By on April 18, 2017

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Last time on Rare Rides, we carried the racing [driver] and special edition themes to new heights, and featured a shockingly bad Jeff Gordon Monte Carlo special edition of which there were 24 copies made. Our ride today is still made by General Motors, and it’s still about racing, but it’s larger and even more rare. It’s also better, because it has an Oldsmobile logo on the front (albeit not the superior rocket one).

Oh yeah, and it’ll go 140 miles per hour.

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This glorious beast of a GMT360 is a 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada, modified by GM and used as a pace car in the Indianapolis 500 back in 2001. Up for sale on eBay, this is number two of two examples specially altered for track day use.

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There are some seriously beefy tires and deep dish wheels, which look to have been made just for this vehicle. And since (according to the ad copy) the other pace car Bravada is in a museum, you’ll have the superior feeling you get behind the wheel of a bespoke luxury sports SUV. 

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Astronauts will be sure of the vehicle you’re driving, because you know you don’t care for subtlety anyway.

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Inside, there are some sweet racing harnesses paired to the stock seats. And a fire extinguisher in case you need to bash a passenger’s teeth in for when things get toasty at the upper end of the speedometer. Reliability shouldn’t be a concern at this point as it has just 1,900 miles on the clock. Better change some hoses, fluids, and gaskets though.

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As with any GM special edition, there is embroidery of superior quality on the headrests. Note the clothes hanger bar in the back, for your racing suit.

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But that’s not what it is! It’s the hazard light bar from the race. You can use this on any public road to attract immediate and stern police attention. Won’t that make for fun drives?

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The owner has thoughtfully kept all the race-day-related literature, which is surely irreplaceable by this point in time.

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The listing also includes a second Bravada, since one is just never enough. It’s a white support vehicle, which is one of 64 made for those duties in 2001. It’s not as interesting and has a dent in it (rear door), so I’m only going to post one photo of it here.

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There’s a catch, though, as is so often the case when you find a truly special collectible. The owner indicates the title is red and has been branded as “scrap,” presumably because it was modified. The ad is silent on any modifications, and I don’t notice anything different under the engine bay. So maybe the extra top speed comes from software. As a bonus, the owner is still listed as General Motors. Maybe some of the B&B know of ways to get creative with titles and get this baby on the road where it belongs.

Summing up: The red scrap pile and the dented white refrigerator above are on offer for bids, starting at a reasonable $30,000. But where else are you going to find a nearly new and historically significant Oldsmobile in 2017?

[Images via eBay]

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28 Comments on “Rare Rides: This Racy Oldsmobile Bravada Kept Pace at Indy 500...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Get up, come on get down with the sickness
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    Open up your hate, and let it flow into me
    Get up, come on get down with the sickness
    You mother get up come on get down with the sickness
    You f***er get up come on get down with the sickness
    Madness is the gift, that has been given to me

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hmmmmmmmmmm no 5.3 ltr V8? Still the Atlas I6?

    Dirty shame that the Rainier and the 9-7X got the V8 but the poor Bravada never did.

    Do these two Rare Rides have Smartrak AWD?

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Indeed the only GMT360 not to offer a V8 option. How silly.

      The listing indicates AWD, but I’m not sure where the indication was on the inside of the vehicle, if any. (Don’t think there is any.)

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        (Quick search on the interwebs)

        This was the 3rd generation of Bravada – Gen 1 and Gen 2 were AWD standard across the board, 3rd Gen made RWD available (which is sad another ding to Oldsmobile exclusivity).

