I Made Our Daydreaming Designer Imagine An Oldsmobile For Actual Old People

Olds Top

One of The Autopian’s greatest resources is a strange, almost unnatural ability to attract talented people and convince them to do dumb things for us. One of the best examples of this is The Bishop, the mysterious Important Professional who doesn’t work in the automotive field, but has some training as a car designer, and now uses that training to imagine absurd things, just for your sick, sick pleasure. Lately, The Bishop has been doing some exciting stuff – alternate-history Tatras, re-imagined GMC motorhomes, Checker cabs that never were, that sort of thing. Fun stuff. But what if I asked him to do something, you know, not fun? Specifically, what if I asked him to imagine the sort of thing that automakers seem absolutely loathe to do: design a car specifically, and unashamedly, for old people. Yes. Old people. In fact, let’s make it an Oldsmobile, for literal olds.

Generally, carmakers see targeting a car at old people as a kiss of death, because they all crave that young, sexy money, they all want a youthful demographic to show off, even the ones that happily take money from old, rich people. It’s been this way for a while, and, really, it’s kind of absurd. Of course old people are going to want and need to drive, and they have pretty specific needs from their cars, so why not just design and build some cars that accept that and cater to them?

Instead, though, we get insecure companies like Oldsmobile, already saddled with That Name, desperately trying to remind us that they don’t build cars for your dad:

Of course, Oldsmobile is long dead now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ask The Bishop to exhume their corpse and flog it by designing an Oldsmobile from an imaginary era where Oldsmobile openly and proudly embraced the needs of our senior drivers, gave them exactly what they want and need, as told to them by the geriatrics themselves, or, possibly, their concerned children.

So, I feed this unsexy concept to The Bishop, let him marinate and stew and eat dinner at 4:30 pm for a few weeks, and them whammo, out pops this vision of an alternate 2004, where, instead of GM killing off the Oldsmobile brand, they pivot and finally really lean in to what the brand had been all along: old people cars. With this maybe not new but now official mission, Oldsmobile gets a new lease on life and releases its proudly elderly-targeted flagship, the 2004 Oldsmobile Saffire, A Car for Life:

Oldssaffire Full

Here’s how The Bishop describes it:

Here’s the 2004 Oldsmobile Saffire…A Car For Life.   The slogan implies safety and longevity even if it REALLY means this piece of shit will be your LAST CAR, a vehicle that will eventually be handed down to disappointed grandkids like with Dodge Darts in my generation.

 First, we position the car in the same place Oldsmobile always used to be.  The buyers of this car..let’s choose fictitious 75 year old Stuart and Dolores Kahn from Highland Park, IL…could easily head down to Steve Foley Cadillac in Northbrook and buy that car they want, but CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THE GIRLS AT COFFEE AND AT TEMPLE WOULD SAY??  WE’RE NOT FANCY SCHMANCY TYPES, STU. So the Saffire gives them what they want..it looks like I traced over a concurrent DeVille/DTS and just added classic Oldsmobile nose and taillights…because that’s what it is…and honestly what the Olds 98 always was. 

 You know how the 2005 Mustang was designed to look like a late sixties ‘Stang?  This Olds would do the same thing but instead it would echo the looks of the dull-ass 88s and Cutlass Supremes the owners had during the Reagan years..but now in a more modern car.  Underwhelmed with the styling?  GOOD!!  If you thought it was a slick looking ride I wouldn’t be doing my job.

So, the exterior is designed to generally blend in with modern cars, there’s no need for overt peans to the olds, like doilies or Werther’s Originals stripe kits or anything like that. In fact, the real action is on the inside, starting with how one gets inside, because, as you may have seen, the act of entering or exiting a car does not get easier with age. At all. So ease of ingress and egress is paramount, to the point where The Bishop mentioned this famous experiment in automotive entries, one that was actually worked on by a former CCS classmate of The Bishop:

Remember that? Very cool, and look at how easy that access is! Of course, it’s also wildly complex and would rightly terrify any old person who has owned cars and understands deeply and powerfully that complicated shit breaks and costs a lot of money to fix. And, you know, old people are on fixed incomes, though to be absolutely honest even though I’m at the cusp of Genuinely Old myself, I’ve never been clear on just what that means.

Anyway, The Bishop has a solution:

Entry

The Olds has Lincoln Continental style center opening doors but with no pillar (like a Nissan Axxess van, among others).  However, unlike Honda Elements or pickup trucks, you do NOT need to open the main door first to open the back one…that would be too confusing for oldsters.  Yes, this will require a special sealing system that would electrically move in place once both doors are shut. The outside door handles together look sorta like one so if appears to some to be a coupe..so sporty!!

