By on February 26, 2014

13 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou like rare cars? How about a final-year-of-manufacture Olds Toronado Troféo? I’ll bet there aren’t more than a few hundred ’92 Troféos left in the world! Here’s one that I spotted last week at a snowy Denver self-service yard.
08 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have an unhealthy obsession with the products of GM’s mid-80s-to-early-90s efforts to compete toe-to-toe with German luxury marques (or at least drop the average age of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac purchase from 96 to maybe 70 years old), and so I’m always happy to write about cars such as the Buick Reatta, Cadillac Allanté, and Olds Troféo. This car is the third Troféo in this series, after this ’89 and this ’90.
09 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven a 70-year-old in 1992 must have been aware that the Buick 3.8 V6 wasn’t exactly cutting-edge technology in the luxury-car world.
07 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLook, a driver’s-side airbag!
22 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, depressingly, molded-in fake stitching on the not-quite-leather door panels.
20 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf this thing had had the touch-screen Visual Information Center, I’d have pulled it and bought it on the spot. Just analog gauges, though.
21 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith all its flaws, the ’92 Troféo has a certain amount of cool going for it.


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111 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo...”


  • avatar
    Truckducken

    As a young man, I had kind of a crush on these cars, and I can’t explain why. In my head I knew that they were a lousy waste of money and that some beancounter was going to get his wings when the damn thing crapped out for good with less than 100K on the odo. But there was something about the looks of this ride, especially in that deep purple, that made me want it just the same. Haven’t seen one in years – thank for the memories!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve long had a crush on these too. I think it comes down to 2 things. The first was the fact that it was a coupe (an uncommon body style, and cool for a single guy). The second thing is the availability of the CRT touchscreen, which was pretty much the most awesome technology ever to a 9 year old boy,

      Of course, the touchscreen sucked functionally. in typical GM fashion, it was a great idea poorly executed, but it was the way of the future once the technology caught up to it.

    • 0 avatar
      PRNDLOL

      For a long time I thought this model, and other low volume GM marques of the era were cool, but now I consider them junk. Creaky, under-engineered, cost-cut all to hell, badge-differentiated junk. I bet everyone in the GM brass then knew it, too and knew it couldn’t go on for much longer.

      I owned a Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme International sedan for a number of years back then, and while it wasn’t really one of these placeholder models like the Reatta, Riviera et al- they all suffered the same flaws. There was no money to properly engineer even half the car range GM offered at the time.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit this (and maybe this comes from me being a kid in the 70s), but that T-shaped gear lever has some stylish appeal.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I was just talking about these the other day.

    My father actually had an 89 Toronado… NOT the Trofeo. From what I understand, the Trofeo was the pinnacle of these interesting Toronado personal lux coupes.

    The Trofeo was also longer and perhaps wider than the older (87-89, I believe?) Toronado. The Trofeo looked more bloated when compared, especially in the rear deck/trunk area.

    The old man’s was candy apple red, with a burgundy velour interior and a quarter white top *with* opera lights. I still remember the long strip tail light across the back and the rotating headlight doors. Wicked.

    At the time, as unreliable as it turned out to be- the thing oooozed cool.

    I witnessed my father receive compliment after compliment (mostly from women, of course) on that vehicle. Suddenly my father, freshly divorced from my mother and living in a ramshackle apartment (temporarily), suddenly had many (and much younger) girlfriends than my mother could fathom.

    The 3800 seemed adequate, as well. He drove it like it was on rails, especially on the twisty-turn two-laned rural roads in mid-Missouri.

    Unfortunately, what was the icing on this car’s cake- the digital information center- ended up burning out in about a year and a half. It only had about 35k miles on the digital info screen. In fact, the whole computer crapped out in the car.

    The old man bought the car used- which, then resulted in him getting very little trade in for, and resulted in him buying… drum roll please… a 92 Ford Tempo.

    Ouch.

