By on May 29, 2012

You want class? In 1984, Oldsmobile had class in dump-truck quantities. Just listen to how the name Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight Royale Brougham rolls off one’s tongue.
This car, one of the final examples of rear-drive/full-frame Oldsmobiles ever built (1985 was the last year for the rear-drive Delta 88), may not be quite as Broughamic as the ’72 Mercury Marquis Brougham we saw last week, but you can still see the last hurrah of mid-60s-style luxury for the masses in this car.
All Olds Delta 88s were Royales for the 1984 model year, but you had to pay extra to get the Brougham package.
The 140-horsepower Olds 307 V8 wasn’t much engine for a 3,635-pound car, but it was smooth and quiet.
Such luxury!

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59 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight Royale Brougham...”


  • avatar

    I owned one of these babies–hit a deer with it–Car 1 Deer 0.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Is that an airbag in the steering wheel hub?

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Nah. GM tried airbags, incidentally with select Olds, Buick, and Cadillac models, in ’74 (ACRS). It lasted all of two years, I think. The next Olds with an airbag would have been the ’90 Toronado, if memory serves. It didn’t hit the Eighty Eight until the ’92 redesign, then became dual front bags for ’94 with the updated, less button-intensive dash.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Olds was the lead division for the GM airbag program in the early ’70’s. The relatively low price was heavily subsidized(can’t recall, $400-$800 retail), in hopes of interesting premium car buyers in the feature. With the roughly $8,000 program cost per system sold,we joked that it would have been cheaper to sell the airbag system for $8 grand and throw in the Olds 98!
        We also told NHTSA that air bags that inflate fast enough to save you without the use of supplemental seat belts would kill people. They have killed a fair number since mandated by law.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Nope. Couple of automakers dabbled with airbags in the early 70’s but they didn’t inflate fast enough. I believe Ford was first to offer a driver air bag as an option in anything past 1980 in the 1985 Ford Tempo. It was like an $800 option (about 10% the cost of a Tempo with moderate equipment!) and you lost the tilt steering wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Actually in the mid-80’s Mercedes-Benz started offering drivers side airbags in their top-line S-Class. By the late 80’s all Benzs had them.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    When I started dating my wife, she had the 1977 Holiday Coupe version of this car. 403 with THM350, duals, posi. The thing was a rocket. It was a great size, plenty of room and maneuverable with the Olds equivalent F41 suspension. Should have hung on to that car, but I let it go for POS Mercury.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    YOWSIR!!!!!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    “This car, one of the final examples of rear-drive/full-frame Oldsmobiles ever built”

    The Custom Cruiser ran through 1992.

    Also there was the Bravada all the way to the bitter end in 2004, although I don’t know if it really counts.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And as far as “big volume” cars go the Cutlass Supreme was RWD up through 1987 with “Classic” coupes being built into 1988.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    “Just listen to how the name Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight Royale Brougham rolls off one’s tongue.”

    Pimptastic!

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    funny, i never associated luxury with square. square edges outside, inside; i’ll bet the wiring was even routed in 90 degree turns. the only things that are round are the tires and the steering wheel.

    how things change.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Those were the years we sold every Oldsmobile we could build! I loved the RWD 98 Coupe of that era and the 88 wasn’t a bad way to cruise the expressway either.

    I knew the high compression 455’s, but one of my first company cars was an anemic, low compression 1976 98 Coupe- the longest car GM built that year! It was weak compared to the ’70 HC V8. The 307 V8 was such a let down from the high compression days. And to think, Olds had been looking at a V12 to get even more displacement before the advent of CAFE!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The RWD 88 and 98 were replaced by H-body cars which by all objective measurements were better cars. However this is another case of GM misjudging its market. GMs customers would have loved for RWD luxury car production to continue for a few more years, in fact it might have been better for the long term health of the company if the H-bodys had not debuted until 1992 as the second generation Hs did in the form the 2nd generation Hs did.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      The drastically-downsized GM biggies (H, C, and E-body cars) for 1985-1986 were planned way back in 1980-1981. Those were pretty desperate years where it appeared that fuel was going to be permanently costly and possibly scarce. Also, the US economy was in a big down with no immediate solutions on the horizon. GM reacted by slashing the sizes of its big and premium cars and adopting FWD across the board. By the time the fuel situation stabilized and the economy began to improve in 1983-1984, the smaller cars were too far along to cancel without GM eating a huge pile of money.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        They did keep a few of them going past the downsize (Brougham, Caprice Classic) and those are the ones I remember most in the late 90’s when I came of driving age. Most of the mid-80s C and E bodies were gone, just a smattering of 88s and up with the improved Cadillac 4.5 engines and 3800s with the revised intakes.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    It seems kitschy now, but the truth of the matter is that GM’s B-bodies were exellent cars for the time, good to drive, good to ride in, nicely packaged, with reasonable performance and fuel economy. Oldsmobile was still doing what they traditionally did best, offering near-Cadillac levels of refinement and comfort for a barely above Pontiac price. The 88 basically amounted to the nicest Chevy Caprice money could buy, which wasn’t really a terrible thing. Its a shame these don’t seem to have survived in as much of a quantity as their Chevy and Cadillac equivalents, always thought the Oldses and Buicks were the most interesting looking of the bunch.

