By on January 22, 2011


Public Enemy’s 1987 ode to the Olds 98, “You’re Gonna Get Yours,” has long been one of my all-time favorite car anthems, and I’ve always pictured Chuck D’s 98 as a mint-green example of the late-70s iteration of Oldsmobile’s top-of-the-line big car. Then I’m at the junkyard and… here’s Chuck’s car!


See, there’s no way the post-1985 front-wheel-drive Olds 98 could inspire the lines “Smoke is comin’ when I burn/Rubber when my wheels turn,” and the pre-1977 98 was just too big for tearing around the streets of New York City.

I had a vague recollection that the back cover of the PE album “Yo! Bum Rush The Show” had a photo of a lime-green ’78 Olds 98, but it’s been years since I purged most of the LPs from my music collection. Turns out my memory was faulty.

The standard engine for the ’78 98 was the venerable Oldsmobile 350, which made 170 horsepower and a non-shabby 275 lb-ft-o-torque. If you planned on rubbin’ on the railing cuz you’re feelin’ proud, you’d want the 403 engine: 185 horses and a burnout-friendly 325 pound-feet.

What other brand of smokes would you find in a car favored by 90-year-old men and old-school New York rappers?

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46 Comments on “Suckers To The Side, I Know You Hate My 98!...”


  • avatar
    obbop

    “It’s…… green.”

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Ah, GM in it’s most awesome awfulness.  There was not a part on that car that could have been made more cheap, ugly, or shoddy.
    Ughhhhhh!

  • avatar
    beater

    Lowest common denominator trash the day it was made. All flash and no substance, and best left on the scrapheap where it belongs.
     
    That goes for the Oldsmobile, too.
     
    Just one man’s opinion.
     

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The first car my maternal grandmother bought after my grandfather’s untimely death in 1978 at the ripe old age of 42, was a 1979 Oldsmobile 98 sedan in the shade of orange that so well matched the minty green pictured here.  I am the oldest of her grandchildren and was about one year old when she purchased it and she kept it until I was about 6 or 7.  I remember bombing around Ohio backroads with her, taking curves and hills at clearly legal speeds but still with vigor that would make the Oldsmobile bob and lean like a roller coster.  I was belted in the front seat, no car seat, and unable to see over the MASSIVE dash.  I remember thinking I could almost climb into the glovebox.  It was fully loaded and the “moonroof” motors would die like clockwork every 30,000 miles.  She sold it at right around 100,000 miles to a farmer who claimed “You just got her broke in, why do you want to sell?” 

    My father’s best friend had a 1978 Delta 88 sedan in the lovely shade of green pictured.  It was his roadtrip car/winter beater to keep the miles off his 1987 442 (when he wasn’t driving his truck.)  He owned that car with nary any mechanical issues until just after the start of the 1990s.  I always thought that the orange 98 and the green 88 would have made sweet driveway bookends. 

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      One of my good friends in highschool received a hand-me-down 98 Regency like this one as a first car. IIRC, it would have been in 1987. The car had been his father’s company fleet issue, and it had already required a complete paint job due to GM’s paint. It had overheating issues, electrical issues, interior issues, and wasn’t much fun to drive with 60K miles. I remember opening the hood, reading the labels, and being completely shocked that a car built in ’78 or ’79 had a 403 ci engine. It seemed like a dream compared to the 3.8 V6 in another friend’s father’s similar Buick Electra 225. The reality was that the 403 provided okay performance. Mostly it stumbled when prodded, but once in a while it would accelerate in a manner appropriate for a malaise era small block. The best race result I can remember was beating a twit’s ’57 Chevy 4-door in a stop light grand prix. The Chevy was 30 years old though, and was not a hot rod. At best, it had a 283 2 barrel and Powerglide. I don’t recall what happened to the Oldsmobile. My friend got sent off to preppy screwup school, and we lost touch for a couple decades.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Who let the punks in?  That was the best full size RWD platform GM ever made. If they kept making it, more cops would be pulling over Beemer boys with it than with the CV.  Everything important on that car could be ordered in HD form or modified to suit. Never judge a car by its velour upholstery!