The front seats swivel outwards just like they did on Monte Carlos of the Pet Rock era, and getting in back with those suicide doors is a snap.  The doors could electrically close like on a Rolls or Tesla, but again let’s keep it simple.  Instead, the armrests or part of the door panel would pop out when the door is open to allow passengers to easily pull them closed (almost like the arm on a rowing machine) and then would pop back flush when the door is shuts.

If that’s not enough, The Bishop has also considered the issues when the person is inside the car and needs help moving around, help that the usual “oh shit” handles can not provide:

Grabrail

There’s a grab handle the runs all the up the A pillar, down the roof, and up to the C pillar…but it’s designed to blend into the headliner so it doesn’t seem like an invalid add-on.  Plus, there’s HUGE cutouts to add a full width bar over the rear seat for taking hanging wardrobe.  Note that the side windows offer optional pivoting vent windows, a favorite and likely deal closer for old people everywhere….and David Tracy. [Editor’s Note: David is, in fact, a future old person, if that helps – JT]

So, we have tactfully-hidden full-interior grab rails, which seems like it would be very useful, and The Bishop is just getting started helping old people settle into their car. I think this take on driver seat positioning is incredibly smart and would likely be great for a lot of elderly drivers:

Driversettings

What about getting the seat, wheel, and mirrors set?  That’s ALWAYS a huge pain for old people and they NEVER get it right.  How about you start with a knob you turn to your height…let’s say it’s five foot seven….and the system moves everything to what is generally considered correct for that height of a person.  Even the interior rear view mirror would be power so it can adjust to your setting.  Sure, you can fine tune it, but at LEAST it will get you within hailing distance.  There would be memory buttons of course, and there is a sharpie and alcohol wipes in the owner’s portfolio for you write on your name.

 

Dash

The dashboard and instrument cluster is another point where there is plenty of room for optimization for older people, starting with big, clear typography, and The Bishop has carefully considered it all:

If I need to explain anything about the controls then, again, I haven’t done my job. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen in the last sixty years; even the good old pull out headlight switch is there.  The gas gauge is even set to the GM standards of staying at full forever and then dropping like a stone quickly like every car they used to make. I kid. I did put the fuel gauge WAY over so that Dolores (or whoever is in the passenger seat) cannot see it and raise hell if it drops below about half a tank on trips (“Goddammit Dolores, there’s a light that comes on when it’s time to get gas!!”).

Turn signal arrows are big, plus you can see the hood mounted turn indicator repeaters in the outside rendering.  You would also have that already-used feature of the signal ticking changing to TICK TICK TICK or cancelling after 60 seconds of so.

Note the available floor pedal that could be used to switch on high beams like in days of yore, or switched to be able to change radio stations or wipe the wipers while pressed…keep both hands on the wheel, Stu!!  You can switch readings to metric, too, but what the fuck did we win WWII for???

A column shift because of course…not a ‘stick’ like my grandma would say (apparently an auto selector on the floor constituted a stick shift).

Of course, radio is important to older drivers, not just for nostalgic music reasons, but also to receive nonstop propaganda from talk radio about whatever end of the political spectrum they need to currently fear or hate. Controls and display design is especially important here, as these are removed further from the main driving controls and the all-important windshield.

Radio

Here’s the radio and climate control thermostat which look like…a car radio and a home thermostat.  Simple.  I really don’t know if it should have anything more than a single disc CD player… Stuart will forget which ones are in there and how to get them out…so just leave Dolores’s Barbra in the player and then put Hot August Night in the glove box for when Stu wants to rock out….that Bose system makes it sound like Neil Diamond is RIGHT THERE IN THE CAR.

Those climate buttons, by the way, are like the size of Tic Tac box…they’re fucking huge.  Sure, there would be navi/multi-disc/Bluetooth/touchscreen options to replace this center stack, but I think they would be about as popular as an optional rear wing and Brembo brakes on this thing.

I also gave The Bishop a specific request, one that I think would be useful and also deeply unsexy: find a way to integrate supplemental oxygen tanks, and The Bishop delivered:

Oxygen

Where to place oxygen tanks in the passenger compartment?  NOWHERE!  There’s an optional oxygen concentrator in the trunk with outlets where the ashtray usually is, and also behind the armrest in back.  You can make it all the way to Florida without a bunch of tanks!

Even better! Build the oxygen system right into the car! They can carry their walking-around tanks in the trunk, and not have to worry about dealing with tanks when in the car, because the car has it all integrated.

