Oldsmobile came out with the 1930 Oldsmobile F-30 as the country was feeling economic pain. Like other manufacturers, Olds Motor Works had begun by producing convertible cars, starting with the curved-dash runabout. Soft-topped bodies continued to dominate the market in the Teens. By the Twenties, closed bodies were taking over. "Open" models -- roadsters, phaetons, and convertibles -- turned into the fashionable leaders of each product line.
At a glance, Oldsmobiles differed little from a dozen other makes. Nearly all automobiles still featured straight, upright lines. Only by looking more closely could the unique features of an Oldsmobile be discerned, as compared to its GM cousins. A new instrument panel went into 1930 models, and the windshield adopted a mild rearward slant.
The 1930 Oldsmobile F-30 had a conservative style, and the option
of wood or wire wheels. See more pictures of classic convertibles.
All Oldsmobiles used a six-cylinder L-head engine, displacing 197.5 cubic inches and sending 62 horsepower to a conventional three-speed manual transmission -- long floor lever, of course. "Syncro-mesh" would not arrive until 1931.
Convertible roadsters came in all three price levels: Standard Six, Special Six, and Deluxe Six. Rarest was the $1070 Special Six (shown), with only 233 produced. Oldsmobiles could be equipped with either wood or wire wheels. Dual-sidemounted spare tires and a rear-mounted trunk were fitted to upper models.
Conservative styling actually helped Oldsmobile weather the Depression better than most companies, as did some daring technical moves later in the decade. After ranking ninth in the industry in 1929, sales sagged in 1930; but so did those of nearly every manufacturer.
Only 233 F-30 Special Six convertible roadsters rolled off the line in 1930, enticing shoppers who did not yet feel the impact of the Depression. Dire days lay ahead, but Olds had a long history of survival.
For more classic convertibles of the 1930s and 1940s, see:
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