Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Oldsmobile 88

Take a look at the image above. It is the rear fender, or wing as we Brits call them of a late 1940's or early 1950's Oldsmobile 88. Notice the blade of chrome atop the rear, marked with the number '88'

The legend 'Futuramic' still displays a clue as to how this once proud car was intended to appear when introduced, bold, futuristic, ahead of the pack. The stainless steel bright work has dulled over the years, the bright paintwork at first faded, then wore clean through by the abrasive combination of wind, weather, and time.

Now if we transport ourselves back to 1950 and meet the 'average Joe', a middle aged fella for whom this car was to become his brand new factory fresh pride and joy...and here it is.

It all started when that old pre-war car old Joe had owned for some years really began to look a little tired and dated, and just at this time - why General Motors were pushing out some amazingly good looking new vehicles, the ad's even featured in his regular magazine delivered each week.

Well it's one thing to look at the pictures in a magazine but Joe can't help wonder how these cars actually look in the metal?
Joe quite likes the new styling, and the 'Futuramic' name tag promises such advances on his old car, he sits quietly imagining sitting behind the wheel of a shining factory fresh example. looking out to his driveway he pictures himself carefully polishing his new car on some sunny Sunday morning.

A week or so passes and old Joe still can't quite make his mind up. After all his old car still runs reliably enough, it's just that the kids seem to have friends who's parents own some of the new model Buicks and Chevrolets and new cars have never been better or so they say.

Then one day Bob down at the office brings in a Brochure he picked up while passing the showroom, and there on the desk, for the first time in glorious full colour are the stylish lines of the new Oldmobile 88!

During the rest of that day Joe kept thumbing through that brochure, he liked the sound of the Hydra-Matic drive featuring 'whirlaway', and oh boy how the family would love the smooth power and comfortable ride these new cars offered!

He decided to take a look in the showroom on the way home from the office. Joe convinced himself that the family finances were holding up well, and after all since he returned from his military service five years ago he had driven that same beat up old car.

As he opened the door and walked into the local brightly lit showroom, the smell of new paint and upholstery was overwhelming..."These new Oldsmobiles even smelled good" he thought.
Joe looked around, dazzled at the array of styles and colours, with each one looking better than the last until, there she was, looking exactly as he had imagined - the 'Futuramic'.

The colour choices were fresh and exiting, and from every angle this car looked to be a winner!
instinctively Joe wanted to touch the car, he wanted to stroke it, to feel his hand glide along those curves. As he thought about colour choice he walked around the stationary vehicle, crouching here and there to check out the lines, his hand swept along the lustrous chrome tail fin, fingers culminating at the number '88'. "What a beauty" he thought!

That evening Joe enthused to his wife and kids about the possibility of owning one of these new futuristic cars, how silky smooth the ride had been on the test drive, and what power there was from that 8 cylinder motor!

He quite liked the rag-top version he said casually, which raised cheers from the kids and a knowing glance from his wife, because she knew that his heart was set. It wasn't long after that night when the families new Oldsmobile sat outside Joe's house, glinting and gleaming in the warm sunshine.

Now back we must come, back to 2008.

All of that happened over half a century ago, Joe died in 1982 at the age of 79, the kids, once so proud of their sparkling new '88' had grown up and left the household a long time since, in fact it was back in '73 just after Mom died.

And the Old's? Well it passed through three or four more owners, each one taking a little less care of her than before, until she was finally parked out in the back lot of an old garage where she waited for someone to restore her to roadworthiness.

That 'someone' never came, which brings us right back to where we began. The fin that Joe swept his hand along so many years ago in the showroom is still there, that exiting word 'Futuramic' still emblazons the flanks, but that future is now the past... and she awaits the scrap metal dealer... "China needs all the metal it can get" says the truck driver as he attaches the chain to tow her away.


Gunnar and Sherry said...

That's a terrific post! I love the irony of something rotting away with the name "Futuramic" on it. A good metaphor for America from the 50s to today.

walterworld said...

How sad! I was thinking that the pristine 88 pictured was the 'now' shot...

Enjoying your posts---Nice work!

The Old Nail said...

Hi folks, I guess the story could be seen as a kind of metaphor for America, although I hoped to highlight the plight of so many beautiful old cars too.
The photo's of the red car are recent ones that were used to illustrate the tale though.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

What an absolute true beauty. SAD! Thanks for all the great pics. They are all appreciated. Happy New Year, Richard

David fa niente said...

I love the red rag-top. Art on wheels I say!