By on January 24, 2014

08 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, GM was a major sponsor of US Olympic athletes at the 1984 Summer Olympics (which were boycotted by most of the Warsaw Pact as payback for Jimmy Carter and friends boycotting the ’80 Olympics over Part XXIV in the War In Afghanistan), which meant that you could buy an Olympic Edition Buick Century that year. I moved to Southern California while the ’84 Olympics were going on, but all I remember about them was my friend who made the national news by drunk-driving over tens of thousands of orange cones set up for the bicycle-road-race event in Orange County (delaying the start of the event and earning five years of weekend orange-vest-freeway-cleanup duty)… and the sight of all these Olympic Centuries being driven around by low-level employees of the Games. Here’s one that managed to stay on the street for nearly 30 years, before washing up in an Oakland self-service yard.
12 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSort of a forgettable member of the forgettable Celebrity/6000/Ciera family, but the US Olympic Team badging makes it a rare find.
11 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure this Olympic hood ornament is worth at least several dollars today.
06 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinCheck out these Olympicized headrests!
25 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIf a Buick buyer was too cheap to spring for the cassette deck (as this car’s buyer was), GM supplied a radio with the cassette door replaced by a plastic block-off plate. I’ll bet all the cassette-deck mechanism is in place behind this plate, too.
28 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinGold pinstripes.
20 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinEven the first year after the end of the Malaise Era was still fairly Malaise-y.

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120 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Century Olympic Edition...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    USA! USA! USA!

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      GM releases “special” editions like this pretty regularly it seems. There was a 2008 “Podium Edition” Pontiac Torrent, of all things, sold only in Canada in advance of Vancouver 2010.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Torrent#Podium_Edition

      I mean really.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I recall working with a surveyor marking utilities on a sidewalk and three guys walking by started chanting “USA! USA!” The “USA” he wrote on the sidewalk stood for “Underground Sewer Arterial”.

  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    Now I want to go find and tear apart an 80s/90s GM tape player to find out…

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      Well, even if it is there it is missing the fast forward/rewind and eject buttons so don’t go sticking your prized Ray Parker Jr. cassette in there.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      Yeah, me too. I’ve heard of block-off plates for radio delete cars (I actually owned a ’77 Camaro that was so equipped) but I’ve never heard of a block-off plate for “casette delete”.

    • 0 avatar
      rpm1200

      I’ve taken one of those apart. There’s no tape deck in there. I don’t think the PC boards even have the connectors for the tape deck (but I would not be surprised if the boards had places for the tape deck interface components to mount). There is a lot of empty space where the tape deck would go and the mounting tabs are all there.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        Interesting… At least they could use similar faceplates, and probably the same knobs and buttons. GM parts bin engineering at its finest.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, every not tape deck ETR2000 radio I’ve taken apart has a different board than a tape deck version. Same with the Delco 2700 series shaft mount radios.

        These with decent speakers sound pretty good and have excellent range.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      It seems funny that someone presumably paid extra for the “Olympic package” but didn’t want to spring for a cassette deck.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        I’m curious if this was actually ordered the way it is by an individual, or sold used like a dealer demo after Olympic officials/workers drove it for the Olympic games.

        For Vancouver 2010, they sold off a lot of the Tahoes, Suburbans and Terrains that were used for Olympic duty as used cars shortly after the games ended. Some pretty decent deals actually IIRC.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Yellow Fiero in the background!!

    I’m a bit of a Fiero fanatic. I’m definitely one of very few.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Can’t believe how corny this vehicle must have looked like.

    Perhaps even the engine’s valve covers have an Olympic logo.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I like the fact that all the trim looks tired, except for the fake wood. That stuff looks as good as it did the day it came out of the factory. Yes, GM really had the fake wood technology down by then.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I feel like these would have sold poorly as a special edition. It’s too specialized, like “RAV4 Eagles Reunion Concert Denver Edition.” It’s also very gauche with all the emblems and embroidery. Everything is too loud.

    That being said, overall not a bad looking car for 1984.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I remember them on the roads and atleast one in the neighborhood. They in their time weren’t super noticeable as the badging isn’t shouting at you. If you like a little panache and in the 1980s the Olympics were still serious business it wasn’t a bad car. Buicks were never cutting edge but competent…too bad you could still get that same dash in a 2000 century.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    These cars are becoming more attractive to me as time passes on. I love the luggage rack on the track; why does nobody do that anymore?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Likely because trunk lids are no where near flat anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      80-year-olds in 1983 still remembered tying luggage to the exterior of the family Model T, so cars bought by 80-year-olds had to get symbolic luggage racks.

      • 0 avatar
        Wscott97

        Has anyone ever seen luggage tied on the rack of these cars? Maybe that’s the cause of all the open suit cases and clothes I randomly see on the 405.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The new comment editor didn’t allow me to edit the way I wanted, and the comment delete wouldn’t delete the comment after I typed the mandatory reason for deletion, so ignore this reply.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The problem with the 405 is the traffic is so heavy, very little clean up can be done in the limited time allowed by state traffic operations. No more than an hour is allowed for a lane closure and it takes 25 minutes to set it up and 20 minutes to remove it, leaving only 15 minutes to do any trash removal or other work, like pothole filling or guard rail repair.

          As for how that stuff got there, I saw a guy with a bunch of stuff in an old pickup with no shocks, bouncing along at 50 mph in the slow lane. He hit a small bump, the tail gate went down, and after that, his stuff was sliding off the bed with every bounce. He never stopped, even though several people honked at him as they went by.

          I wonder if the guy who ran over those cones got five years probation because Caltrans was falling behind in trash collection. The probationers assigned to trash collection for short periods tend to lack motivation.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I’ve actually used the one on the trunk of my Triumph Spitfire before. I had to carry four computer systems to a job site, in their boxes. Two in the passenger seat, one behind the seats, one on the trunk rack! The boxes were too big to fit in the shallow trunk.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I believe you could buy these new across the country, our neighbors in Baton Rouge had one, as well as the following Olympic versions that Buick badged, or maybe just the 96 Regal and Century. Saw those while living in Houston.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      They were in every showroom. It was THE car to be shown for a time in Buick. I remember the 1996 games and every Buick dealer had them….then unloaded them immediately after the games.

  • avatar
    kojoteblau

    My grandfather had one of these, in silver. I remember the Olympic badges and hood ornament, but not any embroidery on the headrests. In silver, it seemed classier, in white with gold pinstripe, it just seems kinda gaudy.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I admire the person who could keep this car running for 30 years. I feel sorry for the person who had to drive this car for 30 years.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I saw a similar Century and Ciera last night. Similar in age, paint removed, hole in muffler of an Iron Duke, and rear end sagging. My dad bought a Ciera new, gone in 9 mos. There hasn’t been a GM in the family since, unless you count my lemon 2007 Outback.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        My boss bought an ’85 Ciera with the iron duke/3-speed auto and swore he’d never buy a GM 4 cylinder car again. A co-worker later bought an ’89 Ciera with the Buick 3800/4-speed auto and was very happy with it.

        • 0 avatar
          CobraJet

          I had a string of Ciera’s as company cars. An 85, 88, and 90. All either brougham or whatever the top of the line was for that year. All with the 90 degree Buick V6. One was a 3.8.

          I put close to 100,000 miles on each of them driving all over the eastern half of the US. Never had any major repairs to them. When I see them now they look so small compared to current Impalas and the like.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          These cars are why people think “four-bangers” are somehow lesser engines. Crap fours are crap, good fours are not.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        Us too. Dad bought an 84-ish, burgundy over red Century sedan brand new. I believe it was the 3.1 V6. Ground its cam down due to coolant in the oil (apparently a semi-common issue on these). They wouldn’t warranty it, so Dad said “just get it running so that it makes it to the Honda place”.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          That may have been the 3.0L, which is odd, because I believe the 3.8L V6 which went into later versions (’85 and up, maybe?) was built like an anvil.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Yes the 82-85 Century’s and Ciera’s had Buick’s garbage 3.0 liter carbureted version of Buick’s tried and true 231 V6 as an option in these cars. Why they even bothered making a separate engine for the then new A-body cars when Chevy already had the superior 60 degree 2.8 with the same basic power and torque is another Gm mystery.

            The 3.0 liter carbureted Buick V6 borrowed it’s larger 231 brother’s already weak oiling system, offset pistons and time bomb distributor driven oil pump and added smaller pistons and a higher revving design to make one of Buick’s worst ever engines in history. The junk yards at the time never had these in stock but plenty of Chevy 2.8′s were around.

