By on April 24, 2017

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Oldsmobile Division had just six years to live when the Intrigue appeared in the 1998 model year, and this car was Oldsmobile’s final version of the long-lived GM W platform. I see thousands of W-bodies every year, during my junkyard travels, but it takes a special one to make me reach for my camera. Say, a supercharged Daytona 500 Edition Grand Prix, or a Lumina Euro, or a genuine Phoenix Open-badged Intrigue.

Here’s an example of the latter car that I found languishing in a Phoenix wrecking yard, just 30 miles from the Phoenix Open’s high-zoot venue.

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, Phoenix Open badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I couldn’t find much information about the Phoenix Open Intrigues, other than that Oldsmobile was the sponsor of the tournament in 2000. My guess is that GM provided a brace of Olds vehicles for officials and VIPs to drive during the event. These badges look classy.

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, Phoenix Open pinstripe - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The car also has these little decals atop the pinstripes.

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The standard engine in the 2000 Intrigue was the “Shortstar” DOHC V6, loosely based on the Northstar V8. It was good for 215 horsepower, which made the 3,455-pound Intrigue move acceptably well.

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, fender badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This car is a top-trim-level GLS model, which came with leather seats and other luxuries demanded by pro golfers in the year 2000.

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, rear seats - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I couldn’t get a mileage figure from the digital odometer, but the front seats are sufficiently beat to suggest that this car went around the block more than a few times.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue GLS, Phoenix Open Edition...”


  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Intrigues were good cars, perhaps the best of the W-bodies offered at that time. Better handling than the other versions and the Shortstar engine loved to rev. It was a variant of the Northstar and was sweet as long as you were able to avoid oil and coolant leaks, which were sometimes a problem. The thing I always noted about the interiors from most GM cars of that era is apparent here – even on the top-line models, there was not a speck of brightwork, either the actual plated metal or plastichrome, which made them look a bit downmarket.

    • 0 avatar
      BufferOverflow

      I had one as a business rental for about a month back in the summer of 98. I remember it as being really *nice*; drove better, handled well… much better than the other GM cars I had driven recently. It was quite a departure from the “competitive” mediocrity that GM was famous for.

      I was so impressed that I told my friends that I was surprised that GM had ever permitted such a car to be approved for production. Little did I know that GM would soon nuke Oldsmobile out of embarrassment.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The lack of chrome wasn’t the only thing that made the interior look downmarket; the incredibly cheap-looking, cheap-feeling fittings like the door handle and pull strap had alot to do with it. GM interiors of this era always looked like Fisher-Price toys that had been spray-painted with either beige or grey paint.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        I think they were trying too hard to “Japanese” their cars. Didn’t see much chrome or brushed aluminum trim in Hondas and Toyotas of the time, either.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      I had a 1999 Intrigue as my daily driver for 5 years. Bought it with 30K miles on it and sold it 5 years later with 135K on it.

      I really liked it. It rode smoothly, it looked good from the outside, it had good ergonomics, the Shortstar had plenty of power for the time. I had a mid-level GL model, so cloth seats all around. Very comfortable seating position. I liked that the blinker and wiper stalks were uncluttered and on either side of the steering wheel (something that the Regal w-body brother did not do). I loved the ignition switch location on the dash instead of the steering column. It ate up highway miles with ease, it was a great cruiser.

      Some of the plastic trim around the window switches was cheap and rocked loose after a few years, as did some of the trim behind the steering wheel.

      It did have its quirks: it ate batteries like crazy (had a terminal break once, car got struck by lightning another time and shorted one out). The drain spouts on the outside would get jammed up with crud and divert water into the interior blower motor, rusting it out. That happened twice. I broke a front sway bar just making a routine left turn in town. It seemed to go through a lot of tires.

      I got hit in it by other drivers twice, and lost a water pump at 130K miles which required a tow so I figured I’d move on, as it was also going through about a quart of oil every two months. I still miss the car though, it was a good effort from GM at the time and I never regretted the purchase.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    As I recall the Intrigue (and Alero) was a hard sell by GM to claw back folks that had flipped to imports. Reading reviews of the first year with the 3800, it was a “close but no cigar,” with some criticism leveled at the unrefined pushrod motor. Then they stuck the Shortstar in, and in hindsight for long term reliability (and fuel economy) the old OHV 3800 is the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @gtemnykh
      Drove a less fancy version in Hawaii. A Junkyard is a very appropriate destination,

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Also worth noting, both these and Aleros are fairly prolific rusters up North, more so than some W-body stablemates and other GMs of the era. Is it something Olds or plant specific in terms of paint or corrosion engineering?

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Alero was an N-body. Most N-bodies of that vintage were made in Lansing. They all rust in the rear wheel wells.

