Rare Rides: This Racy Oldsmobile Bravada Kept Pace at Indy 500

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 28 comments
  • Ajla Ajla on Apr 18, 2017

    I'd rather have a Final 500. Or a Rainier, because other than the Toronado, Buick > Oldsmobile.

  • OldManPants OldManPants on Apr 18, 2017

    What a sweet ride sans the trash flash. Nice burgundy or whatever; strip the white crud & repaint. Oh, and stock wheels/tires.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.
  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.