            In 1986 the Buick 3.0 liter 2 BBL was dropped in these cars (made MFI and offered in the new N-body cars that year) and the Chevy 2.8 was substituted in carbureted form that one year. After that it was generation II MFI 2.8′s that were usually found in these cars up to 1989. The Buick 3.8 was introduced as early as 1984 and this Century Olympic could have had that mill by the tell tale fuel injection sign on the front fenders.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Summer of ’84 the wife and I were in Los Angeles for the World Science Fiction convention (LA Con II – this was around Labor Day, so I think it was after the Olympics). Had one of these as our rental. In fact, the rental car lot was full of these, to the point that I had to check about three cars to get one that matched our issued keys (the agency had misfiled).

    Not a bad driver, I was quietly impressed. Fortunately, so, as the following decade would find my driving life centered around Buick Centuries.

  • avatar
    ancientofdays

    “…the forgettable Celebrity/6000/Ciera family…”

    Forgettable to some, maybe, but the first car I remember riding in was my mom’s 1984 Celebrity wagon. It also happened to be a complete lemon, and nothing is as UNforgettable as getting stranded from break-down after break-down.
    I lived in Orange County back then as well, and I’m told we went to watch the Olympic torch relay (I was a baby) in Anaheim. Presumably it was on a day when the car was running.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    I have an uncle that drove these FWD 80′s / early 90′s GM’s up until 08/09. Pontiac 6000, Old Cutlass, Buick Regal? He swore by them “They’re so great on gas and comfortable”

    -Until he saw my then-current 99 Maxima SE one day and asked about it, and then bought one for himself that he still drives. He thinks its a racecar – Gee, I wonder why.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an 86 Pontiac 6000-STE at the same time my sister had a brand new 99 Nissan Maxima SE. The tin indian was far quieter and smoother riding than the Max, the Max was faster to 60 by not to big of a margin. Sis had a 99 Maxima SE at the same time I had the Pontiac.

      The 2.8 had torque in spades at low rpm, and could edge the VQ at slow rolls but by 40 the Max was pulling like a freight train where the 2.8 was starting to breathe hard at 4,000 rpm in 1st gear, above 5000 it made noise and not much power. I think both with automatics, the Max was about a second faster to 60 (8 vs 9.something)

      If I had to choose between the two cars now, I’d still roll the tin indian, but slap a blown 3800 in it, or a sidewinder LS V8 in it. Darth Vader’s bathroom dash still has that ’80s appeal that black on white gauges don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        My best friend’s folks bought an ’85. Wow, the suede seats on that pimp-mobile! At least it was tasteful in black and gray. The digi-dash and stereo were fun, and I agree it was pretty quick for the time and it’s displacement.

        It used to sit in the driveway when temps were falling a lot (spring and fall evenings) and click its power locks on and off for hours. Hysterical.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Not surprising considering that by 1999 most every V6 car from Ford to Honda to Nissan to GM made considerably more power than there mid 80′s to early 90′s predecessors.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I had forgotten about these. When I moved to Atlanta in ’85, the roads were full of Centurys for the next half decade. Two of my friends drove p’ups but had these as family cars. They loved them, but complained of the need for frequent front end alignments. I never understood why someone would choose one of these over an 6000 STE. Looking back, there was so little difference between the styling for the marques, it is clear how cheap GM was.

  • avatar

    My dad had an ’86 Century and a ’90. The ’86 was a dog. Two months after he bought it new, it overheated on our trip up Pikes Peak. And climbing up mountains on I-70 we had to stick to the truck lane with our hazard lights on, because the Iron Duke could barely hold 35 MPH.

    The ’90 was much improved. So much, it was almost a revelation. It had the 3.3 V6 with a four speed overdrive and actually got better mileage then the ’86, with the 3 speed auto/Iron Duke combo. Plus it had plenty of power and could cruise all day at 80.

    • 0 avatar
      Madroc

      All the ’86 needed was a Trifecta tune.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Even the 2.8L Chevy 6 my Dad had in his ’86 Century (with 4-speed AOD) scampered well. (My 16 year-old car-nut self tried to convince my Dad to grab the 3.8 Buick 6, but he just ordered a beige Limited demo off the lot — ps/pb/windows/locks, air/cruise/Tilt, base ETR cassette, delay wipers, wire wheels with whitewalls. Don’t know if that engine had to be ordered, or if the dealer got a few of those in along with a smattering of 2.5L Iron Duke Customs.)

