By on June 17, 2012

While it was possible to get a Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham in 1984, the buyer of this Olds cheaped out and went for the non-Brougham version. That just seems wrong.

When you’re talking about an Olds 98 from the 1980s, the conversation must turn to the greatest Oldsmobile song of all time. Suckers to the side! I know you hate my 98!
What we’ve got here is a big, traditional Detroit rear-drive sedan. By this time, the base engine in the Ninety-Eight was an Olds 307 making 140 horsepower, and the car weighed 3,886 pounds.
But Ninety-Eight Regency drivers weren’t looking for speed, in spite of what Chuck D said about his. They were looking for the same kind of luxury they got in their ’47 Oldsmobiles.

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32 Comments on “1984 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency...”

  • avatar

    A friend I knew had an 84′ that just went on and on until a inattentive driver in a F-150 rear ended his car. All I remember of it was it was underpowered compared to my 1973 Chevrolet Suburban with the 454 V8 and 3spd. column stick.

  • avatar

    My good freind Mike had one of these, it was like rollin’ in an overstuffed livingroom. We’d cruise out to South Park, burn one, and cruise back. Good times.

  • avatar

    Not fancy enough. Needs mor Rococo-style scrolls and cursive curls. Then it’ll be fancy.

    This car must have been designed by guys who wore diamond pinky rings.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    the base engine in the Ninety-Eight was an Olds 307 making 140 horsepower

    Actually it was the ONLY engine not just the base engine. No amount of money or credit score was going to get you more than a 307 Quadrajet. (Although I believe the diesel was still available in 1984, not that the diesel would have turned the car into a speed demon.)

    I wonder if GM had continued to offer the 403V8 (even with gas guzzler penalties or whatever else that would have required) what the take rate would have been. For many when the RWD 88 and 98 were cancelled and then the RWD G-body a few years later, that was when Oldsmobile died.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      My uncle has the 2 dr 84 Delta 88 in this same color combo w/ every option except sunroof. Nice plush ride. The diesel was still available till 85 though sales continued to plummet due to their many problems. When the Cutlass G-Body was ditched and replaced with the W-Body the end was near for Olds.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @EducatorDan- GM has always had a policy to comply with the law!

      Failure to achieve CAFE standards is a violation of law that results in fines.

      At least Corp Management eventually accepted building vehicles subject to the gas guzzler tax. It was originally considered taboo to build a vehicle subject to the tax, with the result being that GM lost trailer towing capability in large cars. The philosophy similar to a commitment to avoid CAFE fines.

      These 98’s were a great way to cruise, “deep rides” we called them. They were certainly gutless, though. The move to FWD in ’85 made for a much better performing and driving car. Oldsmobile still sold over 1,000,000 in 1986, but 3.8L engine and 440T4 transmission failures, after the diesel issues, really killed the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        doctor olds, as the guy who inspired your avatar and given my love for the dear departed Oldsmobile brand, could you answer a question for me…

        Do you believe GMs unwillingness to offer customers the choice of taking the gas guzzler penalty in RWD cars (Cadillac, Chevy Caprice, the RWD Oldsmobiles) cost them sales for those customers who would not have cared? Personally I do. I believe that the 4100V8 in Fleetwoods caused more negative pressure on sales than keeping the 368V8. Offer them as optional “towing packages” just like they finally did to offer the 350 in the final years of square Fleetwood production in the early 90s. Even in the lighter weight Cutlass the 307 was pretty gutless… mine had trouble going more than 65 mph for extended periods of time, it sounded as if you were stressing the engine beyond its designed parameters.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @EducatorDan- I am forever indebted to you for the avatar!
        I am sure we lost business. As I have often written, CAFE essentially banned Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Cadillacs as well as the most popular Chevrolets and Pontiacs.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve wondered why GM never went the “Ecoboost” route after 1984 by offering the 3.8L turbo in more vehicles. The EPA rated it the same as the 307 and 305, but it offered considerably more power.

      They could have even made a turbo version of the 4.1L V6 for Cadillac and avoided the whole existence of the HT4100.

      It might not have been the return of the 455, but it would have better than what we got.

      GM was weird when it came to their turbocharged engines. In 1980 they offered a turbo engine in the Regal, Trans Am, Century, Lesabre, Riviera and Monte Carlo. Then, as time went on and they ironed out the issues of the early engines, it was offered on fewer vehicles.

