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Oldsmobile Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile’s Ready for Delivery

The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and beaches have long been a tourist attraction located in northwestern Michigan on the great lake named after the State. Louis and Marion Day Warnes began operating a fleet of cars on the dunes with four 1935 to ’36 Ford convertibles equipped with balloon tires in the pre-war days.

The post-WW II fleet was a group of 1948 Ford convertibles. Later in 1956 ten red and white Oldsmobile Super 88 convertibles replaced the Fords. At least one Ford and two of the Oldsmobiles have survived. .

The lead image taken out in front Frank G. Paulos’ Cadillac, and Oldsmobile dealership contains a line up of nine of the ten 1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 convertibles which replaced the eight-year-old fleet of Fords. The advertisement by the dealership (above-left) located in Traverse City, Michigan was found in the March 18, 1958 issue of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photos via contributor Benjamin Ames.

14 responses to “Oldsmobile Sleeping Bear Dunesmobile’s Ready for Delivery

  1. Wow, a heavy Olds convertible as a dunes car!
    I never would have guessed that.
    I can imagine that the Old’s Rocket Power came in handy.

    • Tom, does yours still have the graphics? Is there anything special on those cars on the interior vs. normal production models?

  2. I’ve known about these Olds 88’s for a number of years, and always wondered what the fascination this resort thought people would find running around in the sand in a convertible. Sorry; the idea just seems kind of lame. I would want to walk in the sand–not ride in a vehicle of any kind.

    • I hear you, Will! I was a kid in the 50’s, and things that would be so totally lame today, were a big deal “Back in the Day”. I vividly remember the glass house restaurant in OK; it spanned the turnpike and approaching it, it looked like a bridge over the TP. We ate there, and watched the vehicles pass under us. I was mesmerized! (Google “the glass house restaurant oklahoma” and click the tab for images to see it) Reptile farms, see the bears, etc. – golden stuff then. (Dad’s 56 Pontiac stick “3 on the tree” had no radio, and forget A/C!) We took our amusement where we could find it!

      • Will scout out the glass house Mr. P–thanks!
        In IL., they still have those spanning over the #294 tri-state tollway; now a McDonalds inside. A weird sensation to sit by the windows & watch traffic while eating! Felt like I was going to fall into traffic!!

  3. Top: Love the multi-Olds .

    Bottom photo: Aaahhhh! Socks with sandals… Call the fashion police! …and with argyles, yet! Is that cigarettes in the left shirt pocket, and please tell me that’s NOT a pocket protector on the other side? He should get 20 years to life in the Sear’s men’s department.

  4. I been in Michigan all my life, and never once wanted to spend money to have somebody drive me around the sand dunes up there. Yet they still do it. The vehicles became mosly 4WD IH Travelalls in the ’70s. They were extended-wheelbase chassis with about five rows of seats and cut-outs for doors, a la Jeep. I forget what they are driving now (maybe Ford Excursion conversions?), but the billboards are still all up and down US-31.
    I do recall going out into the Lake Michigan shoreline dunes on our own once, in the ’70s… it didn’t end well. Some young people in a Jeepster (2WD) had picked up my two backpacking buddies and me, who were hitchhiking. They asked “Wanna go out cruising the dunes?” “Sure!”, we said. Well, after we got buried up to the axles about half a mile from the highway, we offered up the only “entrenchment tool” we could find, the fry pan from a mess kit. We dug, pushed, dug, pushed for about ten minutes, at which point we packed up the mess kit and said “Well, it was nice meeting you! Good luck! Thanks for the dune ride!”

  5. PS: Break one-nine and Howdy, Howard. This is Ted (as you know me on Hemmings…). My handle here is a tribute to most of the cars I’ve owned, and the B side of Jan & Dean’s record “Drag City”.

    • Oh, oh,, hi Ted, welcome aboard. We’ll get those trucks ID’d for sure now. Tune in Fridays for some great vintage pic’s. A word of warning, David ( here) doesn’t go for the shenanigans like at Hemmings 🙂

  6. For those who can’t understand the attraction of the Dunesmobiles, here’s my experience. Your mileage may vary.

    In the early 60s my family twice took a 2-week summer vacation in a cabin near Crystal Lake, Michigan; near Frankfort, MI. Both time we went to Traverse City and rode in the 1956 Dunesmobiles.

    I was 10 years old – and I was THRILLED. The ride was wild, spinning around corners with the Rocket V8 roaring. At one point we charged up a hill toward a steep bluff; at the last minute we cut hard left, spun a little, and the brakes slammed us to a stop, barely avoiding disaster.

    I’m a lifetime professional musician and have performed on some of the world’s biggest stages; but the Dunesmoblies are one of my most memorable experiences.

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