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Cold Start: This Would Be A Mess


I really love the look of this painting–that peculiar and entrancing midcentury flattened style, the combination of coarse and fine brushwork, that color palette–it’s all so great, and, yes, I want to be there, pretending like I know shit about skiing.

But, at the same time, I can’t look at this commissioned artwork meant to make me want to buy a 1964 Oldsmobile Super 88 and not know what garbage these things were in snow like that.

Big, rear-drive, front-engined cars with all the weight as far from the drive wheels as possible, sitting there on what look like all-season bias ply tires with no chains; that big red beast is going to spin wheels and pirouette slowly around, getting absolutely nowhere.

Luckily, I’m sure all the fictional people there will have a good time at that ski lodge, even if they’re going to be stuck there until spring.

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33 Responses

  1. Detroit beasts of that era were perfectly fine in the snow. Of course, it did require a couple simple mods, snow tires on the back, and 4-6 sand bags in the trunk, ideally directly above the rear axle.

    Also, you had to know how to drive.

    1. I did that with my first car. First trip back from work, in the winter, at night, snowing, with only one headlight, car fogged up like hell. Had to roll the windows down. Got a cold so bad I was out for a week. I’m not cut out for this.

  2. Just saw a pretty solid ’64 Olds 98 on the Book of Faces for $2500. I should take a closer look at it, no worries about snow down here in Florida.

    1. It does look a bit like a crew cab “ute” there. I was just thinking yesterday if anyone ever made a 4 door Ranchero or El Camino. A Google search turned up nothing like I imagined.

      Japan got “crew cab” car-based trucks. I think lighter duty crew cab trucks in general were sorley missing from our land until the 2000s.

  3. I, too, love this style of artwork.
    As for the veracity of these cars in snow, being old and having grown up in Wisconsin I can assure you we got around pretty much just fine. Snow tires and acquired technique were all you needed.

    1. Not Dutch but FWIU they were available to order. Maybe a few dealers in major cities would stock them.

      GM ran two dealer channels in the Benelux countries at the time; Vauxhall-Chevrolet-Oldsmobile and Opel-Pontiac-Buick. This led to the GM Ranger in the early ’70s, a rebadged Opel Rekord with a Vauxhall Victor grille, offered only as a coupe or 2-door sedan, because there was demand for Euro D-segment 2-door models in the Low Countries but none in the UK so that left Dutch Vauxhall dealers with a model gap.

    2. No, it is in English:
      “Super 88 Holiday Series model 3638-E [or something like that], 4 doors, Hydra-Matic transmission, servo-[???], on servo-control[?]”

      I can only enlarge so far before it gets too pixelated.

  4. Love how they’re pretending those old skis could fit into the trunk. Not unless its 200+ cm across diagonally, had high up hinges and had room for the tips. Or did the owner make an impromptu ski hole in the rear seat?

    1. They would fit. I used to take myself and 4 friends skiing in a 89 Caprice Classic, which was (amazingly) smaller than this Olds.

  5. RWD. It’s what people mainly drove back in those days. Put on good snow tires. Maybe studded. And know how to drive in snow. You got around just fine, thank you.

    My uncle actually had one of those Olds. Ginormous trunk.

  6. I enjoy how the green-gold one appears to be hovering, or possibly beached on a snowbank under it with the rear wheels spinning.

  7. Having owned a GM B-Body (1970 Buick Wildcat) I can confirm that these cars lose traction at the rear wheels at the slightest hint of precipitation. I never drove mine in snow, but getting caught in a sudden downpour while on the interstate scared me enough to pull off the highway and get some lunch while the storm passed.
    Of course my car was extremely nose heavy (455 ci V-8 with a TH400 transmission) and the only weight in the trunk was the spare tire and jack, so a smaller V-8 might result in better handling.

  8. Am I the only person who remembers sand or kitty litter in the trunk for weight and used for traction when stuck by pouring some out by the free spinning wheels?

  9. My very first car was a 1961 Oldsmobile 98 which was nearly 30 years old when I started driving it. We had studded snows for it. It didn’t really help winter traction that much. It was absolutely a horrid car in the winter and I doubt a 3 years newer model improved upon that.

    It was a massive car, but actually good to learn on. Weak brakes, big inertia and only lap belts means you drive super careful. Required maintenance no modern asks of you (manually adjusting drum brakes), regular fluid checks on everything. I miss the experience of driving it, but I do not miss the overall ownership experience.

  10. “Seriously it’s just art, man.”
    The Olds Super 88 and ski resort is just like the 4 dogs playing poker painting. Looks cool but nobody would ever see such a thing in real life.

  11. If it weren’t for the roads here in Detroit being more heavily salted than plate of Panda Express Chow Mein I’d be willing to test the winter handling acumen of 60’s land yachts with my Imperial.

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