April 30, 2004

RIP: The last Oldsmobile

I saw a photograph this morning in the NY Times showing the last Oldsmobile rolling off the production line. That's it. No more Oldsmobiles. It got me thinking a little bit, as much as I could since it was 6:30 a.m. and I had not had any coffee, about the automobile as icon in America. This, I grant you, is not an original thought (but there are not many original thoughts anyway, so WTF -- sorry, still no coffee).

The car is romance and possibilities. There was another article in the Times talking about GPS and road trips. Road trips are what I mean by possibilities. If you grow up in the suburbs, nothing much happens without the car. For me and my family, that was the Oldsmobile.

My father was very clear on this point: America has been very good to our family and we will only buy American cars. So, for me, growing up meant that when I turned 16, it was driving the Delta 88 with a v-8 engine that just blew away my friend's cute little BMW. Not that I would ever do that. Driving too fast on I-287. Nope, must have been some other idiot with Iron Maiden or AC/DC (hey, I was 16!) blaring out of the speakers so loud that I blew one of them.

The car was painted a truly ugly brown. I loved it, especially because it smelled like old cigarettes and spilled coffee. It used to be the car my father drove to the train station every day. That smelled forbidden and grown up and serious. Everything I probably wasn't but desperately wanted to be.

That really brings me to the point I had been thinking about for a couple of days now. The car is not just the American icon, it is our special meaningful smell memory (damn, I can't get this phrase right). If France, thanks to Proust, has the madeleine, we have the smells of cars that bring us back to our youth. Can't most of you close your eyes and remember the smell of the school bus? That mix of diesel fumes and plastic and rubber and who knows what else that when you smell it you are a kid again? And you haven't done your homework?

That's why, for me at least, the car is an icon. That damn smell makes me think of my childhood. And I still miss the sound of that Oldsmobile peeling out of the school parking lot. Oh, I also miss the sex we used to have in that car.

Posted by Random Penseur at April 30, 2004 08:37 AM

Oh well...Time to move on!! I miss alot of things, but I look forward to better things!

Posted by: Jaspy Whine at April 14, 2005 08:00 AM

I am a car nut but the loss of the OLDSMOBILE on the road is just another move toward more plastic look alike automobiles and most of them from overseas countries. We are losing touch with art and quality. We are not gaining in mileage or longevity. Quick assembly and high prices are the future. Throw them away and do not get attached.

Posted by: Rudy at April 15, 2005 01:19 PM
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