    The repair bill was unheard of; however, looking back at it, and knowing what I know now about such things, methinks the dealership may have been responsible for exagerating the repair bill and thus saddling him with his next new car purchase. The lowly Tempo.

    Thank You kindly for the fond memories.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think your story has some rose-tinted spectacles there.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      “The Trofeo was also longer and perhaps wider than the older (87-89, I believe?) Toronado. The Trofeo looked more bloated when compared, especially in the rear deck/trunk area.”

      The 4th-gen Toronado was heavily revised in 1990 to lessen its resemblance to the smaller N-body coupes. I agree with you that the redesign looked bloated. Wheelbase and interior volume were unchanged; most of the size increase was in the trunk.

      Here’s MotorWeek’s review of the redesigned Trofeo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so-gkRpzQAU. (NB: The naming is kind of confusing. According to Wikipedia, “Trofeo,” as introduced in ’87, denoted an appearance and suspension package for the Toronado. In ’89, Olds dropped external Toronado badging from the Toronado Trofeos.)

      The roofline of that era of GM cars did have its virtues, specifically lots of headroom for rear passengers and a large trunk opening.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The 3800 pulled pretty nicely once it got fuel injection, I’m sure it served your father well. My condolences regarding the Tempo. While I have a soft spot for them, a chick magnet they were not. Musta been quite a let down for dad.

  • avatar

    A high school kid in my neighborhood has a regular Toronado of this era. It’s clear he loves it because he’s always washing it or working on it. Given the choice between a Toronado or the Civic/Corolla/Ford Zx2 other kids are driving, I can’t say I blame him.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I would enjoy an article about the evolution of the Buick V6 from the gutless, rough-as-a-cob carbureted 231 (105 hp in a 3500lb G-body is NOT pleasant), though the reliable, fuel-injected 3800 Series 1 in this Trofeo, through the more powerful, smoother Series 2 (240hp and nearly 30 highway MPG in a Regal GS), through the final Series 3.

    There had to be some pretty impressive engineering involved to turn that sow’s ear into a silk purse.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      That’s part of the GM culture. If something is crap but left in production long enough we’ll turn it into something wonderful. Then we may or may not kill it (Fiero) or we might let it go on too long. (W-body)

      The first time my father experienced the fuel injected FWD mid 90s 3800 it was in a Park Avenue. It belonged to a friend. He drove a few miles stopped the car and got out.

      His friend asked: “What’s wrong?”

      Dad’s reply: “I’m popping the hood because there is obviously a small block V8 under there and you are a liar Sir for saying that this thing has a V6.”

      I get my wiseguy side honestly.

      • 0 avatar
        Aquineas

        GM sure did get the “smooth” part of that engine worked out. It wasn’t particularly high-revving or powerful, but it oozed “cruising.”

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I will testify (based on my father later purchased a 1993 Bonneville on the used market) that a the car would cruise comfortably at 75 mph all day long (this was back when they had just raised speed limits to 65 during the Clinton years.)

          No race car but a great American cruiser (as you said.)

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            Mine actually seemed fairly quick. I had (and still have) a 1995 LeSabre (Pre Series II), and that car was quick enough when you needed it. It wasn’t a race car, but I went from Billings, MT to Denver last year on the Interstate, only stopping for food and gas. At 75MPH, that was a pleasant driving experience.

            I’d personally say that the 3800 was the best 6 cylinder ever fitted into a car. I’m sure that others will disagree, but I’d ratther have a 3800 than anything else.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’d say the Nissan VQ 3.0 V6.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOlds

      I would second that request. I am vaguely aware of that engine’s long and sordid history- I believe it had two owners before coming back to GM?

      I have owned two cars with the 3800, both series III, one supercharged and one not. On the supercharged in my GS, the gas mileage was respectable and the torque was impressive. On the non-SC LeSabre, that car routinely returned 26MPG in real-world mixed driving (nobody ever believed it, but I swear that’s what I got)

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        GM initially sold the tooling for the Buick V-6 to Kaiser-Jeep in the mid-1960s. AMC bought Jeep in 1970, but then replaced the V-6 with its own I-6, which was smoother and probably more reliable.