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      +1! Lust over your forgettable imports some place else. This dreamboat is what fantasies are made of!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      As the owner of a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (until it was stolen in Detorit, MI in November 2001) let me just say; “Velour RULES!” 

      BTW that car was found stripped, likely to donate some of it’s parts to “boxes” as hip hop likes to call square B-body GM cars or maybe parts to a few of it’s G-body brothers. 

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If that was the best GM ever did, it is no wonder they went bankrupt….

    • 0 avatar
      ninjacoco

      I have to agree with the Educator: velour FTW!

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      That platform had 7 years of development already, by the time 1977 had rolled around. It was based off the 73-77 A-Bodies, shared the same front suspension as the 70 1/2 F-bodies. They were fairly lightweight as well. Mom’s old ’84 Delta 88 weighed in around 3500 pounds, though coupled with the electronic Quadrajet 307, it was lethargic at best.

  • avatar
    detlump

    We had a black 79 98 Regency with a red velour interior.  It was a great car, made a few trips to Florida and back from Michigan without problems.  Really comfortable on the highway, lots of room for me in the back, albeit I was much younger than I am now.  Back in the day, I used to ride on the front arm rest sometimes, between my parents, so I could see where we were going.  This was before child seats of course.  In an accident I would have been toast.  I loved the hood ornament too.  I had wanted my dad to order the fender fiber optic light indicators but that would wait until the white 81 98.  I think it cost $38, my dad joked that I would be paying for it.  I recall asking my dad at night to hit the bright lights so all 3 indicators would light up.  Simpler times.
    Also back then my dad used to trade cars after 2 years, because they held their value relatively well, not like today.  He was able to flip the car and get a new one every 2 years or so, usually ordered by him at a reasonable cost.  Of course, he used to say he would never spend more than $5,000 for a new car either, but that went out the window in the 70s.  I think the 81 98 cost around $11,000 for a Regency without leather but with optional gauges and fender light indicators – ah the good old days.

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    I like that color and those cars look nice in their own way.  GM B-Bodies are almost gone from the Northeast which made finding parts for my Caprice when I had it difficult.
     
    Wonder why I was originally logged in as Don Hornby?  I am on my private computer which makes it weirder.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    My father’s business partner had a ’78 Ninety-Eight Regency.
     
    I’d rather have one than a Cadillac. If I had a million bucks to burn I’d buy one and turn it into some kind of GM crate big-block monster.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    This would have been in the wrecking years 20 odd years ago if it had the 5.7 diesel “GM’s worst engine ever”

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      It can join the V8-6-4 and HT-4100 (and 4.5 and 4.9) on that list!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://books.google.com/books?id=Uc8DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA88&dq=Dodge+Omni&hl=en&ei=iTg6TYaHIY3GsAPUw9HQAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Dodge%20Omni&f=false

      Check out the Oldsmobile Diesel PM Owners’ Report that starts on page 114. It is astounding, describing the Olds Diesels as the most loved American cars in years. It puts paid to any theories about the usefulness of PM’s Owner Surveys. After a few months, Olds diesel buyers were ecstatic. They clearly still had faith in the GM that had already spent about a decade serving up disasters like the Vega, Monza, Malibu and their derivatives. They even had nice things to say about their dealers. It is enough to give anyone who is thinking about believing the Detroit hype this time a reason to think it through.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      This would have been in the wrecking years 20 odd years ago if it had the 5.7 diesel “GM’s worst engine ever”
       