And, finally, the Saffire has one last old-folks-friendly party trick: the retractable Rascal carrier:

Scooter

“How about those ugly scooter carriers I see on the backs of cars?  Oldsmobile could offer an electric fold away platform that would slide under the rear bumper.  It would go to ground level to allow you to drive right up onto the platform and then raise/strap it down, OR you could place heavy items on it to be lifted to trunk level for you to slide them in.  Remote buttons on a key fob would control the platform.”

Look how clever! It can carry a scooter or help lift heavy things to get them into the trunk! Two important old-folk needs handled by one system! I’m not exactly sure how the retraction mechanism works, but that’s for GM’s fictional engineers to figure out! They figured out the 90° fan belt in the Corvair, they can sure as hell figure out this.

I’m impressed by the imaginary Oldsmobile Saffire, and I’m now convinced that this sort of pivot would have made more sense for Oldsmobile than just killing the brand. I mean, this is still a very untapped market, and it feels like leaving money on the table to just ignore it. Some carmaker is going to come out with a car that directly addresses the needs of older drivers, not just with luxury or status, but with the actual, unglamorous but practical answering of specific old-people needs.

Whoever does so will have a whole market to themselves, and be the go-to choice of 45 year old kids convincing their 78-year old parents what the last car they should buy will be.

After all, I bet everyone reading this is in the pry-the-keys-out-of-my-dead-hands school of thought, right? We’re just thinking ahead.

 

 

 

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109 Responses

  1. I would buy that damn thing in a heartbeat! I like that he brought back the classic Oldsmobile “Rocket” emblem instead of that abomination Hyundai style logo that replaced it in 96’

    1. WELL I spoke to Stu and Delores… and they both told me what they told you.

      But then afterward, Stu took me aside and quietly said that he was only saying that to keep the peace with Dolores.

      You see, Dolores has a bit of a big ass.

      A really big ass.

      And in the past, she had a Bad Experience.

      You see, Stu bought a sporty car for them to enjoy on weekends. And that car had some nicely bolstered bucket seats.

      While Stu was fine in them, when Dolores tried to get in, she looked like one of those pictures of a fat cat in a small box:
      https://i.pinimg.com/564x/9b/54/b3/9b54b3abbd42b31e497acb9a60d795fe.jpg

      Now that wasn’t the big issue. The big issue was Stu watching her and laughing his ass off saying “YOU LOOK LIKE A FAT CAT IN A SMALL BOX!”

      Well… they ALMOST got divorced over that one. And Stu doesn’t want to get divorced and pay support until he dies.

      So… he cannot mention sporty/sculpted/bucket seats or his preference for them ever again.

      So Stu would love sporty sculpted seats… but he isn’t allowed to publicly admit it.

      1. “One of The Autopian’s greatest resources is a strange, almost unnatural ability to attract talented people and convince them to do dumb things for us. One of the best examples of this is” Manwich, who talked to Stu and Dolores and told us about it. I am still laughing, even though it has taken the time for me to sign in to My Account twice to make this comment.

  2. Somebody had way too much fun with this one.

    Would this include a lane keeping assist system? I only ask because of my elderly dad who considers his new Prius the safest car ever due to its ability to prevent him from drifting out of his lane on the freeway. After taking a 45 minute drive with him, I can attest to the fact that it was absolutely necessary. I assume it wasn’t mentioned, though, because it’s not a styling element and there’d be no reason to have a switch to turn it on as you’d never want to allow them to turn it off.

  3. Yes–of course–people my age all need incontinence product dispensers and oxygen on tap. Good Grief.
    But seriously the thing that misses the mark here is the ride height. You’ll find as you enter your mid 60’s that having to climb up and out of a sedan is a non starter.
    We have a Gen One CR-V that’s the perfect height for easy in and egress.

  4. Knowing some old fogies from the 70’s era, some things are missing?.

    Bench front seats. Loved by the old crew. Slide in and out. Bucket seats need not apply. Swivel buckets, that was tried by Chevy…. Lower level Chevelle and Laguna….

    The older generation took GM’s automotive heirachy to heart. chevy Pontiac Olds Buick and Caddy. Our greatest generation didn’t buy the Cutlass. They bought the 98. Viewed as a “Cadillac ad a lower price”. Ask my dad. Right up there with the Buick Electra 225…. Another story…. But the reimagined Olds need to exude the Luxury Class required by these senior buyers…

    1. Great take, but I have a slightly different view.

      I’m now 59. My dad was in the generation that bought the 98. My generation bought the Cutlass, and we’re the same generation that bought most of the retro Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers. If GM had given Oldsmobile one last chance with a retro Cutlass, it might have survived.