        When the first gas crunch hit in 1973-74, GM approached AMC about buying engines. AMC wasn’t interested in building the V-6s, so it simply sold all of the tooling back to GM.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          The 231 v6 also found its way over yo land rover and only died after the turn of the century.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Land Rover never had a v6. Rover bought the aluminum v8 from GM. Guessing you meant v8. Production ended in 2002.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “The Rover V8 was eventually expanded from its original 215 cu. in. (3,528 cc) to 241 cu. in. (3,947 cc), 261 cu. in. (4,278 cc), 277 cu. in. (4,546 cc), and 304 cu. in. (4,988 cc). It remained in production until the demise of the first-generation Land Rover Defender in 2004, and even that was not the end: In 2006, the British aftermarket firm MCT purchased the rights to build the Rover 3.5 in crate form for use as a replacement engine in older cars or for race cars, kit cars, or small-volume specialty makes. The Rover V8 is likely to remain in at least limited production well past its 60th birthday.”

            http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/buick-special-skylark-rover-v8-3800-v6-history/

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I get the same on my Series III, but my mix when I achieve this is 60/40 or 70/30 hwy/city.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My first car was an 81 Regal coupe with gutless carbed 3.8. It was free and it was fine for my 16 year old self in 1994, but it was gutless and never ran right. My dads 88 Ranger with 2.9 V6 felt like a rocket, I’m sure the 5 spd and 3.73 rear end helped.

      Though if I ever have the time or money, I’d like to find one of those 81-87 Regals and slap a Gen III 3800 in it. A man can dream…

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      ate up with motor – http://ateupwithmotor.com – has an article on this engine and it is fascinating. It travels from gm to american motors and is bought back by GM – a lot of effort for a mediocre motor. But a good story.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/buick-special-skylark-rover-v8-3800-v6-history/

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    3800 <3

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    One of the techs at the Pennzoil I go to has a 90 or 91 north of 230K, he loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      My dad had an 88 Olympic edition lesabre got it in 93 or so from a friend that was a traveling salesman it was free and my dad is king of the cheap asses it had paint spilled all over we used it as a beater and work car and winter car for at least another 13 years It received no maintenance what so ever other than more oil when the light came on because the filter had long since fused itself to the block it was given away when I was jacking it up to change a rotted tire and the jack went right through the frame and underbody the friend we donated it too kept it for a few years until it broke in half… but it still ran…god speed faithful soldier by then it was close to 500k on original engine and transmission.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I liked these when they were new. I remember sitting in a Trofeo at the Philadelphia Auto Show and watching the dashboard light up like Times Square – gimmicky but still somehow impressive.

    The original 1986 E-bodies were ugly, but Buick and Oldsmobile turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse with the Riviera and Toronado by lengthening them and giving each a nice facelift. The Eldorado from this generation, on the other hand, never worked.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Ah ha, but the Eldorado died from this gen in 91, the 92 got the new STS-style styling, and was much more successful! Of course the 92 was the last year for this one as mentioned, and the Riviera died in 93 for a couple years until it’s pathetic comeback.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        MY92 is the ultimate Eldo, IMO. The previous e-body Eldo never did it for me, looked to much like my neighbor’s Olds Calais.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Ha! I forgot about the Calais.

          An acquaintance had one waaaay back when, in none other than horrific pea green.

          Didn’t they make a Quad 442? Manual shift Calais? I believe they did…

          Sweet, sweet nostalgic obscurity.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My neighbor’s was a white 87.

