By on July 29, 2015

30 - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

The full-sized Olds 88 was around for decade after decade, and we’ve seen a few of them in this series so far. There was this ’67 Delta, this ’70 Delta, and this ’84 Delta Royale Brougham, and of course many of us remain fans of music devoted to the now-defunct marque. Here’s a ’73 Delta 88 Custom (whoops, it appears to be a ’70) that I photographed in a Denver self-service yard last winter.
44 - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

When you find old newspapers in a junkyard car, you can assume that they date from the period just before the car was parked and forgotten. In this case, I found a March 16, 1993 edition of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News (a paper just as defunct as Oldsmobile now, though the Rocky outlived Oldsmobile by five years). Look, trouble in North Korea!

39 - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Just as we saw with the 1982 papers I found in the trunk of a ’65 Chevy and the 1970 papers I found in a ’60 Plymouth, the classified ads from 22 years ago show some pretty good deals on now-insanely-priced cars. How about a ’65 Porsche 356 in good condition for $9,500? That’s about $15,600 in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars, plus the costs for 22 years of storage and maintenance add up quickly, but it would have been a good bet. The ’83 Renault Fuego Turbo for $1,000? Still worth about $1,000 now!

09 - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

All those hot summers and snowy winters haven’t been kind to the paint and metal on this car.

10 - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Some good interior and trim bits were available here and there, though. This car has been eaten by the crusher by now, so it’s too late to mourn.

Delta 88, Delta 88 nightmare!

If you’re ripping apart a ’73 Delta 88 in search for microfilm (like Popeye Doyle looking for Marseilles heroin in a Lincoln), you’ll find that it’s a well-built car.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom, with Bonus 1993 Newspapers...”


  • avatar
    AMCMike

    IIRC, that is a 1970 model. My grandparents had a ’73, identical to the one in this link.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1973-oldsmobile-delta-88-gms-deadly-sin-154/

  • avatar
    Balto

    How on earth does Colorado still have 60’s ford pickups showing up at U pull it yards? I thought for sure those are worth more than scrap at this point. I know they sure are on the east coast, the only ones that haven’t been hot rodded or restored are essentially a heap of rust flakes held together by paint.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Yep, caught my eye big time, too. From what I can see of it no one around here would have junked it.

      Nice old Saab the Olds is pointing at, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Balto

        If it wasn’t for the suburban I would have thought it was the “antique” section of the yard, with the saab, the olds, the 60’s ford and then another 70’s ford right near it. The other ford looks like a pretty battered farm rig, but I still know half a dozen guys in the northeast that’d pay $800+ for that thing as parts for their Mud truck.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The red truck next to the Olds is an early-60s Chevy (not quite enough of it visible to nail down a year).

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            Yep, looks like a bumpside Ford (67-72) behind the Olds, I’ll defer to the Chevy guys on the other truck as I’m not a Chevy guy.

          • 0 avatar
            Balto

            I stand corrected, those era pickups look very similar to someone who was born 30 years late. I have a ’64 ford truck manual, and the angle I could see of the front of this truck is similar to the etchings used in the book. Still shocked it wound up there though, regardless of make.

      • 0 avatar
        cwallace

        Bet you a dollar that Saab ended up in the yard for want of either a brake master cylinder or a caliper piston.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      There are still a good many 1970’s Ford pickups in daily use in western Washington.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Forget the Renault Fuego Turbo and talk to me about the ’89 GRNAD AM! It sounds like a car with balls. :D

    • 0 avatar

      I was just about to post about how sweet the 1st generation Grand Am was that my dad bought when I was a little tyke in 1973–then I looked up the numbers for the motor his had. Early Malaise Era depressing:
      From Wiki: “The Grand Am could be had with a standard 2-bbl 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine with single exhaust producing 170 hp…”

      He sold it when I was fifteen; I never got to drive it. Lovely hunk of American iron it was. Better looking than any of its peers, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        It may not have been a bad driver. People focus too much on horsepower nowadays; these 1970’s cars may have been choked off horsepower-wise because of the primitive anti-smog technology of the time, but many of them had prodigious torque (lb-ft) numbers. I know I owned a 1975 Olds Cultlass with a 350 (5.7L) V8 and a 1975 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 400 (6.6L) V8 in the 1980’s, and those two cars had no problem acceleration-wise. They also drove fine at highway speeds, never found them to be sluggish. And these were beat-up college kid cars…

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Had the Grand Prix SJ with the 400 and it could smoke its tires with no problem. Pulled off the line nicely.

          As for the Olds, with a 455 it could cruise at highway speeds all day and still have plenty left to pass.

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      Other side of the spectrum; I read it too quickly and thought it said GONAD AM.

