roofed GM cars. It’s hard to say if there are any structural problems with this ride, but as I am merely a casual observer of it, all is well, to my eyes, anyway.

And have I mentioned the “hugeness” of this premiere Oldsmobile? It is nearly nineteen feet long (227.8″), over six and a half feet wide (79.6″) and four and a half feet tall (54.6″)!!

And in closing out my virgin post here, does anyone else see a 60’s era Cadillac tail light and fin in the above image?