Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Century Olympic Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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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.

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.