Here’s an eclectic collection of GM’s finest spanning over four decades: the ’80s, the ’90s, the ’00s and even the ’10s, given that the Impala was made all the way to 2016! The question is: did all of them start out life as a rental car?
I ask that because these GM sedans just weren’t bought much by retail shoppers out here in Importlandia. In any case, they’re living out their third or fourth or fifth but likely final lives here on the mean streets of Eugene. Once GM’s finest are now beaters on their last legs.
It’s come to the point where I’m going to miss them when they’re gone. What will a world be without old GM beaters?
GM vehicles of this era seem to provide what Chrysler vehicles did in an earlier era – if you can get past the cheapness and the wierdness, and can avoid the problematic ones, these will still be running when everything else has been hauled off for scrap.
Old GM beaters will outlast us all, so nothing to worry about on that score. Although seeing another Ninety-Eight like that one might take some doing…
We still regularly see, here in the harsh Northeast, a fair number of GM full size sedans, the ones with the 3800 engine, rusty but still chugging along in lo-buck beater duty. They are tough old birds, and excepting the occasional plastic intake problem found with certain years and the unfortunate THM trans adapted to the fwd cars with their issues as well, they can rack up extremely high mileages. Why can’t GM get these things right from the get-go?
A shame as the bones were there for an exceptional yet fairly economical comfort cruiser in the BOP full size models. Survivors must have had the trans repairs or were the years of better intakes. We had a ’90 Olds 98 and it was a very satisfactory family car for those not inclined to white knuckle drives through the mountains, a very nice trip car, capacious and comfortable.
The intake issues mainly plagued the 1995 on up 3800 series II motors and certain 3100/3400 engines during the 1990’s and early 00’s. The transmissions varied. We have seen many 4T60E units with over 200K that have never had an issue and certain year 4T65’s that were plagued with cracked sun shell cases, chain failure and the infamous pressure control solenoid issue that thankfully is fixable.
At my buddy’s long time southern car dealership that has seen thousands of these GM sedans go through the doors we almost always took a few preventative measures to make sure we didn’t see the customer back in a month or two. That usually involved replacing the plastic coolant elbow with a metal one, upgrading the intake on the 1995-1999 3800’s with an aftermarket brand if needed or not already done, a complete transmission service and test with out scan tool to make sure shift timing was within specs and on the 3100/3400 cars if the intakes looked wet or the anti-freeze was low they automatically got a new upgraded gasket.
For the most part this gave these 100-150k cars another lease on life and most owners actually have come back for a second car for there college bound kid or a second family car. 300K Delta 88’s, LeSabres, Lucernes, 98’s and Park Aves were a common site for us and still are in 2020!
FACEBOOK a group of enthusiasts & owners; Classic GM FWD Society:
My mother-in-law had a 1992 Ciera that had practically every option, except the V-6. The 2.5 liter 4 cylinder was one of the cruder, rougher sounding engines I ever experienced. She kept it for 18 years and only 22,000 miles until we took the keys away. Donated it to the local church.
Here is my 1988 Oldsmobile Ciera SL coupe.
It was bought new by 80 y/o Ruth Temple at HARRIS OLDSMOBILE in Whittier CA in October 1988. A highly optioned vehicle with the Buick 3.8. Ruth lived to 98 y/o.
From the Calif Smog History, it appears to have sat for 2 periods after that (dead battery?).
At 80–good for her! And she got the ‘sporty coupe’ too!
I’d say her timing was good, glad she waited till 1988. By 1986-87, GM had gotten the kinks worked out of these cars.
I have wondered if the salesman was pushing Ruth for an end of the model year, as she bought it in late Oct 1988. Total cost with the options would be $15,741 excluding tax/title/etc – making it cost more than a base Delta 88 Royale.
I don’t know why I love those Ninety Eights so much, but I do. There must be a 12 (more likely “Twelve”) Step program for that.
Maybe you have found your Twelve-Step group! Looks like it meets in Eugene. It is, however, an “open” group, open to all drivers of GM FWD sedans. Maybe Paul can look into it and get you some contact information.
Do we get membership cards? Or just go with a secret handshake?