      • 0 avatar

        The 260/307 engines are pretty gutless engines for sure. The 260 for 1980-82 only made a paltry 105 HP at a low 3600 RPM’s and the 307 made 140 at the same RPM. I have owned about 8 307 equipped cars a several 260’s and learned that these engines fall flat on there face if even a little out of tune or if a sensor is out of value. The most critical things on these are making sure there are no vacuum leaks, the TPS voltage is set exactly and the base timing has to be set to factory specs of 20 degrees or more. Most every example I bought had the timing retarded due to spark knock which was often caused by either a non functioning EGR valve or clogged EGR passages. Fixing that problem made bringing the timing up to where it was supposed to be.
        A bit more power came from fiddling with the Quadrajet’s secondary side with quicker and greater opening rate and thinner metering rods which are pretty easy to swap out if you have done this before.
        The 1978-80 260 cars benefit from removing the spark delay which restricts timing advance for emissions. The terrible 2.29:1 rear gears should be switched to at least a 3.08:1 and the restrictive pellet converter should be upgraded to a higher flow unit. These changes knocked off a total of 4 whole seconds 0-60 on my buddies Calais or 14 seconds down to 10. The car almost needed to be floored to keep up with traffic going 70 plus MPH but with these mods easily kept up and was much better to drive.

  • avatar

    I know the 98 had the 4.1L V6 a few years in the early 1980’s. It grieves me that cars like this are no longer built.

  • avatar

    Another trip down memory lane :) Both my maternal and paternal grandparents had this car in this color! When these cars died, my moms parents got a ’90 Century and my dad’s parents got a ’92 Skylark.

    As a side note, I’d like to see a ’92 Skylark in the junk yard. Those things make the Acura beak look like a good idea.

  • avatar

    Our family had an 81 98 Regency, white over red with wire wheels. Car looked really nice, many times people thought it was a Cadillac (which may explain some problems Caddy was having).

    Some memories: we had a 79 98 previously, and it had a 350, not the 307. Dad was disappointed in the lack of power. Also, the 3 speed auto had an annoying overdrive feature that kicked in at 45, which was and is a common speed limit. So if you drove at 45, it would hunt back and forth.

    I loved the fiber optic turn signal and headlamp indicator system on the fenders and rear valance panel, the 79 did not have it, so my dad agreed to order it on this one – I even offered to pay, but he declined. I think it was a $12 option. He also ordered the full gauge package, which was rare on these, most people relied on the vast array of idiot lights.

    I do recall the 98 shredding a fan belt on the first big trip down to Florida from Michigan, my dad was not happy about that.

    I still have the window sticker, I think it was about $12,000 back in 1981, which was a decent chunk of change in a bad economy and record high gas prices. I don’t think he ever put snow tires on the rear of the 81, but I know he did on the 79.

    It was a great road trip car, the back seat was huge for a kid.

    The reason I enjoyed the fiber optic light system was I used to ride on the front arm rest to have a better view – those were the days.

    Funny about the close up of the Regency badge, as the car aged, I reglued our badges on the taillamps so as not to lose them.

    • 0 avatar

      The 3 speed automatic didn’t have an overdrive. That was the lock up torque converter you felt. At about 40 mph under no load the transmission would go from “fluid drive” to a lockup mode that had no slippage. Cars still have it today but much smoother

  • avatar

    One of my uncles had a 1968 Ninety-Eight. Driving around in my father’s Ford made me feel like a member of the Joad family after experiencing that 98. On the other hand, one of my neighbors had a ’80 Cutlass with the 260 V8….one of the worst cars ever. It was astonishing to see how far Oldsmobile fallen in 12 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Joad reference for the win and a great chuckle, thanks!

      Worse yet was the 81 Crown Vic with the 4litre-ish V8, my dad’s earned the name Electronicshriekmobile… (I have the suspicion that putting all those “litre” badges on such anemic malaise cars gave the metric system a bad name in the USA.

  • avatar

    ..cheaped out on the Brougham..

    Well the General did pump them out so.. my guess: some ol’ cheapskates last wheels ducking some fancy Brougham add-on that may out-pop ‘pop’ before warranty.

    Nice cars – we had Parisienne. Panic breaking in the wet could induce a 360.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I loved these cars, but that Ninety Eight badge truly looked like something out of a Disney princess movie…

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the badge is a little precious, but it’s actually an homage to the original Oldsmobile badges from the early days, circa 1900. I think that may have been lost on the buying public in the 1980s, though…not to mention now!

  • avatar

    One of my best, and favorite cars was a 1975 Olds 98 Regency Brougham 2 door sedan. Dark blue with white padded top. Pillow-covered seats that made the seats pictured here look like Chevette seats. A 455 V-8. Tombstone taillights. Maybe you can tell that I still miss her. This will give you some idea…

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @”scarey”- reminds me of a great company car I drove across country on vacation in 1976. It was a dark blue ’76 98 Coupe with white landau top,and the same 455 V8. One of the guys who came on the trip normally drove a 4WD truck. He drove through a tank of fuel across Kansas in 2nd gear at 70 MPH! Gas mileage was very poor!