      To be honest, the Mach-E is somewhat appealing simply due to ride height.

    2. GLL- yes! That is exactly what I was thinking. These are often individuals that could afford a Caddy but, as my mom says, “we’re just not that kind of people’. Buicks/Olds were doctor’s cars, while Fleetwoods were for flashier types. People like Stu and Dolores would eventually assimilate to Lexus (or Toyota Avalon) but if they were old and buying this car in 2004 they’re too dead now to make the change.

      Also, I absolutely agree that taller seating and greenhouses are better for old people, but…and I quote… ‘I don’t want one of those truck things’. Don’t even start with my Soul/Xb/Juke suggestion to Said People…’I’m not gonna drive that little clown car!!’

  5. As the owner of a ’68 4-4-2, I should be offended by this, but I’m not. This is (almost) perfection. I have one more idea, though…

    It’s a special kind of driver assistance mode where the car actually doesn’t go anywhere. Yes, the key starts it, the gauges light up, the radio comes on, the A/C starts to blow, but when you hit the gas, a projection takes over on the windshield and fools the driver into thinking they are actually driving while the car remains safely in the circular drive at Shady Acres.

    It’s kind of a Full-You-Aren’t-Really-Driving Mode. It only kicks in when the driver is so far gone that it won’t be disorienting to get in the car, “drive” somewhere, arrive, and get out of the car at the same exact place you left from.

    1. That is brilliant, depressing, thoughtful and feasible. There should be one parked at every retirement community.

      There would need to be more oversized memory buttons and names of course, but they would also change the VR scenery projected on the windscreen to match that of the users age and upbringing.

      Just a nice cruise through the old neighborhood with some favorite tunes playing.

  6. The quad sealed-beam headlights are a nice touch, but surely their surround should be chromed instead of blacked-out?

    Mid-2000s is long enough for us to imagine how this car itself has aged – what still works, and what mods were made when the last car became a first car? Would Aiden or Olivia bother writing their name in Sharpie on the climate controls, what would they use the programmable floor button for or do about the rust hole that now surrounds it, and can the platform be used for mountain bikes?

    1. nlpnt- my rendering didn’t come off showing what I wanted, which is sealed-beam-looking-lights-that-really-aren’t under clear covers (I think I used Nissan Z32 lights for some reason) as on a concurrent RX300 or e39 BMW. The chrome seemed a bit much when I tried it.

      I said the same thing! This car would be an unwanted hand-me-down to Millennials just like GenXers like myself got slant 6 grandma Darts…always in green!!!

      1. You did make the correct call there; even Buick had long ago done away with brightwork surrounds in favor of blackout with thin chrome strips. (i.e. Skyhawk, Regal, LeSabre.) Buicks from 1987+ (LeSabre and Regal notably) do the ‘assembly posing as dual sealed-beams’ thing because they literally did exactly that. They made an assembly that fit into the dual sealed beam housing, and literally had the exact same square split as dual sealed beams. Because GM.
        No. Seriously. Look.
        https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcarphotos.cardomain.com%2Fride_images%2F4%2F289%2F81%2F38220040027_original.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

        Also, under absolutely NO circumstances should the lights have an off switch. Period. Literally the only options they should have are “Auto, Parking, On.” Because if you give them an ‘off’ option, they will never fucking turn them on at night. GM’s “Twilight Sentinel” wasn’t named that for the outdoor conditions, it was named it for the typical driver’s mental faculties.

        1. GM had that covered too. That switch had a momentary “off” position that automatically reset the next time the car power cycled. It was annoying at drive-in movie theaters or when trying to sneak my now-wife out. Yes, I had a hand-me-down LeSabre with that switch as an early twentysomething. It ended up being an awesome car once it had good tires and a tuneup.

  7. I think you missed the mark on the name of this car. I would recommend….The Incontinental. Featuring “spill proof” seats that can handle any leaks.

    I also think you missed out on the headliner having storage compartments for 15 different strength reading glasses.

  8. Spot on. Brilliant. I think I want this even though I’m sorta shopping for Mustang Eco-Boost. Having recently lost elderly in-laws, I’d recommend getting the vehicle height to at the common CUV standards. Seniors with mobility problems have trouble sitting down and getting up from low positions. Even seat heights like the Subie Outback should work. Or……raise the greenhouse and allow for electrically elevating seats a la power lifting lounge seats.

    1. Relatively high seating position (and ease of entry) was one of Ford’s big selling points when they brought out the Five Hundred in ’05, but it didn’t exactly light the market on fire.