        I still love the Smartrak badge though.

        http://tinyurl.com/l389sse

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      Back then I held out hope that the big straight 6 would eventually replace the 4.3 V6 in Chevy/GMC pickups but it never happened. The only person I knew who had one said it ran ok but was hard on gas. Never checked to see how reliable these turned out to be.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Even the Isuzu Ascender had a 5.3 optional. What the heck was GM doing with the Bravada?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The 4.2 is a beast power-wise, I feel like it’d not only excel in truck applications but would do great in some sort of RWD sport-oriented sedan/coupe. Having said that, I have much love for the 4.3L as well. Just a rock solid workhorse of a motor. One of them in a stick shift S10 makes for a genuinely quick little truck.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          “I feel like it’d not only excel in truck applications but would do great in some sort of RWD sport-oriented sedan/coupe.” Agreed. I never quite understood the dislike directed at the Atlas engines. Relatives have an I5-powered Colorado, and I kind of like it. It’s 12 or 13 years old at this point and has never missed a beat. (Grain of salt: It was bought used from an acquaintance who was a very careful first owner – definitely a case of “buy the history rather than buying exactly the make and model you want.”) Whatever balancing voodoo GM effected seems to have worked, as it runs smoothly when I drive it. The S-10 that preceded it had one of the last of the non-balance-shaft LB4 4.3’s. Now that was a rough engine. Torquey and reliable, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Dy-no-mite Jay

      I believe that’s because Olds was axed before the v8 ever became an option in the gmt360

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Hold on – they made a full sixty four Indy 500 Bravada support vehicles? Why in the world would the Indy 500 need 64?

    On the red one, the wheels alone are worth the price of entry. The rest of the car…well, it’s still a crappy Bravada.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      As an Indy resident I get to see all the Indy 500 badged vehicles rolling around, both past and present. They must be promotional vehicles loaned to higher-up track employees (management). Currently it seems loaded up Tahoes are the favorite. A guy down the street has a crusty Cadillac Allante Official Pace car, which a quick googling tells me was the official car in ’92.

  • avatar
    markf

    A perfect example of the just because it’s old and rare doesn’t make it interesting, desirable or collectible….

  • avatar
    operagost

    Number one, the last Oldsmobile logo IS a rocket. I can’t comprehend how one could miss the obvious resemblance.

    Number two, the use of auxiliary lights varies by US state, but in nearly all of them the amber lights are lightly regulated. They just need to flash (or rotate). PA, for example, explicitly states that tow trucks, snow plows, and construction vehicles may use them, but doesn’t say anyone else can’t. I think running with them on could get police attention, but only if you’re cruising down the road at the limit with no plow, no tow, not escorting anything. In these situations, bad weather, and emergency stops, having an amber light bar would be awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      All I said was that there was a superior rocket logo choice. This isn’t it.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I agree – that last Oldsmobile logo was a dud. I recall someone at Olds deciding that part of the blame for the brand’s dowdy image with the younger crowd could be blamed on the obsolete logo that didn’t look anything like a modern rocket, so instead they came up with a logo that doesn’t look like much of anything but a point in a circle, whatever that’s supposed to represent.

  • avatar

    What’s interesting to me is that GM announced Oldsmobile’s impending death two days after the Bravada was rolled out in February 2001, making it a Dead Brand Walking when this one paced the 500.

    There’s NOTHING iconic about the Bravada, nor is there anything I know of to connect it to racing, or Indy.

    Was there no more compelling vehicle to put out there?

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I might think it to be a contract issue, like these things are settled years in advance, and could not be changed?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The IRL (Indy Racing League) used Oldsmobile branded engines for a few seasons back then. This was right after the split with CART so maybe it had something to do with distancing themselves from that organization. These days they just run Chevy and Honda engines.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Olds branded motors (with Aurora on the cam covers) won Indy 97 through 02. When Olds was killed off it became a Chevy.

        Like many puzzling things at GM marketing, it was difficult to make the connection between the Olds brand and Indycar racing, but remember at the same time they were putting a lot of money into Olds branded Pro Stock drag racing.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          GM Marketing, the same group presumably who pulled Chevrolet out of Europe then announced sponsorship with the English premier league side Manchester United?

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      but Man U has fans around the globe, including many places Chevys are sold. The American soccer fans I know follow the Premier League (or Spain’s La Liga) more closely than our homegrown Major League Soccer – not surprising since the best clubs from those leagues could crush any MLS team.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d rather have a Final 500.

    Or a Rainier, because other than the Toronado, Buick > Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    What a sweet ride sans the trash flash. Nice burgundy or whatever; strip the white crud & repaint.

    Oh, and stock wheels/tires.


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