        They still roach around leaving a trail of iron oxide behind them.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I misspoke, yes I knew the Alero was N-body kin to the Grand Am and Malibu/Cutlass. All seem to rot heavily near the fuel door. Intrigues get it bad on the rockers (same as all Ws). Structural issues crop up as well as rear strut mounting points and subframes rot out.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            fuel door, wheel wells, and hood

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Something that I have posted about before. the 5th Generation Malibu seems to have aged quite well. See a great many of them daily, the looks are much less out of date than many of their contemporaries. However many do have ‘rot’ directly under their fuel door, but no other visible rust.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The “dog leg” that is the strip between the wheel well and the rear door panel is a common rot point as well as my quick craigslist perusal shows.

            I agree, they’re not unattractive. Some 98-02 Prizm in the tail lights, some Catera in the front end, classic three box shape of a reasonable size with simple proportions. But boy that interior is classic GM in its execution.

            I remember getting a “Classic” in 2004 as a rental for a family drive out to JFK airport, Ecotec 4cyl. I mean it got us there, but in a rather unrefined way. The car equivalent of the lunchlady plopping down instant mashed potatoes into your school lunch tray. Not inedible and it fills you up, but far from something you look forward to.

        • 0 avatar
          operagost

          My Alero actually had no rust until last year, where it began to bubble up at the bottom corner of the driver’s door. It might be because I always hose down the undercarriage and wheel wells after snowstorms, if I can’t get to a car wash.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Those people were blasphemers and cannot be trusted.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      It did not measure up to the H-body 88 LS or LSS.

      I purchased my H-body 88 from a GM retiree couple who saw the writing on the wall from General Motors and they wanted to get one last Oldsmobile before it was over.

      Within a month, I had an offer back on my 88 LS as they were so unhappy with their Intrigue they wanted to get rid of it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The power of H compels you.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        They were shopping by badge instead of common sense if they didn’t suspect this was a different kind of car than their land yacht the moment the salesman pulled the Intrigue around for them to examine. Granted, with the Cutlass Ciera, Olds managed to engineer a smaller car that could wallow, dive, and heel over like something much bigger, but 2 minutes in the Intrigue would have solved that misconception.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Lets not forget the “we have so many spare 98 parts!” Regency.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      This is why you don’t see Intrigues around, that engine. You do still see Aleros! I think another variant of this engine (or maybe this same one) was in lower trim Auroras also?

      And then there’s that other awesome Euro-grabber, the Catera.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        That’s right – first-gen Auroras used the smaller (4.0L) Northstar, the second generation (which was supposed to be a replacement for the 88 called the Antares, until it got bumped up to flagship duty) had either the Shortstar, or the 4.0.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        These cars were a big step forward though from the 80s cars that Detroit sold. When I see one of these oldies I remember the Cavalier or the Tempo or the K-Car that came before them. Yes, in many ways Detroit was still (and still is) playing catch up to Japan and Europe but I don’t expect anything different after all these years.

        Detroit sells alot of products that my parents adore – just because Detroit is trailing behind the imports. The imports blaze the path and Detroit comes along – eventually.

        The Oldsmobiles around here (southeast) have aged very well. I still see them in traffic and they are still clean, well cared for cars. I don’t know if that says more about the quality of the car or the quality of the owner. We have friends who drive an Olds Bravada daily. Only now is the interior starting to come apart. No engine or AWD problems. And we’re driving a 20 year old Chevy with no real problems.

        As we approach the time to replace the Chevy I am trying to shake off alot of doubt about whether I want to buy a GM product for the long haul. We buy them and keep them for 15 years. Our Hondas have been excellent long haul ownership products.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I liked these. However, the car was too plain to be an Oldsmobile – the lack of bright trim made it fade into the large sea of mid- full size cars back then, but that seemed to be the standard at the time.

    I also liked the early commercials featuring an Amtrak Superliner-equipped passenger train and some sort of mystery theme.

    Looking back, I would have to say the passenger train stole the commercial!

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Seeing these and Luminas on the road reminded me to take my fish oil pills, before the littler pills came along.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    The door panel alone speaks to the efforts, or total lack there of, placed into GM’s offerings before it’s Government bailout non-demise. The door card has the style of a disposable styrofoam supermarket meat tray.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I noticed this especially. The door pull itself has poor integration, and the whole panel looks entirely cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      What equivalent mass-market MY2000 sedan do you think has well-styled door cards which demonstrate significant effort on the part of the OEM?

      All of them appear to be similar from photos online.

      Is there a standout that really defines the class that I should use as a reference?

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        The 2000 Ford Contour and VW Jetta had nice door cards and pulls. They also both piles of sh!t.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          In photos the 2000 Jetta door card sure doesn’t look much different than the one on the Intrigue.

