In 1990, you could give your BMW salesman $24,650 and drive off the lot in a 325i coupe weighing 2,811 pounds and equipped with a 168-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission… or you could hand $14,895 to your Oldsmobile salesman and drive off the lot in a Cutlass Calais International Series coupe weighing 2,823 pounds and equiped with a 160-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission. Ten grand more for rear-wheel-drive, eight more horses, 12 fewer pounds, and a blue-and-white hood emblem? I had forgotten all about the Quad 4-powered Cutlass Calais International Series until I ran across this forlorn example in a California self-service wrecking yard last week.
Granted, the N Platform-based Cutlass Calais wasn’t quite as handsome as the ’90 E30, and the build quality wasn’t quite up to Bavarian standards, but this Olds was a pretty good bang-for-buck deal.
The idea of an Oldsmobile with a DOHC 4-valve engine and 5-speed transmission does seem strange, even after nearly a decade since The General axed its ancient division.
It’s got leather. It’s got an auto-reverse cassette deck. It’s got that goofy globe-surrounded-by-flags emblem on every possible surface, including the trunk lock. And now it’s all getting crushed and shipped to China.
Another GM dream that didn’t quite work out as the marketing guys planned.
We’ll show that Oldsmobiles are really for young buyers… by showing a 100-year-old man disappointed in his 74-year-old son for buying such a sporty car.