      Would you like to place a wager on that?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The engine that gave diesels in the US a bad rap. I owned one once. An 80 Toronado. Back in 1988 I bought it from someone in my neighborhood for a mere $500. Charcoal grey, maroon velor int. Every option except leather, fiberoptic pkg and vinyl roof. It even had the steel sunroof. He was the original owner and recently had a new Mr. Goodwrench motor installed under warranty along with a rebuilt trans, so I figured how could I go wrong. Ran great and 28 MPG on road trips. Econocar MPG in a luxobarge. After several months I had to change the main controller for the glow plugs located in the intake. That solved the problem for a while till the batteries would get undercharged due to slipping belt. Glow plug changes too. By 1990 the engine started to make noises like it was ready for it’s end, a broken piston skirt. A local mechanic offered to install a Olds rocket V8 for $750 but I figured it was time for an upgrade and gave it to a local wrecking yard for $200. Off to GM diesel here after.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      @MRF: I’m happy to hear that you have first-hand experience with the Olds V8 diesel, unlike many people who merely mention them by rote as being an awful engine.  I specifically wanted to know whether you’d back up your assertion that there are no roadworthy examples of this engine left with a cash wager?  (NOTE: I only make sucker bets.)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      As far as I can tell from an exhaustive sampling of 3 cars, the closer to the end of Olds diesel production the engine was built, the better it was.  I knew three people with those cars, the 1980 model ended up with a GM crate 350 gas engine, the 1983 model went 100,000+ before succumbing to teenage stupidity, and the rare 1985 model is still going strong 300,000+ miles because of a vigilant owner who happens to be a tractor mechanic.  (But he’s still just doing preventative maintenance, not rebuilding the thing every third Tuesday.)

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I did not say there were not any roadworthy ones still out there on the highways and byways. In fact the last time I looked there were a few on e-bay. But this model was a 78 which would have made it the 1st and worst year of the GM 5.7. Chances are it would have gone through 2 engines most likely relegating it to boneyard land 20 odd years go.
      I’m sure there are more of these on the road than Vega’s or Monza’s with the original 140 ci alumnium block. That’s a motor that would qualify as GM’s worst since they started burned oil at 30-40K and rarely made it past 60k. My cousin and some friends had one so I know. Cheap to buy back in the mid-late 70’s $200-300. No wonder why so many ended up with V8 conversions.

  • avatar

    FYI: this is also Moe Syzlak’s car.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    TTAC + PE = :) 

    It’s simple posts like this that make me thankful for this site, especially with Murilee on board.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Olds 98 brings back memories of those fully-hatted Nan & Pop visits…

    How can I conjure the 98 road image? 

    Pop’s feathered Fedora silhouetted in a highly polished, slow-moving-center-lane-hogging-Olds with a turn signal left on..?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That reminds me I think I left my fedora in the car…

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      No, Dan, the fedora is mine! Sorry, had to say that. As much as many hate those cars now, they were quite popular back in the day. My biggest complaint: GM “halfway” mentality by designing the rear windows to go only halfway down. The other car makers contacted this disease, too, although Ford and Chrysler back windows usually rolled more than halfway. This was/is a big deal to me because I don’t use A/C all the time and enjoy the open air. Amazing the range of colors they painted these, too!

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    “What other brand of smokes would you find in a car favored by 90-year-old men and old-school New York rappers?”
    Since when have Public Enemy been ‘Old-School’ rappers?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      FLAVOR FLAV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      FWIW it would be hard for me to choose which album cover I perefer.  The one above, NWA’s famous album cover with the women with their backs to the camera, or ZZ Top’s Cadzilla cover.  I think I’ll go with Cadzilla – that’s always what Cadillac was in my dreams, but sadly not in reality. 

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      @Nicodemus:
      I believe Murilee was just using old-school in the revisionist modern sense rather than the era pre-Run-D.M.C. sense. For most casual rap fans, anything pre-Gangsta rap is old school.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      @EduDan
      You mean 2 Live Crew’s famous album cover, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Forgive me, I would likely know it better but my mother was practically a card carrying member of the “Parental Advisory” council. 

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    Anyone who pans a ’98 of this era has never driven one. These were actually the last good cars GM made; the were made for the highway and they just ate up miles. Really, you cannot compare these cars with anything made today, 33 years is simply too long a time frame. However, in their day, these were a great ride. The only real problem with them (diesel excepted) was the automatic a/c controllers were awful and once they broke, you could, not matter what you did, ever get them to work right again. The manual air, on the other hand, was bullet-proof.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Agreed, as you can see from my post above I owned an 80 Toronado diesel that ended up having a raft of problems. But the one thing I can say about it and other GM products of the era, the climate control systems were bulletproof.