      1. They branded it Command Seating, was supposed to convince SUV buyers to come back to full size sedans. Looking back, not sure why one of the most successful SUV makers even wanted to do that, I mean, if it succeeded, wouldnt it have dented Explorer and Expedition sales? No way the Five Hundred had a better margin than those

    2. And here’s another daydreaming imagination for the Bishop: take a sexy Luxo coupe (like that Lincoln MK VIII) and turn it into a limo. I’d like to see what interesting concepts he could come up with.

    1. Ranwhenparked- I was told by a GM interior designer that if you specifically market a car as an ‘old persons’ vehicle it will not sell. There are numerous senior-friendly features in certain cars that they gravitate towards (Buick, Cadillac) but they don’t heavily advertise them for that reason…they’d end up about as popular as an AC Cobra kit with a 5.7 liter diesel and 3 speed auto installed.

      1. Similar issue with those commercials for various “As Seen on TV” products – a lot of them are designed for the elderly or the differently abled, but, because of stigmas around that, they show healthy, able-bodied younger people struggling to crack eggs, butter toast, and read restaurant menus under normal indoor lighting

        1. Similarly, the Chevy Sonic was marketed as a fun small car for young first-time new car buyers. But anecdotally I’ve read articles indicating lots of sales to older people like me. I ordered my ‘13 stick-shift hatchback as a commuter car in August 2012 at age 57, took delivery six weeks later, and am still driving it ten years and only 52K miles later. It appears to ride about a full inch higher than my wife’s 2016 Fit, is easier to get into and out of, and has somewhat more comfortable seats.

          I have no legitimate reason to sell it besides “wanting something different” but I am very curious about the new Acura Integra liftback, because in its top trim level I can get both a stick shift and four-way power lumbar supports in the driver’s seat.

        2. Exactly. The Scion xB was supposed to be for hip, poor young people. But middle-aged folks like, ahem, myself, looked at it and said, “Cool! A Toyota Corolla mini-vanish that is cheap!” I am sure that’s who bought most of them.

          1. The xB had tall doors at car height that made getting in and out easy. It looked silly, but in a funky sort of way. This would have been another prototype for Dolores, also with big, clear controls and readouts.. And it had more punch than it looked like, too, for Stu.

            1. My neighbors are 83 and 85. They recently came home with a new car. I asked the husband why he chose that particular model of that particular brand as it seemed an unusual choice from what I knew about him. He laughed and explained that he’d gone shopping with a tape measure and that was how he’d decided. His wife has a bad hip and he chose the vehicle as being the one closest to the right height for her to get in and out easily. He said the rest of the car doesn’t really matter as they don’t drive very far or very often.

            2. The second generation with its 2.4, sure. A first-gen is my Yaris still wearing the (unaerodynamic) box it came in, and the Yaris is… well, Torch wouldn’t think it was slow, but plenty of folks would disagree. Still plenty quick for Dolores, though.

    2. “Does anyone know of any other automaker, besides Kia with the Soul, to design something particularly targeted to the elderly? Seems like an underserved market.”

      Scion XB, especially the first generation. It may have been marketed to the ‘utes but it was the olds who loved them.

      I’ve long thought Toyota missed an opportunity by not hybridizing that first generation. A Prius drive train in that body would have been high on my own purchase radar.

    3. Is the Soul targeted at the elderly? I know that’s who buys them, but I always thought they marketed the Soul at a younger demographic. Then, as always happens, olds bought them to recapture their youth. 🙂

      1. I guess I just assumed, can’t recall the last time I saw someone much under 70 driving one. Always give Kia Souls a wide berth when walking through parking lots, because if those backup lights come on, the thing is liable to just shoot straight out of the spot regardless of what’s behind it. They’re the modern equivalent of a burgundy or champagne colored Buick Regal or Century

      2. Same thing happened when the Matrix was introduced. Apparently Toyotas target market was 20 somethings but it ended up being a mix of younger people and older people buying them with a trough in the middle. Young people were sold on the price and look/form while older people like the higher seating position compared to a Corolla and easy trunk access. Middle aged people with families didn’t buy them as they weren’t as pratical as something a size larger.

        I bought a Soul in my late 30’s as my secondary car (Mustang isn’t a pratical family hauler) and yeah, its a lot of older people driving them. My step mom (late 60’s) borrowed it for a few days and said “I just can’t get past the look but damn do I see why so many people my age and older buy these”.

    4. The Chevy Orlando, which was available in Canada but not the US was a perfect Old Person car. Basic controls and interior, anemic 4 cyl, FWD, Automatic. Very boxy and with the perfect ride height for easy ingress/egress.

