In 1988, to help promote their new "generation" of models, Oldsmobile began their famous advertising campaign toting that their cars were, "Not Your Father's Oldsmobile". A curious slogan seeing that for decades Oldsmobile had touted themselves as being General Motor's most innovative, engineering focused and forward thinking of their myriad divisions. Begged the question given that Oldsmobile had always been so progressive, what models were the 1980's ads referring to?
Well, that's an easy one. We don't have to look any farther than any Oldsmobile from the prior fifteen to twenty years that didn't have racing stripes or "4-4-2" badges all over them. Our subject is a "75th Anniversary", 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight in some sort of near military grade green. Looks like Dad wasn't a total square, though - at least it's a coupe.
Thirty years after Captain Kirk and his daughter pretended that a new Cutlass Supreme was a space -ship, both cars look ancient, don't they? Which one aged better? Taste being like armpits, surprise, we're going with our big ole' Ninety-Eight here. Green be damned. We say that not because you'd be hard pressed to find a 1988 Cutlass in the shape our Ninety-Eight is, but because given a choice between the two, which one would today's "know-it-all" twenty something's be drawn to? One guess.
Millenials love cool as much as any generation ever has and while cool is subjective and hard to define, it's timeless. A 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme? That's just old. A 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight? While it's even older, it exudes Clint Eastwood-Johnny Cash-Steve McQueen cool in buckets. And who knows better as to what cool is than kids today who have the ability to look at antiques in a vacuum without having their opinion clouded by context.
Derided when new for their wonton styling excess and vilified during the gas crunches, no series of cars epitomized American automotive glut than GM's enormous 1971 vintage full-size cars. Which, incidentally, came in two ginormous wheelbase lengths, extra long and "you've got to be kidding me" long. Our pristine subject being part of the latter. But of course. Go big or go home as we say.
That extra girth giving just enough more rear seat leg room to create a remarkably spacious rear seating area. It also gave rear seat passengers a bit more room to wiggle themselves between the front seat backs and that hip breaking B pillar. If you've ever marveled at the condition of the rear seats on big coupes of this vintage, limited rear seat access is why that is.
Oldsmobile was GM's middle division and skirted a precarious position between Buick and Pontiac. Cadillac always had its own distinct image of high falutin prestige meanwhile Chevrolet was always the value leader. Our Ninety-Eight shares it's 121-inch wheelbase with the Buick Electra and all Cadillac's - so, for considerably less spent, owners could brag that what they had was just as good as a Cadillac. To some degree, it worked. GM sold a lot of these cars. Let's keep in mind, though, that back then there was no competition from imports for the type of buyer Oldsmobile targeted.
Give credit where it's due; Oldsmobile didn't do well by default given that it had stiff competition from not only divisional rivals but makes and models from Ford and Chrysler. Unfortunately, where Oldsmobile ran aground was not adapting adequately to the new automobile market landscape that was on the very near horizon. In many ways, 1972 was the last of the good old days of form over function, thirty cent gas, hairstrand thin bumpers and nary a Lexus, Infiniti or "affordable" Mercedes Benz, Audi or BMW in sight.
Yes, this is your Father's Oldsmobile in all of its pre-safety bumper, pre-catalytic converter, 8 miles per gallon, 455 cubic inch Rocket V-8 glory. And, sorry Captain Kirk, to the contrary, it's much cooler than any Oldsmobile you and your daughter got to hawk. Beam us up, Scotty. We're going to 1972.