    Of course, as good as the basic design was, GM build quality was highly variable at this time. If you got a good one, it lasted forever, if you got a bad one, you’d be back and forth to the dealer throughout the warranty period, and it was basically a crapshoot as to which one you’d get.

    My parents had an 87 Caprice Classic Brougham for a while growing up, far and away the nicest thing they’ve ever owned to this day and the closest they’ve ever come to a luxury car. The ride was great, the space was excellent, but it was troublesome the entire time they had it. Ended up being traded in on a Subaru at 3 years old, and the dealer indicated it was likely to be resold as a taxi.

  • avatar

    In my previous office, the server room was originally installed in the late ’70s for a mini mainframe. Oddly enough, it had the same brown carpeting (on the walls!) that this car has.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I never saw the point of one of these over the Chevy Caprice. Didn’t know it had a 307, always thought it shared the 305 that everything from GM seemed to have at that time.

    Either way, still don’t see any reason to pick this over a fully loaded Caprice. Only thing I can think of is the dealer service was better.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The Olds was a better car, particularly with regard to driveability, quality and durability. These outsold the Chevys despite a higher price.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      RWD Olds powertrains were always the best among GM brands. The problem was the tyranny of Fisher Body, making all those ’77- on RWD cars look alike.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    My grandfather had one of these, dark green with green interior. Around the same time, my other grandfather had a Mercury Grand Marquis. I recall that the hood ornament on the Mercury was spring loaded, and one of my favorite pastimes was to play with the hood ornament and make it flop back and forth. When my other grandfather rolled up in his new Olds, and I went to flop the hood ornament around it broke off in my hand. I was petrified that I’d broken grandpa’s very nice car, so I quickly hid the broken off ornament in a pile of cinder blocks. Lord knows what happened to it.

    The Olds got sold a few years later, and he bought a Grand Marquis like my other grandfather’s.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    Wow, the sight of that car brought back some funny memories when I was a know it all teenager working in a major grocery chain in the Northeast.

    Our store manager who was a huge pain in the butt had the same car. We decided to get back at him by placing an listing in the local news paper selling the car for $1500. The listing instructed the buyer to come in to the store and ask for Jim about the car. It was great to watch him implode as seeing person after person coming into the store to wanting to purchase the car.

    After about 23 years, I would like to think I’ve matured past this but it still makes me laugh. :)

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Ahh memories…spent many, many miles riding in the back seat of a 1984 Olds 88. Same brown interior too. It had engine run on and would cough a few times after turning off the ignition. Always was amused by this. Dad thought we were riding in luxury and he spent a whopping $10k for the Olds when it was maybe 2 years old. For my non-luxury driving folks this was their “we’ve made it car.” It was a smokers car previously and there was one burn in the front seat, but otherwise clean. The next 5 or so years the vehicle was in and out of the service shop repeatedly and was complete crap. It lived to 110,000 miles and sold to a caring home of a shadtree mechanic. It was a Texas car and he wanted a rust free body and was happy to have it. Dad replaced the Olds with a 1990 Ford Taurus that was in every single metric 1000% times more modern and better vehicle all around. In my teen years the Ford was much more “sporty” and acceptable to drive so I was happy to see the brown Olds leave.

