By on September 2, 2020

An oft-overlooked offering in Oldsmobile’s product catalog, the LSS was available for a few short years as the Rocket brand headed toward closure. Comfort and sporty driving appeal awaited its customers then, and still awaits you today.

Come along as we learn about this very beige supercharged sedan.

The Oldsmobile Eighty Eight entered its 10th and final generation for the 1992 model year, and was the more affordable (and slightly smaller) full-size alternative to the Ninety Eight flagship. In 1992 Oldsmobile also offered one final year of a traditional large car, the rear-drive Custom Cruiser wagon.

Eighty Eight was one of the last Oldsmobile products to adopt a more aerodynamic corporate styling theme. Though it looked very different to the outgoing model, it remained on the H-body platform it used since 1986. In modern Nineties fashion, the only body style was a sedan; the coupe faded away in 1991. All Eighty Eights were powered by the potent Buick 3800 V6,with four different versions used throughout production. Two naturally aspirated engines, the L27 and L36, filled some engine bays, while others used the Series I and Series II supercharged L67 engine. Likewise, all transmissions were four-speed automatics, but three different versions of the 4T60 were used depending on specification.

A year of change occurred with Eighty Eight for 1996, as the model range expanded in trims. At introduction only the Royale was available, and LSS stood as an add-on package. In ’96 Royale vanished, replaced with the base Eighty Eight, the Eighty Eight LS, and the LSS, or Luxury Sports Sedan (brochure here).

With the introduction of the flagship Aurora in 1995, Oldsmobile had two “sporty” sedans on offer for 1996: Aurora and LSS. The gawky Ninety Eight Touring vanished after 1994, and the model itself was finished in 1996. Traditional Ninety Eight buyers were offered a carrot by Oldsmobile (more detail on that in a moment).

Because the Aurora already existed, it donated some of its parts and ideas to the LSS. The LSS had Aurora wheels, and its seat design was also inspired by Aurora. Fitting its upscale mission, the LSS had fog lamps, a console shifter, and offered electronic climate control. It also used the supercharged 3800, where prior to 1996 it was still an optional extra on the Royale with LSS package. GPS was also available in the vaporware Guidestar system.

1996 was the last year of the traditional Rocket logo for Oldsmobile products, as in ’97 all adopted the modern logo — except one. As a consolation offering to would-be Ninety Eight buyers in 1997, the Regency trim appeared on the Eighty Eight. With lots of standard power features and leather seats, it used the front fenders, traditional looking front clip, and Rocket logo from the old Ninety Eight. This trim was fazed out after the ’98 model year. The Eighty Eight and LSS continued on through 1999 alongside the Aurora. For 2000 Oldsmobile had no large sedans at all, as the second-gen Aurora did not arrive until model year 2001. And you know the rest.

Today’s Rare Ride is for sale at a small dealer in the casket town of Batesville, Indiana. In pristine condition, it’s priced at an optimistic $6,900.

[Images: seller]

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42 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Pristine 1996 Oldsmobile LSS Guarantees Sports Luxury Enjoyment...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “it’s priced at an optimistic $6,900.”

    Good condition ’86-’00 NonNorthstar FWD GM cars have drifted up in price over the past two years. Partially just because of age, partially from the overall used market, and partially because history (both written and on Youtube) is proving kinder to them than expected. I still don’t know if $7K is happening though.

    As far as the feature car is concerned, the color is off for an LSS (I’d prefer black or garnet) but otherwise I like it. Although I will say despite my strong H-body affinity, the Intrigue was a better driving Oldsmobile. It’s disappointing that I haven’t owned either one. I’ve got to the test drive & negotiate level with both but couldn’t get the deal closed.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Not my first choice of color, but I like it too. Look at the cleanly styled dash and the way it flows into the door panels. Love it.

    • 0 avatar

      If memory serves, this color (with the inspiring name of Light Beige Metallic) was actually the most common shade on the LSS. There definitely seem to be more of this color left today than I’ve seen in black or red.

      “The LSS had Aurora wheels, and its seat design was also inspired by Aurora.”

      You have this backwards, Corey. LSS wheels shared the Aurora’s design language but were five-spoke versus six on Auroras; the LSS front seats were pulled directly from the Aurora.

      Also, the supercharged 3800 was still an option for the LSS in 1996. The linked brochure confirms this.

      And, the trim was “phased” out for 1998, not fazed.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    3800 Love…preach!

    If this were closer to Denver, I might actually be interested in it for my youngest kid – she just got her learner’s permit, and the old Buick is getting a bit long in the teeth. For four grand or so, this would be an OUTSTANDING daily driver. Wonder if it’s had the head gasket fix yet?

    (By the way, nice catch on Batesville being “casket-town”, Corey. VERY nice little town, despite its’ biggest employer being in a morbid business.)

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Not an Oldsmobile, as far as I’m concerned.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Doesn’t even LOOK like an Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    subuclayton

    MILEAGE?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Really nice interior, but I hardly remember this existed

  • avatar
    WhatsMyNextCar

    Of all the available 90s Oldsmobiles, this and the final year of the Cutlass Supreme were the only ones I wanted. In the late 90s, I envied my neighbor’s driveway because they had both the Olds…and a 4Runner.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I wonder if they will take my 97 GP in trade? Probably only give me like $800, Nah, I’ll keep my one owner GP.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’m more of a fan of the Bonneville SSEi with the 3800 SC but the smooth non cladded lines on the Oldsmobile LSS are quite attractive.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My brother had a 97 LSS until he was distracted by…large tracts of land.

    The car, from what I remember, was pretty cool and I would rock one in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    Mr. Cereal

    Just sold my 1997 Regency for a bit under $4000. 79k miles, and had just did the intake gasket job, along with all new brakes. Really great cars for the price. Too bad the Regency didn’t have the option for the supercharged engine. Ultimate sleeper!

  • avatar
    Mr. Cereal

    Just sold my 1997 Regency for a bit under $4000. 79k miles, and had just did the intake gasket job, along with all new brakes. Really great cars for the price. Too bad the Regency didn’t have the option for the supercharged engine. Ultimate sleeper!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Question of the Day: How far rearward can we mount the side mirrors? (Is this a record?)

    [Interesting to note as well that the side mirrors mount to a near-horizontal surface rather than a vertical one.]

    • 0 avatar

      Any more forward and the mirrors would be blocked by the weird pseudo-vent window pillar.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Cereal

      Unfortunately with those fake vent windows, the mirrors had to be that far back. They were pretty useless mirrors due to the size.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      And they stick out far enough that if you adjust them so there’s just the barest amount of your car’s side showing, you effectively lose your blind-spot visibility. I don’t like the trend I’m seeing with mirrors which aren’t mounted at the bottom of the A-pillar. The new GM pickups and the Acura TLX are but two examples of this; I like to be able to see a tiny bit of the side of the car while still having my blind spot covered, just in case the BSI warning fails.

      My brother had a’93 Bonneville SE for a company car which I drove a couple times, and I remember those mirrors! Way too small in addition to being so far back on the door.

    • 0 avatar

      The mirrors on my 2018 Mazda 3 are in a similar location. They’re so far back that I have to watch where I put my hand when the window is down or I’ll end up smacking it. That was quite the surprise on my first day of ownership.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    “Optimistic $6,900” maybe, but in the right context this is a solid deal. It’s a really nice, quiet, smooth-riding, powerful enough, reliable, cheap-to-fix cruiser that will go many miles. Those are values as much as big horsepower and a German badge are to some people.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      That’s true, but I can get other cars (Panther, LeSabre, etc.) with those same virtues and in good condition for around $2.5K less. And those won’t take premium fuel like this supercharged V6.
      I’d say at $7K they are looking for a hobbyist. Maybe they’ll find it but I think the color scheme hurts it a lot.

      • 0 avatar

        I think $3900 is fair for this car in a boring color scheme. If it were black/black I can see someone paying $5000.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike Beranek

        You hit the nail on the head when it comes to cheap, reliable used cars. The Panther Fords and GM G-bodies (sans Northstar) are two of the most prudent choices out there.
        I would also add the 92-99 Camry with the 4-banger. Hey, there’s one in the photo behind the Olds! Along with a Gen 8 LeSabre!
        If I owned a small used-car dealer, I would just stock these three kinds of cars.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    My father had this exact car – right down to the color. I convinced him to try it instead of the Buick counterpart. The difference in handling was like night and day. For the term of its lease and 55K miles it was trouble-free. Fast as well, though it ran out of breath at the upper rev ranges. Where it was a real disappointment was in the braking department. The stopping distance was pathetic, and frankly scary enough that it went to the dealer for brake repair only to be told everything was working correctly.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    I found the Lincoln LS much more desirable..

  • avatar
    Opus

    “fazed out”?? NO!

    phased out!

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Nice.

    A buddy of mine has a deep metallic blue Intrigue with a beige leather interior. Truly a timeless beauty and I’m convinced it will be worth the big bucks in due course. This LSS is a more awkward in looks and dynamics, but would still be pretty neat to have.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      The Intrigue was pretty nice, though the mechanical quality was GM-level for sure. We used to have one in dark green with the beige leather. That leather was pretty good quality.

      It had one of those killer ignition switches, which actually did shut the car off inadvertently at least once while driving, though nobody died. Your bud might want to check the brake, fuel, and transmission cooler lines, as the anti-corrosive coating was more theoretical than actual. (I just named 4 critical systems on which GM skimped horribly and we had every one of them fail.) It also had a broken anti-sway bar and a broken engine and probably 9 broken window regulators, but those things were less likely to kill anyone. :)

      The 3.5L “Shortstar” engine could sure rev, though the transmission programming was really poorly matched to it. The 3.8L was a better match. If you got a “built” transmission and a PCM tuner, the 3.5L drive could be improved.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I owned two of these, just not with the supercharger. They ran like a tank. Unfortunately they turned like a tank, and had brakes like a tank. One I had an accident where the person in front of me out braked me and the front bumper submarined his rear bumper. The second got hit by a trash truck in my apartment’s parking lot. I don’t miss them, I’m a small car guy. But I would still buy one if the price were right.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I thought tank turns were the new cool thing.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        The Truth About Tank Brakes:

        “What I can verify is that standing on the brakes from top speed will practically make the Abrams stand on its nose. Although we didn’t do instrumented testing, a rough estimate of the stopping distance from 45 mph is zero feet. It feels like falling headfirst into a sinkhole.”

        https://tinyurl.com/y5hquh6b

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Engine bay picture: I like the accessibility of those coils, and the serpentine belt. I seem to be replacing (proactively) a lot of serpentine belts/tensioners/pulleys lately. [The ‘kits’ from Gates which include the belt and the tensioner and the idler pulley are excellent.]

    Clearance on some vehicles is… a lot worse than pictured here. Hop over to Amazon and get yourself a “Ratcheting Serpentine Belt Tool” (like the Lisle 59000) if you are even thinking about replacing a belt/tensioner/pulley where the clearance is tight.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I drove a number of these (non-LSS) 88’s and their GM platform mates working for Enterprise in the day. The Olds had the cleanest styling inside and out and was between the Pontiac and the Buick for ride/handling. I didn’t mind driving an Olds compared to the more floaty Lesabre.

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