The Last Olds: 42 Mile 2004 Oldsmobile Alero

Frequently people want to buy the first of something, could be an iPhone or some other tech toy, cars are included too. But here’s a little different opportunity, its the chance to buy the last of something. It’s a 2004 Oldsmobile Alero and it is not only the last one but its the last Oldsmobile built for retail sale. And if that isn’t interesting enough, it has covered just 42 miles! This Alero is located in Rochester, New Hampshire, and is available here on Autotrader for $25,000.

It seems like a sad and unfitting way for an esteemed auto company of Oldsmobile’s stature to close its doors. After all, at 107 years in age, the inventor of the Hydramatic automatic transmission, developer of the first OHV V8 engine (they beat Cadillac to market, intentionally, by a few months), creator of the magnificent 1950s 88 and 98 sedans, the wizard behind the ’66 FWD Toronado and builder of the 442 muscle car would go out with a whimper, behind the wheel of an Alero.

Now, no offense towards the Alero, it was a reasonable, mid-sized car introduced in 1999 and it hung in there until the bitter end. It replaced the “UnderAchieva” so it was a step in the right direction. And in six model years, Oldsmobile knocked together 697K copies or 116K per year on average, not too shabby! But then there was nothing remarkable about the Alero either – it was lost in a sea of other competitors, and in some cases better competitor’s mid-size cars, it just didn’t stand out. The design was such that it was in keeping with Oldsmobile’s move away from the rest of the GM herd via the Aurora theme. While it mimicked some of the Aurora’s styling cues, notably the front end, the Alero basically reeked GM midsize “N” platform architecture.

This 2004 GLS, which is a luxury variant, is one of the “Final 500” produced. It is actually #499 as #500 wasn’t intended for retail sale, GM retained it for inclusion into the Ransom E. Olds Transportation Museum. Noted above is the “Final 500” club badge.

Under the hood is a 3.4 liter, transverse-mounted 60 degree V6 engine that develops 170 net HP while driving through a four-speed automatic, FWD transaxle. Since this a 42 mile vehicle, it would be safe to assume that it will run and drive as intended. Aleros also came with smaller, four-cylinder engines of 140 or 150 HP so the extra V6 oomph will be appreciated.

This four-door sedan is the more popular body style as a two-door coupe was available too. And the two-door model had quite nice lines. This Oldsmobile is in the possession of its original automobile dealership and now the dealership owner wishes to sell it.  The seller states that this Olds was originally placed in temperature-controlled storage, it certainly still shows as new.

This Alero comes with many features including: “Collectors Edition sequence badge, Collectors Edition embroidery on front seat backs and front floor mats, bright aluminum front door sill plates with Collectors Edition logo, front fender and rear decklid cloisonne Collectors Edition emblems, polished stainless-steel exhaust tips, (QT3) Wheels, 16″ (40.6 cm) 6-spoke aluminum, polished with Collectors Edition logo on center cap and (77U) Exterior color, Dark Cherry. Also, include is a sunroof, AM/FM CD & cassette player with eight speakers (good luck with the cassettes), FE3 suspension, and performance rated tires. It’s a very nicely equipped car.

To whom will this Alero appeal? Well the price new, less destination charge, was $25,450 and the seller is asking $25,000 so either it didn’t depreciate or didn’t appreciate as a collectible (#500 supposedly was later auctioned off for $42K which really makes that example the true, last one). It’s a bit hard to value and the seller is “motivated” so there is probably some room for negotiation; but back to my question. I can see an Oldsmobile collector maybe showing interest but there are so many other Oldsmobile models that would seem to better fit a curator’s goal. A general car collector? I don’t see that. What are your thoughts, who will buy this 2004 Oldsmobile Alero and why?

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Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I agree on the Olds collecter snagging this one Jim. There is a Dame in the village that owns a white 2 door, nice looking ride. The ride height looks a little high on this rig. Unsure why? To bad Olds is gone. I had a monster 98 many years ago. I put a Craig 8 track quadrophonic player in it. Man, did we have fun in that rig in 1974! I wonder where # 500 ended up? Takes a little wind out of the sails for #499. Nice write up Jim.

    7
    • Will Fox

      The Olds museum in Lansing MI. has #500.

      4
      • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

        Will:

        I read that it was supposedly auctioned off to a Florida dealer in December of 2017 for $42K. The R.E. Olds Museum still shows it in its inventory so I’m not sure what the actual story is.