    What I recall most about the 88 was that even as a teenager of not quite driving age and not quite adult porportions I thought the backseat was cramped. As a “full size” vehicle all the space was under the hood and in the trunk. Still think the same thing today when comparing your basic Camry backseat to a Crown Vic. These things were not huge inside…poor packaging all around. Malaise era indeed.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Any of the B-bodies that were owned by my folks, friends and relatives were pretty reliable and trips to the shop were usually for minor things like alignment, brakes, tires oil changes and maybe the occasional tune up. Nothing else really every broke on them as they were a long lived design which debuted in 1977. In fact it was the Fords and Chryslers in the early to mid 80’s that I often remember people always bringing to the shop. The 1980’s Panthers with the then new Overdrive automatic were stalling on owners when locking up into gear and many of those cars were involved in a big recall. The terrible variable venturi carb on many 302 and 351 engines was a disaster. Electrical gremlins were nearly always present and as with all three quality control varied wildly from one car to another. The big Chryslers were equally hit and miss with leaky window seals, poor drive-ability with the terrible lean burn system and were not nearly as refined as the big Ford and GM sedans of this time period. Was probably the reason they were nixed after 1981. If anything the 307 equipped Delta 88’s and Buick LeSabres always seemed like nicer all around cars to us in those years with 3 family members racking up as much as 310,000 miles on one Buick example and 306,000 and 298,000 on Olds 98’s. I have a 307 in my 1990 Brougham which is my trip car and it still fires on the first turn of the key, always runs smooth as silk, is dead reliable and despite only having 140 HP moves this 4200 LB sled around with surprising authority due to it’s 255 LBS FT of torque at a low RPM. It can also knock off 22-23 MPG on highway trips which was unheard of on Cadillacs from 1980 and before with there larger mills.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    These cars were themselves substantially downsized (in ’77) to comply with the roll out of CAFE requirements, and that was just the first step. The ’85 C, ’86 E & H were also responses to mandates, not customer demand.

  • avatar
    jfinftw1982

    Growing up, we had a white, 1990 Olds Eighty-Eight Royale Brougham with the suspension upgrade alloys, and the legally darkest tink with blue velour. I know it was COMPLETELY different from this vehicle, but that was such a nice ride. All the kids in my elementary school thought we were bad ass.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    This is very familiar. In Texas these were everywhere in the ’80s. My folks bought one new in ’83 and loved it. It had that same brown interior with the pillowed seats. I think about half of them had that brown interior! My mom loved the car and still remembers it fondly. It definitely had mechanical issues, but somehow it had a solid Olds feeling that put it above the ’78 Caprice it replaced.

    I especially like the Olds full-size dash of that era. The square glove box was unique and very Olds in its verticality. It seemed way more special than the Chevrolet dash which was a little busy. The square hub steering wheel was also a unique design and very in character for an Olds.

    • 0 avatar
      big_gms

      My opinion is just the opposite. Of all the B and C body cars of that era, I thought the Chevy had the best dash (at least in terms of layout and style, if not build quality) while I disliked the Oldsmobile dash. The layout of the gauges and idiot lights in particular is so goofy: Super low profile strip style speedometer and relatively tiny fuel gauge (both hard to read), idiot lights way off to the right, etc. It was almost as poorly laid out as the dash in my dad’s Ford Granada. I remember driving my grandparent’s ’79 Custom Cruiser and thinking how much better I liked the dash in my ’79 Caprice. The dashboards in the two ’78 Electra 225s my grandparents had were slightly better than the Olds, but still not laid out as well as the Chevy. And the dashboards in all of the other GM B and C body cars had a more or less symmetrical, nicely balanced look, while the Olds dash was asymmetrical and a bit clunky looking to me. In every other way though, the Olds was still a nice car.

  • avatar
    texan01

    My parents had a Royale version of this car. the 150hp 307 was allright except for the lousy 2.14 axle ratio. Yes 2.14. Even with the base suspension it handled well to my teenage senses, slow though.

    I remember it being quiet at speeds well in excess of its 85mph speedo, and with the 5 of us, it was comfortable, the 20 cubic foot trunk was awesome. I remember it hitting 18mpg in town and 25-26 on the highway with the craptastic TH-200C 3 speed automatic, that Dad had rebuilt at 80,000 miles. Ours had a problem overheating though possibly caused by me trying to get Mom and I home when it sprung an intake gasket leak (really who thought a steel gasket with an aluminum intake and cast iron heads was a good idea?) and pouring stopleak into it. The only chronic problem it had that I remember was its penchant for eating blower motors on trips in inopportune times- like in the middle of the Mojave Desert, or in Big Bend National Park. It was bought to replace the 76 Chevelle that my parents bought new, but the ’76 out lasted it by another 8 years.

    When we got rid of it in 1996, it had 120,000 miles on it, lacked reverse and 3rd gear on the crapbox Metric 200 transmission, one of the rockers had broken a valve tip (might have been caused by me racing it…_ so it ran on 7 cylinders, but the A/C was as cold as ever and it still looked brand new inside and out. It also would ping like a mother on a hot day, it would diesel regularly on shut-off, and ate bulbs like it was going out of style. It was probably the worst car my parents ever owned after it got out of the extended warranty, nothing happened before the warranty ran out at 70,000 miles. It was relegated to bus stop duty, 2 miles a day was allright for it, but if dad had to go on longer trips and mom needed her ’92 LeSabre then he took the Chevelle and its no-op A/C.

