Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 41

Thread: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?


    Does anyone miss Oldsmobile? Not what Oldsmobile was in its heyday - but what it had become by the mid-late 1990s just before GM pulled the plug?

    Probably not.

    Same goes for Plymouth.

    Like Olds, there was a long and storied history. Once upon a time, Plymouth had been a great brand defined by an exciting lineup of standout cars. But Plymouth faded into badge-engineered irrelevance - re-selling the same basic cars sold under the Chrysler and Dodge nameplates. Just like Olds. And just as irrelevant.

    The same could be said today for Ford's Mercury division - to say nothing of several of GM's divisions, whose continued existence makes ever less sense for an automaker whose share of the pie has dwindled from a high approaching nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold in North America circa 1979 to around 24-25 percent today.

    GM keeps Buick and Pontiac mainly because it has no choice - or faces choices as unappealing as ditching the brands themselves. It has the unions, of course - and they seem determined to kick themselves in the nether regions rather than do what's in the long-term interests of anyone who hopes to work for GM in the future. As adamant as the president in his refusal to admit there might be trouble with the "mission" in Iraq, union leaders refuse to give GM any breathing room at all -- which may just leave GM on the floor not breathing at all. But they don't seem to care about that.

    And then there are GM's dealers. These are independent franchise owners - not directly under GM's control. So the company can't just close up unproductive dealerships (or limit the number of dealers in a given geographic area, as Toyota does). And it is legally bound to provide "product" (vehicles) even if those vehicles aren't selling well. If that sounds odd, bear in mind that many dealers (perhaps most) don't make the big bucks selling cars. They make them servicing cars. So there's not much incentive for a dealer to close up shop - even if he is selling a brand that has become an also-ran.

    This leaves GM in the position of having to dig deep and make generous buy-out offers (as it did with Olds). The money involved is enormous. GM can't afford to do it -- but it can't afford to keep on pouring money into unproductive, duplicative brands, either. Toyota is almost as big as GM in terms of worldwide sales (and awash in cash while GM is awash in red ink) and it does this with half the brands GM has (Toyota, Lexus and the new Scion small car spin-off vs. GM's six full-line divisions). Not one of the major Japanese nameplates has more than three divisions, in fact. Most have just two. A "standard" brand (Honda, Nissan, etc.) and a "prestige" line (Acura, Infiniti).

    That's all - and it's probably just enough.

    GM's in a bind - trying to eke profitability out of a structure that's too diffuse for the market it has - while Ford is dead in the water and seems to have no clue what to do about Mercury, let alone its struggling Lincoln luxury division. Bill Ford fled the scene, abjectly conceding he was in way over his head. The "Way Forward" appears to be a blind alley with a bricked-up wall at its terminus. The company is riding on the fumes of its retro-themed Mustang - one of the very few bright spots in an otherwise dismal product portfolio. GM, at least, has managed to resuscitate its Cadillac arm - but the union/over-capacity issues loom large, waiting to crash over GM"s Renaissance Center HQ like a mega-tsunami.

    Of the "Big Three," Chrysler has the most coherent brand stratgey.

    No one seems to miss Plymouth - and Chrysler doesn't appear t have lost anything for having bid the brand adieu. There's a "standard" line (Dodge) and a "prestige" line (Chrysler) and that seems to be just about right.

    The fast food industry may be the best example of how this works - and why. Everyone knows the menu at McDonald's. Taco Bell, too. These joints focus hard on their core product - and try to avoid being all things to all people. (Yes, there are now salads and so on at McDonald's, but this is a sop to political correctness and the food police. People go to McDonald's for burgers and fries and shakes. Providing these staples of the American diet with amazing efficiency and consistency is what McDonald's and the fast food industry in general have honed into an art form). The most successful imports hew to the same philosophy - and that coherence (along with good value and pleasing the customer) has made them into the juggernauts they have become.

    There are lots of very smart people at both GM and Ford who know all this stuff - but their hands are tied by institutional barriers, legal/contractual ukase and the same sort of lethal inertia that kept the Titanic speeding toward the iceberg even after the ship's helm ordered hard to port. By then, of course, it was already too late.

    Not many of us miss Olds. Or Plymouth. At least, not what they had become in their final decade. Ten years from now, another generation may be saying the same thing about Mercury, Buick and Pontiac.

    Maybe even Ford and GM too.


  2. #2
    mrblanche
    Guest

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Yeah, I miss Olds, but only for sentimental reasons. I never owned a Dodge.

  3. #3
    Staff
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,126

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Put that way, I don't miss Olds or Plymouth either. I always thought GM had too many divisions.

    I think that if GM had been smarter in teh 1970's and 1980's the brands would have been doing a lot better than they did.

    Same for Chrysler, although I think that Plymouth actually had potential. Back in the late 1960's, Plymouth sold the Barracuda, Belvedere, Satellite, Valiant, and the Road Runner. They were appealing cars in their own right, but you could get a Dodge for the same money and it was the same car.