            They did, way to milk your 60s/70s cred Oldsmobile. But then again they stuck the Lemans name on some awful Geo, and Chrysler was using the Hemi name on a Mitsu 2.6 so I suppose they were all selling out.

            http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/cars-that-time-forgot-1991-oldsmobile-cutlass-calais-1006348273

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            In fairness to the Quad 442–and as pointed out in the linked Jalopnik post–it had legitimate performance upgrades. A Quad 442 was quick in a straight line by the standards of its day, and it would’ve trounced its 442 forebears in any race that entailed use of the steering wheel or brake pedal.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’d call for the General to look at past cars like this and build something in the similar vein of cool, but well ya know.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Um, hello, its called my Buick Verano Turbo NON TRIFECTA.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Too Norm-ish?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Does not compute. Trifecta logic violation detected.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I do like Verano but I do not find it to be “cool” in the same vein, more quirky.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Regal Coupe much need?

          http://www.prlog.org/10606472-possible-buick-regal-coupe.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          How about a modern Impala-based Buick coupe with the twin Turbo 3.6, dual exhausts, paddle shifters. Call it a Riv.

          Keep the formal roofline and body shape so that its still has useful space.

          Give it invisible, integrated LED opera lights on the B-Pillar that are behind a body colored acrylic panel. Or some other unique styling feature, that screams “nostalgia”.

          EDIT: NO VINYL ROOFS

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/l3zh2rUTAfA/maxresdefault.jpg

            Take my money now.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Very nice Corey and Dave, although I’m putting old Rivera wheels on it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Stop making sense Dave. Even if they did build it, they would have a ridiculous name for it. Let me pick a random Swiss city instead of a name with heritage…how about Lausanne.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            They were attempting to honor their heritage, sorta.

            “The name Lucerne was an unofficial homage to the Swiss founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company Louis-Joseph Chevrolet. The first idea to name the car after his birth town La Chaux-de-Fonds, an industrial town and former center of the Swiss watch industry, did not fit into the image of beautiful Switzerland. So they chose the city of Lucerne. Located in central Switzerland, the city is famous for being among the most beautiful cities in Switzerland and one of the highlights for every tourist that is coming to Switzerland.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_Lucerne

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Since Park Avenue had no heritage…

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I hated the Lucerne name for a car.

            To me, my strongest connection to the name Lucerne is Safeway’s house brand of dairy products. I grew up on Lucerne cheese. So, even though the Lucerne wasn’t a great car, that just made it worse for me.

            Regional bias I guess :)

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dave-

            I moved to the west coast in 2008 so I wondered why Safeway named cheese and milk after a Buick sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            I’m sure marketing asked them to drop all Buick names so they could reshape the brand. I would have kept Park Ave, but that’s just me.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I just had a thought. That Buick Impala coupe I mentioned should have rear hinged rear doors with no B-pillar, ala RX8. Make sure the front door is suitably long to ensure proper coupe glass shapes, and then work the lines of that rear door into the roofline and C-pillar so its not too obvious. Now you have a “coupe” with usable and easy to access back seats. Given the size of the Impala on which it would be based, the back seat should be large.

          • 0 avatar
            JEFFSHADOW

            I now have my second Buick Lucerne V8. My first was a 2007 CXS and my current one is the 2008 Super. Both were converted to the “WILDCAT” name with three emblems (from the 1960s): Very Cool and a better name!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ve always been a fan of this model Toronado, and the similar Riviera was alright too, but for different reasons. All the “modern wowee” tech they put in here, and the simple, serious styling worked for me. I think it’s especially nice in black. IIRC the Trofeo model was seriously limited on colors – black/white/red/wine red perhaps.

    The Riviera was cool because of it’s big -R- logos everywhere, and the idea that they styled it intentionally to evoke yacht/maritime feelings. So curvy, and lovely as long as it’s non-landaued. Pearl white wit some gold trims.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Toro, Riv, and later Eldo were victims of a demographic shift in car buying, IMO.

      Ford held out a little longer with theirs but when they attempted to bring them back they did so as a niche convertible and young person’s disposable coupe (which shared the same platform as Contour incidentally).

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The MN12 T-Bird is a great car. I’m trying to find one for sale, preferably a 94-97 with the 4.6. V8 power without the insurance highs and higher retail cost of a Mustang? Sounds perfect to me.

