18 July 2019

Oldsmobile USA Sales : 1970's (2nd Half)

The Cutlass Supreme was a top selling model

I was visiting the US some years back and was kindly loaned a Cutlass Ciera by the people I was staying with. Despite that brief introduction, I know little of the Oldsmobile brand as it was exclusively a North American make. Mr Olds started making cars in 1897 and the company was purchased by GM in 1908. Over 35 million Oldsmobile cars were made through its history, until its demise in 2004.

Apparently it was a middle ground brand, between Buick (above) and Pontiac (below). Saying that, the lines between these brands would have been blurred on occasion as the gaps between divisions within GM was small.

First up, the latter part of the 1970's. In the data below, from 1978 Cutlass sales are thereafter divided between it and the Cutlass Supreme.

Model 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975
Cutlass Supreme 404,068 406,993


Eighty Eight 223,699 273,384 225,937 170,857 123,842
Cutlass 114,092 113,286 527,939 514,593 342,875
Ninety Eight 92,075 123,431 123,466 107,147 80,161
Omega 50,098 42,860 51,724 56,324 39,157
Toronado 46,845 28,039 28,860 24,189 20,256
Starfire 18,611 18,351 19,120 27,501 29,354
Total US Sales 949,488 1,006,344 977,046 900,611 635,645

Cutlass Supreme: As the name suggests, it was at the premium end of the Cutlass range, in the mid-sized region of the market. This was a model that commenced in 1967 and was by far the biggest selling in the Oldsmobile range. From 1978 it was the fourth generation model and downsized from its predecessor, presumably the new model differentiated itself enough to have its sales listed separately. 

Eighty Eight: This large car came to being way back in 1949. An eighth generation was introduced in 1977, and kicked sales along nicely. By 1979 a quarter of a million units were sold in the US. 

Cutlass: It was revealed in 1961 and by the fifth generation (1978) this mid-sized car was listed separately from the Supreme for sales and that separation showed it wasn't selling anything like the Supreme version. The '78 model was also smaller than the previous incarnation. 

Ninety Nine: This was the large flagship of the range, which was introduced in 1940. It was the tenth generation that was released in 1977 and was averaging around the 100k sales mark at this time. It also was not as large as its forebear. 

Omega: It was the compact car of the range that came out in 1972/3, although it looked more mid-sized to me. By 1975 the second generation was revealed but this model didn't seem to ever sell that well. 

Toronado: An unusual name was chosen for the up market two-door large car that shrunk quite a bit for the third generation model of 1979. The first model was classy, the second just big and this one compact.

Starfire: Where to start? In 1961, it was a large, sleek two-door convertible and a hardtop variant arrived a year later. In 1975, it was reborn as a 2-door compact hatchback, almost identical to the Chevrolet Monza. Sales were tiny but no doubt cost was saved by sharing it with another GM division. 

Summary: With sales exceeding the million mark in 1978, only Chevrolet and Ford nameplates sold more cars. Oldsmobile was in fine form overall. How would the next decade pan out?

To see the 80's article in the series, just click here.

The first generation Toronado was quite a car

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