More than a thousand antique and nearly antique Oldsmobiles snaked through downtown Lansing, Mich. The parade marking Oldsmobile's 100th anniversary drew thousands of enthusiasts on that hot, sunny August day in 1997.
Rolling slowly down the street were Curved Dash models from the beginning of the last century, touring models and sedans from the 1920s and 1930s and the more familiar Ninety Eights, Starfires, F-85s, Toronados and Cutlass Supremes.
But nothing could hide the fact that Oldsmobile was in trouble. Sales for 1996 totaled just 331,287 vehicles, a far cry from the million-plus years of 1984, 1985 and 1986. Many of Oldsmobile's former buyers now drove Japanese imports.
Oldsmobile was still trying to shake off the effects of a 1992 Washington Post story that reported General Motors had been giving serious consideration that year to killing the brand. GM and Oldsmobile denied the story vigorously, but the seed of doubt had been planted in buyers' minds.
But that was just one issue that hurt the Oldsmobile brand.
"There were a lot of little elements. If you take a look at them and add them all up, it made the road back to success for Oldsmobile pretty difficult," said Gus Buenz, Oldsmobile's director of communications from 1987 until 2003.