By on March 9, 2016

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, front 3/4 view, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The greatest Oldsmobile song of all time is Public Enemy’s 1987 masterpiece, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” (from all the many great Oldsmobile songs out there), but just what kind of Olds 98 was it that Chuck D used to get all those suckers to the side? I say it was the 1977-1984 tenth-generation 98, and here’s an example of a luxurious ’79 Regency Coupe, complete with landau roof and plenty of fake wood trim inside.

Cover of Public Enemy Rebel Without a Pause 12" Single

The Ninety-Eight was downsized by 800 pounds in 1977, along with its Cadillac de Ville and Buick Electra brethren, and the depiction of the unstoppable Ninety-Eight in “You’re Gonna Get Yours” gives the impression that it must be the monstrous 1971-1976 version. However, if you look at the cover of the 12″ single release for “Rebel Without a Pause” and “Miuzi Weighs a Ton” (released on the same album as “You’re Gonna Get Yours”), you will see two 1977-1984 Olds Ninety-Eights plus a Cadillac Eldorado. That’s proof enough for me.

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, Regency emblem, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Regency was the plushest Ninety-Eight you could get in 1979, and the coupe was far more stylish than the sedan.

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, fake wood trim, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

If you like “wood” in your interior, this car has plenty.

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, rear seat upholstery, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Embossed beige velour aplenty in here.

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency brochure page, Image courtesy of Old Car Brochures

This car is the same model and color as the one on the brochure page for the Regency Coupe. The Malaise-style luxury is mostly gone now, but you can still detect faint echoes if you listen hard over the sound of The Crusher chomping cars.

Archie Manning could have put you behind the wheel of a nice Ninety-Eight Regency Coupe, if you lived in New Orleans in 1979.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars; Courtesy Old Car Brochures]

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38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Coupe...”

  • avatar

    That Archie Manning is such a winner. Plays football, sells cars in the off season, and still has time to keep his son’s indiscretions out of the papers.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I really miss full-size two-door coupes. Their blatant impracticality made them cool. Those six foot long doors meant that you could barely get inside if somebody parked next to you.

    My Dad always went for practical four doors and wagons, but I had a cool uncle who would stuff his three kids in the back of his Toronado.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      The Old Man only drove coupes. Mostly Mark III’s, IV’s and V’s but with the odd Eldorado thrown in.

      Not the most practical vehicle when you have 3 teenage sons. Try sitting in the back of one of those with a bunch of hockey sticks inside the cabin.

      The worst was a trip from Toronto to Florida. 3 teenage boys in the back of Mark IV with only the ‘opera’ windows to look out of.

      Occasionally he would just rear back with his left arm. Didn’t really matter which one of us it connected with.

      While in Florida, I took the Mark IV out for a spin at night and locked the keys in the car. While fishing them out, some sort of trooper/highway patrol came up behind me, I only noticed when his dog stuck his nose into my buttocks. Turned around to see the officer there holding a shotgun at me. I still swear that he was wearing his aviator shades at the time. We were able to amicably settle the situation.

      As for the Olds. I know that cars of that era were pretty awful compared to current vehicles. However the majority of interior materials and in particular the velour seating seem to hold up much better than the current materials and in particular ‘bonded leather’.

      And from memory those old GM (and Chrysler) 3 speed automatic transmissions and large block v-8’s were almost impossible to kill. Some time I might relate the story of our private tour of the original Aston-Martin factory with 2 of their engineers and their revelation of how they sourced and tested automatic transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        The seats held-up fine, but the headliner didn’t. It took GM decades longer to develop passable headliner glue tech!

        I have a suspicion that many manufacturers make interiors that deteriorate on purpose. No one would admit that they traded-in their 3 year-old car because the trim faded, but it works away at your psyche, giving you the urge to update your ride.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Sorry, meant his right arm. Guess my eyes still go crossed thinking of that trip.

        And regardless of which car we were in or who owned the car or who was in the car, The Old Man always drove. No questions asked.

        Would get upset if we tried to put on a seatbelt. “What you don’t trust my driving?” In his entire life, I never saw him wear one and he never received a ticket for not wearing one, even though it became mandatory in Ontario in the mid/late 70’s.

        He also seemed to have impunity regarding speeding in much of the USA. Never saw so many law enforcement officers treat someone so well.

      • 0 avatar

        I love the Mark V, it’s so sharp-edged and downright dangerous looking, like a sword on wheels.

    • 0 avatar

      Would you not consider the current Dodge Challenger a full size coupe?

  • avatar

    Back in the day my boss got a similar 98 in green (like money they said). He hated the car and tried his best to destroy it after the powers that be insisted he had to drive it. He had given it to his wife to use up till that point. I only scored an 88 but with a similar power train. 403 and automatic but I had roll up windows.

    After all was said and done we did not destroy them, try as we did. Towing boats across Texas and just plain abusing them they held up to the task.

  • avatar

    Make mine the smaller Delta 88 coupe with Holiday option and Rocket 350.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      In 1977 there was a Indy Pace Car version of the Delta 88 coupe

      I always liked the Holiday Coupe as well as it’s sporty corporate twin the LeSabre sport coupe with its ahead of it’s time 3.8 V6 turbo.

      When these were downsized you could see the difference in rear seat room between the 4 door 88 and the near limo like 98. The rear seat size difference in the coupes was fairly minuscule just a couple of inches of legroom.

    • 0 avatar

      In 1979 my leasing company had twenty eight brand new Delta 88s ordered for Tishman West Management. Only one was a coupe and the west coast VP requested that one for himself. Of course he got it!
      V8s in all of them, but I don’t recall if they were 350s or 403s.

  • avatar

    So many memories from that era of GM C cars. I look back on them with much more fondness than I felt for them when they were popular.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe it was the 12 MPG on 95 cent premium gas, about $3 today. At the beginning of the 1970s, gas was 1/3 of that, so 12 MPG didn’t bite too much. There were gas lines in ’79 too, and gallon limits for purchase. That REALLY took the bloom off the rose.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    My dad worked at an Oldsmobile dealership when these came out. Sadly, I remember a 98 identical to the red one shown on the cover of that brochure that had been ordered with the wretched 5.7 liter diesel engine. After said motor imploded and its owner sued GM, the car sat in a back corner of the dealership’s service department for about three years while the legal proceedings went on. I saw that car go from pristine to rotten condition due to exposure to the elements. I don’t know how the litigation ended but in the end, GM had the vehicle picked up and crushed, as was standard operating procedure back in those days with problematic cars.

  • avatar

    All NFL QBs should be required to have off season jobs as did Manning Sr.

    • 0 avatar

      His oldest kid made out OK too.

      What off season job would you give Manziel? I’d go with “professional drunk and girlfriend beater” but I don’t think he’d get paid for that.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe he could run for a Regional Douchebag position?

        • 0 avatar

          …or maybe pitchman for a rehab center, assuming he actually gets clean and sober?

          Clearly this guy’s issues are mainly booze-related. It doesn’t help that his girlfriend had the same problems. That was a poisonous situation. If he could get off the booze I bet he’d stop being a locker room cancer too.

          Maybe a tryout with the Broncos, assuming he’s sober by then…? Looks like Osweiler’s leaving. Hmmmm……

          • 0 avatar

            If he could kick drinking a whole new opportunity may present itself but that’s kinda tough to do.

            Tebow should come back to ye Broncos…

          • 0 avatar

            You probably remember his game against the Steelers, but the rest of the time, Tebow’s big problem was that quarterbacks actually have to throw the ball.

            (Crazy concept, right?)

            And Tebow wasn’t very good at that. He’s a good guy but a lousy QB.

            And besides, now he’s busy getting dumped by his mind-bogglingly hot girlfriends because he won’t go all the way with them.

            Well, he always did stink in the red zone…

  • avatar

    The trim detailing is amazing in there. It’s like an old west saloon.

  • avatar

    Oh yeah…

    My dad had an ’83 or ’84 Olds 98 with the awful diesel engine. But still the interior – white leather – seemed really nice when I was a teenager, much more upscale than any other car we’ve ever owned. It even came with a factory CB radio if my memory is correct. My dad drove 40k miles a year for his job so the mileage – 30mpg or so – on the highway was a bonus.

    The engine eventually blew at only ~60k miles, out of warranty of course. A gas engine was it’s replacement but the transmission self-destructed only a few weeks later. After that debacle we became a Nissan family.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Kathy Mattea, 455 Rocket

    Mr. Smith had an oldsmobile
    Baby blue with them wire wheels
    I took her home the day that she was advertised
    He said she leaked when, it would rain
    And sounded like an aeroplane
    But I knew she was a jewel in disguise
    She had a 455 Rocket
    The biggest block alive
    I couldn’t hardly wait just to take my turn
    She was made for the straight aways
    She grew up hating Chevrolets
    She’s a Rocket, she was made to burn

    Whose junkpile piece of Chevelle is this?
    You boys come here to race or just kiss?
    Don’t you wanna know what I got underneath my hood?
    I know she might sound like she’s missing
    But buddy, she could teach you a lesson
    In just a quarter mile, and I’ll smoke you good
    In my 455 Rocket
    The kind the police drive
    I couldn’t hardly wait just to take my turn
    She was made for the straight aways
    She grew up hating Chevrolets
    She’s a Rocket, she was made to burn

    I’m telling you and I ain’t ashamed
    I cried when that wrecker came
    As we skid I thought I heard the angels sing (sounded like the Beach Boys)
    We hit the curve and began to sail
    Took out most of the safety rail
    Even the cop asked me
    “Man, what’d you have in that thing?”
    I had a 455 Rocket
    The very kind you drive
    You oughta watch yourself when you take that turn
    ‘Cause she was made for the straight aways
    She grew up hating Chevrolets
    She’s a Rocket, she was made to burn
    Lord, she’s a Rocket she was made to burn

  • avatar

    I had an ’84 Olds 98. Traded it for a 1st-gen Taurus.

    The Taurus was a huge step up in design and engineering, and a better car by almost any objective standard.

    Which would I rather have back? No question: the Olds.

  • avatar

    izzat a 350 or a 403?

  • avatar

    That might depend on whether it was sold in California or not.

    We had an ’84 98 Regency Brougham sedan and it had a wheezy 307.

    Another interior that self-destructed in the sun. They made door panel inserts that covered the top edges of the doors, then wrapped down about halfway. It was supposed to emulate some sort of inlay work with contrasting colors and grains, but ended up bubbling off the parent structure. Replacement inserts were 300 bucks apiece in 1992.

    At least the tobacco brown velour held up well, but there was a broken spring wire poking out of the driver seat back that played havoc on my jackets.

    Don’t miss it much.

  • avatar

    Since we have so many experts here, can someone tell me if those are factory wheels, off a Buick, or aftermarket? I’m thinking the second option.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Those are Buick wheels. They were used on various rear-wheel-drive LeSabres, Wildcats, Rivieras, Centurions, Electras, etc. from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

  • avatar

    Those down-sized full-sized GM products were some of the last products that GM built that were any good (except diesel versions). After that, it was all down hill for the company as it could not make a decent front-driver. Today it builds junk and its fetish for rear drive is a throwback that is in congruent with the upcoming CAFE standards imposed by this regime and the need to become more efficient with space utilization.

    • 0 avatar

      Nah, the late production A-bodies (Century/Cutlass Ciera) were virtually indestructible. I still see them on the road, the youngest ones are 20 years old now. When I delivered pizzas in the late 90s, two of my fellow employees drove Centuries. Close to taxi duty in terms of the amount of time spent idling and driving in stop and go city traffic, all the neglect a teenager can heap on a car, and they still functioned without problems. It took GM a decade to get the platform right, but once they did, they built the automotive equivalent of a cheap digital watch. Flawlessly functional, durable, and engineered to just do its job.

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