Handsome Hatchback: 1973 Oldsmobile Omega

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First year cars always get me. Sometimes it’s best to steer clear of them because they had bugs to work out which often took a year or two, and sometimes, they’re worth a gamble. This 1973 Oldsmobile Omega looks like it may be worth a gamble. It’s listed on eBay with bids just topping $2,500 and there is no reserve. It’s located in San Bernadino, California.

As most of you know, the Olds Omega with that beautiful waterfall split-grille, was part of a family of X-body GM cars which started with the Chevy Nova and moved on to the Pontiac Ventura and Buick Apollo. For those of you who are still scratching your heads at both Oldsmobile’s and Pontiac’s demise, if you had to choose only one, which one would you rather still have around: Oldsmobile or Pontiac?

The hatchback version has to be the most unusual, but it also is known to have rust issues. This example has suffered some of those rust issues, unfortunately. Hopefully a new hatchback can be found and the other related rust repairs aren’t too severe. Here’s a YouTube video showing a 1973 Olds Omega hatchback commercial.

That’s a pretty handsome interior, eh? Given the rust in the rear I’d strip this interior bare just to make sure that things were copacetic with the floor pans. And, it could use new carpet anyway. The dash has a crack or two but overall things look pretty tidy. Well, there will be some upholstery work to do on the driver’s seat but the rear seat looks great. The headliner looks scary, but hopefully the rust hasn’t migrated up there. The seller has included a few underside photos which is great. A 4-speed manual was standard in this car (with its 350 V8) but this one has the optional automatic.

There’s quite a bit of surface rust in the engine bay, I wouldn’t have expected a California car to look like this. I know, I know, salt air, yadda yadda.. Until you’ve lived in the upper-Midwest, you west-coasters haven’t seen the meaning of rust! (wait, I’m bragging about living in an area where vehicles get horribly rusty?!) The seller says that this “350 cid engine starts right up and runs extremely well. The idle is smooth and and the engine sounds great! There are no leaks, smoke, overheating or unusual noises.” That 350 V8 would have had around 180 hp, not much for a “Rocket” V8, but those were the times, unfortunately. Are there any fans of the Olds Omega out there?

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  1. Crazyhawk

    That’s actually a pretty cool looking grille. This car makes me want to regress back to my teen years. Buy it, put Cragars and white letter tires on it, put big stripes across the top of it and just have fun cruisin’ without worrying about the value and originality and all that. Cheap fun!! I miss that. Rather have Pontiac back than Olds however…

    Like 1
    • LAB3

      Agreed on the looks, I’d take this one over a 73 Nova for sure.

      Like 2
  2. Mark S.

    I like that they said that due to high DMV fees this car won’t be sold to California buyers. That makes me think they want to get this car to get as far away from them as possible.
    I have a soft spot for an Oldsmobubble, mostly pre-1970. This one could be saved tho. Pull that California smog engine out and build something more respectable. Patch ‘er up and drive ‘er.

    Like 1
    • Steve65

      It means somebody didn’t bother to pay the $15 non-op registration fee, and the car has accrued hundreds (possibly over $1k) in past due registration fees and penalties. It’s a common problem here when shopping for project cars.

      Like 1
      • Mark S.

        Non-op fees. That seems a little harsh. Gotta love the DMV.

        Like 0
      • ChebbyMember

        I was talking with a buddy about this the other day. California is hugely car-owner unfriendly, considering it is the car-culture state. So many fees and hassles. Back in NJ, if you didn’t re-register your car it could just sit until you were ready to again (if ever).

        Like 2
      • Rich Switzer

        California smog laws was one of the reason I ended up getting
        rid of a otherwise clean 82 Prelude. Had to go to a test only smog
        center every year to get smog even those it passed every time.
        Got a while, but when I retire will be getting out of this anti car state.

