Olds Lang Syne


 LANSING, Michigan April 27, 2004; The AP reported that the Oldsmobile, the line of cars that started out in 1897 and featured models such as the Rocket 88 and the muscular 442, is coming to an end this week.

The last Olds, an Alero, is due to roll off an assembly line Thursday in Lansing, the same city where the brand was born.

General Motors Corp. had announced in December 2000 that it would discontinue the Oldsmobile, the oldest automotive brand name in U.S. history.

"Generations of people in Lansing have been touched by Oldsmobile, either by making them in the plant or driving them down the road," GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said.

"I can understand GM's business decision, but seeing Oldsmobile go is almost like a death of someone in the family," said Ken Nicholas, a longtime Olds enthusiast from Eaton Rapids.

On Wednesday, GM will unveil a series of 500 Special Edition Aleros, which will bear special logos and certificates of authenticity.

However, no one will have a chance to buy the absolute last Olds off the assembly line -- it is destined for Lansing's R.E. Olds Transportation Museum.

The Oldsmobile was named for its founder, Ransom E. Olds, who started the Olds Motor Vehicle Co.

Worldwide, only the Daimler name -- of Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and now DaimlerChrysler -- is older.

GM later absorbed the company and the Olds became the middle-class, middle-age car in GM's lineup -- more expensive than Chevrolet and Pontiac but below Buick and Cadillac.

Oldsmobile was among the pioneers in using chrome-plated trim and the mass production of automatic transmissions. It gave drivers the V-8 Eighty Eight series, the front-wheel-drive Toronado and the Cutlass, which included the 442 muscle car.