By on June 3, 2015

14 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I love the wrecking yards in my adopted state of Colorado, but you can’t beat the high-inventory-turnover big chain yards in urban California when it comes to weird Junkyard Finds with enjoyably incomprehensible backstories. Today’s San Jose find, an extremely patriotic 11th-gen Olds 98 sedan, must have a fascinating tale behind it… if only we could puzzle it out.
13 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The paint stripes and star decals appear to have been done professionally, with no evidence of half-assed bugs-in-the-paint backyard work.

15 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The stars and stripes are sufficiently weathered that it’s possible they were applied when the car was new. Maybe some Olds dealership used the car for Fourth of July parades?

03 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

You don’t see many Fred Thompson 2008 presidential campaign stickers these days (nor did you in 2007), but this car has several. Thompson dropped out of the race early, after coming in third in the South Carolina primary.

23 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

If you’ve got a red-white-and-blue Oldsmobile, you need at least one “NEVER FORGET” 9/11 sticker. This car has two, if you count the half-peeled one on the driver’s door.

19 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Joshua Robert Rodgers came from Carson City, Nevada, so it’s possible that this is a Nevada Olds that made it to the San Francisco Bay Area late in its career.

22 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This sticker refers to Ignacio Ramos and José Compean, two Border Patrol agents who were jailed over a shooting incident near El Paso in 2005. President Bush commuted their sentences in 2009, so this car is starting to look like a 2007 time capsule. Note the spelling correction on the sticker.

32 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Not quite 130,000 miles on the clock.

34 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The body is solid, but the interior is heavily sun-damaged.

36 - 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Buick V6 power under the hood.

9% financing on the 98 Regency in Canada!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

50 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, Old Glory Edition...”

  • avatar

    We just had a very similar 1990 version of this car with 322,000 miles on the original 3800 engine sans Glory Edition package and she still ran as new. An older guy bought it and is currently using it as his mail delivery vehicle. It must have been elderly owned with seat covers because the body and interior were still like new and very clean. Will be interesting to see how many more miles he puts on it.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve got many of those anecdotes of my own. My dad had an ’88 or ’89 Lesabre. These were generally cars that lived very long lives.

      • 0 avatar

        Our mailman still drives a ragtop LeSabre every delivery day, rain, snow, or heat. How he gets down some of those rutted township roads in March and April is a mystery, but he still does it.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably still has the original transmission fluid in it, which is why it is sitting out in the yard. Those transmissions could last a long time with proper care and maintenance, but many did not even make it to 100K miles.

      My 1988 Electra T-Type with the same drivetrain had 221K original on engine/trans when I sold it in 2009, and I saw it driving around in 2014 still.

      I installed a drain plug on the transmission pan at about 70K miles and did a drain/refill a few times a year. Plus, I didn’t drive it like an idiot.

  • avatar

    When I was a kid my mom bought a 1985 Olds 98 Regency, white with blue interior. She loved that car to the extreme. Lots of little things went wrong with it (the power antenna never worked right from day 1) but otherwise it was basically solid. Lots of childhood memories being driven around in that thing!

    • 0 avatar

      My Grandfather bought himself an ’85 Regency Brougham as a retirement present. Black on lipstick red leather. He hated the car, and kept driving his trucks. It never ran right, lots of stuff broke, all sorts of issues. But my Grandmother loved the POS and drove it until she stopped driving about 10 years later. Sold it to one of my cousins, who I think still have it. Only had like 40K on it after 10+ years.

      It was basically my car my senior year of high school in ’86-87 as my Grandmother had not retired yet and commuted in a gas-sipping Subaru that they gave me when she did retire the next summer. The Oldsmobarge was a hateful device, and the source of much of my loathing for that entire genre of car.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “9.9% financing, WON’T be a better time to buy!”

    I just looked up offers on the Cruze… 0% financing for 60 months.
    What a strange new world we live in.

  • avatar

    Maybe a controversial statement, but I think ’88-’92 was the stoutest period for GM full-size cars.

    The RWD ones rode on old platforms and all came with the SBC or Olds 307 while the FWD ones had most of their early bugs worked out and came powered by the 3800 or 4.5/4.9 V8.

