Oldsmobile was one of the most innovative automobile manufacturers of all time. Known for providing quality, performance and luxury at affordable prices, they racked up a long list of firsts. Oldsmobile’s were an American institution. It seems like everyone I know had an Oldsmobile at one time or another.Here are 10 of their best models.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Curved Dash (1901-1907)
The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first high-volume gas powered car. It was the first mass produced car to come off the first automotive assembly line, predating Henry Ford’s cars. It was also the first best selling American car of the twentieth century. The Curved Dash was the car that saved the Oldsmobile Company. In 1901, there was a fire at the Oldsmobile factory and all the prototypes ready for production were destroyed. All except the Curved Dash. After building a new factory, production of the Curved Dash began. The Curved Dash helped convince people to convert to the “horseless carriage”. It was a very reliable and versatile car. Almost any blacksmith could repair the car easily. It stood up well to the rugged roads of the time. And it was affordable at $650 compared to the Ford which sold for $850. It accommodated two passengers on a single seat and was more like a motorized cart than what we think of as a car. The body was very strong, made entirely of wood and painted black with bright red trim. The single cylinder engine produced seven horsepower.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Limited Touring (1910)
This was Oldsmobile’s first luxury car. Costing about $4,600, it was certainly not recommended by its price tag which was more than the average three bedroom house at the time. The Limited Touring makes the top ten list for two reasons. One, it was Oldsmobile’s first successful luxury car. Also, the car was famous for winning a race against the famous 20th Century Limited Train. The Limited Touring had 42-inch wheels, goatskin upholstery, a 60hp engine and seating for five. Options included a speedometer and full glass windshield.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Oldsmobile “Rocket” 88 (1949)
The ’88’ became Oldsmobile’s defining model during its golden years as an automotive powerhouse. This car was the perfect full size family car with style. The pioneering Rocket V-8 engine was not invented by Oldsmobile. Instead they improved on other V-8 engines on the market. Oldsmobile 88’s V-8 engine was the first mass produced, affordable and modern V-8 engine. The engine gave it enough power to handle steep hills and just about anything else that came its way. This was because the engine used an overhead valve V-8 design that gave the car more power than other engines used at the time. The Oldsmobile “Rocket” 88 is considered the predecessor of the 1960’s muscle cars. The Rocket 88 engine came to dominate the world of stock car racing. Because of the powerful engine, these cars were considered the fastest cars on the road. The Rocket V-8 engine set the industry standard for 60 years.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Starfire (1961) & (1975)
The 1961 Starfire was a full sized luxury convertible. The Starfire was the first full size U.S. car to have automatic transmission with a console mounted floor shifter. In 1961 the Starfire was the most expensive Oldsmobile car. The 1975 Starfire was Oldsmobile’s first subcompact car.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Vista Cruiser (1964-1977)
The Vista Cruiser always makes me think of my childhood. My dad owned one of these. This station wagon was a great all purpose family car. It could take you to church or on a camping weekend with equal ease. The Vista Cruiser had some really innovative features, including a glass skylight over the second row seats. Stylish and roomy, the Vista Cruiser also had front, not rear facing third row seats. From 1965-1970 the Vista Cruiser was Oldsmobile’s only full size station wagon.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Toronado (1966)
The 1966 Toronado re-introduced front wheel drive to American cars. The last front wheel drive car had been manufactured in 1937. The 1966 Toronado was the largest and most powerful front wheel drive car that had ever been produced. With the Toronado, Oldsmobile continued their role as the most innovative automobile company of the time. It was one of the first cars to have automatic transmission in addition to front wheel drive. The Toronado was rated as Motor Trend car of the year for 1966.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Cutlass Ciera (1982-1996)
The Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile’s best selling model from 1982 to 1996. The midsized car was available in 2-door and 4-door models and as a station wagon. J.D. Power and Associates consistently rated the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera one of the best cars earning designations for best price, safest car and top American made car.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Bravada (1991)
The Bravada was Oldsmobile’s mid size luxury SUV. The Bravada was the first truck like vehicle manufactured by Oldsmobile since the 1920’s. All wheel drive, driver side airbag, anti lock brakes, remote keyless entry, leather upholstery and power windows were all standard. For an early 1990’s SUV, the engine was very quiet. The Bravada was also the last new model introduced by Oldsmobile.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Silhouette (1990-1998)
Every soccer mom’s dream, the Silhouette was known as the “Cadillac of minivans”. The Silhouette could seat up to seven. It was notable for being innovative in child-friendly minivan options. Five of the rear seats were completely removable adding extra storage capacity. The 1994 model came with the option of built in rear child seats. Also available was a built in air hose that allowed the Silhouette to inflate tires, air mattresses and sporting equipment. The 1998 model offered a VCR with fold up LCD screen.
Top Ten Oldsmobile Models: Alero (1999-2004)
The Alero has the distinction of being the last car to roll off the Oldsmobile assembly line in 2004. It was also a great compact car. Fast and dependable, the Alero gets about 29 mpg highway.