    Nameplates are nothing more than a brand label on the same equipment.

  4. #4
    MikeHalloran
    Guest

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    In the fifties, GM doors and clips largely interchanged but came from different tooling, so the cars were visually distinct, and no division was 'full line'.

    Then somebody decided that it just wasn't possible to underestimate the intelligence of the car buyer.
    For a while, apparently, it wasn't.

    But Detroit was wearing blinders of its own manufacture.

    Invisible product planners decided what you would buy, by deciding what would be offered to dealers.

    Unreachable 'zone service managers' kept warranty costs in check by frustrating aggrieved consumers, and thereby making it impossible for the engineers to distinguish good design decisions from bad ones in time to do anything about them.

    ... and other manufacturers were less arrogant, more nimble, and more sensitive to their actual customers.

    Detroit has changed a lot, but they still have buildings full of executives. Recalcitrance among the labor force has a lot to do with their perception of those buildings' inhabitants.






  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Yeah, I miss Olds, but only for sentimental reasons. I never owned a Dodge.
    Olds built some really pretty cars - esp. the late '60s Toronados, which I have always liked a lot....

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    "Nameplates are nothing more than a brand label on the same equipment."

    That has been true at GM since about 1981... however, before then, each division had its own in-house engine/drivetrain engineering, so that an Oldsmobile was actually powered by an Oldsmobile engine, a Buick by a Buick engine and a Pontiac by a Pontiac. A 1976 Trans-Am like mine is a very different animal from a 1976 Camaro, for instance. But after 1981, the Camaro and Firebird were mechanically the same car.

  7. #7
    mrblanche
    Guest

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    That has been true at GM since about 1981... however, before then, each division had its own in-house engine/drivetrain engineering, so that an Oldsmobile was actually powered by an Oldsmobile engine, a Buick by a Buick engine and a Pontiac by a Pontiac. A 1976 Trans-Am like mine is a very different animal from a 1976 Camaro, for instance. But after 1981, the Camaro and Firebird were mechanically the same car.
    I had an uncle in Lansing, MI, who worked his entire career at the Oldsmobile engine plant, which now makes engines for all GM cars. When it was an Olds plant, the union actively discouraged the union members from buying cars with the engines they built there. They wanted the members to have loyalty to the union, not the company. He owned only one Olds, which his wife wrecked when she hit a deer going about 100 mph.

    (She was still sitting in the car, facing the wrong direction in the ditch, when the local policeman arrived. He asked her how fast she was going when she hit the deer. "One hundred," was her honest reply. "No, you weren't, you were going 60. Remember that when anyone else asks the question!" was his instruction.)

    The last I knew, he was driving a Buick with one of the supercharged engines, built at the Lansing plant. The union eventually saw the self-destructive nature of their policies.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    I miss Oldsmobile. They made a lot of great cars back in the day. Remember in the early 1980s when the Olds Cutlass Supreme was the #1 selling car in America. How they went from that, to the ugly space age cars in just a decade, is hard to believe.

    Oldsmobile was doomed the moment Roger Smith made the decision to convert most Oldsmobiles to front-wheel drive (in the mid 1980s). After that sales dropped faster than a 747 that's lost both its wings.

    I think one of GM's biggest mistakes was launching Saturn, they should have gotten rid of that division years ago. It was a gimmick (trying to trick import buyers into buying a GM car), that never worked.


    Eric,

    1982 was the first official year for the GM Corporate engines.


  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    I forgot to mention on my last post, I think GM can survive without sacraficing Buick or Pontiac in the future. GM, in my opinion is beginning to turn things around. Toyota on the other hand seems to be head for some rough current in the next few years. Toyota has been very successful in the last 20 years however, their quality control is begging to slip:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news0...a_quality.html

    I admit Ford is in bad straights but Toyota in my opinion is headed for some rough waters. GM is back.. the next five years are going to be good years for GM in my opinion.


  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Posts
    3,628

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    What do you see as GM's positioning for their various brands?

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Chip,

    The real turn-around for GM will be the Zeta rear-wheel drive platform which the new Pontiac G8 will use. This platform will be the basis for the 2009 Camaro, 2009 Impala, and many other cars. Where GM shot themselves in the foot was the 1980s "Roger Smith" front-wheel drive platform which most GM cars went to and sales have been sliding ever since. The key to Chrysler's turn-around in the last few years is the movement to a rear-wheel drive platfrom for its bigger cars - it has proved a mega sales success.

    I see GM's postion of each division as the following:

    Cadillac: luxury division to compete directly with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc.