  9. The Bishop did a good job translating the “Jitterbug” cell phone formula over to the controls and instruments – LARGE print, minimal buttons, no bullshit. The only thing missing is an OnStar type button for calling for help or getting assistance setting your radio presets (from a real, live, American person).

    1. I was in an accident in my ’10 Mustang and my iPhone automatically called 911, so I think the On Star option might be redundant at this point. Though trusting Grampa to actually link his Jitterbug to his car’s system could still be expecting a lot.

      Maybe just work out a one-touch link up to sync the phone to the car?

      1. F0@k butter rum lifesavers (mmm, that buttery goodness). Marry peppermint lifesavers (the very best lifesavers there are). Kill cinnamon disks (They’re nasty. Gimme cinnamon red-hots for something small and spicy, or Atomic Fire Balls for something big to tuck under my cheek and give me an adrenaline rush/heart palpitation). I still have scars inside both my cheeks from excessive Atomic Fireball use as a college student.

        1. I agree with you on the Peppermint Lifesavers, it’s basically the Girl Next Door of hard candy. My guilty pleasure is the Cinnamon Disk, so that’s the one to f**k. Sorry, The Butter Rum Lifesavers are ending up planted in the garden.

  10. I have one concern. That OAT gauge right in the middle of the speedo, I think Stu or Dolores could easily confuse that with a speed read out, and given the Florida summer, end up in a panic that the car is still doing 92 down I-4 when in fact they are down to 15.

  11. My parents are in their 70s and would be the target market for a geezermobile like this one. From their feedback (i.e. complaining), it appears they have a strong preference for something that sits a bit higher than a sedan. Apparently arthritic hips and knees don’t like to bend down to enter sedans. Maybe make the OLDsmobile a crossover or small SUV?

    Also, make sure the MSRP is under $20,000. My parents still think new cars cost $15,000. However, you could probably tack on an extra $25,000 and call it a luxury tax. If they question it, just blame the democrats. I guarantee at least 90% of midwestern geezers like my parents would accept that excuse.

    1. Personally, I’m nearing that demographic and I can attest to the fact that low-slung vehicles, while still sexy, are no longer my friend. It’s far easier to step up into the car than to step up out of it. Also, my older neighbors have all transitioned to small SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, the Subaru Forester, and the Honda CRV.

      1. Now that you mention it, I’ve noticed my parents have absolutely no difficulty stepping up into larger vehicles. They have no problems with my brother’s Pilot or even my lifted F250 (it has running boards, but is still a bit of a climb). I figure something like a CRV would be a good option for them.

  12. Have the seat pivot out/in automatically as the door opens/closes. That way they’d never shut the door on a pivoted-out seat. Make it a mechanical linkage.

    One possible problem with the no-pillar design is that some older people use an aftermarket gadget as a support handle for getting out of the seat. You put one end into the metal loop the door lock latches onto, and it provides a cantilevered grip as you stand up. Without a pillar there, this wouldn’t be possible.

    Maybe have a half-height pillar there, with a support handle that extends out when the door is opened.

  13. You know what was an actual hit with old people? The Scion XB. They were selling like crazy to the olds. Lots of space, comfortable seats, not too tall not too low. I don’t know how many time I heard someone say that it reminded them of a London cab. And cheap and easy to park.

  14. I’m actually surprised that no ad executive successfully tapped into the elderly (or other special needs) product goodwill. They should’ve figured a way to sell overpriced accessibilities packages to people that don’t actually need it, so they can feel better about themselves and the image they project. You know, like they do with everything else, like off-roaders or sport cars?
    Like the handful of people that actually want a trail rated vehicle do benefit from the demand the posers generate, so would the elderly (and others) reap in on the increased availability of accessible cars that cater to their needs, but are paid for people that want to say they care, but actually just want to show off.
    Maybe if accessibility could be conflated somehow with saving pandas or helping refugees or any other cause that touches people’s hearts, this could work. Hell, Fiat was halfway there with a car literally named the Panda, maybe go from there?
    P.S.: can we all just agree that “successfully” is a horrible word to spell? It has too many double consonants, and I, as a non native, never get it right on the first try.

  15. It still needs the feature where whenever the car pulls out onto a major boulevard or highway, the hazard lights will activate until the car actually reaches within 15 mph of the speed limit. That would have saved my grandma at least three accidents where people rammed into her car at speed, disbelieving that she could be driving that slowly.

  16. The one feature this is lacking is a retractable disabled parking placard, that automatically deploys the ubiquitous blue handicapped parking pass when in park, and hides it when the car is in motion.

