1971 was the last of the 4-4-2’s 4-4-2’s glory years. A performance package par excellence, it was GM’s longest-lived muscle car, tracing its roots all the way back to the heady days of ’64 when a 4-4-2 combo was made available for the Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85. Possibly some of the most refined slingshots ever to come from any GM division, 4-4-2s had looks, charisma, and brawn to spare. The 4-4-2 nomenclature stood for a four-barrel carb, four-speed manual transmission, and two exhausts.
The first big front-wheel drive land yacht since the Cord 810 of the Thirties, the Toronado was an automotive milestone and the most desirable Olds ever. With a 425cid V8 and unique chain-and-sprocket-drive automatic transmission, it had big-car power, outstanding road manners, and could crack 135 mph (217 km/h).
General Motors was more circumspect with its concept cars than its 1950s competitors. It had evolved an annual show called the General Motors Motorama which travelled from city to city giving potential customers a close look at the company’s latest models.
The mid-sized Aurora was introduced by Oldsmobile in 1995. General Motors had been trying to freshen the brand for a while, and hoped the Aurora would provide a shot in the arm for sagging sales of Oldsmobiles. The first generation cars had a somewhat racy coupe profile with a distinctive rounded front end, frameless windows, wraparound rear window and full-width tail light array. Continue reading “Oldsmobile Aurora – 1994”
The demise of the Starfire left a hole at the top of the Oldsmobile range, which was swiftly filled with a new speedmobile. The Toronado two-door fastback coupe was a good example of a practice that would later become common – making up a model name that meant nothing but had a vaguely feel good ring.
Nobody could accuse Oldsmobile of resting on its laurels, for the company was constantly messing with model names, revamping, uprating, relaunching and introducing new models to keep a constant sense of excitement and innovation swirling around the brand name. Of course this was not a unique approach, applying to most other American manufacturers, but Olds was a master proponent of the black art.
Nobody was guiltier of confusing buyers with its model-naming policy than Oldsmobile — and one of the worst cases in point was the Cutlass. The name was first used on a prototype sports coupe in 1954, reappeared in the early 1960s as a sub-model of the F-85 series and thereafter rode triumphantly through three decades as a popular but confusing nameplate that appeared on a variety of different cars.
The Starfire was a futuristic 1953 Olds concept car that never made it into production, though the name was then used for the most expensive Oldsmobiles of the 1950s — Model 98 Starfire convertibles. It was not until 1961 that the name borrowed from a Lockheed jet fighter plane was used for a stand-alone line.
A lot happened on the American automobile scene in 1949, and Oldsmobile’s contribution was the overhead-valve Rocket V8 engine, which replaced the company’s elderly flathead straight eight.