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Jay Leno Reviews James Garner's '72 Cutlass Banshee: Video

Jay Leno Reviews James Garner’s ’72 Cutlass Banshee: Video

Unless you’re a child of the 70s, odds are you’ve never heard of the Rockford Files. It was a TV program featuring the adventures of private investigator Jim Rockford, as played by James Garner. In the show, Garner can be seen performing one of the all-time classic stunt driving maneuvers. It starts with a pinned throttle in reverse, followed by a swing of the nose to orient the car forward, then a grab of a forward gear and the conservation of momentum into glory. Some call it the J-turn, some call it a bootlegger’s turn, but really, it should be called the Rockford.

James Garner is remembered as one of the all-time greatest Hollywood “car guys,” and not just for this one trick of automotive hooliganry. The man was also an avid racer, including several off-road stints in this 1972 Cutlass Banshee.

The car is a 2/3-scale model of the production vehicle, with a shorter wheelbase, tube chassis, and fiberglass body. You could call it a predecessor to the modern-day trophy truck. The engine is mounted where the passenger seat should be for better weight distribution during the occasional flight. According to the owner, you can literally tune the carburetor as you drive down the road. The transmission is an upgraded version of the original Turbo 400. The tachometer is mounted externally on the hood, like the Pontiac GTO.

It’s a unique slice of history, one that’s still raced today. Thankfully, Jay gives it a proper moment in the sun, with a romp on public roads and even some dusty donuts.

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Elderly Driver Crashes Through CA Car Wash, Literally: Video

Elderly Driver Crashes Through CA Car Wash, Literally: Video

It’s definitely easy to make jokes about elderly drivers when it comes to unintended acceleration, but a recent video gives us a rare look at how terrifying such an incident can be. We hear stories all the time of drivers who mistakenly apply the gas pedal instead of the brake with sometimes lethal consequences, and that seems to be the case with this scary car crash… minus the lethal part, fortunately.

Captured by security cameras, the driver of this Oldsmobile Intrigue can be seen barreling through the Quick Quack Car Wash in Sacramento, CA at a high rate of speed, and a report from ABC News says that he was an elderly driver. As the driver approaches passes through the payment area, it looks like an employee can sense something is amiss as she tries to run after the out-of-control Oldsmobile, but it then suddenly speeds up and narrowly misses hitting an employee who was standing just inside the entrance.

As if it wasn’t scary enough, an additional security camera facing the vacuum area showed that a motorist avoided being collected in this incident by mere seconds. In total, the report estimates that between $60,000 to $100,000 worth of damage were caused by this incident but adds that the car wash was up and running again within days. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the accident, and the driver of the car was able to walk away with only his ego bruised.

Making light of the whole situation, the car wash uploaded the security footage to YouTube dubbing its commercial music over the video.

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Video: 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Vs 2012 Ferrari FF

Video: 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Vs 2012 Ferrari FF

"Generation Gap" is one of Motor Trend’s coolest shows. In each episode, two representatives of the same nameplate or body style, but from different generations, are compared in regards to their looks, performance and collectability. The co-hosts get to drive each of the cars and decide which wins in each of the aforementioned category. After that’s settled, the viewers get to cast their vote on which of the two vehicles is cooler and help determine a winner.

Last time we watched the show, Motor Trend brought together a 1967 Shelby GT500 and the 2010 GT500 Patriot Edition. A no-brainer if you ask me, but things have gotten a bit weird in the latest episode, which compares the Ferrari FF to a modified... wait for it... 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. Granted, both vehicle can haul a family of four, but other than that these cars are as different as chalk and cheese. One’s a state-of-the-art shooting brake wearing the most iconic badge of all time, while the other comes straight from the muscle car era and has no sporty intentions whatsoever.

However, the fact that the Vista Cruiser is powered by a supercharged, LS3 V-8 puts things on par as far as output is concerned, with both cars having nearly the same amount of power at their disposal. The FF cranks out 651 ponies, while the Olds comes with 650 horses on tap. Sure, the comparison is still somewhat ridiculous, but the 11-minute video is definitely worth a watching. See who wins the battle in by clicking the play button above and tell us which "cruiser" you’d vote and why in the comments box below.