      I was able to hoon..err..DRIVE a friend’s fully-loaded 1985 Century Estate Wagon (Limited trim) with the 3.8L a couple years after my Dad went to Hondas for life! Even loaded to maximum capacity, that car could haul a$$ nicely! (Not modern Honda V6 haul, but damn nice all the same! ;-) )

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Red, White, and Buick! My third car was a 1988 Regal coupe that was also an Olympic edition. And I owned a 2002 Ski Doo MXZ Olympic Edition as well now that I think of it.

    My Dad custom ordered a 1987 Buick Century with the 2.8 v6. Back then you could specify almost everything on a special order car. He mixed and matched items from the T-Type package-wheels/suspension/console shifter/bucket seats etc. He kept that car for 17 years and close to 165K. It hauled boats, snowmobiles, and took us on trips all over the country in relative comfort. It broke down only once, which was the morning I needed to take my drivers test with it haha.

    So if people want to laugh and write these off as being just another crappy GM car from the 80′s-that’s fine. But I would disagree.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Much depended on which engine, transmission and suspension was ordered for these A-body cars. The Buick 3.0 liter 2 BBL V6 was crap from 1982-85, the Tech IV was reliable but severely under powered and only offered with the equally reliable 3 speed so highway mileage was the same as the V6 with overdrive overall. The early Chevy 2.8 with carb were okay if a little finicky with there Varajet carburetors but actually became solid motors when switched over to Gen II in 1987 with MFI.

      The 1985 onward Buick FI 3.8 was a decent mill made better in 1986 with SFI and distributor less ignition and roller lifters and it’s 1989 introduced 3300 cousin was even stouter and revved freer. By 1994 the 3100 with 4T60 overdrive was the main engine offering and as we all know suffered the intake fiasco but wasn’t a bad engine otherwise if you could keep it from overheating and cracking a head.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    I owned an 93 Century with a 3.3 and 4 speed auto in undergrad. Great car. It wasn’t much to look at but keep running and running. The only thing that ever failed was the water pump, which cost me a whole $30 to change. Simple well engineered car that could take a beating. Well at least the 3.3 V6 and 4 speed auto was.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      Purchased a 1993 Century last year, 100K miles, for $500 with the same 3.3L setup. Needs front end work / alignment for the third time since new, along with new tires. If it goes 50K miles without further expenses, that works out to about $0.02 per mile, not counting gas and oil.

    • 0 avatar

      My transmission gave up after ten years and 120K, but it was cheaper to rebuilt it than buy a new car. The only real issue I had with it (other than it was a Buick, when they were old man cars) was the peeling paint, but that was a factory option on most GM cars at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The A-bodies were a classic example of GM’s getting it right in the last few years of production. I seem to recall a couple folks driving Cieras from the last couple years, and they were like stone axes!

      (Isn’t the 3.3 a bored-and-stroked 2.8, and did that eventually become the genesis for the existing 3.6, or is the 3.3 a de-stroked Buick design? IIRC, the 2.8 was OK, but the stroked 3.1 was a POS in the next Century, built on the same platform and body as the next Regal: the Regal had the 3.8, the Century, the 3.1.)

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The 3.3L was a Buick design. It had an smaller bore and stroke than the 3800 it was based on.

        I’ve heard nice things about the 2.8L, but I’ve never personally owned one.

        Never cared for the 3.1L myself.

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    In early ’85, my Grandparents helped my recently divorced aunt buy one of these new (actually it was a demo). By then my side of the family were devoted Honda people, but my grandparents believed Buicks were the greatest, after 40+ years of owning them.

    As I recall, the thing went through several transmissions, numerous wheel alignments, front end parts etc. Not to mention all the oil leaks. My grandfather chalked up all the problems to the fact it was a demo. He refused to believe “the General” could or would build a piece of crap.

    On the plus side, my 5 year old cousin LOVED his mom’s new “OLYMPICS CAR” so maybe that’s the demographic they were going for.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I will never complain about the Oldsmobile Bravada I drove around Atlanta as a low level Olympic employee in 1996 again.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I recently learned that a friend’s brother has a new GM sedan. When these A-bodies were new, it seemed like almost everybody had one. The Citation may have been an epic disaster for early buyers, but there were millions of other people that hadn’t made that particular mistake and returned to their GM dealers like dying salmon to buy the next hyped generation of cars. My next door neighbor actually traded a Citation for a 6000STE, but that may have been before he became a recovering alcoholic. While these cars were not as bad as the X-body models they were based on, they were still a compete crap-shoot. The first one I ever saw was a Celebrity we picked up at a rental counter in San Francisco. It wasn’t bad at all as a brand new car. For whatever reason, that one was at least put together well. My last A-body experience was with a brand new Buick Century in 1996. It was like something from a movie spoofing how badly the UAW builds cars.

