Junkyard Find: 1996 Oldsmobile Aurora

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1996 oldsmobile aurora

With a 250-horse 4-liter version of Cadillac’s Northstar V8 and lines that owed nothing to the nonagenarian-aimed designs of a decade earlier, the Aurora seemed poised to revive the nose-diving fortunes of the oldest of GM’s divisions. That didn’t quite happen, and Oldsmobile— no doubt doomed by the first three letters of the marque’s name— was sent before The General’s Death Panel before another decade had passed. Where have all the Auroras gone? Here’s one that I found at a Denver wrecking yard earlier this week.

With no Oldsmobile emblems anywhere on the car’s exterior, you had to look at the small print on the engine cover to find any mention of Ransom E. Olds’ 19th-century creation.

Like its Quad 4 stablemate, the Aurora V8 made better than one horsepower per cubic inch. The car was respectably quick. In fact, an Aurora seemed so suspiciously cheaty that it earned the People’s Curse at the very first 24 Hours of LeMons race in 2006.

The ’96 Aurora listed at $34,360, just over 50 grand in today’s dollars. The BMW 525i cost about $1000 more and had 35 fewer horsepower, but buyer demographics were very much not on Oldsmobile’s side in that matchup.

Join the conversation
2 of 88 comments
  • Towncar Towncar on Jun 15, 2012

    I've got the Aurora's half-sibling, the last-gen Riviera. I liked its looks better than the Aurora's, and figured the Buick V-6 was a way better bet than the mini-Northstar. (I was right.) Loved what amca has to say about the "raging style" of these cars! But I have to say they were not really short on practicality. There's ample room in the trunk and very decent legroom front & back. KalapanaBlack, I doubt the underseat battery was really a bid for better weight distribution--there's just simply not room for one single more thing under those low hoods. But the upside is that being isolated from all the heat and vibration makes the batteries last forever in these cars. I had 10 years out of one, and I don't think I've ever got a full 5 out of one in the conventional position.

  • Ru4us Ru4us on Feb 03, 2016

    I have a beautiful 2001 Aurora I'd like to sell. Beige leather interior, White diamond, fully loaded. She needs a new engine and air compressor. She died at 101,000 original miles due to the engine pin metal incapability noted in posts above. I would not recommend a new engine as I'm told the new engines have the same flawed metal compatibility problem. The engine needs to be replaced with a rebuilt which is both less expensive and more durable. The flawed pin has been replaced in the the rebuilt. Not so funny thing is, the 3 weeks before the pin snapped, I put nearly 2k into repairs. New tires around, New Alternator etc. She's a desert vehicle so that means, she has no rust and her body is in beautiful condition considering her age. If anyone is interested, you can notify me via a new post. I will send you photos. I will NOT ship the car to you if you're interested. Best offer. Cash only.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.