Ten years ago, one of the world's oldest auto manufacturers shut its doors for good. Oldsmobile had a rough final decade, typified by falling sales and the adoption of badge-engineered models that made them a tough sell against too-similar brands like Pontiac or Chevrolet with more rabid followings.

Car enthusiasts everywhere could mourn the passing of the brand that gave us the Rocket V8, 442 and Cutlass (before General Motors' A-Body line turned into horrible Malaise Era, badge-engineered appliances), but for the people of Lansing, MI, where Oldsmobile production was centered for decades, the brand meant something more.

The Lansing State Journal has a really deep writeup of what Oldsmobile meant – and continues to mean ten years on – to Michigan's state capitol, a city that's been defined as much by its manufacturing operations than by its place as a seat of government. It also shows how the city has thrived since Oldsmobile's closure, becoming an unlikely success story as General Motors continues to invest in the area. It's a must-read, so click over, have a look and then come back and let us know what you think in Comments.


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  • 30 Comments
      Niels Marienlund
      • 7 Months Ago
      Even if many of its cars were badge-engineered, it still made some good vehicles at least through the '80s. They weren't everyone's favorite, but they were relatively sturdy and did their job, for us anyway. The Cutlass was the best-selling car in the country for part of the '80s before the Taurus came along. My family's '84 Cutlass Ciera Holiday coupe was problem-free for the 12 years they had it since new until they sold it. People forget much of the negativity associated with the GM A-body cars didn't surface until they had already aged substantially. They may not have been the best cars you could buy at the time, but they were good enough.
      dovegraybird
      • 7 Months Ago
      I remember being a wide eyed kid, turning the key of my brand new 69' 442. Bringing my daughter home in our 78' Delta 88, slow as it was, it wouldn't die. Still had it in 1990 as a winter beater. My Dad's favorite a 72' Toronado, his pride and joy......good memories.
      VL00
      • 7 Months Ago
      I've always been an Olds fan, so sad to see a historic brand go downhill and then get dropped.
      Dryloch
      • 7 Months Ago
      I had an Olds Achieva with the Quad 4 and it was awesome. It had a cabin slanted toward the driver like my Optima and got 30 mpg while being able to haul a decent amount of ass while doing it. I loved that car!
      StephenT
      • 7 Months Ago
      I still remember the bright red Vista Cruiser with the wood grain paneling that we took to Florida one summer. I also have a friend that has had numerous new cars over the years and he still says that his V8 Aurora was one of the best cars he's ever owned.
      express2day
      • 7 Months Ago
      Badge engineering was alive and well at Oldsmobile even during its record breaking sales years in the 1980s. The real downfall of Oldsmobile was the new competition from Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus.
      thecommentator2013
      • 7 Months Ago
      I miss Oldsmobile.....
      richard
      • 7 Months Ago
      Oldsmobile gone, Hondas and Toyotas infesting our highways. Pathetic.
        kqr
        • 7 Months Ago
        @richard
        Don't forget Plymouth, Pontiac, and Mercury just in the past decade or so, with a few more nameplates teetering on the edge if rumors are to be believed. If you look back at the US auto industry since the big shake up and thinning of the herd in the 1950s, the list of departed brands is long indeed.
          The Friendly Grizzly
          • 7 Months Ago
          @kqr
          Mercury was a lost cause since it was introduced. I just don't think Ford knew how to sell it or where in the market to position it.
        jtav2002
        • 7 Months Ago
        @richard
        Why is it pathetic? At the time Olds got the boot, there wasn't anything really that worthwhile keeping the brand. The imports were better. Blame GM.
      johnp444@verizon.net
      • 7 Months Ago
      I still own one of the last. I have a 1999 Oldsmobile 88 in Crimson Red with white wall tires. It is actually a really good car, simple, reliable, decent looking, reasonably quick, and very comfortable. However, there is nothing about that car that can't be described with the word marshmallow. It is that soft. It is also a beast in the snow. Two years ago I rented a 2012 Chevy Impala, essentially the modern day equivalent to my 88. It seemed like in 13 years GM managed to not only not innovate at all but make their cars even worse. The controls felt terrible, the rear end wallowed like a boat and the engine had no torque compared to the 3800 series II.
        TheMaddPCGuy
        • 7 Months Ago
        @johnp444@verizon.net
        Nothing like a 3800 Pushrod OHV V6. The best V6 Passenger Car Engine GM Put in its cars R.I.P. 3.8L 1961-2008...
      Jaybird248
      • 7 Months Ago
      In their heyday, each GM brand had a mission: Chevy=value, Pontiac=performance, Buick=conservative stability, Cadillac=luxury. The Olds brand was the technology leader, first to offer new ideas. Olds had the first automatic tranmission, the first high compression V-8, the first front wheel drive. But in more recent years, it became just one of the pack, invisible in the GM ranks. There was no more reason to buy one. And without that reason, it followed DeSoto before and Mercury after. And it was gone.
      svntsvn
      • 7 Months Ago
      Brandon- Your line :"before General Motors' A-Body line turned into horrible Malaise Era, badge-engineered appliances" Is not correct. The General actually shared the platforms going back to 1961,but started in earnest in 1964 with sharing between Buick,Old,Pontiac & Chevrolet. When people state Malaise era as horrible, ie: 1973-1983, you must be stuck with your head up your rear end. Every era or decade of automotive history should be enjoyed for what the automakers could do during their time period given the laws and regulations of their days. You think Olds wanted to build a 185hsp V8 in 1977? Nope. They had no choice. Most manufacturers did not. But Olds did sell 1mil cars in '77. That was a high water mark for the brand. Now I sound like a pied piper for Miles Alexrod and his Lemons in Cars2, but seriously....from a design stand point the colonnade A body that you so eloquently shaft, Olds nailed it. People loved the design from Len Casillo and it carried thru form 73-77. So... in appreciation for mentioning Oldsmobile, Thank you, but you certainly should have left out the negative comments on the 1973-1983 cars.
        Susan
        • 7 Months Ago
        @svntsvn
        I think the author was referring to the front-wheel drive A-bodies like the Ciera, and they were pretty dismal. Sorry, that was a terrible era for GM, and it came to haunt them 25 years later. (Although inept management is what really doomed GM).
      starryknight936
      • 7 Months Ago
      I had a good friend who owned a Seventies 98 monster of a sedan. It was a truly beautiful machine, much nicer, in my humble opinion, than the nonoriginal and boring automobiles that GM, Ford, and Chrysler produce now. It was built like a tank and a smooth handling V8 machine. A pity GM killed the nameplate. Peace... AladdinSane ☆
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