        Unless the MN12s were just awful cars…

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You don’t see them much anymore. Someone in my building showed up with one last summer from Ohio, but I don’t recall seeing it since the snow started. If you’re going to go MN12 might as well go Mark VIII and change out the air ride (if one can even be found).

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            See, I’ve never liked the look of the Mark VIII. A bit too jellybean for me. And the Cougar…less said about that, the better.

            Then again, the Mark VII is my favorite Mark ever, so that probably influences my opinion of the Mark VIII.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fox body cars from the Northeast are a bit long in the tooth to be used as DDs, IMO. Plus you’ve got the AOD to contend with which unless previously cared for can go DOA. Don’t get me wrong I’d love a Mark VII but they don’t strike me as being the best choice given your situation.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            @28: I know that I should probably buy something slow with 4 doors and enough airbags to keep the insurance company happy, but I’m just not that kind of guy. Too many delusional dreams of high performance for low outlay, hence the “Mustang engine in something cheaper and cheaper to insure than a Mustang” idea.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            200/700 series Volvos accept 302s.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Damn you, that’s an awesome idea. My insurance company would probably hate it, but it would be loads of fun. Only problem is that any donor 302 I find is probably going to be from a truck or a Panther and thus not much faster than the original engine, unless I somehow find a Mustang GT or Lincoln Mark VII in a 2014 junkyard with a viable engine.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The H.O. 302 multiport I thought did 225hp after… MY88 maybe? Volvo NA Red Block is around 115hp, turbo I think is in the 150s.

            Additional: The 200 series body has all of the holes pre-cut for a manual transmission. I don’t know if Ford manual will fit in these holes or even could be mounted, but the 200 series was designed very well for the aftermarket.

            Also, if you pick up a 244 and do a swap are you required to tell them?

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The Crown Vic version apparently made 150 hp right up til it was replaced, while I think the truck and Thunderbird versions made 175 hp.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The Mark VIII def came with the H.O. variant from MY88 onward, looks like some Mustangs did as well. I did some digging and it seems the Panthers did not get the H.O. and it looks like the trucks did not either. However the 302 continued to be used in Mustangs and Explorers/Mountaineers through MY95, its possible the cheaper version was dropped after a certain point.

            http://www.allfordmustangs.com/forums/5-0l-talk/32923-difference-between-5-0-5-0-ho.html

            https://www.novak-adapt.com/knowledge/ford_small_block_v8.htm

            This link has a nice chart showing which models had a 5.0 HO available:

            http://www.allfordmustangs.com/forums/5-0l-talk/170501-what-cars-have-5-0-ho-swap-advice.html

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            I once purchased an MN-12 Cougar with the 4.6 on the “bigger Mustang” ideal. The fact was however that it was more akin to a “smaller Grand Marquis” than a “bigger Mustang”. I had a fox Cougar prior to that which I always preferred even though it was a lowly tan 3.8.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          There wasn’t anything wrong with the MN-12s. A new generation of customers simply had no interest in personal luxury coupes.

          I liked that generation of Cougar – the formal roofline did work on that car, and helped distinguish it from the Thunderbird.

          I saw a Lincoln Mark VIII on the road last week, but it was a barely running clunker.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            The MN-12 is heavy, that is the only knock and they never got the improved performance 4.6 SOHC motors excepting the Mark VIII which had the twin cam version. I like the early Marks and T-Birds before the front ends ballooned. Excepting a built supercharged 3.8 as found in the SC T-Birds and the early XR-7s which were fun, the hot ticket would be the 5.0 powered Thunderbirds. I think they were only around for a couple of years and had a funky intake which limited power to clear the low hood line but one of those with some of the standard 5.0 mods and perhaps a hood to fit it all under could be a comfortable ride and a nice sleeper.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          Had a 95 Cougar with the 4.6. White diamond, the BBS-esque wheels Ford used on lots of cars and weirdly, the factory luggage rack on the trunklid. All options except upgraded audio and auto mirror. I’ve never seen another exactly like it.