It’s a ten-step program. It ends with you notching your expectations down to an Eighty Eight instead.
I was in a junk yard a week ago, searching for a car that seems to have vanished from the earth. I spied a Cavalier coupe , the same year as the one pictured. I stopped and checked the odometer, and it read 248,844 miles. 2.2 and a automatic.
Just to clarify, it wasn’t a Cavalier I was looking for, but something far more difficult to find – a ’93 to ’97 LHS or New Yorker. I need the trunk hinge springs.
And to think the reliable A body cars, like the Cutlass Ciera and Buick Century were not much more mechanically than refined and improved X bodies. My employer bought a bunch of 2.2L Corsica sedans in ’90-’92. They had the plain 3 speed FWD Hydramatic and gave very little trouble aside from the occasional alternator failure (Delco CS series, a GM deadly sin?). When they got old the head gaskets would seep coolant a bit externally, AlumASeal would fix that problem just fine
I worked for a downtown Seattle car rental agency when the 50th anniversary Olds 98 was released in 1991, we usually had a white one available. There were some elements I liked about the 98, mainly the front end, but never cared for the Pontiac body cladding and added length in the rear. Always thought the Buick Park Ave was a better looking car. The agency had a diverse fleet and the 3rd gen Camry came out around the same time as the 98 – it was the peak Japanese car.
Being into cars I would like to ask the customer what they thought about the car and I’ll never forget how one woman raved about a Pontiac Sunbird while another guy said it was horrible, like driving a Ford Pinto.
In my travels around Oregon the Caddy and Impala are the two I’m most likely to see. The Cavalier and Olds, not so much. I did see a circa 1993 Cavalier Convertible on Memorial in Albany, that was pretty sweet. Heck, just driving through the Willamette Valley is a time warp, so many 20th Century vehicles to be found.
If we are looking at actual model year (instead of the years that span a full generation including mid cycle refreshes), we’ve got 3 for the 90s and 1 for either the 00s or the 10s.
The Cavalier is no older than a 1991. That’s when it got that sloped front restyle of the updated body style (that debuted in 1988).
The Deville is no newer than a 1999. The new body style came out for the 2000 model year.
The 98 was definitely 91-96 body style.
The Impala could be anywhere from 2006-2016, hard to tell without a closer look.
Given that, what impresses me is that all of these sedans are from GMs “Dark Days” of the late 70s/80s.
The Cavalier is just an update on the same J-body chassis that debuted in 1982, development started in the late 70s.
The 98 was an new body on the FWD H-body, that appeared in 1985. Development started in the early 80s.
The Deville was based on the contemporary Seville, which that new platform debuted in 1992. Development would have started in the late 80s.
The Impala is the W-body, which was a slight update to the GM-10 cars, that had their development start in the early 80s as well.
The Olds is a ’91-’93. They changed the dash in ’94 when they added the 2nd airbag and the grill is a little different as well.
I had a ’95 & a ’96 and still think they have the most comfortable interior of any car I’ve driven.
The Impala looks to be in the 2006-2010 camp with the common at the time 16″ alloy wheels that were std fare on the LT trim level. For 2011 the base LS Impala adopted the 17″ fascia plastic wheels as std. For 2012 these cars got a major overhaul under the hood in the form of the 300 HP 3.6 LFX engine and 6 speed automatic transmission and a dual rear exhaust as std on every trim level. Bizarrely the tire size on the base LS for 2012 went back down to a 16″ size with re-purposed Saturn 16″ alloys despite having an engine that made nearly 90 more HP and a transmission that better put down the power than the old 4 speed could!
From my own experience and from many other owners and repair shops these 2006 on up Impala’s are improved from there 90’s forbears reliability wise but intermediate steering shafts can be an issue and the notorious charcoal canister can throw the check engine like on so watch for these things and of course make sure the 4T65 has not been beaten to death and received good service. The 2012 to 2016 models seem even better and my 2013 red tincoat LT had 120K trouble free miles when I traded it, my best friend of 30 years had a 2012 silver LT that had 180K miles when he traded it with little other than a wheel bearing and several have gone through the books with well over 100K that look and drive as new. I think 2006-2016 Impala siting’s should be commonplace for years to come as tons were sold.