          Maybe it’s better in person, but from the photos it doesn’t appear to have any more “effort” put into it than this one.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Accord for 2000 looks fine in that area, especially in higher trims with the wood and leather on the door.

            And at the price of this loaded Intrigue, the Accord would be uplevel as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The Jetta of that generation looked premium and the door opened and closed in a satisfying way. Despite all of this, you would be much better off with the Intrigue.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            I must be missing something.

            The 2000 Accord door panel doesn’t appear to have any better ideas than the one on the Intrigue.

            In some ways, such as the small fingertip pocket-type door pull vs the large (possibly soft-touch) handle type door pull the Accord looks cheaper.

            Even on the fancy ones with wood and leather the upgraded materials are very obviously just slapped on an existing design and not inherently indicative of a whole lot of effort.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          To be fair, I will point to my brother’s newly acquired ’96 Mercury Mystique with 240k miles that just now is needing a clutch that has been remarkably reliable for the PO while my brother maintained it for him. The key might be to a) avoid CD4E horror show of a auto transmission and b) make some effort to actually take care of the car even though it’s a 20 year old Mystique and most people driving one for the last decade+ are not the kind to prioritize maintenance.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Statistically, the Contour/Mystake are terribly unreliable. Great drivers. The 2.5L likes to explode. 3.0L swap is the way to be.

            My FIL had one for a long time. He bought it new and drove it until someone t-boned him.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Perhaps another caveat then is to avoid the V6s, my brother’s is a 2.0L Zetec. He just did a wheel bearing and the rear strut assemblies, nothing not wear/age related. Prior to that I want to say it needed some fiddling with fuel injector wiring a few years ago while in the hands of the PO. This is a really basic trim with manual locks/windows/etc, yet another caveat to the reliability perhaps. It’s not rusty at all either, seems to have spent most of its life outside of the salt belt.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            BINGO! We’re doing the same with an “elderly” Chevy. Been just as good as our Honda b/c we aren’t neglecting it and neither did our friends who owned it before us.

            Most of the people I know who have serial car problems are either neglecting them or riding them hard.

            I know there are some bad cars out there but the owner’s care needs to be figured in as well.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “All of them appear to be similar from photos online.”

        I think this is an important point you make.

        A) GM did benchmark and try to copy the styles of a more import-style interior
        B) While it looks the part, up close inspection of fit/finish/feel makes it feel distinctly cheaper than the imports it was aping.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I dont get it myself, whay matters to me is how they age, assembly, and ease of replacement.

        One of my favorite designs came from the Volvo 740, flush and simple with unique door handles, sadly the assembly was quite…crap.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    The most anonymous of Olds’s last trifecta of sedans. At least the other two had either a coupe or a V8 option to keep things interesting.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Love the “Phoenix Open” badge – that little bird looks like a cross between a Zuni Thunderbird and that little s#$% bird that dropped exploding eggs on you in Mega Man 2.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    About as memorable as my first haircut.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The first house I bought – 15 years ago? yikes! – the woman next door had a white Intrigue.

    I drove by that house a few months ago and that Intrique was still there, looking about the same – amazingly no rust – as I remembered it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Geez. Tough crowd.

    I’d avoid the Shortstar, but other than that I like these.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I remember seeing one (in questionable condition) at the local pick and pull “driver” lot listed for about $1500-ish. My friend who was rolling in a very rusty and worn out ’96 Cavalier was quite intrigued (get it) at the thought of the upgrade. Not pulling the trigger was probably the right move. Not an indictment of these cars, but rather an indictment of what’s for sale at the junkyard side lot.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Agreed, ajla. These were a step above their predecessors and in some regards better than their competitors.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    It doesn’t look like they’ve sold any parts off it other than a couple of wheels….

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I can’t believe someone bothered to swap in an ATS gauge cluster before scrapping this thing.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Product placement in the first X-Files movie piqued our interest in the car.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These were decent W-Body cars but by the time these as well as the Aurora were out Olds was trying to be GM’s Infiniti or Lexus. Personally I prefer the Buick Regal GS or Pontiac Grand Prix with the far more durable 3800SC. A little praise for the Church of 3800.

    The grill less look of these later Oldsmobiles gave me the impression GM might merge the similar styling themed Saturn’s in the model line. It might have saved both divisions.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I just bought another Oldsmobile from Copart in Kansas City: A 2002 Intrigue GLS (Tropic Teal – code 37) with 56,000 miles for $700. It had right front fender damage (looked terrible but I bought a replacement fender at Pick-a-Part for $24) Now it is showroom perfect, runs fantastic and I kept it from the wrecking yard for pure insurance company reasons.
    The two-tone interior in mint condition is an added bonus!


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