  • avatar
    Easton

    Love the newspaper. Funny how some stories never change.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That was right around an absolutely awful time in North Korea. They had lost their support from the USSR/Russia and were out of food and money. In 1994 Kim Il Sung died. He had been working -kind of- with the US towards nuclear disarmament for North Korea – the thing he wanted to be remembered for. Once he was out of the picture, Kim Jong put a stop to that, and really clamped down on the people.

      The economy essentially came to a stand still, and a famine happened for around four years, 94-98. Death toll was around 330,000 when all was said and done.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m sure you’re aware the “Eternal President” Kim il-Sung was buried with his Mercedes 560SEL. The rationale was he might one day wake up and want to drive it.

        Another fun fact: Kim Jong-il used his position as Chairman of the NDC and the fact his father was “Eternal President” to become defacto leader of the nation without elections.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I didn’t know he was buried with it, actually. I know the Kims like their Mercedes and Swiss chocolates though, and they have some Lincolns as well, as we saw when Jong-il died.

          Are elections necessary in a dictatorial regime? It was understood by the outside world that he was the one making the decisions those last few years anyway, since his father was in poor health.

          Other fun fact I learned recently (am reading a book by an escapee):

          The school system, though “free” had quotas of supplies which parents/students were required to deliver to the school. The school, being critically underfunded by the State, then sold these commodities on the black markets to fund themselves. Nobody is allowed to discuss this arrangement, but it’s there.

          Families who were too poor (low social status – songbun) or not resourceful enough and couldn’t deliver were not allowed to send their children to school.

          Around 1994 when the economy collapsed, the factories producing fertilizer shut down. It’s one of the country’s main generators of income, and a necessity for their farming, naturally. So human fecal matter became a commodity as well, and was required as one of the school’s quota items. The children had to bring it in in plastic bags.

          North Koreans had to lock their outhouses or other restroom facsimile, to prevent theft of their waste overnight.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wow.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            It brought about a revival of steam locomotives being used in North Korea as well; a few managed to enter the country and take pictures before it all came to an end (I was not one of them though.)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            While I find the country intensely fascinating to learn and read up on, I wouldn’t want to risk actually going there.

            All visit experiences are exactly the same anyway, and there are plenty of documentaries on those already.

            BTW, the book I’m reading by the escapee was just released recently (I actually pre-ordered it, which I’ve never done for a book before) is called The Girl With Seven Names.

            Well worth a purchase IMO to read a first-hand account.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        @CoreyDL- I remember that time. Carter went over to NK and for a brief moment it seemed like relations might be turning around. Right after Carter’s trip, almost right after, old Kim suddenly kicked the bucket and that was the end of that.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          When was this? Il-Sung died in 1994, IIRC

          EDIT:

          ” In June 1994, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter travelled to Pyongyang for talks with Kim. To the astonishment of the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kim agreed to stop his nuclear research program and seemed to be embarking upon a new opening to the West.[55]”

          “On 8 July 1994, at age 82, Kim Il-sung collapsed from a sudden heart attack. After the heart attack, Kim Jong-il ordered the team of doctors who were constantly at his father’s side to leave, and for the country’s best doctors to be flown in from Pyongyang. After several hours, the doctors from Pyongyang arrived, but despite their efforts to save him, Kim Il-sung died. After the traditional Confucian Mourning period, his death was declared thirty hours later.”

          Perhaps il-Sung was whacked by his son (or the military with the KJI’s blessing)?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Il-sung

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The book I’m reading suggests Jong-il was the cause of his father’s heart attack, due to stress from their constant disagreements on how to run the country.

            Clearly he wasn’t too concerned with him living – several hours with local doctors after a heart event is better than several hours with zero doctors.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      While we’re on the topic of both North Korea and cars, I remember reading about coal-fired trucks in NK. These were not “external* combustion engines like you have with coal-powered steam locomotives. Rather, they had a bed of smoldering coal in the back with a fume hood over it. As the coal slowly burned, it would release volatile compounds, which would then be collected by the hood and piped up to the internal combustion engine in the front of the truck.

      The British apparently had similar trucks during the dark days of WWII. It sounds like an option for the desperate.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        So did Germany and parts of Europe during and after WWII. At least the British still had lots of steam waggons, rollers, and tractors still available during the war.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Did GM really think that in 1970 having a transistor radio was something to proudly proclaim? Was anybody still using tube radios?

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      @jpolicke- lots of consumer electronics back then boasted “solid state” on their faceplates even though the technology was, as you point out, quite mainstream. Probably because it sounded high tech and most consumers didn’t understand what it meant anyway.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This particular Delta is pretty low spec and unimpressive. Normally I like these, but not this one. Clearly this person should have bought a new and better equipped Malibu instead.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    ’84 Caddy Eldorado $4988
    ’85 Nissan 300ZX $5488

    Ouch.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That 84 Eldo was some FWD bull though. Save a bunch of money and get an identical Riviera.