    When these cars first arrived, they were still important to people that didn’t rely on their success. When they were gone, GM products were for fleet buyers that received kickbacks for buying them. The neighbors’ 6000STE imploded on the same trip its warranty ended during. Oldsmobile and Buick models looked just like this junker after three years in the elements. Various drivetrains developed reputations for failure. Other cars adopted ergonomics and human shaped seats. When the A-body was new, it was taken for granted that most people in the middle of the middle class would buy them. Now, finding out that someone I know has a GM sedan marks him as a fringe personality, like finding out that my photo editor was a furry. I try not to judge people by their cars. I once attended a party where I had the eerie feeling that I was the only person left in San Diego that wasn’t driving a Lexus RX. Still, seeing a Cadillac XTS being driven by someone I know is as abhorrent now as finding out that your house-guest is on a predator watch list.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      ” The Citation may have been an epic disaster for early buyers, but there were millions of other people that hadn’t made that particular mistake and returned to their GM dealers like dying salmon to buy the next hyped generation of cars. My next door neighbor actually traded a Citation for a 6000STE, but that may have been before he became a recovering alcoholic.”

      CJ this just won my vote. This whole post has me stifling laughter at work…

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Works pretty much the same way on the East coast too. I literally cannot think of a single person I know who currently owns a GM car. Trucks and SUVs, sure, but not a single car.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Oh man, just imagine the fluffy haired, thick rim bespectacled, high waisted trouser wearing individual that surely piloted this thing in it’s early days.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    A good chunk of the Pontiac G8s that made it to Canada were part of the GM Olympic car fleet. Right after the event they appeared on used lots across Western Canada. No special badging though, not even a sticker.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I think something’s “off” about this particular car…my Dad sold Buicks around that time, and I remember these, but I remember them with FULL burgundy interiors, or FULL beige interiors. This one has beige seats, and burgundy door panels and dashboard. Maybe a misbuilt unit? Perhaps a Buick connossieur out there can enlighten us…was the interior on the Olympic edition different from the other Centurys?

    • 0 avatar
      Lt.BrunoStachel

      Those door trim panels aren’t burgundy. They are dark briar brown. That’s the stock interior for an 84 Olympic.

      And those emblems were a carry over for the 88 LeSabre Olympic model.

      As a matter of fact it looks like our subject vehicle has everything that was standard on the Olympic. Including the luggage rack and base AM-FM stereo. A lot of stuff that was optional on a Century was standard when you checked off the RPO BA5 Olympic package. And I can see no other extra cost options on this car.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I suppose those seats are simply faded. My Dad had an ’86 Century Limited with the beige interior, and the seats were more “beige” than what you see here.

        Car had a 2.8L V6, last year with the “Computer Command Control” carb. Had a dangerous engine stumble when cold (which had a TSB), but the Buick dealer couldn’t figure it out or find it, but threw parts and my Dad’s money at the problem to no avail! When Buick would only reimburse a little of the thousand or so spent, and my 1984 Pontiac Sunbird required a $500 head gasket repair on my commuter-student’s, burger-slinging budget, we became a Honda family.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Interesting, Lt.BrunoStachel, thanks for your input.

  • avatar
    Cadillacpimpin

    Someone get the emblems and hood ornament. I would buy them for my collection.

  • avatar
    wmba

    By luck, I survived many a mile travelling in these dreck A body cars owned by friends and business acquaintances. The braying V6, the body with all the structural rigidity of overcooked sphagetti, my yes indeed, what superb cars!

    In 1996, we rented a brand new Olds Ciera for a long trip to the USA. It was a last minute thing, as my Audi was as usual, in the shop, so could not get a different car. Several thouand miles in a car that creaked and groaned on New England roads, great bounding motions simulating a plush ride, fit and finish of the lowest possible quality, its utter uselessness stays strongly in my memory.

