Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #158: All-American Oakland

Another well-forgotten car make - once famous for its "True Blue" laquer finish. Quick-drying laquer was supplied by DuPont, and cars were a part of General Motors marketing scheme.

1926 Oakland

Founded in 1907, Oakland made solid, medium-priced cars. It was named for Oakland County, Michigan, where its cars were produced. The firm attracted the attention of General Motors founder Billy Durant and was absorbed into General Motors in 1909.

1910 Oakland Model 24 Runabout at Amelia Island 20091910 Oakland Model 24 Runabout at Amelia Island 2009 by gswetsky, on Flickr

Oakland Torpedo Roadster 'Oriole' 1911 -1-

1911 Oakland Torpedo Roadster 'Oriole'  by Zappadong, on Flickr

Oakland Torpedo Roadster 'Oriole' 1911 -2-

1913 Oakland Model 42 Five-Passenger Touring Car

1913 Oakland Model 42 Five-Passenger Touring Car via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1918 Oakland

1918 Oakland via dok1, on Flickr

By 1919, Oakland was ranked sixth in the American auto industry with sales of 52,124. Aimed at those who could afford more than a Chevrolet but less than a Buick, it had never sold particularly well (an average of about 35,000 units per year in the first half of the 1920s), despite having racked up a number of impressive records in the popular hill-climbing contests of early times. Even in its best year, 1926, Oakland was outsold by more expensive Buick by a ratio of five-to-one.

1921 Oakland Sensible Six

1921 Oakland Sensible Six via American Vintage Home, on Flickr

1923 Oakland True Blue Touring

1923 Oakland True Blue Touring via carlylehold, on Flickr

In 1924, modern styling and a new engine helped boost sales of the 6-54A to 37,080. A 44-bhp, 177-cid L-head six replaced an ohv six of the same size and power. This might sound like a step backward, but the overhead-valve six was expensive to build and had durability problems. The new six soon gained a reputation for reliability. (In 1925, the Oakland six was judged tough enough for duty in Shamrock taxis.) The six was also smooth and gave lively performance for its day. Cruising speed was 35-40 mph.

1925 Oakland Sedan

1925 Oakland Sedan via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1925 Oakland Coach

1925 Oakland Coach via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1925 Oakland Landau Coupe

1925 Oakland Landau Coupe via aldenjewell, on Flickr

In 1926, Oakland introduced a companion car named for its hometown - Pontiac. Priced just above Chevrolet, Pontiac was an immediate hit and outsold its parent. Nothing less than the future of the Oakland Division rested on its success - and a success it was! By 1928, the Oakland Division was producing nearly a quarter of a million Oaklands and Pontiacs per year, and outselling Buick in the process. Predictably, Pontiac accounted for nearly four-fifths of the division's total volume.

1927 Oakland

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

1928 Oakland All-American Six Cabriolet

1928 Oakland All-American Six Cabriolet via aldenjewell, on Flickr

The Patriotic Pitch

1928 Oakland All-American Sic 2-Door Sedan via paul.malon, on Flickr

1929 Oakland All-American Six Cabriolet

1929 Oakland All-American Six Cabriolet via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1929 Oakland All-American Six 2-Door Sedan

1929 Oakland All-American Six 2-Door Sedan via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1929 Oakland

1929 Oakland

1929 Oakland Landaulet

1929 Oakland Landaulet

4 photos above by sjb4photos, on Flickr

In what appears to have been one final attempt to make a success of the Oakland automobile, the company powered it with a new 85-horsepower V-8 engine for 1930. Billed as the lowest-priced V-8 ever offered to the American public, this car boasted a top speed exceeding 70 miles per hour. Some 700 pounds lighter than the 80.5-horsepower Buick Series 40 Six, the Oakland V-8 was a phenomenal performer, and at prices ranging from $1,025 to $1,195, it was a bargain as well. Buick prices, in those days, ranged upward from $1,260.

1930 Oakland Eight 2-Door Sedan

1930 Oakland Eight 2-Door Sedan via aldenjewell, on Flickr

1930 Oakland Eight 4-Door Sedan

1930 Oakland Eight 4-Door Sedan via aldenjewell, on Flickr

But the Oakland still wasn't terribly successful where it counted -- on the sales floor - and so the decision was made to kill the marque and market the V-8 in 1932 as a senior Pontiac, doubtless in the hope that some of Pontiac's popularity might rub off on the larger car. It didn't, so production was halted on March 22, 1932, exactly three months following the Pontiac V-8's debut. Only 6,281 units had been produced.

Such A Fine Car For So Little Money

1931 Oakland Eight via paul.malon, on Flickr

By 1932, the slow-selling Oakland was gone. Pontiac was the only companion marque of the four introduced by GM (the other three were LaSalle, Marquette and Viking) to survive its "parent" make. Now it's also gone.

Sources: HowStuff Works (One, Two)

Headline photo: by sjb4photos, on Flickr

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