          Pretty car, comfortable car. Not a corner carver or fast, but a great highway cruiser. Out of the cars I’ve owned, it’s one I miss the most. I think their downfall was typical of 90′s Fords: Transmission issues. Mine was trouble free for 3 years from 35k to 70k.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    See above for one reason GM cars have limited appeal to me: Cheap interiors. Every GM car I’ve owned/rented/borrowed has had a depressingly cheap plastic/vinyl interior with bits and pieces coming off. Blech.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      No argument. That shot of the controls on the door? Horrific.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      So did most everything else that wasn’t a luxury car during the same time period. I just sat in a 1997 T-Bird and it’s interior was literally falling apart, faded and everything from the center console to the glove box door was loose and wiggly. The cars from the 2000′s on up seem much better in this regard.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    “drop the average age of Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac purchase from 96 to maybe 70″ Ha ha ha LAWLZ! ROLF! Murilee is such a funny and original automotive writer.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    God rest the Trofeo; it was a valiant uphill fight of the dying spirit of Oldsmobile screaming: there’s some Ransom left in Lansing.

    I’ll always remember driving a burgundy one with all the options across a parking lot learning to drive at too young an age for a permit.

  • avatar
    A strolling player

    About a year ago a friend of mine up in Detroit had one just like this, a ’92 Troféo, though I think it was grey. I loved it. He only had it a few months, though, so it may have met a similar fate as this one by now.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    My Uncle had one of these, with the digital screen. I was about 13 at the time, and I thought it was a cool car. He kept it for well over 10 years without many issues, must have been the lucky one.

  • avatar
    Lt.BrunoStachel

    As the current owner of a 90 Riviera and 86 GN I love this generation of Trofeo. I wonder about the couple of hundred figure though. Seems that most people who have hung onto these cars keep them tucked away like some muscle car from the 60′s. Only to be taken out for a Sunday afternoon cruise to the local orphan car show. Chances are if the subject car did have the VIC option it would have also had the cellular phone option too(RPO UZ3). The one thing most people who have never owned one of this generation of E-Body will never get to experience is how well these cars really do handle. I’m a former SCCA regional Solo2 champion so I’m writing this from personal experience. Even the base cars with 15″ wheels and standard suspension handle better than they have any right too. Screw the 165HP of the 3800. These aint hotrods so don’t drive them like one and they’ll last forever. If you look at the specs you’ll see that these cars are the same as the old 78-88 G-Body. Same 108″ wheelbase. Same @3500 curb weight. The only real handicap, if you can call it one is the FWD. Add the FE3 option with 16″ factory sized wheels(standard on the Trofeo) and some sticky rubber and you have a winning combination IMHO. And if you don’t like the transverse single leaf spring rear suspension just swap in the crossmember from a 93 Allante or Eldorado with coil springs as that is a bolt in. No one at the autocross will ever know your dirty little secret.It’s a shame GM didn’t capitalize on this aspect of these cars.

    If I were to build the perfect 90-92 Trofeo I would add the afore mentioned rear crossmember and use 469HP LC3 Northstar with 4.0l camshaft covers from the Aurora to give it that Oldsmobile look under the hood anyway.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I had a hankering these as well and had actually considered buying one. I checked out a couple of 90-92 versions but instead went for a MN-12 T-Bird 4.6 which I still own. It replaced my Fox based 88 T-Bird. The 3800 v6 was torquey but what made me leary was problems with the digital display and the cheap bean counter Rodger Smith era plastics. It’s a shame GM did not offer the 3800 s/c in these to earn their premium car status.I also looked at a 90′s Cutlass Supreme aka basket handle convertible. Same subpar interior even though the power train was bullet proof.

  • avatar
    zach

    Back in 2002 or so I had a 1988 Olds 98 Regency Brougham, despite it’s flaws I loved the smooth V6, it had leather and the full padded roof , did GM’s cost cutting start after 1988 for the olds division because mine didn’t seem to bad, it had a cigarette lighter in every door, courtesy lights , the lights on the B pillar, and the lower chrome moulding,and an air compressor for the rear suspension (that ran all the time) it wasn’t trouble free but it was comfortable and decent on gas, I drove it from Missouri to Maryland in comfort, actually I really miss it, now I have a Camry, reliable but as existing as a new toaster.

