Home » Oscar The Grouch’s Sloppy Jalopy: Cold Start

Oscar The Grouch’s Sloppy Jalopy: Cold Start

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Consider today’s Cold Start a sort of public service announcement for those of you who may not be aware: noted garbage can-dweller Oscar the Grouch, of Sesame Street, New York, canonically owns and drives what appears to be a slightly modified 1968 Volkswagen Beetle convertible. It’s not in what most people would call good or even remotely hygienic condition, but in the Grouch community, I think it’s highly respected. The car has a name, too: the Sloppy Jalopy, and it seems it is sometimes employed as a taxi.

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The modifications seem to be a strangely re-built and squared-off hood, along with what may be a partial garbage can used in place of the conventional engine lid. The cooling fan may benefit from the large cylindrical can structure, but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

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The spare tire seems to be occasionally placed on the hood itself, since the re-worked front end blocks the usual spare tire well up front. The increased hood height almost looks like one of those fake Rolls-Royce kits minus the grille, but also appears more home-built. The increased height should add to the trunk capacity, useful for the taxi service, which, it should be noted, seems to have a motto that reads “We Don’t Go Anywhere.”

The Sloppy Jalopy was actually once used in an ad for the Chrysler Pacifica! Look:

I guess Chrysler wanted to be really sure the other cars in their ads wouldn’t overshadow the Pacifica, or prove more appealing. I’ll have to look at sales numbers to tell if that worked.

Oh, one last thing: Did you know Oscar was once orange? Look:

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Crazy, right? I always equate him with that very particular garbage-green, but his original form was orange. In 1970, Oscar became green, attributing the change to algae growth in his fur after a vacation in a swamp. Also, I just learned that Oscar’s birthday is June 1, the day before mine! Holy crap! Look at all we’re learning today! The important things!


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21 Responses

  1. I don’t think the highback seats existed in 1968, so to me it looks more like a 1971 or ’72.

    – But always nice with som pop culture I didn’t know anything about 🙂

  2. Oh, I’d love to ride in Oscar’s mired beater,
    That’s is what I’d truly like to do,
    Cause when you ride in Oscar’s mired beater,
    Everybody laughs and shouts PU.

  3. He looks so happy behind the wheel in that lead image! But Oscar prefers being miserable… so is he really happy? It’s an interesting conundrum.

    That’s too existential for me to get before I’ve had my coffee…

  4. I’ve learned more and had more interest in this article about a puppets canonical vehicle choices than almost anything new that’s being built. I’m not sure if that’s a societal problem or a me problem..

    1. Societal (& just the progress of cars)…most new cars are boring (& have too many screens)-To me at least. Older cars & “sloppy jalopy’s” (love it) are just more interesting & have more “personality”. Also great history like Murilee Martin’s junkyard finds

  5. “I guess Chrysler wanted to be really sure the other cars in their ads wouldn’t overshadow the Pacifica, or prove more appealing.”
    Does anyone remember the ad campaign that Oldsmobile ran in the 90s for the Intrigue where the TV commercials had James Bond themes playing up the model’s name? A few commercials were repeated virtually ad infinitum (ha, no pun intended there with the ‘ad’) but one commercial in particular didn’t seem to have been broadcast often, as I only ever saw it maybe twice & haven’t ever found it on YouTube, where the protagonist driving an Intrigue was being pursued through some city streets by some bad guys driving a Citroën DS. Always wondered if they pulled that commercial because the Intrigue was so overshadowed by so ineffably cool a car as that DS (especially since it was all black with very dark tinted windows & minimal chrome so it was all the more striking.)

  6. I actually did know that he was originally orange. I however didn’t know that he became green because of algae. I just figured it had come from living in garbage. So even I learned something new today. Also since we’re talking Sesame Street I’d suggest reading Jim Henson: The Biography if you want to know more about Jim Henson’s life. It was a really good read and now that I’m thinking about it I want to read it again.

  7. I think it’s very likely that the squared-off hood was created so that a hidden driver can sit under it and see out of the little rectangular cutout at the front. It fits with the trashy aesthetic while serving a practical purpose for filming when the normal driver’s seat is occupied by puppets and puppeteers.

    1. I think you are right. The bumper is also off as a visual cue that it is in need of repair, and people looking/talking over the top of it suggests that he may have said something from underneath.

    2. I’m fairly certain that still image is from the never-aired episode where Oscar was run over and killed by his own car. I think the episode was teaching about grief or something like that. Or maybe it was teaching about taking care of your property. Either way, it was deemed to dark for the audience, and there was a massive write-in campaign to “Save Oscar” when word leaked that he’d be killed off (remember that famous picture of Ed Koch wearing the t-shirt on that roller coaster?), so the episode was canned.

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