    I looked for one to fix up as a fun car, and swap out the 307 for a 403 or 455 and a good transmission since I still love the design of it and how light they are for the size.

    I will remember that the headlights were great, and had blindingly bright rear amber turn signals. great for annoying people with.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Glad you repeated the mention of the 2.14 axle ratio, because I’m sure someone would’ve said “surely you mean 2.41″.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        Yeah, I found an RPO code translator back when we were still on dialup through a VAX terminal so it was text only internet, found the code for the rear axle and it said 2.14. I looked it up in a book at the library and it said the same thing. It had great top-end but it was a dog trying to get there.

        No wonder the 140hp 305 in the ’76 Chevelle felt so much faster, as it had a somewhat lazy 3.08, but couldn’t come close to matching the fuel economy of that electronic Quadrajet.

        I remember Dad driving out in Big Bend area of W. Texas and not a soul on the road, mom’s asleep in the front seat, sisters are asleep in the back, and I’m riding up front at the tender age of 12. He looks over at me, and asks what would happen if he goes faster than the speedo can go. I think i shrugged and said it might break the needle, he then quietly says, “Lets find out” and steps down on that 4 barrel carb, we are already doing 65 and it kicks down into 2nd gear, I watch in amazement that it creeps on up to 75 then 80, then 85, then starts its swing down below the horizon of the speedo bottom, I see the back end appear around the 5mph mark and it slowly marches up to about 15 before it stops moving and dad’s still got the pedal planted on the floor. I still have no idea how fast we were going, but that little illicit speed run is forever seared in my memory. Dad normally is as straight-laced as it comes with speed limits, but that day in 1989 he let his hair down.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      2.41 was the base axle on all 307 equipped Delta 88’s when teamed with the 3 speed automatic ranging from 1983-84. 1981/82 cars came with 4 speed automatics only with 2.73:1 gears std. All 81-85 overdrive 200R-4 cars came std with 2.73:1 with the option of 3.08 or 3.23. The base 231 V6 cars all came with 2.73 std with the same optional gears as the overdrive 307 cars. This is right from my 81-85 Olds spec guide. 2.14 rear gears were used in 307 Cutlass Supremes from 1984-1987 with the 3 speed automatic. The only other cars I’m aware that came with those terrible 2.14 gears was certain 1979 Grand Prix/Lemans 301 cars and all 1980 GP/Lemans with 301 4 BBL V8. I have loads of specs for all 70’s to present on which gears were used on what cars/trucks etc. From 1984 to present GM used a spid label with all the option codes, mounted in the trunklid on 80’s cars and various other places thereafter that tells for sure what each car specifically had. GU1 was the code for 2.41:1 and a code I easily memorized due to it’s frequency of use through the 70’s and 80’s. GU2 was a 2.73, GU4 was a 3.08 and GU5 was a 3.23. We used to go to the junkyards and check every label to see if any of the cars came with optional rear gears. Came across many GU5’s on 231 V6 cars and those 3.23’s made a nice upgrade from the terrible 2.14 and 2.41 equipped cars.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        Ok, so maybe I got it confused. I remember the label on the trunk lid. It was still a slug off the line when comparing it to its heaver driveway mate when both cars shared the same basic chassis. The ’76 (w/3.08) did 0-60 in about 10 seconds and the ’84 did 0-60 in about 12. Even my current ’77 Chevelle with the 2.56 feels faster than the 84 did. Granted by the time I was old enough to drive it, it had seen 7 years of family transportation but Dad kept it in decent tune.

        Had I known in ’96 when we junked the ’84 what I know now, I think I’d have an ’84 Olds with a 76 Chevelle drivetrain.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    Those interior pictures bring back memories, my father had an 84 Olds Custom Cruiser Diesel wagon with the same color interior although it did not have the fluffy Bro-Ham seat pads we had to make due with corduroy if I remember correctly. As a bonus it was the 1st car he bought with AC and Cloth rather than Vinyl interior.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Our fetish with British monarchy was questionable at best, but let’s also bring back terry-cloth and polyester leisure suits while we’re at it.

    You have to call your luxo editions something so they stand out from mid level trims, but actually, ‘King Ranch’ and ‘Lariat’ are good examples. One is an actual Texas cattle ranch (founded by Richard King) and the other means ‘lasso’.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    “Such luxury” I can’t help but read that with Dr. Zoidberg’s voice. This was truly a Royal with cheese, way to much cheese.