  • avatar
    zach

    Now I want another late 80′s Regency 98, that car had character.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I could have directed you to one about two years ago. MY89, light blue, white carriage roof (aftermarket), cloth interior, loaded, rebuilt trans, 147K, in same family since new. I think it went out for $1200.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    I sold Oldsmobiles for over 20 years and the downsized 86 Tornado’s were not well received. This body style did somewhat better, but not enough to save the division or the nameplate. The second generation Aurora and the Intrigue in the late 90′s were great cars but it was to late.

  • avatar
    Allan850glt

    Fun and cool cars! I had an ’89 Trofeo, the shortback version of this body. Purchased when I was 19 in 1998 for a whole $3800! I found it at a garage in Wheatfield, NY that also occasionally sold cars. I knew the car as there were very few around the area and it had been owned by the same family from Akron, NY. It started life in that pretty dark-blue metallic that was more common on higher end GM products. Being initially owned by an Italian family, big on “Italian Pride” it was promptly repainted black metallic after delivery and adorned with hand applied pinstriping in the colors of the Italian Flag. There was even a six inch Italian flag painted on the rear facing panel of the decklid. They replaced the factory rectangular dual exhaust tips with “big bore” monza style stainless quad tips. Being from a Mediterranean family myself and in my guido-phase at the time, the makeover suited me just fine. It was in excellent, immaculate condition. The interior was still the dark blue leather with the multi-chambered articulating air seats, the touch screen CRT display and just about every goody under the sun. The 3800 motor was great, gave it nice performance for a fairly heavy car and the rear air suspension made for a nice, smooth ride. My only complaints were the somewhat quirky early ABS system. The blackout styling was hot. Everyone loved its looks and I was always proud cruising around town or to Sunset Bay Beach and getting looks. Most folks didn’t know what it was but were drawn by its styling and I looked great driving it. The fuel economy was great in my eyes, especially compared to the ’89 Taurus LX 3.8 it replaced. Sadly my Toronado Trofeo came to an untimely demise when a dim witted kid in a beater Beretta plowed across three lanes of oncoming traffic and into my left front 3/4. Had it been another car of common production, it could have been saved. Being a limited production model car, no parts were found off the counter and even a boneyard scour proved fruitless. I sadly let the Insurance company total out my beloved car and with the check I received, placed a sizable down payment on a ’94 Lumina Z34 (red/orangeish)…what a mistake that was, but that’s another story.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Next time I go to mass I’ll light a candle for your long-deceased Trofeo.

    • 0 avatar
      roger628

      I hope they did the color change properly, to include the door jambs and the panel undersides.

      • 0 avatar
        Allan850glt

        Roger these people didn’t skimp in the slightest. I remember the car, first sighted in their driveway when I was eleven and the next season seeing the color transformation. When I took ownership it was evident that they spent some bucks having it done THE RIGHT WAY. Jambs matched. Inside trunk lip and lid.The only blue remaining was firewall, strut towers and under the glued down portions of the pile carpet that lined the trunk. Even the little Italian Flag on the trunk had the “wave effect”. There’s a reason we self proclaim “Italians do it better”. The car was loved by them, maintained just as lovingly by me and enjoyed every second until she got creamed. Hell, I had even bought an ’86 Audi 5000 CS Turbo-Quattro just to keep my Trofeo out of the snow and awful Buffalo winter-early spring months.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    We had two 92 Toros at our dealership last year. One had 297K and the other 188K Both ran perfect and were rust free and sold within two weeks after being detailed and put out for sale. The leather was a bit worn on the seats and a bit of sun fade had taken it’s toll but the interiors were far from falling apart and were in pretty decent shape considering the miles.

