The bare and plain fact that TTAC was, to some degree, built on the GM Death Watch series often causes our readers to think that we, as a group of writers, hate GM. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your humble author grew up thinking the “Mark Of Excellence” was a mandatory part of every seatbelt buckle and that the Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency was the most awesome sedan money could buy. If we’re angry at GM, it’s in large part because the people who ran the company destroyed an incomparable, irreplaceable legacy through their complacency, incompetence, and short-term thinking. The men who ran the company into the ground managed to snatch an improbable defeat from the jaws of victory. There is no hell hot enough for the architects of General Motors’ fall from grace. They destroyed a big part of the United States and there was no, repeat, no reason for it to happen.
And now the emblem of their seemingly deliberate failure is coming up for sale.
Nine years ago, the final Oldsmobiles rolled off the assembly line. Although the brand had been somewhat revitalized by a thoroughly unified-looking lineup that imitated the look of the peerless first-generation Aurora, GM had starved the brand of a proper followup to that car and had relentlessly cut money out of the interiors and engines while bullying as many dealers as possible into voluntary closure. The inexplicable popularity of Buick in China meant that when it was time to compress that particular area of the Sloan Plan from two nameplates to one, it was the Rocket brand that took the bullet.
As if to emphasize the fact that Oldsmobile’s death was a matter of heartless planning rather than some sort of emergency situation, the company built a “Final 500” of all five major vehicle lines. The Intrigue that is coming up for sale next month is supposedly the last Oldsmobile ever built, featuring over 1,000 signatures from plant workers. It’s worth noting that multiple sources claim an Alero was actually the last one built.
The Intrigue is expected to fetch about forty thousand dollars; less than what you’d pay for a modern puffer-barge like the BMW 528i. Will it ever be worth more than that? I doubt it. America may be a shadow of the country it was when the open road resonated to the sound of a million Dynamic 88s, but one thing remains consistent: we don’t value the losers.