Too little, too late. But, at least at the showroom level, they were the nicest Oldsmobiles in several years when they were new.
Perhaps fitting in front of a Firestone store. That brand has seemed damaged since the Explorer debacle. There is a fairly new Firestone service center near me, but I literally never hear anybody talk about going there or buying Firestone tires.
Firestone is awful… Two years ago, the rotor on my 88 Mustang LX 5.0, disintegrated on Rte 6.
Firestone was the nearest service station, so had them just change the front rotors, pads and drain and add new fluid… The bill came out to $560!
Really? I guess since they aren’t making squat on tires, they have to recoup(ripoff) their profit margin, somehow.
Between their questionable tire road hazard warranty and treadwear, even when rotated, aligned and balanced to the letter and their unwillingness to even apologize for a ball joint that started to pull out of the spindle and loosen from the upper control arm within 3 months- they aren’t my first choice. Being at the mercy of any shop has to be one of the worst things.
So true, Tim…I should’ve had my car towed, but didn’t have roadside assistance or towing on my Antique insurance, on my 88 Mustang and 85 Regal, so the towing would’ve been $200+.
In hindsight, if I had done the job myself, with parts…The whole job would’ve been less than or around $200.
Yep, being between a rock and a hard place, sucks.
I was enroute to an airport to travel to a funeral. Went over a speed bump, slowly, and heard a creaking, groaning noise- like a wooden ship. Pulled over, stuck my head under the car and made the discovery. Called them, advised them of the issue and they sent a truck to have it flat-bedded. They had the car for several days while I was out of the state.
I had just done the tie rods, center link and pitman arm, but didn’t want to mess with the coil springs, so I had them do the ball joints.
Never again. I took it as a learning experience and will do my own ball joints from now on.
You can find horror stories at probably 75% of all shops. I tend to stay away from chains, but my last two brake jobs cost about $400 per axle at reputable shops, that’s without new fluid. I do them myself now, but still my last pair of rotors and pads were over $200 for the parts alone.
As for Firestone, love the Destination A/Ts on my truck, great tire for the money.
This story goes back 20 years but I was having a front end overhaul done at the Firestone shop that used to be near here. I needed an inspection sticker and it was January and at the end of December the color of the stickers change for the new year. Easiest time of the year to spot an expired sticker. It was 20 below zero so doing repairs in the driveway was out of the question. About an hour into the repairs the mechanic informs me that the guy in the last Bay just got 2 new tires on his truck. The old ones still had half of their tread life left. They were much better than what I had on my truck so he gave them to me free and threw in mounting and balancing to boot. I was very impressed.
NH, by chance?
The ’95 Aurora was such a stylish and promising car (if less practical than the 98 it effectively replaced), but every Olds that succeeded it including the second-gen Aurora was a forgettable generic blob. In Oldsmobile’s heyday, you could look at a Cutlass Supreme and know it was an Olds. By the time the Intrigue was made, i’m not sure owners were even proud of driving an Oldsmobile anymore, and it’s like the stylists knew that.
Yes, in the 80’s the Cutlass Supreme coupe was a best seller on the Detroit Top Ten list for years.
Back when, you could tell an American car from a European from a Japanese.
In the 1990s-2000s, the domestics(except the Ford F-150), couldn’t play catch up with the Japanese.
That’s when Olds was coming up with unmemorable FWD garbage, like Alero, Aurora, Achieva, Intrigue, etc.
I guess the Big Three slogan became, “If you can’t beat em, join em.”
The American family sedan has became awful imitations of the Camry, Accord and, now sadly, the Sonata.
The second-gen Aurora was never as striking as the first, but it’s still a nice-looking car, and the most attractive of the second-gen FWD G-bodies IMO.
I actually think they had a cohesive styling identity by the end, at least up front. Look at the Intrigue, the Alero, and the Aurora–very wide headlamps flanking a blanked grille panel, and twin air intakes down in the bumper underneath the headlights. Like it or hate it, it was recognizable.
The Aurora rear end looks alot like a ’66 Toronado to my eyes. Wonder if that was intentional.
I see it too. Even though in classification the Aurora succeeded the 98, spiritually it’s pretty clear they were the successor to the Toronado. It’s even based on the Riviera rather than the H body like the previous 98, just like every Toro prior.
The Aurora was the four-door successor to the Toronado (it was on the same FWD G-body as the ’95 Riviera), so it might have been.