  • avatar
    william442

    I grew up with a green 1950 98. As I remember, it was fast, comfortable, and needed frequent repairs. The 1956 that replaced it didn’t come close, even though it was also green.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    When I was 7, my dad brought home a ’72 98 Regency.  It was dark green with a low compression 455 4bbl single exhaust.  I was 10 when he traded it in for our ’76 Olds Vista Cruiser, the colonaide style Cutlass station wagon.  The ’72 98 was something special – at first, although it became a maintenance hog.  The ’76 Vista Cruiser was an embarassement from the get go.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    A friend in high school had one of these..it was the extra car in the family.  A ’78 with the red interior.  403.  It was a comfy ride and made for a good car to hand out in.  But at night, after a few one-hits, you would open the door and get blinded by all the interior lights.  There must have been twelve light sources in there.  It even had the factory CB radio! The car lost its life when my friend’s brother drove it into a tree.  So I can’t vouch for its durability but I seem to remember it being a pretty good car for the era.

  • avatar
    ninjacoco

    I have a bit of an unhealthy love for these cars. Mom had an ’87 Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham and I loved all the gaudy tacky 80s-ness of that car. It ruled, man.
     
    I never knew this song existed. I think I might just have a new appreciation for Public Enemy now.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    My Dad drove a 1970 Ninety-Eight (deserves to be spelled out) Luxury Sedan, in a shade of pale yellow known as “Bamboo,” with a gold vinyl top and matching brocade interior. Not only is the variety of paint colors amazing compared to today, the five choices of interior colors in multiple patterns goes beyond the typical two color choices available in modern vehicles.
     
    As many of you know, that was the last year of high-compression engines for General Motors, and the 365-hp (SAE gross), 455-cubic-inch engine produced an amazing 510 lb.-ft. of torque at a leisurely 3,000 RPM. With a single exhaust, no less.
     
    That car was surprisingly well-built, considering that 1970 was marked by one of the most contentious strikes against GM in UAW history. We owned that car for over seven years, and not once did it leave us stranded…an unusual feat of reliability for the era.

    We were lucky; our next-door-neighbor purchased the same make and model in the following year. Unfortunately, GM’s all-new, full-sized 1971 models were plagued with engineering and assembly problems; less than a year, later we looked across the fence to see our neighbor getting out of a brand-new W114. And others in the neighborhood eventually followed…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I know someone that bought one of these and had it shipped across the country. He went to extremes to find another after his first was lost. The first one this guy had was stolen but the recovery was really rough. Broken steering,  trashed interior, etc.
     
    The car he got from CA had a warning sticker on the drivers side window that the car could have lead contamination from the fuel and to exercise caution. Those CA lawmakers,  what a bunch of cards.

  • avatar
    mrtut

    I’m driving a 1977 98 with the 403 as my daily driver and this is  a great car.
    Removed the cat, installed a flowmaster and K&N filter and she’s fast, powerful and very very reliable. Aside from the headliner, which I had to replace, the interior is close to mint.
    With new snows on the rear, she goes though any winter weather.

    I used to drive old Caddy’s but now prefer the late 70’s Olds.

    Without exception, everyone who rides in it loves the plush luxury these cars have.

    Once she goes, I’ll find another.

    And thankfully, since most collectors don’t care for them, you can still find these with low mileage and in very good shape.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Yup, I picked up my ’77 Chevelle because no one wants a colonnade sedan, I bought it because it was comfortable, easy to work on, and you don’t see very often anymore.
       
      The 78-91 B/C Bodies don’t get much love anymore despite being good looking cars, and fairly well built.
       
      We had an 84 Delta 88 that was let down by the woeful TH-200C and a mediocre Olds 307 that like to shed internal parts despite a steady diet of regular oil changes. It looked brand new when dad sold it for $100 after it lost 3rd and reverse for the 3rd time in 1996.


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