Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Century Olympic Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1984 buick century olympic edition

Yes, 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.

Sort of a forgettable member of the forgettable Celebrity/6000/Ciera family, but the US Olympic Team badging makes it a rare find.

I’m sure this Olympic hood ornament is worth at least several dollars today.

Check out these Olympicized headrests!

If 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.

Gold pinstripes.

Even the first year after the end of the Malaise Era was still fairly Malaise-y.

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  • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Feb 24, 2014

    '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).

  • Beau1399 Beau1399 on Mar 28, 2014

    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.

  • ScarecrowRepair Too much for too little, unless you treat it strictly as a toy.
  • DedBull Mk2 Jettas are getting harder to find, especially ones that haven't been modified within an inch of their life. I grew up in an 85 GLI, and would love to have one in as close to stock configuration as I could get. This car isn't that starting point, especially sitting 3-4 years in the NY dirt. It's a parts car at best, but there might still be money in it even at that price, if you are willing to take it down to absolutely nothing left.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I bet it has some electrical gremlins as well. Nonetheless it might make an interesting El Camino pickup truck conversation with one of those kits.
  • GrumpyOldMan "A manual transmission is offered, as is a single-clutch auto. "What is a single clutch auto?
  • ToolGuy It is raining super-hard outside right now.