The Aurora really replaced three Oldsmobiles, the Toronado (kind of), the 98 and the Turing Sedan. Both Buick and Oldsmobile were trying to make ovals out of the styling, which probably was limited by the body design.
The Turing Sedan was also the last Oldsmobile to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
This is why I sometimes wish CC had a “Like” button.
Here you go!
Unfortunately, this Turing was unable to beat the Germans.
This was a scene from anywhere in the midwest in the mid 2000s. There were still quite a few people buying Oldsmobiles around here. I recall reading that the Intrigue was supposed to be the nicest driving of all of the flavors of that model that GM offered. But, never having driven one, can’t say if it’s true. I did find them the most attractive.
Like the rest here, have not been to a Firestone store in years. Decades, even. I can’t shake the association I have with these. It was either a Goodyear or Firestone store in the early 80s that adamantly insisted that its computer balancer that slowly turned each wheel about 3 revolutions would balance the wheels of my 71 Scamp more accurately than the guy at my regular shop who used a bubble balancer and meticulously split weights to the front and back sides of my wheels. They were wrong.
How very far Oldsmobile sunk in those few years!
My best friend’s Mother, an over 30 year buyer of Olds & Buicks, purchased one identical to the sliver one pictured here.
Three miserable, aggravating, trouble prone years later; she purchased her first dependable, trouble free, high quality Toyota Camry LE. She is “done” with General Motors, she will tell anyone who asks.
A co-worker bought one of the first Intrigues in Harrisburg in the summer of 1997. We went out to the parking lot to look at it – and it was a very handsome car – and she tried to start it.
It wouldn’t start. She had to have it towed away. There was a problem with the security system.
The rest of her ownership experience wasn’t much better.
I’ve always found both Oldsmobile cars, the Aurora and the Intrigue, to be the most attractive cars in Oldsmobile’s lineup of cars since the Silhouette and the Bravada. I was disappointed when I heard that Oldsmobile was discontinued as a car division. I was hoping that either Buick or Pontiac would get the axe, rather than Oldsmobile.
The new 1995 Aurora may have seemed revolutionary for Oldsmobile and GM at introduction (its boxy cousin, the Cutlass Ciera, was on a platform already fourteen years old and the Eighty-Eight and Ninety-Eight were almost as ancient) but in styling, which typically catches the buyer’s eye first, it was already playing follow-the-leader. It was nine years behind the Ford Taurus and two years behind the Chrysler LH sedans, which took the aero concept to a new level of sleekness in large sedans. It arrived as part of a trend, not a trendsetter, which Oldsmobile needed.
The revolutionary design for GM was the near Mercedes like body stiffness, which is where GM was way behind.
I am seeing fewer Olds on the roads as time goes on and on my commute home today I will keep an eye out for them. I need to walk around a junkyard one of these days and see what I can find.
Firestone stores don’t have the best reputation….
Still find the 1st-gen Aurora to be a very handsome car, and from this angle the Toronado influence is quite strong. The Intrigue, on the other hand–it’s not unattractive, but it looks like someone copied the Alero at 110% but forgot to enlarge the taillights. I know the Intrigue was designed first, and from some angles they’re dead on, but from rear 3/4 the styling works better on the smaller car.
I came out of the store awhile back to find my own white Aurora fan.
Nice, a custom cruiser.
I always feel melancholy when I see these last of the run Oldsmobiles, like the brand died a premature death. I think GM made a mistake in so many ways it is ridiculous. Friends of the family owned an original black 1995 Aurora which they absolutely loved. Even with its share of issues they were in love with that car. When they replaced it in 2003 with the newer style they loved it even more than the original. They were brand loyal to Oldsmobile, too – just like many were. The “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign seemed to doom the brand IMO.
I liked the 1st edition of the Aurora, I was hoping it would revive Oldsmobile.
In 1997, I bought a Camry. However, if the Intrigue had debuted a bit earlier, I would have given it a hard look. The Intrigue had the same engine as my ’83 Cutlass (231 V6), but with some updates!! The only maintenance on the 231 V6 was oil changes, air filters, and a set of plugs at 83k miles. A bit slow, but it never failed me.
My feeling of the original Aurora was that it oozed substance. Contrast that to the restyle that was substantially ooze. What a sad ending for a model that aimed for excellence in its marketing.