    If ever there was a car that could be categorized as a loose assembly of parts moving in the same general direction, the A body was it.

    If it cannot be classified as a cynical product, then it merely showed the lack of engineering prowess at GM in the early 1980s, and the lack of any investment in upgrading it in its 15 year production run.

    As for the roof and decklid racks, that was a marketing ploy stressing its Euro, sporty character. Yessir, you can foist off any old rubbish by misdirecting the potential buyer’s attention. The dullards who bought these things no doubt felt reassured by the hype, and felt appropriately “with it”.

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    Once the hardware from the H bodies started to find their way to the A bodies, they became decent cars.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The people that are saying that the A-body had poor quality must have never owned an N-body. Those make the A-cars look like a W123.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Agreed…

      An A-body this old is a very rare sight around here, most of them are later models, especially post-89. Still a lot of post-89 Centuries and Cieras rolling around, being generally indestructible.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Yeah, you are deep in N-body hell.

        I actually saw an ’87-ish Grand Am sedan last week.

        It only had about 20% of its paint left and looked like it would die any minute, but it was on the road. Hadn’t seen an N-body that old in a long time.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Wow, I’ve seen first gen H bodies, but not a first gen N body. And 2nd gen Skylarks like mine are crazy scarce, guess the styling put people off.

        • 0 avatar
          big_gms

          N-body cars are practically nonexistent here in the rust belt in spite of their popularity when new, likely due to rust. Cutlass Calais, Grand Am or Skylark, didn’t matter…it was a pretty common sight to see these looking holier than swiss cheese long before they were 10 years old. And also missing a lot of paint, if it was silver, white or dark blue, which were the colors most commonly prone to flaking.

          I should clarify, I’m referring to 1st gen. (1985-91) models. Second generation models were much less rust prone.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I thought that the first-gen N-bodies were essentially tanks (paint issues aside). (Rode in one of the first-gens in the mid ’90s, and no rattles, no mechanical issues from the Iron Duke, but a touch of clearcoat peel, which the owner was going to address.) Beginning in 1992, I thought the 2nd-gens had bad reputations for reliability and crash results, especially without airbags.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Casette mechanisim is not there…I once looked much to the chagrin of my Grandmother.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    I was in Los Angeles during the ’84 Summer Olympics. Evey Buick store had about a dozen of so of these things, and people seemed to be buying them. Was there an Olympic special edition Yugo GV?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Speaking of special edition A-Body Buick Century’s. There was the T-Type edition with the 3.8 and the quite rare Grand Sport 2 door which I think only came in black.

    My favorite A-Body is the Pontiac 6000 STE or S/E with available AWD.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Is it true that these A bodies handle pretty good with a little work?

    Maybe not BMW good, but better than larger, more ponderous Detroit FWD cars?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Likely with an F-41/heavy-duty/”Gran Touring” (Buick) suspension.

      The G-bodies (Cutlass/Supreme, Regal, Grand Prix/LeMans, Monte Carlo/Malibu) handled better thus equipped. Not Corvette-quality, but they had somewhat higher limits with less roll before understeer ensued.

      Even my Dad’s ’86 Century Limited without Gran Touring suspension was a little better buttoned-down because of the lighter weight compared to the G-body Regal Sedan with GT suspension that Mom had at the same time.

      (That Regal was my Dad’s company car, and my Mom had a 1980 Cutlass Sedan on the same body! Badge-engineering, right in my family’s garage, circa 1985!)

  • avatar
    Joss

    How about 36 Olympics? GM was doing business with the Fuehrer. A rare find for the eighties was “Bedtime for Bonzo.”

    There was still such a thing as buyer aversion fro FWD – thanks X car.
    Plastic wood was good cause it didn’t splinter in an accident.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    My parents bought a 1988 Chevy Celebrity brand new. I was about 12. Had pretty much every option if not all. I remember neighbors even commenting that it was “loaded”. Light blue, wire wheels, the smooth flush headlights. It actually didnt look half bad. It had the 2.8 V6. I remember the badging each of the front fenders “2.8 multiport v6″ That car was my moms, then given to my brother, then my sister. While my brother had it, a drunk driver hit it while parked and it had minimal damage. While my sister had it, she hydroplaned in it and took out a fence and almost a telephone pole. Minimal damage. It really only needed oil changes,tires and brakes. They got rid of it at 192,000 and I am sure it is still running somewhere. Funny though, moms new car to replace the Celebrity was a brand new 1995 Buick Regal Custom with the 3800 V6. That went to 205,000 with basically oil changes, tires and brakes. Also probably still running somewhere. She now has a 2013 Fusion Titanium.

