By on August 16, 2021

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBuick was one of the major sponsors of the United States Olympic Team for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles— you know, the Games that got boycotted by the Evil Empire as payback for our boycott of the 1980 event— and the centerpiece of that sponsorship came in the form of a very special car: the 1984 Buick Century Olympia. We last saw one of these rare machines back in 2014, and now the Junkyard Find series returns with another, found in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple of months back.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, Olympics badge - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Century Olympia came in white with gold pinstripes and sported special exterior badging.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNot only that, the Nearly Velour™ seat upholstery had purple USA Olympic Team logos on the headrests.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, Olympics badge - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars’84 Olympics officials got a fleet of Buicks to drive around during the events as well. I wonder if my friend who got busted for knocking over all the cones on the bicycle-race course (the night before the event) in his Toyota Hilux got hauled to the Laguna Hills slammer by a rent-a-cop driving a Skyhawk.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPower in this car came from the 3.0-liter version of Buick’s venerable-even-then V6 engine. This engine made 110 horsepower, which was better than the base Iron Duke four but not quite as righteous as the 3.8 V6 in the Century T-Type that year.

Did I buy the handsome analog dash clock out of this car? You know it!


Here’s what that clock looks like in night mode.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, stickers - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsJunkyard employees bent the decklid so badly, trying to open it with no key, that I had to shoot the set of vintage California political bumper stickers from strange angles.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, stickers - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSam Farr was in the State Assembly when this car was new, then moved on to Washington DC to represent the 17th Congressional District (which, at the time, included this very junkyard). Barbara Boxer and Bill Monning get decklid sticker shoutouts as well, so we can assume that this car lived most of its life in the San Francisco Bay Area. And how many cars have you seen with a bumper sticker from Bill Richardson’s 2008 presidential campaign? Believe it or not, the campaign website still exists.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, rust - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIs a special-edition A-Body Buick sedan with California-style rust around the edges worth anything? No, it is not.

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, RH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car stayed in production all the way through the 1996 model year (the year in which Buick shoppers could get an Olympics Edition Regal), albeit with a not-very-radical facelift in 1991.

Because it’s a Buick, the Century doesn’t let the feel of the road interfere with your tranquility.

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25 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Buick Century Olympia...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    When it came to ergonomic design/functionality of their instrument panels, GM was quite often out to lunch for decades, regarding where they positioned their switches or ‘gages’.

    Check the position of the rear window defog switch on this vehicle. On my Corvette the switch for the same function was just over my right ankle.

    Those ‘sweeping’ speedos often developed a ‘tick’, and the gap between the different speeds was somewhat disconcerting.

    The only GM vehicle I had from the 1970’s through 1990’s which had in my estimation a ‘good’ instrument panel was the Grand Prix SJ.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Maybe they’re still out to lunch – have you seen the new Corvette’s instrument panel?

    • 0 avatar
      alexVA

      I liked the instrument panel on my 78 Cutlass Calais but that was the best part of that car..

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Whose defogger switch was high on the center dash above the clock, if it was so-equipped.

        But later in the G-Body Cutlass run, they put the defogger switch down on the lower-left of the dash, around knee-level.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      At least the defog switch was adjacent to the HVAC controls. I’ve known cars of that era to have them left of the wheel in an anonymous bank of switches, or blanks if it was a lower trim level.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The GM sweep speedometers had a tendency to bounce around in the lower part of the range, up to about 35mph. I always wondered why that was. Some cars, like the 1980 Cutlass my parents had, were worse than others; my Dad’s 1986 Century was rock-solid in that regard.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Had one of these as a company car along with the Cutlass version. They were the corporate go to cars of a generation. They were generic, adequate and you could take three guys out to lunch in relative comfort. Boring, nondescript appliances

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Attending a conference in the mid/late 1980s. We took turns driving our group of 4 to lunch.

      One had a Calais, one a Pontiac 6000, one a Ford Taurus. I had an Accord sedan.

      After each of us took a turn driving on the final (5th) day, they all agreed that they wanted to take the Accord.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Doing some digging a 1984 Chevy Celebrity started at $8,140 while the Buick version started at $9,688 – $21,808 and $25,955 respectively. That’s almost exactly the same as the current price difference between a Civic and an ILX.

