An Assembly Line in Lansing Once Made Oldsmobile Cutlasses Designed by Barbara Mandrell
Of course, when you think of cars, some are just inexorably connected to a celebrity or media. Think of Aretha Franklin and a pink Cadillac or a Pontiac Firebird and Bert Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.
Likely not at the top of your mental list of celebrity-car combos would be country singer Barbara Mandrell and an Oldsmobile Cutlass, but a Mandrel-inspired Olds once rolled off the assembly line in Lansing.
It was 1984 and the carmaker was using Mandrell's popularity, which peaked in the early 1980s, to be an auto influencer. The question came up on the Historical Society of Greater Lansing's Facebook group recently, with a poster asking,
My daughter has an 84 cutlass. The factory sticker says Barbara Mandrell special. I can not find anything on line about this. Anyone heard of this?
Not much online is not an exaggeration, the Barbara Mandrell Special appears to be almost completely forgotten even among Olds enthusiasts.
A discussion from 2006 on a car enthusiast message board asked about an '84 Cutlass 'Barbara Mandrell Special' on eBay. Turns out
This car was designed by Barbara during the glory days of the Old cuttys. The original factory sticker is still attached to the underside of the trunk lid.
There was little difference in buying a Cutlass that was a Mandrell Special, so it is likely a marketing ploy. And perhaps a tie-in to another Oldsmobile sales gimmick, giving away cassettes with new cars. This online discussion indicates Mandrell songs were included on some of the cassettes includes in the mid-80s.
So while the Barbara Mandrell Special certainly rolled off the line in Lansing, you'd likely need to search under the hood of an '84 to see if you've got an illusive Mandrell ride.