    • 0 avatar

      I wasn’t alive from ’88-’92, so I can’t comment on their reliability, but I will say the second crop of FWD C/H-bodies starting in ’91–you know the ones, the curvy 98s and LeSabres et al. with their A-pillars blacked out–did a much better job at visually making the most of their 110.8″ WB (which, IMO, is about two inches too short for a true fullsize car).

      • 0 avatar

        Really? The way you talk I thought you were middle aged!

        • 0 avatar

          Hey, I never said I wasn’t. I actually spent 1986-1992 dead for tax purposes. That’s also why I was gone from here for the past month.

          Thanks to how big the ’91/’92 C/H-bodies made their short wheelbase look, I now accept 110.8″ as the shortest possible wheelbase for a fullsize car. That means that the W-body Impala, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, and LaCrosse were (in my book) not fullsizers, but long midsizers, with their juuuust-under 110.5″ WB.

      • 0 avatar

        The H-body Buick LeSabre had about an inch more rear legroom than a Crown Vic of the same vintage. I drive a LeSabre and it’s a genuinely roomy car inside.

        • 0 avatar

          Doesn’t a BRZ have more rear legroom than a Crown Vic? I’ve spent too much time in Panther taxis with my knees smooshed against the divider.

          • 0 avatar

            I would assume the 2″ deficit between a Caprice’s 116″ WB and a Crown Vic’s 114″ came out of the rear legroom, and the FWD architecture in the C/H-bodies meant their floor was just a little lower (don’t know exactly how much) because no driveshaft (though it does have a little hump).

          • 0 avatar

            The rear seats in a BRZ/FR-S/86 are vestigal and exist only to lower your insurance premiums because you can claim it isn’t a 2-door 2-seater. They can only be used by double leg amputees as there is no space between the back of the front seats and the front edge of the rear seat cushions unless both passengers are under 5′ tall and the front one moves the seat as far forward as possible. Even then, it is uncomfortable for both.

    • 0 avatar

      They lasted a long time to give you maximum “enjoyment” of their innate bean-counted crappiness.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand why people put memorial stickers on cars, then again, I guess I don’t understand most stickers people put on their cars.

  • avatar

    My dad had a grey 86′ (different grill and headlights) with red velvet interior. It was stolen from his driveway 4 times in 2 years, in a fairly decent neighborhood. A magnetic kill switch put an end to that.

  • avatar

    A flag design looks great on a bikini. On an Oldsmobile, not so much.

    Interesting find.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What a great find, in so many ways.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    This vehicle somehow evokes Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and Public Enemy’s “You’re Gonna Get Yours” simultaneously.

  • avatar

    Today’s Rare Ebay Find: A C-body stablemate to this Olds!

    Rare because:
    – High miles (very high, for a Deville) but impeccably clean
    -Triple black!
    -K&G grilled (ew)
    -Has my favorite style Cadillac wheels
    -Is mislabeled as Fleetwood
    -Says “no reserve auction” in detail, but has reserve.

  • avatar

    If I’m having this model of 98, I’m having a Touring Sedan!


  • avatar

    There are far more ‘States’ on the front clip than fifty.

    My quick count came to 99 LOL

  • avatar

    Reminds of the Dominic Santini’s Jeep on Airwolf. And that lovely Jet Ranger. Think I’m going to have to watch Airwolf soon.

  • avatar

    Joshua R. Rodgers was 29, and an army CWO. So he was a helicopter command pilot or second chair. There were two CWOs on the bird when it was shot down on June 7, 2007.

    I suspect this was his parent’s car, and this paint scheme was done after his death. It’s kind of sad to see it being scraped.

  • avatar

    Bob’s intensity was burning out.

    Bob awoke to an America spiraling out of control. He winced, and slowly lowered his legs down the side of the bed. His hands felt like they had been hit with hammers the day before. He grabbed the bottle of Aleve, and it’s light weight reminded him of it’s shortfall. A single pill rolled out onto his leathery palm.