        JO

        4
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    While it’s considerably nicer than the comparable Malibu I drive at the time this was built, it reminds me of GM’s build quality at the time..which isn’t a compliment. This still looks nice, but it strikes me as a used car and I can think of much better ways to spend 25k. Maybe a collector will really appreciate it though.

    6
  3. Dan

    I predict it may go to a collector of modern collector cars like the nascar driver edition monte carlo ss or possibly going to another general motors dealer private collection. Maybe even nascar team owner mr. Hendricks would want it.

    3
    • GuernseyPagoda Member

      Hendricks would buy it, and then immediately turn around and try to sell it for $40k, and never adjust his price…..

      1
  4. IkeyHeyman Member

    I dated a woman who leased one of these, some deal they offered, I think it was $139/mo. We took a couple road trips and it was an OK car, nothing to get excited about. I had an Intrigue at the time and that was a pretty good car, put 160K miles on it with very few problems. That “shortstar” engine started to go through oil and then I said buh-bye.

    6
  5. JoeMac Joe Mac Member

    $25k? GLWS. I wonder if the seller would offer a $10k discount….

    4
  6. Poppapork

    Jim, the price as new adjusted for inflation (2004-2020, avg for all states 1.93%per year) is over 34 large ones! Yikes!

    4
  7. Bob C.

    It was a sad ending for Oldsmobile. It seems that somewhere in the 1980s Olds started sliding downward, often confused with Buicks model for model. I’m sure the Chevrolet v8 scandal beginning in 1977 didn’t help.

    2
  8. Will Fox

    Considering what Oldsmobile was reduced to by 2004, this car hardly speaks for the legend of such a great division of GM. Being realistic, all I see is maybe $18K; tops. I’m thinking a dedicated Olds club member will snag it, and mothball the car as it should be. I’d never license it & drive it. It IS the last retail unit, after all.

    2
  9. Fred W

    “Since this a 42 mile vehicle, it would be safe to assume that it will run and drive as intended” – After 16 years of virtual inactivity, I wouldn’t assume anything.

    5
    • Steve65

      After 16 years of virtual inactivity, I’d assume if would require a full service before even attempting to crank it over. And a very high probability that every rubber seal in it will be weeping copiously after a few hundred miles of road use. This is doomed to spend the remainder of its life as a static “display only” simulacrum of a car.

  10. CCFisher

    I don’t understand why people put value in the last of something, particularly in this case. After all, if it were a great car, it would have saved Oldsmobile and it wouldn’t be the last one. What’s essentially being commemorated here is a failure.

    1
    • S

      That is not true. Oldsmobile itself was not a failure at all. It was GM’s failure to keep it relevant in the marketplace. An Oldsmobile was never a bad car (except maybe the diesel V8s). But Oldsmobile had a lot more successes than failures over the years. Somehow, the failures are remembered more. Case in point – in 1977, 1978, 1984, 1985, and 1986, they sold over 1 million Oldsmobiles in a model year. In 1976 the Cutlass Supreme was the best selling car in the nation. That’s huge! Let alone all the innovation they pioneered through the years (automatic transmission, mass scale FWD in 1966, etc). The 4-4-2 was a huge success also. There are so many reasons it slid downhill. The Chevy V8 situation in 1977 may have started it. Then the diesel V8s. But in 1984 Roger Smith combined Buick Olds and Cadillac into one division, and Pontiac Chevrolet and GM Canada into another. They started so much engine sharing and body parts sharing among the divisions. And each division offered variations of the same car. There were CAFE standards that forced downsizing of all the GM platforms, and to save money GM just made them all alike. so what was the difference between a Buick or an Olds by the late 80s or early 90s? All of GM had a not so great reputation by then, and there was vastly more competition also. And then everyone started buying SUVs, not cars, so there’s that also. If GM could keep a division going, accepting it was not going to sell 500,000 units per division at least, or could have just had fewer models within that division, they could have kept it going – but they chose not to. Even had Oldsmobile not been closed down in 2004 – it would have happened in 2009 with the restructuring. Then we lost Pontiac – which is even MORE unbelievable that that would happen. I’ll agree on one thing in particular – it was a sad end to a great and storied brand.

      7
  11. Dan

    Is it any wonder why Oldsmobile (and Pontiac for that matter) went out of business. They built the ugliest cars at the end and it is no surprise that people didn’t want to buy these turds!