    Chevrolet: budget division - cars for a reasonable price

    Pontiac: performance division

    Buick: division for over 60 year old crowd - the people who used to buy Cadillacs, Olds, and Buicks

    Saturn: division needs to bite the dust - its cars can be sold in Chevy dealerships

    Hummer: upscale 4x4 off-road vehicles

    Chevrolet Trucks: trucks and SUVs for the average buyer

    GMC Trucks: upscale trucks and SUVs

    GM in the last two years has consolidated in its dealership network Buick, Pontiac, and GMC so they are now usually sold at the same dealership.

    I thnk with the newer rear-wheel drive cars coming out in the next 2 - 4 years you will see sales increase for all GM divisions including Pontiac and Buick. The above model could work however GM needs to make cars that will sell at the different divisions. I now think they are starting to make those cars again. The 2009 Camaro is a perfect example of this.


  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    I forgot to mention on my last post, I think GM can survive without sacraficing Buick or Pontiac in the future. GM, in my opinion is beginning to turn things around. Toyota on the other hand seems to be head for some rough current in the next few years. Toyota has been very successful in the last 20 years however, their quality control is begging to slip:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news0...a_quality.html

    I admit Ford is in bad straights but Toyota in my opinion is headed for some rough waters. GM is back.. the next five years are going to be good years for GM in my opinion.

    Might could be... I do agree GM has really come around, product wise. Have you seen the new Chevy Malibu?

  13. #13
    mrblanche
    Guest

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Toyota has had two big blows in the last couple of weeks. They have fallen from #1 in reliability polls, and their predicted takeover of the #1 manufacturer of vehicles in the world did not happen as expected.

  14. #14
    Staff
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,126

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    I forgot to mention on my last post, I think GM can survive without sacraficing Buick or Pontiac in the future. GM, in my opinion is beginning to turn things around. Toyota on the other hand seems to be head for some rough current in the next few years. Toyota has been very successful in the last 20 years however, their quality control is begging to slip:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news0...a_quality.html

    I admit Ford is in bad straights but Toyota in my opinion is headed for some rough waters. GM is back.. the next five years are going to be good years for GM in my opinion.

    Might could be... I do agree GM has really come around, product wise. Have you seen the new Chevy Malibu?
    I like GMs new cars a lot. I like the Malibu, the Aura (to a lesser extent), and definitely the G8. If I could afford the gas that would be my car, but for one thing -- I just hate GM for reasons already stated in other columns. Their little trick with OnStar has really done it for me. I will not give my money to a company that doesn't give its customers a choice whether or not to stuck those big brother devices their cars.

    It is interesting to note that Acura had a contract with on-star as an option. Most honda customers didn't want it, so they canceled their contract. Most honda drivers don't need help with opening their doors.


  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    swamprat,

    I agree, I can't stand Northstar and I disagree with GM shoving it down their customers throats like they did with the day-time driving lights.


    Eric & swamprat,

    The new 2008 Malibu looks like a winner. Have not driven one yet, but I look forward to it.



  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    swamprat,

    I agree, I can't stand Northstar and I disagree with GM shoving it down their customers throats like they did with the day-time driving lights.


    Eric & swamprat,

    The new 2008 Malibu looks like a winner. Have not driven one yet, but I look forward to it.


    GM has aggressively embraced Big Brotherism - and just falls all over itself to appease the "mommy and chylllldrun" lobby... which I find suffocating.

    I love old GM stuff - and much prefer it to any new GM stuff!

  17. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    1,071

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    I sort of 'miss' Oldsmobile - the first American car I drove, on my first trip to the US, was a Cutlass Supreme:




  18. #18
    mrblanche
    Guest

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    I suspect you mean OnStar; the Northstar engine is pretty darn good.

  19. #19
    Staff
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,126

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Dave-

    What a car!! I remember when every 5th car was an Olds Cutlass Supreme.

    Too bad they were crippled with 70s era smog controls. They would kick major butt with one of today's engines....

  20. #20
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,718

    Re: Does anyone miss Oldsmobile?

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    Dave-

    What a car!! I remember when every 5th car was an Olds Cutlass Supreme.

    Too bad they were crippled with 70s era smog controls. They would kick major butt with one of today's engines....
    Remember the '84 Hurst Olds with the Lightning Rod shifters? It was a damn good-looking car that had a lot of potential. Still had a real Oldsmobile engine (307), too.

    Last of the line....

Similar Threads

  1. Miss Oldsmobile?
    By Eric in forum Motor Mouth
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 05-26-2011, 05:37 AM
  2. Miss The Shitbox?
    By Eric in forum Motor Mouth
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-06-2011, 10:03 PM
  3. I miss $4 per gallon... don't you?
    By Eric in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 10-07-2010, 05:59 AM
  4. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado - Not Your Father's Oldsmobile
    By Disco Man in forum Classic Car Corner
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 05-09-2008, 05:57 PM
  5. Who misses Oldsmobile?
    By Eric in forum Motor Mouth
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 01-18-2007, 07:22 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •