A Century of Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile had one of the longest manufacturing runs of any car, from 1897 to 2004. Here are a few ads that appeared in the Post over those decades.

Detail from an Oldsmobile advertisement, October 16, 1948

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Twenty years ago today, on April 29, 2004, the last Oldsmobile rolled off the line in Lansing Michigan, ending a 107-year-run. For decades, Olds was a market leader, introducing everything from the first speedometer to the first car with chrome trim to the first turbo-charged vehicle. Unfortunately, the 1990s saw a decline in sales, and GM eventually made the decision to shut down the line.

Luckily, the heyday of Oldsmobile lives on in the pages of the Post. Here are a few of the more dazzling ads that appeared in our magazine.


March 7, 1903


May 5, 1906


May 1, 1909


May 26, 1928


February 8, 1930


March 28, 1931


January 7, 1939


June 14, 1941


September 4, 1943


September 21, 1946


February 10, 1951


January 5, 1952


August 28, 1954


November 12, 1955


April 5, 1958


April 16, 1960


July 28, 1968


January 1, 1978


January 1, 1979


April 1, 1991


November 1, 1999

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  1. I went to a classic car show on Sunday that was primarily Chevy; more specifically the Tri-5 (’55-’57) which always steals the limelight. Always have, always will. Some early ’30s Fords, ’57 T-Birds; love those also. The Oldsmobile Club of America was there too, with 2 stunning, glistening red ’63 and ’64 Starfire convertibles!

    They were very interested to learn The Saturday Evening Post currently has an online feature honoring Oldsmobile right now, and wanted to read it when they got home. Most didn’t know the Post was still published, and I said it’s a beautiful bi-monthly magazine (subscription only) with a wonderful companion website that offers additional features such as this one on Oldsmobile. They want to get the magazine again as much as reading this feature.

  2. As an Oldsmobile enthusiast, it was the best all around automobile built by GM an in my opinion poor marketing and not poor engineering and design caused those executives to shut down that brand. I have not purchased or owned another GM produced passenger vehicle since that Olds Alero I purchased in 2000. It had plenty on power in that V6 that was in it and ran so smooth. Also, in my opinion GM shot themselves in the foot when they killed that brand. It was iconic. Think about it and consider. They produced the Rocket 88 for which the first ever recognized Rock and Roll Song, “Rocket 88” was written about and performed by Jackie Brensten and the Delta Cats (including Ike Turner). It was the oldest brand in GM. Not only was it a “family” car, but its 442 model was a “muscle” car as well, targeting that crowd (me included….I wish I had one now). It had styling and added luxury for those of us who did not have the pocketbooks to be able to purchase a Cadillac. Your Chevys were your lower-line and your Buicks were for the Senior Citizens for Sundays. I’m now a Ford man all the way since GM pulled this stupid caper and Chrysler is not “Chrysler” anymore.

    On another note, did anyone else look closely at that third ad? It looks like that lady walking away from the car is “ghostly” in nature. I wonder how much the original ad looked like that on paper.

  3. Post editors, you’ve picked out some great ads here. Oldsmobile is represented in the magazine throughout the 20th, from start to finish. The 1903 ad was clearly still making the case for the horseless carriage. I have no doubt they were much safer for both the passengers and horses.

    The beautiful 1906 ad shows it was a well established marque, and the unusual ’09 nighttime selection shows how you can even have an effortless evening picnic. I love the ’28 and ’30 ads too. The understated lime green 1931 art deco ad is magnificent in its simplicity and beauty. The ’39 is neat also, but in a very different way. Cars certainly changed a lot during the Thirties, losing most traces of the early automobile.

    The 1943 Fire-Power ad is very powerful. It showed Oldsmobile wasn’t messing around with weaponry during the war and it kept their name out there for later, even though auto production had ceased. Love the ’46 two=tone, and the classy lady rockin’ that lime colored dress. The 1952 ‘Rocket’ Ready ad is quite something to say the least.

    3 Fifties classics there, for sure. The ’58 was a bit heavy handed with the chrome, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t love it! The ’68 88, and ’78 Cutlass are beauties too. After that we get into the efficiency era of four-door sedans, Oldsmobile Blazer’s and things running out of gas.

    People bemoan the loss of Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth, not seeming to realize they’d be SUV’s just like Buick. Indeed, they were all around long enough into the transportation appliance era, which is not worthy of any of them.

    My own ‘dream car’ Oldsmobile would be a ’75 (final year) Delta 88 Royale convertible either in blue, red or black, with a white interior and top. If you think it SOUNDS beautiful but can’t quite picture it, check out those online images right away, and see if I’m right. If I’m not, tell me! Not practical, unfortunately, so a dream it will remain.


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