  17. I wish so much Oldsmobile werestill with us today, as a kid I lusted over my Grandparents 1981 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. So much so that in my 5th grade yearbook a friend wrote “Buy an Oldsmobile.”

  18. “Some men are Baptists…others Catholics…My father was an Oldsmobile man.”
    – Ralphie (and also possibly my daughter at some point)

    Holy shit, this thing is awesome! You had me 100% at vent windows, but then made me actually want this wonderful abomination to exist when you mentioned floor-mounted dimming switch!! I would totally buy one. Of course, only if I was buying as the second owner when the thing had depreciated to 20% of it’s new price after five years.

    1. And Olds deprecating only 20% in five years felt kind of optimistic until I remembered the current state of the used car market. That sound about right.

      I’m right there with you in terms of liking this design. I think it looks better than any car I can remember hitting the market in 2004 (but I don’t really love modern car design). And almost everything about the interior is just perfect. The only thing I’d change is the CD player. I’d go with a cassette player and an Olds-branded cassette-aux cable adapter. The adapter could be safely stored in a slot next to the sharpie and alcohol wipes inside the owner’s portfolio when not in use.

      1. I meant that to mean 20% of it’s new price. As in $4,000 instead of $20,000 :-). I like that Olds-branded cassette-aux adapter idea! The cassette holes could serve as the “O’s” in “OldsmObile”. There would need to be some spacing for printing it on the plastic though, so it would look nice and awkward: “O ldsm O bile”

  19. I’m not quite getting the premise of this series of articles.

    So we’re taking current-gen accessible tech and retro-designing it to fit an earlier era of auto design?

    I’m saying this because all the stuff illustrated in this article exists today and doesn’t look much different than these illustrations do. (Except the oxygen thing, which is a horrible idea.)

  20. Taking the relevant words from the opening paragraph and translating that into what I thought was your job posting…wanted: talented, strange, dumb person for doing dumb things. Where do I apply?

    Also, where is the large strip of rubber around the entirety of the car’s perimeter, or is that bumper car bumper a dealer add on?

  21. “One of The Autopian’s greatest resources is a strange, almost unnatural ability to attract talented people and convince them to do dumb things for us.”

    Sigh. Again: the reason I know where every Familia GTR and GTAe, Skoda Felicia Fun, Mitsubishi FTO, and the like for sale in Europe along with sources for all of the utterly unobtainable NLA’d parts is, is because I actually charge people for this (I am available for importing any time) and generally only deal in complete cars and sourcing restoration parts for them!
    Which is to say: YOU HAVE TO BUY A WHOLE CORTINA, NOT JUST THE TAIL LIGHTS, JASON.
    What? Of course I’d import the Cortina for you. Just remember: anything David says ‘isn’t that rusty’ automatically gets HazMat and “It’s Not Scrap” fees (including pre-export VIN plate reattachment.)

    Also, trust me, the target demographic would never buy a car with a built-in oxygen generator if that deleted the cigarette lighter and ashtrays. And if they did, it would not make it out of the showroom without an ashtray installed to the dash pad with self-tapping screws.

  22. “There’s an optional oxygen concentrator in the trunk with outlets where the ashtray usually is, and also behind the armrest in back.”

    Um… you know old people can be stubborn, set in their ways and forgetful. That plus a 100 years of muscle memory.

    Here lies Stella. It was the cigarettes that did her in, but not exactly how we expected.

  23. I would love to see the Bishop do an interior design for the perfect gig driver car (Uber, Lyft etc..).

    Pick a good modern vehicle to work with and improve the interior for gig work. Something that can pick up passengers in the morning and deliver parcels in the evening.

    A few points I would consider.
    •Driver safety (passengers can be crazy)
    •Passenger safety (drivers can be crazy)
    •Ease of cleaning (Honda Element ease)
    •All day comfort without looking like a pig (can we get a hidden, easy access garbage receptacle)
    • Convertible interior space (I don’t want to deal with people today but I still need to make money)
    •Atractive (I want more people, repeat customers)

    Not up to date but I think the PT Cruiser or Mazda5 would have been great candidates for this specific purpose. Though the PT was never attractive.

  24. Given that seniors are pretty loyal van buyers because they share a lot of the same traits as this 98, I wonder how well the ’05 update of GM’s minivans would have ported over to the Silhouette.

  25. Dude, people from Highland Park, Illinois do not drive domestic sedans, no matter how old they are. They drive Benzes and Bimmers. A few with more sensible attitudes drive Lexuseses. The rebels drive Audis.
    This part of Illinois is the largest concentration of wealth anywhere between the coasts. Oldsmobile was persona non grata there by the late 80’s.

