The 1980-84 Oldsmobile 98 Regency was part of the last generation of full size rear wheel drive sedans from Oldsmobile, and now is a relic of a very different time in the history of the American automobile. Anyone who owns a 30+ year old example must be aware of owning a piece of history and should appreciate the symbolism of parking it in front of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Inside are the original copies of the foundational documents of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, along with a copy of the Magna Carta, all of them on permanent public display in the central rotunda. Outside this 98 Regency, complete aside from a few trim pieces, showed an example of what used to be the foundational product of the American automobile industry. The display lasted at most two hours, until the parking meter expired, and during that time perhaps a few tourists going to the National Archives and other nearby museums noticed it.
The same goes for the 70’s/80’s C20 Chevy van parked in front of it.
Awesome, how they are both parked next to each other.
I miss when cars were mostly like that, RWD that is… Domestic and foreign.
Ignore all the other garbage parked around them, although that Lexus LS(?) is nice, and it could be an 80’s time warp photo.
Nice find, Robert.
Sarcasmo, that looks like an Acura TLX, although the vehicle’s C-pillar bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the XE20 Lexus IS.
Thanks, good eye, Justin.
It looks just like an LS460, at first glance. I noticed it after I supersized the pic.
That’s a good looking Acura. Nice to see Acura still has the mojo, to make a good looking car… Now, if they can just get rid of that beak grille.
* You can see the vague resemblance to the LS460, in this pic. 🙂
“That’s a good looking Acura. Nice to see Acura still has the mojo, to make a good looking car… Now, if they can just get rid of that beak grille.”
Thankfully, none of the new Acuras from 2019 have that ugly chrome beak any longer.
Olds really nailed the look with this one. It amazes me how much lighter and more elegant these appear than their Buick counterparts.
I still see plenty of early ’80’s Eighty-Eights and Ninety-Eights in use as daily drivers down here in the south. These were good cars.
a car like this, with an engine at the tech level of a 4.6 Ford, and an overdrive transmission, is what we should have in America today. 24 MPG, decent accel, comfy ride, reasonable handling. big enough to work on, and not overly complicated. This was the peak of cars, the only weak spot being the lack of power due to the early emissions system.
Before they killed it off, I thought that Ford should have built the car you describe and sold it as a Mercury. They could have made Mercury the old people’s division, and despite what some will say, there is a market for such a car. The electronic b.s. that passes for luxury nowadays is enough to scare me out of most dealerships. If I had a Bluetooth I’d go to the dentist.
For Mercury Grand Marquis, even some 60+yo buyers feel they are too senior orientated. That’s really old.
Age is a mindset. My grandmother is 94 and fusses about old people being in her way. I , at 42, alternate between juvenile and geriatric. It’s a mindset.
That’s what keeps me out of the showrooms and off the lots. You can’t get away from it even in the most modest offerings.
I love the irony in the Sonic: all sorts of electronic stuff standard, a digital dash… but no temperature gauge. Progress I guess.
I’m 52, and one of my cars IS a Grand Marquis. Before that I had a Miata and a GTI. Honestly, the whole “old people car” thing is a joke and just attitude The other two would beat the Merc on a road course racetrack, but in normal daily driving they all corner at the same speed. The difference is that the Merc is easier to fix, more durable, and more comfortable to ride in, and holds more.
These did have four-speed overdrive transmissions – the THM200-4R.
The original 307’s would knock down 24 MPG highway. I regularly got that on the highway with my ’85 Olds Delta 88 with a 307 and TH200-4R transmission. Decent acceleration though, not so much. The 4.6L Panthers had much better power but in my experience fuel economy wasn’t much if at all better on the highway.
It wasn’t the emissions systems that caused the lack of power in the 307 Oldsmobile (or other engines from this era). You could remove all of the emission controls from the 307 and performance wouldn’t improve much. It was in fact the engines had to meet emission standards that caused the lack of performance. Doing so with an old pushrod V8 that dates to the 1960’s, meant low compression, very mild camshafts, and lean carburetion. The cars were also tuned for low end performance as a result which further hampered any real performance. It wasn’t until modern fuel metering and electronic ignition timing came into effect that power and performance started to increase.
24 is a little low for a 4.6 Panther, but only a little. I’d say 26 is about right. And the power is definitely better, but it’s not apples to apples due to the timing. The 4.6 debuted in the ’90 Town Car, whereas 1990 was the last year for the 307 (if not earlier?), so they were only sold head to head for that one single year.
Compared to the non-H.O. 302, the 307 was similar power-wise.
Obviously they aren’t directly comparable due to the era’s. I was just doing a comparison because I have a lot of wheel time behind both cars and the original poster mentioned the 4.6L. Like I said, fuel economy on the highway was ABOUT the same. There wasn’t a drastic difference, but I never saw 26 MPG with a Panther. I am not saying it’s not possible, I just didn’t get that kind of mileage.