  12. Jay

    Reminds me of the Olds Aurora, a car with “fine, Corinthian plastique…”

  13. Jim

    It’s really a shame that GM didn’t at least send off Oldsmobile with a more appropriate swan song car. What a disappointment to have the very last Olds (after over 100 years of manufacture and some glorious examples), be a mundane 4 door sedan that was most appealing to the 50 plus crowd.
    Why not create a special car for the final one off the line? If it absolutely HAD to be an Alero, then make the final few Oldmobiles actually something special (and no, I don’t count the color and a few badges as making it “special”). Maybe a 2 door coupe with the SC 3800 engine and a special manual transmission or something? I don’t know….just spit balling here. But what I do know is that Oldsmobile deserved a better send off than this.

    2
  14. Jef

    I had one of these as a rental back in the late-nineties. Drove it from Washington DC to upstate New York. Pretty sure it was the 4-cylinder.
    At the beginning of the journey I was quite impressed, mostly by how sharp the steering was. Turn in was very surprising. Overall a neat, comfortable car that seemed responsive.
    However, that was leaving DC at lowish speeds. Things didn’t hold up so well over 60mph and by the time I got to the twisties it downright sucked.
    Guess it was tuned to thrill at low speeds and discourage those that pushed it.
    I think anyone that wants this must have a ton of space to house vehicles of little interest or they collect the ‘last of’.

  15. Paul Whiteside

    I rented these cars 2 different times and was very happy with them don’t believe they had the V-6 but it did fine for me on the interstate and big city traffic. Would be tough to put in service after sitting all these years without going through the whole

  16. John Oliveri

    Probably a big part of the reason there is no more Oldsmobile

  17. Terry L Kane

    I bought 2 of these used for my daughter. She totaled the 1st (not her fault and lucky to survive with just a broken nose) and the car’s sturdy build accounted for her survival I’m sure. I bought them both with milage in the 50,000 range and the second one went well over 100,000 k with little repair work needed. Both were loaded up with leather, very nice factory sound systems and the 6 cyl. power plant. Growing up my Dad was an Olds guy and while neither of these Aleros measured up to his wonderful 88s and 98 they were comfortable, sporty and very good value. I do agree that 25 Gs is over the top except for a small number of speciality buyers.

    1
  18. brian scott

    There’s a 442 joke lying in this one if you look carefully…

    1
  19. Comet

    I can’t speak to its destiny as collectible or it’s current value, but I put 240000 miles on one without a bit of trouble. Great car.

  20. Mike Hawke

    My father might buy it.

    • Car Guy Beancounter

      No, “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile!”

      2
  21. Superdessucke

    You: “Look what I’ve got! The last Oldsmobile!”

    Friend: “Oh, I understand.”

  22. chrlsful

    Tough way ta “go out”.
    Not even the 3800 motor.
    Oh well, sad

    Lookit how somebody like Lotus revives, never in ah mer ric ca, eh?
    Innovate?, yeah, right – let the chinese, or india…

    • Poppy

      The 3400 engine in a car this light offers very good performance. I have a Chevy minivan with the same engine and it moves off the line as good or better than my 3800-powered sedans. May be gearing related, but the 3400 is no slouch.

  23. Chas358 Chas358 Member

    A sad ending to a magnificent Marque.

    At 25 Large he’s going to own it for a while. Might as well drive it.

  24. Chas358 Chas358 Member

    I don’t think so. Not for 25 Large.

  25. Kenn

    Or buy it and drive it instead of buying a 2020 vehicle of almost any brand for “$25 large” or even more. Can’t understand why more folks don’t do this, unless they are so safety conscious the lack of air bags scares them away from doing this.

    • Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

      This car has dual airbags. It’s also been sitting unused for 16 years. It’s going to need to be gone through. Maybe for half the price that would be a good idea, but for $25k? No thanks. It’s not a remarkable car.

  26. Chas358 Chas358 Member

    That’s not an Oldsmobile, this is.
    My second car. A 1965 Olds Delta 88, 425 ci, Turbo Hydramatic with a switch pitch convertor. I broke the 425 so I bought a 455 out of a ’69 Toronado – 365 HP and 500 lb-ft of torque. The car ran hard.

    1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Yea Buddy! That was a REAL Oldsmobile!

      • Chas358 Chas358 Member

        Thanks DayDream! With the 455 I raced my buddies ’67 442 from a 30 roll. The big Olds pulled about a fender on the 442.😃

        1
  27. Dennis M

    A sad end to a great marque!

    “Collector’s Edition” give me a break!

  28. Major Thom

    There was a small town Olds dealer in our area, had been in business since 1979. After Oldsmobile went away, he started selling…Saturns.

    He must have been well compensated by GM because he then bought a much larger established Chevy dealership the next county over.

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