      88 Maxima SE, $7988! And them wheels.

      http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2908/1601/32268300001_large.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Slotted like a mofo. SE didn’t get you a better engine until ’92, though.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I had to check to see that the 89 was the first year of the bigger body, which would be (in 93) several thousand more expensive for a used one.

          In min mind 88 always sticks out as the year they changed. Course in 92 when the new Camry came out, the Max started looking like old hat.

  • avatar
    timer555

    Did you save the newspapers from this car and the ones in the Bel Air and the Plymouth?

  • avatar
    revjasper

    A Spirit for $11,188? That’s $18,476.69 in 2015 dollars. That puts the ad for a 2015 Dart for $13,200 in perspective. Cars are cheaper now?

    Also, the Caravan for $14,588, equating to $24,091.70 now. Loss leader AVP Grand Caravans go for about $18K around Portland. More space, size, safety, mileage, power. Yay for progress?

    I guess the R134a changeover means advertising the “EnviroSave” new technology!

    • 0 avatar

      That $139 a month VW Fox lease works out to $231 a month in 2015 dollars as well. You can lease a stripper Jetta right now for $139 in my area (although with about $2k down), or a GLI for $239 (with 2k down and a stick shift). But the newer ones won’t come with FarFigNewton. Although the Fox was built in Brazil, so it really didn’t either.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The giveaway that this wasn’t a ’73 is that ’73 was the first year for the ginormous clunky bashable bumpers. As you can imagine, they were conspicuously huge on a car this big and heavy. GM usually executed them with a full-length black rubber strip that had a white stripe running along its middle.

    In ’74, they raised the requirement even further to 5 mph, and the bumpers both front and rear became even more massive than ’73. Finally, it was so self-evidently over the top that the feds backed down to the lesser requirement that’s been in place ever since.

    If I could remember who was first with the idea of bumpers covered in body-colored plastic to hide their bulk, I’d feel entitled to a prize. Although, GM did a lot of cars in this era where they added body-colored flexible plastic where the edges of the bumper met the rear fenders and the body just below the trunklid. With time, that plastic got brittle and cracked off in pieces. You see some otherwise well-preserved old Caddies and the like where the owners could restore everything but those trim panels, presumably because you can’t find them anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      73 Vette one body coloured bumper and one chrome bumper.
      72 both chrome.
      74 both body coloured.

      This is from memory so please feel free to correct me if my memory is incorrect,

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My buddy inherited one of these from his grandmother in the late ’80s, we drove it from Houston to St. Louis. Smooth ride, but the steering was so vague it was scary. Truly a land yacht.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d buy either one of the $1500 ’77 Grand Prixes and the $2000 ’74 Trans Am. Though why would a Trans Am have a lowly 350 in 1974?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Credit option.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Ah, so it’s like the 4.1 V6 powered Cadillacs. I see.

        Must have been a rare option, since I can’t even find any proof it was an option!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Per GM, the 350 was available on the Firebird, Esprit, and Formula in 74, but not the Trans Am.

          Trans Am in 74 had a 400, 455, or a 455 Super Duty.

          Source: This excellent website I just found.

          http://myclassicgarage.com/marketplace/knowledge_base/1974-pontiac-firebird#sales-brochures

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Also for fun here’s an ad touting the 4.1 V6 from Cadillac.

          http://www.oldcaradvertising.com/Cadillac%20&%20LaSalle/1981/1981%20Cadillac%20Ad-02.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The Buick 4.1, while just as gutless as the HT4100, at least would have been more reliable and probably had more torque…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My favorite part was the claim “Cadillac is outselling Mercedes in diesel cars”

  • avatar
    JimC2

    For some reason, the classified ad for the used Renault Alliance caught my eye before anything else on that newspaper page… and I remember when those were regulars in the early 1990s classifieds, Auto Trader, and buy-here-pay-here lots.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Dad bought one in 73. Same color 4 door sedan with gold vinyl top,gold interior, 454 and a really stiff suspension. I suspect it had the HD option. But uit handled very well, especially on the two week summer road trips the family took during Dad’s vacation.

    Already starting to rust in the rear quarters, like everything else in Davenport Iowa at the time.

  • avatar
    bdaniels_us

    An eternal mystery…why does a website called “The Truth About Cars” never correct mistaken articles like the this one or the other periodically mis identified junk yard finds? Seems a simple fix. Maybe the truth is a flexible concept here. It’s called a correction and is a basic, accepted, journalistic practice.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    A couple of weeks ago there was a Renault Fuego turbo listed on E-Bay for $7000. Unlike Capt. Renault I’m shocked it was listed for that much. Back in 1993 it was worth $1k but they were rife with cooling and electrical issues.

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