  • avatar

    At the time I thought the Trofeos were very swoopy and aerodynamic. But after a decade without seeing one I realised that GM had just smoothed off as much of the metal as they could without changing the fundamental boxiness of the package. As a result it looks like icing poured over a milk carton and not something fundamentally swept back. Of these cars, the face-lifted Riviera (1989) still looks the best and, in fact, I´d happily have one of those. Bill Porter did a very good job of facelifting that car so it still looks very acceptable today. The Trofeo: I won´t shed a tear when they are all gone.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    I’m a young guy. 22.

    This, along with a Lincoln MKVII and a Turbo Buick would be my dream car.

    86-88 aren’t as nice. But 88-92…what a gorgeous machine.

    The Eldo’s of the time were just lame, (Calais) and my friend has a 93 Riv that is lovely, but there’s something ultimately unique about Trofeos…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      These are rarer than hen’s teeth and clean Mark VIIs are close behind. A turbo brick is a reasonable choice due to their general longevity and higher chance of a meticulous set of owners. Domestic luxury iron tends to go to s*it pretty quickly, unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        RatherhaveaBuick

        Not always true. A lot of the elderly tend to take great care of their old land barges, garaging their Town Car’s and Olds’ and keeping them immaculate. Remember that late 80s and early 90s is the era of cars that are vintage to a person my age. And its a fact of life that a lot of the elderly will be passing on their low mileage 80s and 90s iron to the next generation.

        Trofeos are much more rare than VII’s, at least in my area, I just can’t afford either.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    My knowledge of this car comes mainly from the article in “Crap Cars” which talked about the VIC/ECC system.

    Last fall a local garage which specializes in older/offbeat cars was having an open house and he had a Reatta there he was working on. When I expressed interest he told me about the car’s history and opened the door, and to my delight there was VIC sleeping in the center console.

    The guy fired the Buick up so I could play with the computer. Given the vintage I thought the screen was actually pretty responsive and I was shocked that the software actually let me set it to the correct date and time — I have late-90s VCRs with clocks that won’t go past 2002 — so for what it was it seems like GM actually did a lot of work on the firmware.

    Paging Dr. Olds — do you have any anecdotes about this system?

    • 0 avatar
      RatherhaveaBuick

      As much as I would love to have a Reatta or Trofeo with the VIC, I imagine it would be a terrible day when the touch screen stops working and you’re unable to control any of the interior features…

      I’d be ok with those one of those old Delco stereos with like 400 buttons like I have in my Regal.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I know of at least one source that will repair Reatta/Toronado CRT/VIC units for $150 plus shipping. My father has a Reatta. While his is a ’91 which doesn’t have the VIC, you come to know these bits of information while researching other things.

      • 0 avatar
        Allan850glt

        Ratherhaveabuick dude the ’89 Trofeo I owned had both additional controls for the stereo and climate control functions on the steering wheel/horn hub. They would provide adequatecontrol over both functions to make the vehicle “somewhat liveable” if the CRT screen blanked out on you, although still a pain in the butt as you’d have to fumble with the buttons until you got the desired result. I noticed your interest in the Lincoln Mark VII, another vehicle I’ve owned. I happen to know of a VERY NICE local ’89 Mark VII LSC for sale. Black over gray leather. Mechanic owned, who happens to be a real cool guy who LOVES and maintains his cars. It’s basically cosmetically restored and mechanically upgraded and LOVELY. Even upgraded to coil spring instead of the old airbag struts. It’s $3995, and in Kenmore/Buffalo NY. Lemme know if you’re interested and I’ll email his info. Actually Buffalo NY Craigslist is a great place to find cars like that. We’re home to GM/Tonawanda Engine Plant, The Ford Hamburg Stamping Plant and GM Delphi-Harrison of Lockport. A lot of higher end GM and Ford products are sold and well maintained and eventually sold quite reasonably here. My fam themselves having been GM employees I can attest to how good the guys and gals who work at the plants really keep up their cars and to buy one, you usually end up with a good deal.


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