        Like 0
      • CaCarDude

        Sadly non-op (one time till you re-reg. the car) fees are up a bit over $20 now and getting worse each year. If you are a “car collector” in CA there are ways to get around the past due fees, it helps if you know people in the old car circle (car clubs) and you have some help from the right people within DMV. As far as this Olds I like it over the other GM badged X cars, if I had to chose the Pontiac or Olds a tough call but I would have to say GM should have kept the Olds lineup.

        Like 2
    • Frank Serpico

      I can tell you why he posted this, he never “Non-Op” the car, meaning he never changed the car to “Non-Operational,” so late registration fee and fines have compounded and added up to several hundred if not thousands of dollars.

      I was given a 1967 Country Sedan by a friend, I registered it and because he did no “Non-Op,” the registration, my “Free,” station wagon cost me almost $600.00 in late fees.

      Now with the recent increase in registration fees as of Jan 1, 2018, I could see this costing over $1000.00 if the late fees are for fees for more than 5 years in late rego fees.

      Like 1
  3. Jack Sakaluk

    These cars were being built since 1967 in the form of the Chevy Nova …. nothing was new with this car. Buick and Pontiac came out with their version as well.

    Like 0
    • Kuzspike

      True that it’s based on the long produced Nova body and frame but 1973 was the first year for the hatchback body style. You don’t see many around anymore. I had the Pontiac Ventura Sprint version. Had to replace the cam at a little over 60,000 miles.

      Like 1
  4. Mimo

    Firsts yer, second year third year, cars in the 70’s had bugs regardless of how long they had being produced.

    I remember looking at these at the local dealer, and thinking at 9 years old that this was pretty cool…

    Like 0
  5. Vince H

    Always liked the Olds. I owned 3 of them. I would like to have the 2dr Holiday J2 back. This Olds is a nice change from all the Novas. The 350 is a Olds 350 different than the Chevy 350.

    Like 1
  6. John

    I can tell you my friend and I went all over the east coast on weekend road trips, hundreds of miles each way, into Canada, Cape Cod July 4th, 20* below zero skiing, no water fall grill anymore, chain holding down hood………could not kill it. Great memories!

    Like 0
  7. RoughDiamond

    “A 4-speed manual was standard in this car (with its 350 V8) but this one has the optional automatic.” That is interesting transmission info and the first time I have ever heard of a 4-speed manual being “standard” equipment in a GM model car with a V8 engine.

    Like 0
  8. ChebbyMember

    Nice grandma car. My ’73 Delta 88 had plenty of beans so this smaller car should move well. I wonder if the trans just needs fluid, if not it’s ready for a swap to an overdrive unit.

    I wish they would say “CA DMV fees are $X amount, be aware” rather than ‘we will not sell to anyone in CA’. That’s the buyer’s consideration.

    Like 0
  9. Gord

    DO read the link that takes you to the full ad… says the tranny does NOT engage drive OR reverse… now either simple fix (linkage) or… as they state, needs rebuild… so though a common tranny… starting to get pricey (good luck finding another hatch… at least interchangeable across the N.O.V.A. cars

    Like 0
  10. ACZ

    Hard to call this a first year car with all it’s sisters. A 455 would look nice under that hood.

    Like 0
  11. Troy s

    A lot of real good comments here, interesting car too, although I don’t believe a 4 speed would have been standard in 1973 or any year for a lower price transportation car like this. Too make it interesting, an older Ram Rod 350 would be kinda a cool, 455 probably got more torque than this car could handle.
    To answer the question of Olds or Pontiac nowadays I would say Pontiac most definitely. Killer Trans Am and Formula Firebirds would be real cool now with all the very high powered Camaro’s, Challengers, and Mustangs being offered. Actually a real shame that will never be a reality.

    Like 0
    • Butter

      Pontiac Goats too!!

      Like 0
  12. 123pugsy

    Excellent project for someone wanting to get into the hobby.
    Make a Nova clone out of it.
    The sheet metal is absolutely perfect and rust free.
    Hatchback excluded of course.