    I look back on these GM cars with mixed thoughts – there are few GM cars that appeal to me now, but man those things did just run and run and run!!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The ’80s ones seem to give in to the tinworm quickly here in the Rust Belt. (Though I’ve seen an ’83 Celebrity that looks like it’s just driven off the showroom floor running around my parts.) The later, ’90s models are a mixed bag, leaning more toward paint issues.

      It seems like damn near ANY Rust Belt car that is prone to rust always starts with fender cancer, followed by the doors! (I’ve seen GM J-and-A-bodies with flapping outer door skins!)

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Around here, the pre-89 A-bodies are mostly extinct (haven’t seen a 6000 since a neighbor owned one like 10 years ago) but 89-96 Centuries and Cieras refuse to succumb to high mileage and brine overload, they just keep going.

        Thus I have decided that a 89-96 A-body is a perfect super cheapo beater. Should have gotten one of those instead of the blasted Skylark…grumble grumble.

      • 0 avatar
        big_gms

        Unless it’s a 1992 -1999 H-body (LeSabre, etc.) or similar vintage C-body (Park Avenue, etc.). Those rust out like crazy in the rocker panels and sometimes front subframes, but remain curiously rust free everywhere else.

  • avatar
    MercedesMan

    A neighbor has one of these, not sure if it’s a Olympic edition or not. It looks kinda nice. Burgundy with tan interior.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I see everyday parked at the liquor store a 1985 white Ciera sedan in mint shape with zero rust. Oddly it is a base model with alloy wheels and the words FE3 on the left side of the trunk and fuel injection on the front fenders. I keep meaning to stop and check this car out but the cold temps have prevented me from doing so. It is super rare to see an earlier example with the suspension upgrade, alloys and Buick 3.8 so my curiosity needs to be satisfied.

  • avatar
    vaham

    I had a 86 Century with the luggage rack. Used it to carry a four foot stepladder many times. Car gave me good service, only major repair was a trans at 110,000 miles.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    Oh, the memories…
    We had an ’83 Buick Century T-type, grey, fairly short on options. It had stickers in the rear quarter windows with the same stripey-star logo as this car’s hood ornament, a year ahead of time. It was the family car from before I can properly remember, through about the time I earned my restricted 6AM-8PM solo driving privileges at age 14 in 1995 (state of South Dakota, prior to current driving age laws.) Its unexpected and sudden demise (due to its second 3.0L V6 ticking-time-bomb failing) meant that my driving career really began in the ’73 Mercury Cougar that had been my grandmother’s car, rather than the Buick; I’ve had oversized RWD V8-powered vehicles ever since.

  • avatar
    dannew02

    My Dad had an Olds like this (84 Ciera, with a DIESEL engine!) in that horrid beige-y gold color that seemingly every other one was painted. That car had really uncomfortable seats (the Hyundai Elantra my spouse has runs a very close 2nd) hard and flat. Plus it was a bench seat, so if Mom was driving, my knees were in the dash. BUt, it got 40+ mpg, my dad had an auxiliary fuel tank put in the trunk (right behind the seat) and with that he could do his usual 100+ mile daily commute for over 2 weeks without a fill up. Plus it pulled our camper like there was nothing behind it. It was closing in on 200K and just starting to get hard to start (the local GM place wouldn’t touch it, and the diesel truck place farther up the road wouldn’t work on cars) but pretty much everything else on it still worked fine. Original trans, original motor, AC still blew cold, etc. THere was one fuel station in the town we lived in that had diesel and that pump was “full service” (remember those?) THe pot-head working there put gasoline in instead of diesel, and the engine blew up spectacularly on the way out of the lot. My parents replaced that with an 88 Grand Am, that they gave me when it hit 100K (same thing reliability wise, nothing was broken but was a little rusty) and I put 80K on it afterwards before it was so rusty I got rid of it. It still ran, though. Never had any issues starting it in Wisconsin/Minnesota winters. Original engine, trans, head gasket, etc. I did change the water pump once and a few tune ups. SO all the GM hate all over the internet is a little strange, since none of the GM vehicles my family had ever gave us the tons of problems that other people seem to complain about. Sure there were more exciting or cool vehicles, but all ours seemed to last forever.