    1. BMW’s are the new Oldsmobiles.
      Audi’s are the new Pontiacs.
      Mercedes are Chryslers
      Lexus are Buicks

      I am not sure who would be the new Cadillac – expensive, good quality, effortless, impressive. It sure ain’t Cadillac, but I can’t really hand that crown to any of the above listed pretenders. Maybeeee Tesla?

    2. mber- yes, at Food Truck Thursday last week (next to Ravina metra) I didn’t see one domestic car, but twenty years ago (I was proposing this as a 2004 car) there were still ‘legacy’ residents (read-old) that would stick with their tried and true brands and wanted to maintain a level or austerity (despite having a $900,000 house). You remember there was a big Buick dealer on 41 across from Target. (full disclosure- Stu and Dolores are based on HP-resident parents of friends of ours, names changed).

  26. As an aside, check the script in this morning’s (6/24) Cold Start, it won’t allow comments because it “thinks” I’m logged out. Probably everyone else since it’s been up almost 2 hours with 0 comments.

    And my best guess is that they were using up the old-model parts in Mexico hence a delayed intro for the facelift.

    1. I know, give me this in a hatchback and without the Rascal and oxygen tank accoutrements.
      In Japan, meanwhile, lots of brands market cars for seniors. Already in the 1990s, Suzuki made the Alto Slide Slim, which has a sliding driver’s side door and rotating front seat.

  27. I might only be in my 40’s, but the idea of a new car that still has ACTUAL BUTTONS instead of a touchscreen is a great one. I don’t like having to take my eyes off the road to find the control I want.

    1. Mike- indeed, these features could just as easily be applied to a Park Avenue. Honestly, the only reason Buick still exists is that they are supposedly very popular in China and Taiwan. Also, Buick is obviously trying to go after a different demographic now, since dead people rarely buy cars.

      1. “Also, Buick is obviously trying to go after a different demographic now, since dead people rarely buy cars.”

        They do vote though, early and often so why cant dead folks buy cars*?

        *As long as their credit lasts anyway.

      2. They were very popular in China.
        And Buick’s attempts to shift their demographic is going even worse this time than last time. Nobody of any age group wants an atrocious mini-SUV made in China with build quality and NVH that would even make 1980’s GM pause before shipping it. (They’d still ship it, but they’d at least think about it first.) And they’re actively hemorrhaging market share in China because it turns out that you can’t just dump mildly updated 1989 Lumina APVs made using the original tooling and underpowered mild-refreshes of 10 year old models on the market forever. Especially not when the local competition starts beating your build quality.

        The last thing that moved the needle on Buick’s demographics was the Joseph Abboud package Regals circa ’02-’04. Of the more than two dozen I saw, not a single one was bought by someone over the age of 37. Because the seniors who routinely put 87 octane in their Park Avenue Ultras got behind the wheel and got scared to near literal death. Because you guessed it – 3800 Series II Supercharged. They literally actively cut power WAY back on hard launch and STILL did 0-60 quicker than a Focus SVT, Monte Carlo SS, 300M Special, RSX, 3.2CL, list goes on.
        And that was before they saw the price tag – the LS would set you back a cool $25k, but the Abboud? It was a maxed out, murdered out GSE with a price tag that could top $34k before tax and title. The Regal GS with minimum options was already over $30k in ’01! All those folks went to the Century with the 3100 and the cloth pillow seats.

        But when you put the commuting Gen-Xer dreaming of literally anything but another boring, fuel efficient, cheapo Toyota or Honda in one? That car was sold. Shitloads of torque on tap, all the bells and whistles, the Monsoon stereo, a black two tone paintjob that both evoked their 1980’s poster cars but also elevated it, a genuinely nice interior for the time, reasonable fuel mileage (EPA said 27 but real was 33-35MPG typical,) and entirely within reach on a 60 or 72 term, plus it was cheaper than a similar Acura (over $38k!) or Lexus.

        Of course, GM being GM, what they’ll do is whittle the Buick lineup down even further till it’s just the atrocious Encore GX, blame everyone else for the still plummeting sales (from 17k to just 4.6k in China in one year,) and won’t you please cut Ms. Barra a very large blank check to save the company again? Think of the poor shareholders!

        1. I was going to mention the 3800 V6 for the old’s but clearly you already know. In fact you seem to know so much I’m guessing you either 1) owned a Regal 2) Worked on its development or 3) got alot of rides in it.

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