      The 98, either coupe or sedan, was the longest car offered by GM those years, longer than the Cadillacs!

  • avatar

    The Regency was top of the line in ’72, nearly overtaking DeVilles in prestige. I didn’t care for Olds tacking on Brougham to push Reg’ to ‘cheap model’.

  • avatar

    My dad was a lifetime GM man (his first a 58′ pontiac, he rolled three or four times within hours of leaving the dealership)*. When he made Col. in 81 or 82, he got his first Caddy, the car was a piece of crap, I hated riding in it (you could feel the anger and as a child you didn’t know it was directed at the car). Dealer finally gave him a fully loaded, top of the line 98 Diesel (don’t remember if it was an 83′ or 84′ – yes with the 30 or so idiot lights that had to go off before starting it, not really something you would want to use if robbing a bank) as a replacement. Every car after that was a towncar or navigator (starting in 86′).

    * my grandfather’s brother owned multiple GM dealerships, and they kept going through car after car (engines and transmissions) and couldn’t figure out why (until my dad was busted drag racing)

  • avatar

    This was as far as GM’s downsizing ever should have gone. The B-Bodies in 1977 and the A/G cars in 1978 were decent designs, if indifferently assembled, but they really shit the bed when they tried to stretch the downsizing even further during the 1980s. The big RWD Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/Buick/Cadillac models were one of the few things, even in the darkest of dark hours, that GM still did mostly right on a consistent basis. Honestly, these were great driving and riding cars. Makes me wish I had my Fleetwood back.

  • avatar

    Well for a base model car, it was rather plush!

    I was just telling my mom today about how I have this rather large collection of Dealer emblems just like the one on this car from all over the country. I don’t suppose I could get you to snag that one for me could I???

  • avatar

    My grandmother had the downsized ’85. Same colors as this, same abundance of chrome, same tufted pillow top seats, but in an efficient, aerodynamic package. Completely unreliable piece of crap; the early H-bodies were hit-or-miss.

    I know that the specter of $3.00 gas was looming when GM was designing the B-body replacements in the early ’80s, but the juxtaposition of modern engineering with ’70s styling should have been obvious in its terribleness. Why Olds and Buick weren’t allowed to keep a big B/C car like the other divisions post-1985, I don’t know.

  • avatar

    We had the exact same color and year car! Bought off a tier 2 used car lot on a Wednesday night when all the salesmen were trying get to a seminar that night in Sacto.
    7 years old, stickered for 27K and we bought it for $4400 out the door.
    It was just like driving a couch. Tranny went once, blew a timing gear and AC compressor, otherwise it was pretty reliable…but I don’t miss it. They had cheaped out on the inside upper door trim and discovered a faux wood trim that bubbled and blistered in the sun, and replacements were 3-400 bucks EACH. Not worth the expense to cherry out, so we just lived with it.

    Finally got rid of it when the computer failed and there was no way I could make it run right, even after rebuilding the carburetor.

    It was the last carbureted car I would buy. Don’t miss it at all.

    Coming home from the dealer after the purchase, we noticed a strange burnt smell in the interior. We didn’t find out till 2-3 years later it was our son who had been playing with the cigar lighter in the back door armrest- he had fired it up and toasted the end of his finger..I bet he doesn’t miss it either!

    • 0 avatar

      If the computer was bad all you had to do was replace the distributor and carb with units from an earlier non computer car, which is what most people did. There is no way to make a computerized carb work right without a properly working computer.

  • avatar
    Joe F85

    Hi guys.

    Newbie here.

    I had to comment. I still own and drive a 1984 Olds Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham – I had it now for 14 years.

    From everything I’ve read and studied on the subject, the Big 3 simply mated their old-technology engines (drive train as a whole) to mandated pollution-fighting technology, and the result was a horrific loss in power. As I age, though, I find this loss to be less of a pain.

    This car represents Oldsmobile’s long-standing commitment to luxury and quality. The car is probably the quietest car I’ve ever been in. A truly wonderful car to experience. I am still angry at GM for ‘killing’ the brand long before discontinuing it: remember the ‘Not your father’s Oldsmobile’ campain? That’s exactly what Olds drivers wanted!

    Lastly, I have to say that it pains me to see these cars put out to pasture like the one pictured above. With relatively little attention, these cars will offer years (decades, for me) of reliable, stylish transportation.

    Thanks for posting.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi another newbie here. I just bought a 1983 oldsmobile 98 last october and I don’t think I could’ve bought a better car for $400. It gets better gas mileage than my parents 2000 chevy venture and my brother’s 96 grand am. It makes you feel very comfortable and when I drive it in the early morning I feel like going to bed. Also I have had people ask me how i could afford a cadillac and I laugh at them saying it’s oldsmobile. Also my car has a 305 V8 but it gives off alot more than a puny 140 hp.

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