Video: Marketing the 1963 Oldsmobile 98 Luxury Sedan

For 1963, Oldsmobile sailed perilously close to Cadillac waters with a new flagship model, the 98 Luxury Sedan. See the upmarket sales pitch here. 



This is not the typical ’60s car commercial: No brass bands, straw hats, or striped blazers. Oldsmobile took a decidedly low-key approach in this 1963 campaign, relying on understated black-and-white still photography and museum-guide narration to tell the story of the new Lansing flagship that season, the 98 Luxury Sedan.

Note also the posh setting: the Orpheus Fountain at the Cranbrook Institute of Art in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Motor City carmakers—Olds, Buick, Lincoln, Packard, and Hudson, to name a few—have often employed Cranbrook as a backdrop in their ad campaigns, especially when the themes include luxury and exclusivity, and the practice continues to this day.

Just one body style was offered for the 98 Luxury Sedan, also marketed as the LS: a six-window, four-door hardtop that shared its basic C-body shell with Cadillac and Buick Electra. At $4,300, the LS was solidly in the Buick price range, and with its long list of optional equipment and premium features, the new Olds was edging close to Cadillac territory as well. Sales were brisk at nearly 20,000 units, as fully loaded models in the near-luxury class continued to erode the exclusive market niche once enjoyed by the traditional luxury brands. Buyers discovered they could now obtain the same comfort and features in the lower-priced models, and this clip plays to that angle with its depictions of “the ultimate in limousine comfort” and “lush, deep-pile carpeting.” Video below.


5 thoughts on “Video: Marketing the 1963 Oldsmobile 98 Luxury Sedan

  1. Worked for my old man. He had a ’63 ninety eight, it was aqua. I don’t remember much of the car, except the tail lights and waiting for the green cold light to off ( with a plink) so we could turn the heat on. The old man liked big cars, it was a tank and barely fit in the garage.

  2. Buick and Cadillac have always had some overlap, but it’s incredible to me how GM allowed Oldsmobile and even Chevrolet to encroach on Cadillac’s market. This was the beginning of GM’s brand erosion, I suppose.

    • Well not really, 1940 and 41 Pontiac’s were not only produced on the small “A” body they shared with Chevrolet, but Pontiac also made the “B” body they shared with Olds and the small Buick. To top it off in 40 & 41 a Pontiac could also be bought on the “C” body that Buick and the large Olds shared with Cadillac. Kind of contrary to the Sloan formula isn’t it?

    • That’s not the point at all. GM divisions have shared bodies and components since the 1920s, and that was Sloan’s plan. However, a 1941 Pontiac did not compete with Cadillac.

      • Sloan’s plan was to put a car in every price range in all the market segments.
        Also, in 1932 Chevrolet produced a car called the Confederate that was nicknamed the Baby Cadillac. This car had appointments that infuriated Olds and Buick not to mention the Cadillac styling. The same thing happened in 1940 with the Chevrolet styled and known as the baby Buick, and Buick and Olds didn’t like what Chevrolet was doing, and they also didn’t like Pontiac in the “C” body competing with them.
        What the 41 Pontiac did do was put people in a car that aspired people that wanted a Cadillac but couldn’t afford it and clearly cut into Olds and Buick territory like the 32 Chevrolet.

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