Yes, the 307 and 302 were more comparable, especially the 302 CFI or VV. Although the 1986+ MPFI 302 had significantly better performance than the Olds 307.
Very comfy cruisers
Room for a couple of fatties…
This one is an ’83, but missing a few options.
Nice. Not as big a fan of the brown interior, but nice none the less.
I like the idea of a brown interior, because I drink a lot of coffee while driving.
I like the brown; much more interesting than endless seas of black or grey.
Couldn’t you still get the optional CB radio in these? Or the optional gauge package with things like the temp gauge on the plastic under the cluster?
Yes, the Delco 2700 ETR with 40-channel CB. I still have two of these radios that I bought from the factory surplus store while I worked for Delco Electronics back in the 1980s. I should probably Ebay them!
Cool feature #1: you can set the CB on a channel and then be listening to the radio or cassette player, and if a CB transmission is above your preset squelch level, it momentarily interrupts the other source. OTOH, this can get annoying very quickly unless you are on a seldom-used channel and just want to keep in contact with another vehicle in your travel party.
Cool feature #2: when in CB mode, you can set the four presets to four different CB channels, and then hit the “scan” button and it will continuously scan all four channels, just like the old police scanners would (I think I used to have mine set for channels 9, 17, 19, and 21 or 23).
GM sure couldn’t figure out how to glue headliners back then
Amen! Every one of mine needing re-glueing at some point, including this one not long after this picture was taken. I was even able to score the same colour B post seat belt escutcheons from a local salvage yard to cover the hardware. Where the originals disappeared to is a mystery.
I always thought the problem wasn’t the glue, but the polyurethane foam that gave the headliner a “cushy feel”. That stuff would deteriorate to dust. No adhesive will hold on to dust! The dust would cover everything in the interior by the time I got the headliner fabric out, and then you had to scrape off what was left. As cheap as the perforated hardboard headliners in the late 70s Dodges looked, I really appreciated them over the years. Even Cadillacs used the same junk headliners…not that you would expect anything else from GM.
Yes, it was the foam that broke down. I owned quite a few of GM’s from this era with those foam backed headliners. I think a lot of it had to do with the climate the car was exposed to as to whether it failed. Only one of my cars ever had headliner drooping, and it was just a very small section. The car was 20 years old at that time too, so I don’t think it was out of line. That said, it wasn’t one of GM’s better designs.
Very true… Sitting in a 1978-89 GM car with sagging headliners, is like sitting under a circus tent.
My 81 Malibu Classic has a sagging headliner.
Good news, though… I get those Original Parts Group, NPD, Dixie Monte Carlo, Mike’s Montes, and Classic Industries aftermarket catalogs for all three of my G-bodies.
The Chevelle/Monte Carlo/El Camino catalogs sell the new headliners, but they have the material molded into the headliner, so NO more sag.
Who says the aftermarket doesn’t pay attention. 🙂
Or room for two or three tall but not overweight people–plenty of room there for people six feet tall to stretch out.
If you look up “Brougham” in the dictionary…
THIS car’s pic would be right next to it. This era of GM RWD luxury epitomizes it.
I wonder if GM would have been better off just continuing the old RWD B and C bodies, just as Ford kept the Panthers through 2011, perhaps with some styling updates and of course the excellent improvements to the Chevrolet V8, instead of spending all those billions on the FWD C and H bodies that sold worse and were only a little more fuel efficient.
Van out front? You sure the Declaration is still in the museum?
Good find. I’m still a fan of Oldsmobile since Dad’s 84 Cutlass. I do like the 98, though would probably prefer an Cutlass. Still, great find.
I was thinking the same thing about the white van. I would check it for Nicholas Cage hiding inside!
Here’s a gorgeous coupe turned into an even more gorgeous convertible courtesy of Hess & Eisenhardt and their superb craftsmanship.
Is it just me, or do they look better with the roof off? 🙂
Hey, that’s nice. I think the coupe versions of the 98 look a little “off” in proportions, but this convertible is a beauty indeed!
I think these were gorgeous and I loved the name of the top line-Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham. Very regal sounding!
I also think it looks rather nice in front of this building with its neo-classical design.
I saw this one in Chur, Switzerland other day. I guess Swiss people really do love their American plushmobiles…
The export taillamps have the amber turn signal indicators and rocket decals moved down to red brake lamps. The US version has decals in the middle of entire taillamps.
I have read that the first generation Cadillac Seville was a popular import in Switzerland — and it is easy to imagine Swiss bankers driving the new “international-sized” Cadillac in the 1970s — but I did not know that mid-market full sizers such as the Olds 98 made it there. Other than Caprices, I have not seen official import 1980s B-Bodies in Europe.
The story behind this 98 must be interesting, if you can track it down.
Robert: the late 70s B-Bodies were one of the most successful American import cars ever in Europe, for several reasons.
Their size was much better suited than their over-large predecessors. It was back to the size big American cars of the 40s and 50s that were quite desirable in Europe.