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1949 - 1960 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1949 - 1960 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

Today most people consider the Ford Mustang to be the original muscle car. After all, it did start a revolution of sorts with companies building smaller cars with bigger engines to satisfy the appetite of the American consumer. Its seems to us that one legendary automaker, now more known for building your grandfather’s car, was poised to begin the horsepower arms race in the early 1950s. Oldsmobile was part of the larger General Motors conglomerate that had strict marketing and production plans for its various monikers.

The cars that utilized a big V8 were strictly Cadillac and LaSalle models. The main reason they needed a V8 was to move their behemoth bodies around, but GM also felt it helped distinguish those cars as the top of the line models. Oldsmobile was about to shake things up in more than one way. For starters, if they were going to make a more powerful production car that was also exhilarating to drive then they were going to need a completely new car body to work with.

At that time, the company had the compact 76 series cars and the very large 98 series. The company decided to use the underlying chassis of the 76 series, put a brand new V8 under the hood, and design a body to mimic the space race era. This would all come together to be the Rocket 88 car that is now legendary and truly began the muscle car era way back when it was introduced in 1949.

Hit the jump for more details on the Rocket 88

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Top Gear USA: Episode 5

Top Gear USA: Episode 5

We are going to start betting on the fact that Top Gear USA is going to be a household name by the time it wraps up its third season. The show is gaining fans all over and the naysayers of the show are starting to come around.

And why shouldn’t they? With the funny challenges, the decent reviews, and the big stars, Top Gear USA is building itself up rather nicely. Let’s just hope that the balloon doesn’t deflate before we can win our little bet.

In this week’s episode, the guys from Top Gear USA run a few old GM models through a series of challenges to see which one should reenter production, Tony Hawk takes the Subaru around the Top Gear USA test track, and the news segment comes around again.

UPDATE 12/21/2010: Check out Top Gear USA’s rendering of their 2011 Buick Roadmaster in the gallery!

Hit the jump to see all of the details for this week’s episode of Top Gear USA.

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The car you can't ignore

The car you can’t ignore

OK. You’ve had a week or so, now. It was on the World Series. They’ve got the bank robbers driving that old Oldsmobile, the one that the chick crossing the street runs into. (Actually, it’s a 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass, the one cloned from an earlier version of the Malibu. Isn’t that ironic?).
And exactly what has Chevrolet communicated about the new Malibu?
Nothing.
$150 million dollars has been committee by General Motors to a multi-media advertising campaign to introduce the new Malibu, (...)

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1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Convertible

1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Convertible

Along with the special edition Hurst Olds of 1968 and 1969, the 1970 W-30 was the most powerful production Oldsmobile ever created. While the 370 hp from its 455 is impressive, if not as high as some other contemporary muscle car engines, what is really amazing for those who have experienced it is the 500 lb-ft of torque.

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1966 - 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

1966 - 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

America’s first (sorta) FWD car

The Toronado was unlike anything else available when it debuted in late 1965. This “personal luxury car” featured a long, sleek profile, concealed headlamps, and big V-8 power. But the biggest news was what was underneath. The Toronado was front-wheel drive.

The Toronado was in fact the first American build FWD car, save only for the ill-fated Cord and Ruxton brands from the late 1920. Oldsmobile carried the Toronado name for 26 years, spanning four generations. It was the first generation car that bucked tradition, however, moving past the typical front engine, rear-drive architecture so prevalent in that day.

According to General Motors, the Toronado name has no real meaning. It was originally used for a Chevrolet concept car in 1963, but was later adopted by Olds. Of course, the Oldsmobile division had its eye set on Ford, specifically the Thunderbird. The Blue Oval’s two-door grand tourer had garnered quite the reputation since its inception in 1955. By this time, the Thunderbird was well into its fourth generation.

The Toronado’s first generation lasted from 1996 to 1970. Annual facelifts give each model year a distinctive look, especially up front. Interior treatments also changed, giving drivers something new to sit behind.

The introduction of the second generation in 1971 brought a longer, squared-off, more Cadillac look to the Toronado, robbing the car of its sleek fenders and rounded edges. Oldsmobile kept the FWD architecture, of course.

Continue reading for more information

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