    Like 0
  13. jesus bortoni

    What I like about this car is it’s invisibility. Clean it up,
    fix all the issues with and have a car worthy of being kept for another 10-15 years. Properly maintained of course. You don’t have the issue of car being dated by its design like a ’57 Cadillac or a ’59 Oldsmobile. As I said, it’s invisible.

    Like 0
  14. David Ulrey

    Had one of these. Can’t remember the name of the color but it was basically metallic orange and had a white painted roof, dual exhaust w/glass packs. It was about 11 years old at the time. Man that thing had torque! Kind of a lumpy idle too. I suspect that a previous owner put a mild cam in it but never found out for sure, he was in process of moving out of state when I bought it.

    Like 0
  15. JW

    My family always had a Pontiac in the driveway but only one Oldsmobile so I guess I’m biased and would prefer the Pontiac brand to have not been discontinued and they would have come out with a more retro GTO. As far as the feature car I would repair transmission and make it my daily driver.

    Like 0
  16. Taco Juan

    The 1973 Pontiac version.

    Like 1
    • j.c.jolley

      nice green color !!

      Like 0
  17. Taco Juan

    1974 GTO Version.

    Like 0
    • Butter

      Fake Goat
      Real goats were on the Tempest frame

      Like 0
      • Vince H

        74 GTO was on the Nova Chassis. Google it. The 73 was still on t he Tempest chassis.

        Like 0
  18. Taco Juan

    1974 GTO hatchback image with hatch open.

    Like 0
  19. PRA4SNW

    As someone previously mentioned here:
    This is the “O” in the “NOVA” acronym.

    Like 0
  20. Lawyer George

    I don’t get the justification for making a new buyer (or the original owner, for that matter) should have to pay the cost of the licensing fee for any period when the car was stored away and never saw the streets. They have something like that here in OR. If your car was originally licensed in say, January and you fail to license it for a while and you decide to license it again say in October, you have to pay for the time that lapsed since January and the plate is therefore only good for November and December for the year you re-license it and one additional year, rather than for the entire 2 years licenses are normally good for. Some cities have tried to ticket unlicensed cars that are parked in the owner’s yard on some theory that they are visible from the street. It doesn’t have to make sense–it’s just that every governmental unit needs money, due process be damned.

    Like 1
  21. Rich

    Pontiac. Pontiac. Pontiac.

    I miss the Grand Prix and would love to see a ‘new’ GTO compared to the ‘new’ Challengers and Camaros. I even miss the Grand Am a little.

    Like 0
  22. Pugsy

    Here you go…………

    Like 1
    • JW

      That’s cool but I myself would rather see a 66/67 frontend with taillights from either year. Just my personal preference.

      Like 0
  23. David Gasperetti

    California no longer charges back fees on cars over 25 years old. Many folks are not aware of this. Also, 1975 and older cars are exempt from the smog inspections that are required every two years on 1976 and newer models. California is a car friendly State, it is just that the cars registered must run well enough to pass the emissions testing. Easy to pass for cars in a good or better state of tune. Many people neglect their vehicles, and let them get into a very dilapidated condition mechanically, and then blame the State for their own neglectful (non existent) maintenance and upkeep. The Omega is nice, but I am not a fan of the hatchback. I have a ’73 Nova coupe.

    Like 0
  24. Ck

    This would make an awesome first car for some kid ,great father son project. Or just throw a nice set of wheels and some headers and dual exhaust,and drive it.

    Like 0
  25. Rick Goodman

    I had a1973 Olds Omega 2 door Hatch back with the Hatch Back. White with Black Bucket Seats. 350 Auto. Was my wedding Car. Loved it and would like to find one just like it in Canada.

    Like 0
  26. Doug Allam

    Just pulled my mom’s 1973 Omega hatchback from her garage. It has a 350 automatic and power steering. Just doing brakes, fuel and exhaust. Great technician had it running after close to thirty years. She purchased new mileage in fifties.

    Of course I would pick Oldsmobile to keep due to its history.

    Like 0

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