  • avatar
    majo8

    The absolute best feature of these GM 80’s cars was the auxiliary A/C vents located below the steering column and below the glove box. They were great for keeping your, er, package cool. We often used the lower passenger glove box vent to keep our beer cold — just wedge the brown paper bag under the vent — instant cooler!

    I wish these would make a comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Its funny, I don’t notice them much on my Chevelle, but when I drive the Explorer, I often wonder why it doesn’t feel as cool driving it, even though both cars put out 38 degree air. I always forget the lap coolers on the car are helping keep things chilly.

      Girls tend to close them on the passenger side, something about air and skirts or something equally lame.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    This one should be completely torn down and parted, or used as a project car! That body looks as straight as an arrow!!

    No excuse for this one to be crushed into eventual Chinese crap!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m always amazed at how well the seat and interior materials on these GM sleds from the 80’s have held up when we revisit them in the junkyard.

    This example runs against the conventional wisdom of dull peeling paint and crumbling interiors or ripped fabrics and dangling plastics.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Depends on the color. My parents ’84 was beige/brown like this one without the vinyl top, and it was nearly flawless looking 12-13 years after it left the plant. I waxed it about once a year.

      My parents friends that had these in a metallic or single stage paint, failed quickly. Ours had a clear coat.

      There is a definite improvement in quality between the mid ’70s and the mid ’80s in the full size cars. They were still assembled by drunken chimpanzees but they had better material to slap-dash together.

      I will admit that the people that assembled our 88 did a great job, we beat the crap out of it on a 4×4 road in Big Bend NP and I watched the dashboard flex in and out a good 5 inches in the center, even towards the end, it was a solid car with nary a rattle.

  • avatar
    texan01

    This one looks like it died from a bad transmission seeing the 3 speed quadrant. the A/C compressor looks fairly new, and the whole engine seems way too clean. Even the E4ME 4 barrel carb looks great.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    It’s cars like this and from this era that I think of when I think of what an Oldsmobile was and should have always been.

    It’s a shame to see this one out of service, it deserved better…

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Have to admit, this one looks very nice for a car that’s over 25 years old.

    Judging by the photos, it already looks like someone’s been helping themselves to its parts. The rear axle is totally gone, the entire front grill/headlight assemblies is as well and one taillight cluster too. It also looks like someone has taken something out of the dash as the center dash face has been removed.

    Otherwise, this car looks like it could still be a cream puff pre junkyard bound.

    While not a fan of beige, it looks nice with the brown, and a nice shade of brown too. Don’t see these colors much anymore on the inside of cars.

    The Most braugham car my parents ever bought was the ’83 Buick Skylark limited 4 door (GM FWD X body) that they bought new as it had the velour seating and the full vinyl top and the fake wood dash applique with chrome accents.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    These were the classic last car for the elderly before they went to the assisted living place . An uncle , who must have been 80 years old when he bought it had the reverse version of the car pictured here with the dark brown metallic body and camel colored vinyl top and camel pillowed upholstery . I forget when he stopped driving but I think he lived to be 93 yrs. old and he still had the Olds . The cooler Delta 88 I remember was a friend’s brother’s 1977 Delta 88 Holiday coupe with the 403 and in some special edition in pale yellow with pale vellow vinyl top and white interior .

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These cars were all over the road in the early-mid 80’s. Very popular NYC Livery cabs before they were displaced by the Lincoln Town Car. An uncle of mine had an 84 Delta 88 Royal Brougham 2 dr in the very popular and nice firemist green and dark green velour interior. The 307 Rocket V8 was quite ample and got decent mileage, low-20’s highway.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Had one :)

  • avatar
    Oldsguy

    I own and drive one of these (but getting another car so that I’ll have to drive it a lot less). I’d like to buy some parts for it, but I can’t even seem to find many of the parts anywhere. Any ideas?

    Some of the covers of the controls on the console and the electric seat have come off. The front grill has a few pieces of plastic broken and I’d like to get that replaced. Several of the plastic covers for the lights on the front have also suffered some damage.

    The engine works fine, though, and has less than 80k on it.

    If it makes any difference, it’s the coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      big_gms

      If you haven’t already, you could try online classifieds and auctions. Scouring swap meets for parts is another option.

      The other suggestion I can offer is to join an Oldsmobile owner’s club. Owner’s club members can sometimes point you in the right direction for parts (no gaurantees on that, though). Sadly, a lot of these cars last saw duty in a demo derby, thereby destroying a lot of good parts…one of the many reasons I hate demo derbies.

      Good luck.


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