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A Real Survivor: 1973 Olds 98 2 Door Hardtop

General Motors once advertised the Oldsmobile with the slogan, “This is Not Your Father’s Automobile”. Today, that Oldsmobile might not be your father’s automobile, but instead your grandfather’s! Time moves on and after 101 years Oldsmobile is long gone. By the 1990’s GM brands had become mostly rebadged clones of each other so Pontiac and Oldsmobile were not much missed. These big rear wheel drive luxury cars are gone as well. It is one of those “you had to be there” experiences. American luxury in the 1970s meant a big, heavy and roomy car with living room comfort including AC, automatic transmission, and power windows. Downsizing started with the next generation in 1977 so these ninth generation Oldsmobiles were as big as they got. This Olds listed on craigslist is a survivor of those days. It has been pampered for decades and sheltered from winter’s ravages. The seller has provided detailed pictures of many of the normal trouble spots for rust. They all look freshly painted. Hopefully, the underside is rust free as well. The buyer will have to really appreciate this car in order to be willing to pay the $6,750 asking price, but it really is nice.

The interior looks just like it would have looked after a couple of years of use. It really does “take one back” as they say.

Everything looks original under the hood. A good detailing would make it look really nice. The 455 cubic-inch Rocket V8 still made 320 horsepower despite the onset of SMOG regulations. Catalytic converters were due in 1975 so the engine was designed to run on regular leaded gas, low-lead or unleaded gasoline.

One advantage of these big cars is their huge trunks. A big disadvantage, of course, is how often that fuel door has to be opened to fill the barge. The new owner is not likely to put many miles on it so fuel mileage probably isn’t much of a concern. The seller envisions his Olds slammed and bagged with Dubs. Hopefully, the new owner will decide to leave it original. The $6,750 asking price may seem a little high, but if someone appreciates this car for its originality and condition it might seem more reasonable. Hopefully, the new owner will just drive it and appreciate it.


  1. nycbjr Member

    I’m on team miss Pontiac! But I agree they were shells of themselves by then.

    Nice car love the long doors and meaty motor!

    Like 7
  2. Howard A Member

    Without going the Caddy or Lincoln route in ’73, I think this was as nice a car as you could buy. All these big GM’s were tanks. The old man loved them.
    Since interest is slim for this car as is, they are popular with some folks, and will probably become this, as the seller suggests, and that’s ok, I suppose.

    Like 7
    • gregwnc

      That’s certainly not my taste, and I know some would call it sacrilege, but I’d rather see these old barges customized than crushed and lost forever.

      Like 4
    • Mike B

      Ri-DONC-ulous! Hopefully this fine survivor doesn’t find itself wearing 26″ wheels. I can see a larger wheel with lower profile sidewall, but that’s just TOO much! I just picked up a 63 F85, aluminum V8, 4 barrel, wearing its stock 13″ wheels… those would be twice the diameter.

      Like 0
  3. Tim

    Also miss Pontiac. Olds? Meh. Not sure what this means: “The seller envisions his Olds slammed and bagged with Dubs.” Huh?

    Like 7
    • Dave Mc

      Lowered using air bags with 20+” rims… I think, lol.

      Like 5
      • Beatnik Bedouin

        Yup, customised by Barnum & Bailey….

        Seriously, these were nice, if very thirsty, barges, and this one is worth preserving, as is…

        Like 14
  4. 8banger Dave Mika Member

    Rollin with my homies, dropped and bouncin’ on Ds.

    Like 4
  5. Vance

    Had a female acquaintance who used to “borrow” her grandfather’s car on Friday/Saturday nights. Very roomy accommodations for my 6’3″ frame. I truly appreciated the leg room on that car. Thanks for the memories.

    Like 14
    • Howard A Member

      I think there’s more to that story than we’re hearing, Vance,,, :)

      Like 13
  6. Mr. TKD

    I love these barges as they are reminiscent of my youth.

    Like 3
  7. Miguel

    The four door version of this was my grandmothers, then my mothers and then mine.

    I would buy this one in a second if I cold get it across the border and we had the gasoline to power it.

    Like 8
  8. Rock On

    My Dad has two of these while he worked his way up to Cadillacs and Lincolns. You would probably want to lose the open element air cleaner if you want to use it as a luxury car.

    Like 4
  9. Kenneth Carney

    There’s a ’73 Chevy Caprice on my route
    that reminds me of this car. Like the Olds
    pictured here, it wears a shiny paint job
    and is clean and dent free outside with
    absolutely zero rust on it. Haven’t really
    seen the interior yet as it is parked off
    the street and hard to see at night. I
    ride by each morning after throwing a
    paper to the house next door, look to
    my right and daydream about that car
    until my SIL yells at me to throw my
    next paper! Like that Chevy, this Olds
    would be the stuff of my daydreams
    for years to come. My next door neighbor in my hometown had one
    of these in 1980 or thrreabouts. His
    was a beautiful dark red with a white
    vinyl roof. It had all the bells and whistles
    on it that you could get in ’73. Got to
    ride in it quite often. What blew me away
    was how good music sounded on the
    quadrafonic stereo radio. Sadly though,
    he totalled it out when he hit a tree while
    driving drunk. The Olds shown here
    brought back some wonderful memories
    and fantasies too. Nice find, keep ’em

    Like 9
  10. ccrvtt

    I know you’re taking a chance on a 45-year-old car and using it as a daily driver, but what else can you get for $6K? And remember, these cars were daily driven when people bought them so there’s a possibility that they’re reliable. Yeah, it’s a gas hog, but if you only live a few miles from work you can afford it.

