Saturday, August 8, 2015

Final 500 Edition: 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora

Oldsmobile was founded by Ransom E Olds in 1897 and was one of the longest lasting automobile marques before it outlived its usefulness and was milked to death by its mercilessly capitalist bean-counter bottom-line driven corporate overlords at GM.  The 1960s found Oldsmobile positioned between Pontiac and Buick in GM's pricing hierarchy, but things went in every direction in the coming decades and Oldsmobile actually recorded its highest volume year in 1985 with 1,066,122 cars sold.  Unfortunately Oldsmobile didn't even survive to the 2008 carpocalypse and was closed for good in 2004, but not before they produced a limited run of 500 from each of their model lines.  Find this 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora Final 500 Edition here on eBay bidding for $6,500 with $7,500 buy-it-now located in Cincinnati, OH.

Each of the Final 500 Aurora/Bravada/Intrigue/Silhouette/Alero models featured the same Final 500 badges and Dark Cherry Metallic paint scheme as the last Oldsmobiles to roll off the assembly lines.  If any 2000 era Oldsmobile will ever be "collectible" in the remotest sense of the word, this is it.

Like all Aurora was a mid-sized luxury sedan that shared a chassis with the 2-door Buick Riviera and available V8 power made it something of a sleeper.  The 4.0 liter L47 V8 was a derivative of Cadillac's Northstar V8 and available in the Aurora where it pushed out 250 horsepower.

See a better example of an oddball future classic?


  1. Future classic? Uh...

    But the Aurora was perhaps the third rung up the ladder (the first being the '92-or-whatever Seville, the second being the LS1 engine family) toward GM's recognition of what a modern car needed to encompass.

    If you looked at the general range of $35-40K mid-size sedans, maybe it didn't compete with the BMW 5-series but it was on par with the Lexus ES and the lesser Audi A6 models.

    Alas, it was still a big FWD tank, and while at that point VAG was still getting away with selling FWD 2.7TD A8s in Europe, most of the market still recognized (and, in that segment, recognizes) a differentiation between FWD and RWD (or some AWD powertrains) at that pricetag.

  2. "...and was milked to death by its mercilessly capitalist bean-counter bottom-line driven corporate overlords at GM. "
    Thanks - there it is, succinctly stated in 18 words. I heard rumblings about the future of Olds in 2001, while I was a member of the local club, so I wrote a letter to John Rock, then-head of the Olds Division, and asked him to comment. He was kind enough to reply, and assured me that Olds was not folding, and indeed would see greater heights as the new century progressed. Less than a year later, they pulled the plug. I still miss my '55 88 hardtop.

  3. I quite liked these cars, they dont seem to have the head bolt problem of the northstars. The demise of pontiac and olds just sucks. The whole chevropontioldsmobuick thing they started in the late 70s(i had a 3rd gen f bird with an olds 403 ,factory), completely murded the once elegant distinction these cars had. Instead we got aleros. And aleros with plastic glued to the doors. Sad. We can all wonder what late model 442s, bonnevilles and trans ams would look like, but economy sells and id like to see an alternative universe with rwd turbo 4cyl tempests and f85s not based at all on the cruise. This rant brought to you by the letter f and the number steel reserve.

  4. The demise of Olds and Pontiac, and arguably every US GM brand between Chevrolet and Cadillac, began in the mid '50s, as Sloan's carefully scaled brand differentiation of the prewar days was thrown onto the scrap heap in favor of every nameplate grabbing for as much volume as they could get. By the mid '80s the differentiation between the brands was minimal and largely a function of some plastic troweled on the exteriors.

    The end result was that you had high-line Chevrolets with as much content as any Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, nearly as much as Cadillac, and the price difference between a 'Caprice Classic' and an 'Electra' was peanuts.

    The only reason Buick still exists is that - because, oddly enough, they were the car to own in Shanghai in 1937 - it's the strongest brand GM has in China, and they can't afford to torpedo it in the home market if they want to sell it in the Middle Kingdom.

    The Aurora was a fitful attempt at separating the Oldsmobile brand from a decade of rebadged Pontiacs, just as the Australian Pontiacs were an equally feckless attempt to differentiate that nameplate from the tarted-up Chevrolets they'd been peddling.

    I'd rather have a G8 or a GTO than an Aurora.

  5. Bought my mom (yes my 75 year old mom) the sister car to this - a 1999 Buick Riviera. It has the same platform, but uses a supercharged V-6 engine (240hp - Mom always liked fast cars). That was another big problem with GM. That car along with the Aurora was built for the wrong crowd. It's a modern, comfortable, supercharged Lazy-boy. The problem is they targeted the original audience that pined after the original Riviera, rather than the modern version of that demographic.

    By the way, I bought the car used from an older gentleman that put under 2k/year on the car in 14 years of ownership. Again, not the market they should have been targeting.


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