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Marking the 10th Anniversary of the Death of Oldsmobile

The car, like the brand, like the plant, is a collective memory.

Ten years ago Tuesday, a dark cherry Alero sedan drove off the line at what was then General Motors Corp.’s Lansing Car Assembly plant. It was the last Oldsmobile, the sendoff to a nameplate founded here more than a century ago by the son of a machinist.

It was a bitter farewell, but one tempered with the promise of new auto jobs here for years to come in the form of new plants making other GM brands. Oldsmobile, a pioneer in the business of making cars, had watched its sales slump and its models become ordinary. They simply weren’t distinct enough to stand out from GM’s other car lines or draw younger buyers.

Many criticized the Detroit automaker’s decision to kill the Oldsmobile division and thought dropping other brands made more sense. But GM had been forging ahead with its decision long before the shutdown.

Lansing had been synonymous with Oldsmobile since 1897, when Ransom Eli Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Co. after experimenting with horseless carriages in his father’s River Street shop. Olds’ original company would become GM’s second brand, after Buick, in 1908.

Read the rest of this tribute to Oldsmobile here.

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