    Cars like this make a statement. And that statement is, “Camry, get outta my way! I’m too important to wait for you to stop texting & drive!”

    Like 8
  11. Maestro1

    These are excellent, comfortable reliable rides. And I am a Grandfather. So never mind all the Grandfather stuff. If the car’s bones are as good as the rest of it, then buy it and let everybody else run around in their stupid computers on wheels.

    Like 6
  12. Paul Grumsha

    I’ve been waiting quite awhile to see an oddity that so far it seems no one has caught. In the shot of the engine, whats the hose spigot doing installed at the pass. rear intake manifold? Permanent inline coolant flush…new petcock style?

    Like 3
    • BeevrEatr

      Nice catch

      Like 0
    • Jetfire88

      Lots of home-brewed mechanin’ under the hood. The spigot replaces the factory hot water valve which turned of the heater when the A/C was on Max, they typically failed about 75-100k, and are not difficult to replace on full size cars like this. They actually did more work to make this rig than to replace the valve. At least they could have used a chrome handle to keep with the quality of an Olds.

      It has a aftermarket catch-can for the radiator mounted on the right side, usually not needed unless there are overheating problems, and overheating was not normally an issue on these.

      By replacing the original air cleaner, the carb heat stack is gone, which will make it a pain to drive on a cool morning until it’s completely warm. Also, the PCV system air inlet line from air cleaner to valve cover is missing and not plugged, so the car will smell like burning oil as soon as the engine is warm and it will suck in underhood air, which is not a good thing if regularly driven on dusty/sandy roads. Aftermarket cleaners like this have a provision for the hose, must have been too technical for this mechanic to fit it.

      With the changes visible here, the owner (or new owner) will complain about stumbling/hesitation when cold, the A/C will not be sufficient when on MAX (unless they get out and turn off the hot water!), the car will smell like hot oil in the interior or when at a red light with the windows down (remember blow-by?).

      The drivability and emissions technology of the era were not the best, but they were simplistic and worked well if maintained. In the day, a large portion of these complaints could be traced to changes/improvements the owner or shade tree mechanic made and then complained about ‘these modern cars’.

      Like 4
      • Jeff S.

        Jet 88 – all good points, to cut the price down about a grand, if you can get the seller to take $5,000, I would be a buyer at that price. You may need to spend $1,000 or a little more to make it a true daily driver. If the A/C is not working, it can be expensive to fix. NADA average retail $6,525 High retail $11,950. I am 62 and have never paid retail for any car. My Dad had an auto repair shop in Huntington Park, CA in 73 and I got to work on, and drive plenty of 60s and 70s land yachts. These cars are great highway cruisers and I would love to have it. The only upgrade I would do is throttle body fuel injection, carbs suck. I wish the car was closer, a 1,000 miles is just to far to check it out.

        Like 0
  13. Richard

    I had a four-door, ‘72. It was one of my favourite cars. The 455 had the sweetest rumble. “Basso profundo!”

    I would have preferred a two-door such as this. I’d restomod. Strip off any excess “bling” (delete vinyl roof), update the engine “tech”, and modernize/customize the interior (touch screens in the dash?). With the overhangs, lowering would be rather perilous but the suspension would need a contemporary update of some kind – my four door would start to become airborne at upwards of 100, and basically become ballistic.

    I have a ticket on next weekend’s lottery . . .

    Like 0
  14. Wayne

    I had the twin to this car as a winter/city beater in 1977.It was rusty about 25% up the doors. But when the snow flew or we drove into Chicago for a concert. The good cars stayed at home. Did not care about getting pelted by the salt truck or someone running across the hood when stuck in traffic after a concert. We just sat in nice soft seats enjoying the music. I bought it for $300 and had it for 3 years. It never missed a beat and never cared if someone got too close to me. And I drove it that way. I sold it for $750 and I would buy another (If reasonably priced) just for nostalgia’s sake.

    Like 2
  15. Lion

    Not to be a dick, but the slogan was “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile”, not automobile. My friend hsd one of these but it was a 4door sedan — because he used it as a family limo behind his Olds hearse and 4door HTs weren’t sedate enough. It was also a great road car. took it on a long fishing trip with 4 adults 3 little kids and a baby sitter. A little crouded but comfortable and smooth for those with seats.

    Like 1
  16. Johnny Joseph

    Mr. Frank your disdain for the Pontiac and Oldsmobile badges is pitiful. Yes, by 2010 ALL American cars had become somewhat interchangeable but to dismiss the two that you do is a slap to all of us “old timers” (I’m 57, so go pound sand). And the price is $6,250 not 6,750! This is a great car, with more of a statement when you arrive ANYWHERE than anything new today. And I’m talking about your Mercedes’, your Jags, ANY of em. You pull up at a $250 a meal steakhouse in any city in America and the valet is parking this car right in FRONT! And I can guarantee you 75% of the men AND women going in will take notice of it. WITHOUT bagging it, just a nice detail on it. Barn Finds should look for some writers who at least have some respect for the cars and the badges they wore from our past. This “gentleman” doesn’t seem to have much. And to the guy who said he bought a lottery ticket to buy this car: Pal, if you need to win the lottery to afford $6 grand, you have bigger problems than new wheels. Don’t bid, ya wouldn’t be able to afford the gas! The black one is a carbon copy of what my ol Man bought right before he died. He was always a Caddy Man, but at the end he tried a different brand. He loved it and I couldn’t sense any difference from his last Coupe deVille, a ’73.

    Like 9
  17. TMD

    ’73 455 would have 250hp, not 320…

    Like 1

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