We were, like Jean Sheperd’s father in “A Christmas Story,” Oldsmobile people. This was largely due to the fact that the two older ladies next to us owned a ’70’s Omega and a ?72? ish Cutlass Convertible and they seemed classy and well made, better made than the other cars of the era. They lasted and looked good and were well put together and a touch above a Chevrolet/Pontiac.
Much has been written on this site about badge engineering and why the Starfire/Ciera/Firenza etc but an Oldsmobile dealer offered a much better sales/service experience than the comparable Chevy or Pontiac dealer. The Chevy dealers practiced every nasty sales trick in the book and the service departments were likely to charge for blinker fluid. Additionally, a lot of dealers were located in rural areas in the ’70’s/’80’s and in those days, you didn’t usually drive 40-50 miles to shop for a car. You went to the closest place, so it was to their advantage to offer a full line. Oldsmobiles tended to be better finished and better equipped than their Chevy/Pontiac counterparts and have a better overall feel.
Even though Oldsmobile fell in sales from ’86 to ’96ish, it was still selling a fair number of cars and I don’t believe it was a huge money loser for GM, particularly in light of how much GM had to spend on shuttering the dealers.
Oldsmobile’s problems were these: People will buy a boring, reliable, cheap car, like the CIera or Camry (but the Camry wasn’t cheap); if your brand has sufficient cachet, they will buy an exciting, unreliable, expensive car, like BMWs and Audis, but people will not buy a boring, unreliable car. Although the Intrigue was a much more appealing car inside and out than the Regal/Grand prix, with better material quality and design, it, as well as the Aurora, were a step down in quality from the Cutlass Supreme and 88/98 they replaced. Lots of little things went wrong with them; interior parts broke, electrical problems, steering racks, and people who had been burnt by the 3.4 DOHC would not touch the Shortstar. Actually, name a GM car from about ’95-’05 that was really top of the line competitive. Cadillac was, and still is, flailing and the Northstar was a disaster. Buick was bland. Pontiac was well into its melted plastic and cladding phase and then renamed the Grand Am, which had some, if questionable, brand recognition the G6. Chevy offered rental grade cars. GM let Saturn die on the vine with halfhearted updates and then gave us the Ion and some awful rebadges, like whatever their minivan was called, and the midsize L series was a huge flop. People say the early 80’s were dark days for GM but I say the mid nineties to, well, about now, were much darker days.
GM could have taken Hyundai’s playbook and rebuilt the brand. Offer a high quality car at a few thousand dollars off the competition, even if it wasn’t the most competitive car, and offer a strong warranty. Instead, it decided to kill Oldsmobile.
What if GM had not killed Oldsmobile? When my Dad went car shopping in 2009-2011 to replace his Cutlass Supreme, we didn’t even consider any GM products. Nothing about the current lineup would make us change our minds. The cars are still bland and I don’t believe the long term quality is there. Chrysler with its LX series makes a much better Oldsmobile.
Closing down Oldsmobile cost just under a Billion, I looked at the financial statements. Oldsmobiles were using generic GM platforms, so making a high quality brand out of Oldsmobile would have required upgrading the platforms for all of GM’s brands. Since the bankruptcy that is what has been done, at least to some degree, on what is left.
In the 50’s, with only three basic platforms, GM’s quality was good. In the 60’s, with a bunch of small cars added, quality started downward. Increasing competition from imports made things worse, mainly because GM expanded their models, making it even more difficult to maintain any quality.
The other point is that beginning in the 70s, GM central began taking functions over from the individual Divisions that had previously been responsible for engineering, building and selling the cars. They only had three platforms, but in, the early 50s, each Division had one or two unique engines, there were three separate designs of automatic transmissions, multiple designs of manual transmissions, suspensions, frames and so on all through the parts list. The number of platforms increased, but the unique pieces that used to differentiate them went away, to where they were no more different than a Ford had been from a Mercury most of the time.
As an example, GM Assembly Division didn’t have to worry about selling cars. All it did was build them. Dealer complaints about quality may have kicked back up the chain, but they didn’t have to worry about flagging sales (We just build ’em – we can’t help if if the engineers design a shitty car or if the dealers can’t sell them.) Previously, the Divisions had lived or died on bottom line sales, and if the problem was bad assembly, they had control and could fix it. GM’s quality seemed to run inversely to the degree of centralization of the company as the years went by.
Good points raised by all.
The basic problem was that Sloan’s structure for GM worked during the prewar years, when divisions sold the same basic car (but maybe equipped with different engines – at Oldsmobile, for example, you could get a six or an eight even before the war), without much in the way of options.
That worked until Ford began adding different models under the Ford brand, and GM had to do the same with Chevrolet.
Today, we say, “Why not give those models to Buick/Pontiac/Oldsmobile and keep Chevrolet in the low-price field?”
That would never have flown at the time, because GM and its dealers were heavily invested in keeping Chevrolet in the number-one slot. There is no way that GM would have let Ford knock Chevrolet out of first place in sales by adding new models and moving aggressively into the medium-price market, while Chevrolet peddled basic transportation.
By the 1970s, GM had additional pressure from the imports and the expense of meeting government fuel economy, safety and clean air regulations. All of these factors made it impossible for GM to allow each division to maintain unique drivetrains or even sheet metal (in some cases, particularly on the low-profit smaller vehicles).
GM did throw away a big competitive advantage when it replaced Bill Mitchell with Irv Rybicki as head of styling. Management was tired of the tirades and tantrums that Mitchell (and Harley Earl before him) had used to get his way. GM management wanted low costs and rationalization, and no protests from the GM Design. They got it, but by the mid-1980s, the results were painfully apparent.
In retrospect, Oldsmobile was the canary in the coal mine regarding GM’s future. Pontiac and Saturn went away as a result of the bankruptcy/bailout, and even Buick isn’t really on anyone’s radar anymore (at least, outside of China).
GM is better off covering the market with various trim levels of Chevrolets, as Ford does with its Titanium and Platinum versions.
Saturn never added anything worthwhile to GM’s lineup.
The new for 2017 LaCross is supposed to be quite nice, better than the Impala, but cheaper than the Cadillac XTS. Comparable to a Lexus ES perhaps. But GM would be just as good with a basic line and a luxury line. After the bankruptcy perhaps they should have renamed their divisions, dropping Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick. Perhaps naming the basic cars Oakland and the luxury cars Lasalle.
I bought my 1995 Olds Aurora on December 31, 2000 with 60,000 miles. The other cars I was looking at were a 96 Ford Taurus 3.0L Vulcan and a Dodge Status with crank windows and nearly bald tires. My mom liked the Aurora. It was big, and fast, and comfy to drive. And it didn’t hurt that the Aurora is my second favorite car.
We took it on a few trips, and could easily get 30mpg on the freeway. It moved like a scared cat, which was surprising for it’s 4,000 pounds. That 4.0L V-8 was a great engine, too bad the rest of the stuff connected to it let the car down. Every repair started at $400 and went up from there. I replaced a fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, radiator and hoses, water pump and more that I can’t remember. It had three fuse boxes, two were under the backseat with the battery. I know it had an alternator, but I never saw it. The power steering was run off one of the camshafts.
I’m sure I spent more in repairs than I paid for it.
One of my cats liked it, he tried jumping through the closed sunroof.
It had a huge trunk, five people could enjoy the leather seats. It had a trip computer and extra gauges in the display. And such a pretty car. Not over styled, no extra lines, but lots of nice curves.
Then it got hit by someone wanting to make a right turn from the middle lane. She did $4,400 damage to a car worth $4,600. I had put new tires on it not three weeks before. I was 5 months from paying it off and then got laid off the next day. Insurance paid out and I paid it off and drove it occasionally for a few more years.
A friend saw it, in a rather sad state, and I told him if he knew someone that wanted it they could bring a trailer and tow it away. He came back the following Monday and hauled it off. I did tell him everything that was wrong with it, like the SES light that made me afraid to even try to smog it and the clunk when going into reverse.
He got it smogged (it passed!) and registered, then drove it for few a few more months until 3rd gear failed. Not worth the $2000 to fix or replace. So he took to a Chevy dealer and got them (more like made them) take it and give him $500 trade for his sister’s new Colorado.
I loved my Aurora. It made a wonderful sound at WOT from that 4.0L V-8. I could see out of it through those what now seem to be huge windows. I could drive it all day. I still see quite a few of them running around my little burg. My favorite ones are the dark green and the black. Mine was the light metallic blue over blue leather.
Do I miss it, yes.
Do I want another one? No way.
It really should have been a Saturn.
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