The dollar was trading at historical lows during this period, so naturally American cars were relatively cheap. The mid-late 70s were a boom time for American cars in Europe. If I had to guess, in numbers it was probably the peak for US imports.
The Olds diesel V8 was highly praised and coveted in Europe, because it resolved one of the biggest impediments to big American car ownership: high fuel consumption. This really stimulated sales of the B-Bodies. (of course this was before the long-term reliability issues came to light).
Auto, Motor und Sport had at least two or more glowing reviews of these cars, especially with the diesel. These cars were the epitome of “The American Way Of Driving” that was a rather big thing at the time.
The cheap dollar created a boom in travel to the US by Europeans during this time; many for the first time ever. They loved the big American cars, and many made a point to rent them and drive to the classic American destinations: Grand canyon, Rt.66, death Valley. They loved the experience of riding in big comfortable air conditioned cars, and many bought them when they came back home. Or brought them with them.
The Olds was one of the official import brands in Europe at the time, along with Chevrolet and Cadillac. This is obviously one of many of these cars officially imported at that time. I wonder if it had a diesel, although the Swiss were not as diesel-happy back then as the Germans were.
One did not have to be a banker to buy one of these in the late 70s; anyone with a slightly better than average income could afford one. If they could afford a diesel W123, they could also afford an Olds diesel.
Are you not aware that the Big Three had quite an active export business in Europe during the 70s, and other decades too?
I was wondering in particular about the mid-market GM brands, Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac. I have seen (in person or in photos) many 1970s-80s Cadillacs and Chevrolets in Europe, but not any official import B-O-P B-Bodies from the same period. The 1990s Buick Park Avenue and Pontiac Trans Sport appear to have been exported in considerable numbers, but they are from a different decade.
The way I remember it back then (60s, 70s, 80s) is that the decision by GM as to which cars to export to Europe wasn’t strictly a brand thing, but based on the specific models, as dealer were full-line GM dealer over there. meaning, GM (and Ford and Chrysler) would chery-pick the hottest models that they thought would do best. Chevy: Corvette, Camaro and Impala/Caprice (no low trim versions). Pontiac: Firebird, in the late 70s and 80s. I don’t remember any big Pontiacs during this era. Olds and Buick would sell their big cars; possibly the 88 for Olds, and the Electra for Buick. And of course Cadillac.
The GM dealers there were essentially offering a slice of the most appealing cars. I may have missed some, but for the most part, they were cars that most represented the American style/concept (either muscle cars or big cruisers). Europeans had little or no interest in the boring low-end bread-and-butter cars. Buying an American car was a life-style choice.
it’s not very different in that the Europeans only imported the top-end version of their cars to the US; meaning not the small-engined low-trim versions that were typically the big sellers in Europe. Same idea: a European car in the US was mostly a high-end lifestyle choice, for those that could afford it.
I remember seeing German ads by the GM dealers in the 80s and even later, with their assortment of cars that they thought would sell well. Of course that included mini-vans when that segment exploded, as the US was rather a leader in that field initially.
This Oldsmobile 98 Regency was random sight, and I have a lifelong hobby taking photos of North American vehicles in export configuration, i.e. amber turn signal indicators, different headlamp design, and so forth.
Of course, my relatives and German friends who visited us in Dallas in the late 1970s were astounded at how comfortable those American cars were. And how cheap they were, especially comparing the higher equipment level and ‘acreage of metal’.
I have put together the montage of selected General Motors North American vehicles with export lighting system, including some B-Body cars.
The headlamps on smaller Cadillac Seville are taken from Audi 80 (B3 – 1986-1993) with custom-made turn signal indicators and chrome headlamp bezels.
The jellybean Chevrolet Caprice has different headlamps: the turn signal indicators are on the outer edge rather than between the headlamps as on US version. The aim is adjustable from the dashboard for load as required in Europe, and the lens is glass. Interesting note: the T84 export headlamps for Caprice are more valuable than the car itself! Some would buy crappy Caprice just for the headlamps and discard the rest.
You have accumulated quite a collection of American cars in European trim! I have some photos of official import American cars in Sweden that I can share, although the vast majority of the American cars that I saw there were recent imports of American market cars.
The reaction of your visiting relatives and friends to American cars is something that I saw frequently in the 1980s. In the Washington area, we met a lot of European and Japanese diplomats, journalists, etc., and many if not most of them had a Chevrolet Caprice or other full size car. A car that big and comfortable being readily and cheaply available was something remarkable to them, and they wanted to have one while they could during their time in the U.S.
Lots of 88s and Ninety Eights in my neighborhood growing up…wonderful cars with wonderful seats and upholstery materials. It was OK to drive an Olds, absolutely loaded with options, but tacky to drive ANY Cadillac, because you were showing off with the Caddy. It doesn’t work like that now, people love their bling, but at the time it was an interesting thing…thrifty Cincinnatians of German descent.
Better engine choices than Cadillac in the early 80s too…
Now., THAT’S an Olds 98.