  • avatar
    alexVA

    Hey, it’s not too late to make a donation to the Bill Richardson 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Never understood why people keep outdated political stickers on their cars. There’s a Tahoe around here that still has “PALIN!” in two-foot-high letters on its’ back glass.

      I suspect this car might have been garaged for a LONG time.

  • avatar
    Pianoboy57

    About fifteen years ago I had two ’94 Buicks, a Century Special and a LeSabre with Gran Touring suspension. The LeSabre was the better car all around. For longevity the Century lasted longer. The Century was a seventeen year old car when I gave to a guy for painting my house. He fixed the problems it was having and it floated around my town for a few more years. It was even for sale by a local pawn shop at one time. The LeSabre torched itself after it went to my nephew. The steering column was always warm to the touch.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Your steering column was warm to the touch and you never had a mechanic check it out? Did you hate your nephew, or just wanted to teach him a lesson about cars?

  • avatar
    NJRide

    I still see a decent amount of A-Bodies around for cars that are now a quarter-century discontinued but at this point 99% of them are the post 1989 refresh almost none this far back.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I guess rust took the life of most of these.

      Agreed, I still see the occasional late A-body Century or Cutlass Ciera.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The A-and-J-Bodies melted like snow into base metals around Northwest Ohio by the time they were probably 15 years old, while a lot of 15 year-old cars today still look presentable at least. (Of course, it might not be so rosy under the surface!)

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The weathered and faded USA emblem on the side is certainly a fitting image for today.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I did not like the cookie-cutter A-bodies back in the day, but outer lines on these have aged so well.

    I guess grandpa was very proud of his coffin car purchase back in 1984, and one day he stopped driving, and it just sat with the salt air chewing away at the corners.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    That dash takes me back. My grandmother had an ’86 Century in a nice shade of blue. It wasn’t the best car (ratty Iron duke and all) but it had a certain elegance to it. She traded it in 1996 on her last car, a ’95 Sable which is fully functional and setting in my driveway as we speak.

    I’d give just about anything to be back in high school, mowing her yard after school, and having her take me to get a burger at Wendy’s in that old Buick.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The analog-style audio controls on that Delco head unit are better than what followed.

    You could immediately and intuitively adjust the bass, treble, fader and balance to what sounded best, with no menus or arbitrary integers involved. (Plus of course the volume knob *and* a tuning knob – tuning knob is faster, kids [in case you want to focus on your driving].)

    Possibly little-known fact: Those 4 preset buttons get you 7 presets per band.

    (I realize that I just indirectly complimented the state of Ohio, and I am ok with that.)

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yup — push two buttons at once.

      Wait! This is the earlier ETR version with buttons that you pulled out to set. My 1984 Sunbird had this radio, but I can’t remember if pulling two buttons at once would log an extra preset.

      The later ETR DIN 1.5s did have that “hack.” Green displays, a SET button, and no numbers on the preset buttons. That changeover was..hmmm..probably 1985, but I’m too lazy to look it up on “oldcarbrochures.com.”

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I remember these very clearly. They represented promise and hope. Everything that was new. The 1984 Olympics. 1984 just seemed like you were in the future. Now it’s just tired rusted scrap that’s probably worth no more than a couple of grand even with delivery miles. Ugh.

  • avatar
    toronado

    I never understood why Buick labeled all the HVAC controls as “climate control” for years. I used to wonder where the automatic temperature settings were.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Suggestion/Request – Perhaps post movie of the Surgical Operation of opening locked trunk/boot with only a forklift.
    “Crack the Safe, Leave No Marks”

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Little late for this response, but that clock has a “quartz” label on it, but it doesn’t act like it in the video!

    The 1983 Regal Custom Sedan my parents had (the last of the three-binnacled, black-over-silver gauges IP) had an analog quartz clock that moved second-to-second like a wristwatch. My guess is that Murilee had an extra 12V electric movement laying around?

    Surprised that Century had a clock option — I’ve never seen one so-equipped — especially since all but the base AM radio had a digital clock built-in.

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