Friday, July 15, 2011
Come away with me, Lucille, and see the '57 Oldsmobile
One of the most significant losses in recent years was the demise of Oldsmobile, which at the time of its closing was the oldest American auto manufacturer. But things weren’t always that bleak.
In 1957, General Motors was on top of the world, and Oldsmobile was right in the thick of things. ’57 was the 50th-anniversary of GM’s Rocket division, and there was a lot to be excited about.
Oldsmobile was no stranger to NASCAR’s victory lane, but they traded in their rifle for a cannon in ’57 when they introduced the J-2 engine option. These 372-c.i. monsters were equipped with three factory carburetors, which resulted in an incredible for the time 312-hp. Of course, that was fine for the street, but NASCAR soon realized it was an unfair advantage and banned the option from competition. In fact, the first race car that Richard Petty drove was a ’57 Oldsmobile.
Even though Oldsmobile was far from GM’s top-selling division in 1957, they still managed to produce 384,390 cars. Many carmakers would kill for those kind of numbers today, but the three-piece split rear window setup that most of these cars had proved to be someone unpopular among customers. Apparently, people didn’t want to give up rearward visibility for style.
But that’s one of the reasons the ’57 model is so great today. Oldsmobile was modernized in 1958 all right, but it was a gaudy, chrome-drenched, over-the-top transformation that in retrospect gave the ’57 models a classy, understated elegance.
http://www.autolit.com/. You can buy pictures and brochures like these from their extensive inventory of automotive literature, and they have a huge presence on eBay.
I’m also throwing in a ’57 Oldsmobile television spot for your viewing enjoyment. I chose this one in particular because it features a '57 Olds Promotional Model spinning around on a record player at the beginning, and I'm a sucker for anything that includes an old model car. Enjoy!