  • avatar
    dannew02

    Had to look this up, since everybody has heard of the “350″ diesel V8 but not the V6. From Wikipedia:

    LT6[edit]The LT6 is 4.3 liter V6 which was produced in limited numbers from 1982 to 1984. Power was rated at 85 bhp (63 kW) @ 3600 rpm and 165 lb·ft (224 N·m) @ 1600 rpm.

    Applications:

    1982–1984 Buick Regal
    1982–1983 Chevrolet Malibu
    1982–1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
    1982–1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme/Cutlass Calais
    LT7[edit]The LT7 is a transversely-mounted 4.3 liter V6 which was produced from 1982 to 1985. Power was rated at 85 bhp (63 kW) @ 3600 rpm and 165 lb·ft (224 N·m) @ 1600 rpm.

    Applications:

    1982–1985 Buick Century
    1982–1985 Chevrolet Celebrity
    1982–1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
    1982–1985 Pontiac 6000

    I’m not sure which one was in my Dad’s Ciera, but it was an 84 so I guess it could have been either. BY the late 80s the Olds store in town wouldn’t work on it anymore and my Dad had trouble finding ANY diesel place that wanted to deal with it. NAPA had maintenance stuff though.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Saw ONE 4.3ltr V6 diesel A-body in my life. It was a Cutlass Ciera in that creamy yellow that was more common on Cadillacs. Saw it towing a boat that was heavy enough to make the ass end of the Cutlass almost touch the pavement.

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    I’d like to get my hands on a LT6 out of a g body, I hear they had a really compact serpentine belt drive. You could then swap it over to a rocket v8.

  • avatar
    Allan850glt

    ’80s front drive Century. The vanilla mobile. My dad inherited an ’87 Century Custom when my grandfather passed in 1990. Gray Custom sedan with gray velour-ish split bench. 2.8 MPFI. Air. Cruise. Tilt. My grandfather purchased it new in Spring of ’87. I remember going from Olds to Buick to Pontiac dealerships in Niagara Falls by our home looking for gramp’s next ride. He should have kept his ’79 Bonneville. The Century seemed quick, had a throaty exhaust note and sharp lines for the time but was typical of the times GM garbage. Lots of front fender paint peel. Several return trips to August Cadillac-Buick for power steering maladies and fuel injection woes. Granted it was better on gas than either my Dad’s ’85 Subaru GL-10 4wd or Mom’s ’86 Taurus LX Wagon (lots of blue) but they hated that Century and after using it for about six months or so, dad sold it. Don’t know what happened to it, I imagine it didn’t last too far into the mid-ninties with the issues it always seemed to have. It was fairly comfy and great in the snow but those didn’t make up for the shoddy overall build quality..hence it being our newest car at the time and the first to go, even over a first year Taurus (AXOD ouch).

  • avatar
    beau1399

    I absolutely love these cars.

    The first car I ever picked out and bought with my own money was a 1986 Buick Century with the “Iron Duke” I4 and 3-speed automatic.

    My previous vehicle had been a 1987 “Chevy Nova” (a.k.a. an ’86 Corolla), whose oil I had strategically decided to stop changing, checking, or thinking about. The Nova had been picked out by my grandparents. It had a wheezing 2bbl carburetor and an ignition system that worked just fine, as long as the temperature was between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it hadn’t rained in the last week.

    God rest their souls, but that was a dangerously sub-par vehicle. There’s no feeling quite like going too fast over railroad tracks, breaking a motor mount, and turning to your passenger and saying, “that felt like a motor mount”. I’ve tried to avoid even riding in Toyotas since then.

    I loved that Buick almost as much as I had hated the “Nova”. No, it was not fast; but the throttle body injection meant that it started up, even when it was cold and rainy. My Century would even spin the front tires on a right turn, and had working cruise control and A/C. She had a wonderful, big “split bench” seat up front. For whatever reason, I had more luck working on the Buick that on the “Nova”. Changing the V-belts was probably my first really successful mechanic job.

    And my Buick was white… no more stupid blue paint that “matched my eyes”! I still look askance at any vehicle that’s not a neutral color.

    My Buick was eventually wrecked by an elderly lady in a LeSabre who apparently didn’t expect me to finish my left turn. I have a feeling we’ve never quite forgiven each other.


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