We like to talk sports cars and other fun-to-drive lightweights, but let's not forget America's great modern addition to the car world: the land yacht. We know and love how big they are, but what are they like to drive?
I've been driving a 1964 Oldsmobile 88 for 5 years now as a daily driver. Here's what I've learned:
Plan ahead when you're braking. Four-wheel drums will stop you relatively quickly...once. After that, it's fade-o-rama.
The steering is indeed nautical, but with over-assisted power steering and a surprisingly decent turning radius, low-speed maneuvering isn't too hard. I've done three-point turns on two-lane roads.
Reverse is your friend. I usually back into parking spots; it's easier to get in and waaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier to pull out.
J-turns are extremely useful, not just for scaring your passengers and bystanders, but for turning around quickly.
Don't be afraid of potholes and curbs. With tall tires, a tough-ass suspension with massive amounts of travel, and cushy springs, driving over deep ruts and speed bumps is almost fun.
Keep your foot in it if you get into mud/sand.
Drive on the interstate a lot. On inner-city expressways, you can easily clip along at 90 and get a feel for what these cars are really meant to do.
We all hear about the 30 dead hooker-sized trunks, but there's truth in the jokes. Especially in an older car with no frilly carpeting, it's really like having a little watertight truck bed. Just vacuum out the fur needles and oil every once in a while.
You can make it fast pretty easily. Through technique alone, I was able to bring my 1/4 mile time down from 21.4 to 17.685. That's with a 5.7 liter engine, two-barrel carburetor, a two-speed transmission, an open 3.08 differential, and a 4,200 lb. car.
In short, forget about gas mileage and buy one, especially anything from 1961-1967. You won't regret it.
Have you driven a truly massive American sedan? An equally-huge Russian sedan, perhaps? What tips do you have for driving one of these old beasts?
Photo Credit: Oldsmobile