Other People’s Cars: Oldsmobile Delta 88

Oldsmobile Delta 88This may not look like a very impressive car, but bear with me. You probably have a better chance of seeing a Porsche on today’s roads than seeing one of these babies.

This is a car from a brand that no longer exists and, fittingly, it represents a type of car that is on the verge of extinction.

Ask a kindergartener to draw a car and they’ll probably come up with something like this: a four-door sedan with no curved lines other than the wheels.

At one time, this Platonic automobile really was the most common sight on American roads. If it wasn’t an Olds Delta 88, it was a Chevy Caprice, or a Ford LTD, or a Dodge Monaco.

Today, however, the automotive landscape is much more diverse. Cars try to be all things for all people, which is why we have crossovers that look like tough 4x4s, but are actually based on front-wheel drive sedans, and “four-door coupes” that try to combine style and practicality.

In contrast, the big American sedan has become a niche item. There are still a few around (Dodge Charger, Chevy Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus) but they are the automotive equivalent of vinyl.

That’s not exactly a bad thing. Today’s cars are safer, faster, and better for the environment than this gas-guzzling Olds, although maybe not as old-school-cool.

Either way, this 88 is a noteworthy sighting. It’s both a historical reminder of a time when cars were expected to have the square footage of a small apartment, and a rare car in its own right.

Oldsmobile may have made legions of these things back in the ‘70s. but you’d be hard pressed to find one on the road today. That’s why I’m glad I did.

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  1. #1 by mattthericker on May 22, 2013 - 2:06 pm

    Here in Lansing, MI (where Oldsmobiles came from) they are still fairly common (admittedly less so every year). When I was in college I had a 1993 Olds Ninety-Eight Regency. It was a four door sedan that was bigger than my dorm room and older than I was. It was named ‘Old Hoss’. I miss that car. It broke all the time, but spare parts were plentiful at any local junkyard. They just don’t make big sedans anymore – the ones that they do have do not meet my defnition of ‘full size’. We have certainly traded comfort and ambiance for progress.

  2. #2 by LaVagabonde on May 23, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    Land yacht!

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