    Carefully, he lowered himself down the stairs of the Starlite Motel, and made his way to the star spangled Olds. He never bothered locking the car. There was never anything of value left in, and the likelihood of an APB being issued for an “American Flag Car” would be highly unlikely. Also, the less Bob needed to do with his hands, the better. He gritted his teeth and bore the pain of pushing the button with his thumb. He lowered himself into the cracked pleather, which gave a rubbery squeak. The square key was twisted in the cylinder, a drive pinion whirled away on an eccentrically-worn ring gear, and the Oldsmobile came alive.
    “Dong Dong Dong”

    Bob pulled right out onto MacArthur Blvd. As in, the great general with the corncob pipe in his maw. This was the image conjured up in his mind. Bob depressed the “Disc Brakes” pedal firmly as a thugged out Sebring barged it’s way across from Truman Ave. The irony was not lost on the man. The image of a disgraced MacArthur being relieved of his command in Korea by Harry Truman then replaced what was there previously. The Sebring’s stereo thumped obscenities as it’s bumper rubbed the Lexus in front of it during a poorly executed parallel parking attempt. The driver then hurriedly walked into the MacArthur Smoke Shop, followed by a young lady still clad in pajamas emblazoned with “JUICY” across her backside. Bob released the pedal. “Jesus Christ.”

    The man inside the Delco was raving. “…and now the taxpayers are just gonna bail out these car companies? It’s a damn disgrace! What an embarrassment to America.” Bob noted the lifted F150 in his mirror, rapidly closing in on his position in the left lane of the Nimitz Freeway. “What an ass.”, he thought to himself. The truck swerved around to the right to overtake. The truck then slowed a bit, and the driver stuck a thumbs-up out the window. Particulates spewed out of it’s tailpipe as the driver resumed an 80mph pace. Bob had no reaction to this gesture. Subconsciously, it cut him.

    Residency in the Regency came with attention in the purest sense. Bob would observe it’s mere presence impart reactions in the passerby like an inspiring bow wave. Some would laugh, others would salute either jokingly or in earnest. Everyone would point…everyone. These were tough times however. His posture in the pleather slowly degraded from stoically receptive upright, into a despondent slouch. The Ninety-Eight pulled into the parking garage next to the VA Mental Health facility. A lot attendant’s attention was perked by the passing Olds. Bob expected a typical “I like your car.” comment. The woman instead hung her head as if in depressed thought.

    Bob waddled into the rear conference room past the sign labeled “Living Well”, and took a seat in uncomfortable plastic. A young man missing an arm spoke from a wheelchair. His right leg trembled nervously as he spoke. His eyes, darkened from lack of sleep. “I’ve been trying to see the doc again for my back, but they won’t let me come in for another exam for six months. I’ve been using the bottle in the meantime.” Bob needed to leave. Nobody noticed the old man walking away.

    Bob drove across the Bay toward Embarcadero. He just wanted to have a coffee and think. The radio was silenced. He pulled up to a red signal on Fremont St. Suddenly the glory ran out of the Oldsmobile. Half of the cylinders in the V6 fell out of line. The car shook for a moment, and then died. Bob restarted the Olds, but could only get it to move a few feet before succumbing. Motorists honked behind him, the paint job doing little to make up for their minor inconvenience in their rolling metaphors.

    The hydraulic arm lifted the front of the Regency with a whir. “But sir, we don’t-“, the tow truck operator protested. Bob continued, “The keys are in it. Do whatever you want with it.” he said, waving the man away in frustration.

    “Take it somewhere to get folded twelve times for all I care.”

  • avatar

    As usual, bracingly wonderful. An insightfully woven story both grim and hopeful at the same time.

  • avatar

    Good thing it’s up on blocks. The Flag isn’t supposed to touch the ground.

  • avatar

    These cars were very dependable and would last forever with basic maintenance. When new, the styling was quite crisp and tasteful. Like many GM cars at the time, the drivetrain lasts forever but the interior would just fall to pieces over time.

  • avatar

    That’s not a Olds 98 Regency, it’s a TOY Olds 98 Regency ! check out the ’75 model like the one I owned. This would fit in it’s TRUNK !

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • probert: It has no trunk…badoing.
  • probert: KIA/Hyundai’s have buttons, knobs and levers for critical functions. Easy to use and everything falls...
  • probert: I think it is a very good looking car, not sure why the writer assumes it is a forgone conclusion that it...
  • probert: just a hint – yes
  • Lou_BC: @SoCalMikester – Yup. My dad would use a rag soaked in diesel.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber