Rare Rides: An Ultra Brown 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Cruiser

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In the Eighties, did you seek a compact car with the highest possible number of lamps at the front? If so, the choice was clear in ’84: Oldsmobile Firenza.

The Firenza was Oldsmobile’s mid-luxury version of the extensive J-body platform. Beneath Firenza in J-body land were the Pontiac Sunbird and Chevrolet Cavalier, while above/astride it were the Buick Skyhawk and Cadillac Cimarron. The J-body cars were new for ’82, and replaced the rather awful H-body entries like Sunbird Safari and Monza. Assuredly the modern J-body was a welcome relief.

Initially, Firenza’s body lineup was a bit limited. For the ’82 model year, Only the two-door hatch and four-door sedan were available. The range expanded in ’83 to include the Cruiser wagon, and ultimately added a two-door sedan in 1986. Firenza was placed in the Olds lineup beneath the X-body Omega (later replaced by Calais). Despite its small entry-level status, power and luxury equipment were still an option for the aspirational Oldsmobile customer.

Visually, the Firenza was differentiated from its siblings by its front and rear clips. Both were designed to mimic other cars in Oldsmobile’s lineup. The front clip featured an integrated aero-type look, with six lamps up front. Four lighted the road ahead, and two were for turn signals. Unlike other Js, Firenza’s grille was integrated into the lower portion of the bumper instead of under the hood. The rear look was vertical rectangular lamps as seen on so many Olds models.

Engines ranged from lowly 1.8- and 2.0-liter overhead valve engines to overhead cam engines of the same displacement. Toward the latter part of Firenza’s life (’85 onward), it could also be ordered with the 2.8-liter V6 from the Chevy Celebrity. However, that engine was part of the sportier GT package, and was only available on the hatchback. Sorry, no sporty Firenza Eurosport wagon to be found. Transmissions were four- or five-speed manuals, or a three-speed automatic.

1987 saw the Firenza start to wind down, as GM had bigger entry-level aspirations for Oldsmobile. The V6 coupe vanished after ’87, and for the Firenza’s final year in 1988, the front end adopted a lookalike clip to the popular midsize Cutlass Ciera. 1988 was the debut of reworked Cavalier, making it clear Firenza was finished. In 1989, Oldsmobile customers wanting a compact were directed to the mid-life Cutlass Calais instead.

Today’s Rare Ride is a relatively low-option example with an automatic transmission. Power arrives via the 1.8-liter overhead cam engine, which means 84 raging horses. With 22,000 miles, this excellent condition example sold recently via a dealer in Minnesota for around $7,900.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Bondtrade Bondtrade on Sep 28, 2020

    "Dong!!! Where is my AUTO-MO-BILE??!!" "Lake... big lake."

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Sep 28, 2020

    The headlight and turn signal arrangement is supposed to bring to mind past Oldsmobiles, like the '59 Olds, and the '68 Cutlass.

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain