My brother moved to New York with his family last year. He’s been sending me many pics of his kids assimilating nooyawkese, and very occasionally the odd classic or two he comes across in his travels. This one popped out; a very familiar face to many of CC’s readers but I’ve never seen one in the metal.
So just to get prejudices out of the way, I love the GM whales. My favourite is the Buick wagon but I’d go a standard Chev sedan too. Except for those wheel(covers?).
But this isn’t a B-body, and I’m just not feeling the love. The proportioning that factors so significantly in the success of the Bs is absent here; too short, wonky wheelbase and slab sided.
But if I was going to live in New York, that is why this is exactly the sort of beater I’d own to park in the street.
Theres a few of them in NZ a guy nearby had one or two in his paddock for a while, his collection is everchanging as he wheels and deals in used cars from a variety of sources the Chevs were easy to spot overhanging at both ends the rough line up of Falcadores they were parked in, I’ll go past there slowly later and see whats parked in the grass now.
I just like that Olds was able to distill the look of this generation of Ninety-Eight into compact dimensions with the concurrent Achieva, with decent results.
That’s a good observation; these “big” FWD Olds do nothing for me, but the same design language in the Achieva, especially the two door, worked very well. The Buick of that era was awful and the GrandAm not much better.
CC Effect note: I photographed a bunch of curbside vehicles in my town yesterday (CC post coming up) and though I spotted an Olds of a similar vintage, I chose note to detour up the side street and shoot it, as it didn’t fit the theme that was developing by chance.
I agree. I still believe that the Achieva coupe is a good looking car. My 93 SC in red really was really an eye catcher. These sedans are very classy looking.
The Acheiva was designed as a compact coupe first. The 98 was blown up from the original Acheiva design,.then the Acheiva was built with the Skylark roof.
Nice find indeed and I think I like the looks of these Oldsmobiles the older they get. I wonder how you dent the driver’s door like that? Guess someone kept punching out the trunk lock?
True confessions: In the depths of my GM-hate during 80s, 90s, and up, I had a bit of a fascination with this 98 when it came out. It reminded me of the ’61 big GM cars; light and airy greenhouse, especially the flying wing four door hardtop. And the grille. And of course the partially-covered rear wheels. Obviously it’s not really directly riffing on the ’61s, but something about the overall vibe of it brings it to mind.
Unfortunately, these suffered from very poor quality exterior trim, and the plastichrome inevitably deteriorates and falls off, and they ended up looking cheap and crappy well before the Buick Park Avenue, which exuded a higher quality feel. And it wasn’t just a vibe; the Buick had much better ratings in CR and such. It was built to a higher standard.
I really liked the design too. But yes these were not as well screwed together as the Park Avenue.
My MIL had a supercharged 98 Touring Sedan but one the 3800 managed to blow up while one of her daughters had borrowed it (under 100,000 miles on it) – she also had lots of electrical problems with it.
Replaced with a Lesabre, one of her favorite cars ever.
I noticed the poor-quality trim even as a kid in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. I think these 98s are good-looking cars in principle, but their quality issues probably didn’t help “not your father’s” Oldsmobile one bit!
If I had to put my finger on the reason I like these, it’s that to me they represent the purest, least affected modern interpretation of the “Classic American Large Sedan” (at least in the context of their time).
I hate the Whale B’s. I just can’t stand the proportions. The Ninety-Eight somehow managed to come off as long, low and wide without the bulbous look of the Caprice. The Roadmaster sedan and the Fleetwood were abominations to me, and even if the proportions weren’t as FUBAR’d as they were, they had too much tacky crap hung all over them to pull off the clean lines underneath it all.
This car looked right to me from most angles. Admittedly the rear view presents a bit of excess “Junk in the Trunk”, but it doesn’t come off as over wrought or over-adorned. No stand-up hood ornament, no opera lamps, no grafted on rubber finned tail light treatment, no neoclassical grille. It just works as a package.
This one I think is the “Elite” edition, but these did come as a Touring Sedan with some pretty sumptuous buckets and a console, up-rated suspension, etc.
There were some very positive opinions about this car once upon a time: https://www.thedrive.com/opinion/9588/the-1991-oldsmobile-98-was-the-last-olds-that-was-worth-a-damn
Ive had lots of Old Olds 98s and 88s and never had any problems with them cuz i put hot plugs and Lucas in all of them.
I thought these were very classy looking cars when they first came out, especially the two toned ’91 -’93’s. I’ve owned a ’95 Ninety Eight Regency Elite for fifteen years and it’s been one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. I did have it repainted about twelve years ago, but the leather interior is like new and the ride and comfort are hard to beat. Even back in 2005, when I bought mine, I didn’t see a whole lot of them on the road, but now I think it’s been about two years since I’ve seen another one. I realize I’m in the minority as being a fan of the styling, but I’ll be the first to admit I was always drawn to cars that most think are a bit odd and quirky looking. Heck, one of my other cars is a ’61 Rambler American and it’s a beauty to my eyes!
I too really like the styling of these, I really can’t explain it. And that Caprice looks nice too. Yes I am a dinosaur.
Honestly I think Olds should have gotten a variant of the Caprice/Roadmaster/Fleetwood as the 98, while keeping the 88 FWD.
The FWD 98 of this generation was not a bad car…but I think the design costs would have been less if they built the 98 on the B platform The target audience (WWII era retirees buying their last car) would have liked it more.
Not to mention, they could have built a performance variant simply called the 442, with blackout trim, a tighter suspension, the new logo, loads of tech, and an LT1 under the hood. A more upscale version of the Impala SS. With a little tuning, it could have completed against the 540i of the day. Would have sense as Olds was trying rebrand and reach a younger market by the mid 90s.
Aaaahh…what could have been.
Check out what I found on S.F. area Craig’s List this morning. The LSS version with the supercharged V6. Buckets with console and floor shifter. Only 125,000 miles and looks to be in pristine condition. Obviously loved. I wouldn’t mind having something like this.Asking 3,500.00
I wonder what this would have looked like if it was built on the b-body platform?
I like these — and it’s an interesting comparison to the Caprice because I think the Olds pulled off the quasi-fenderskirt design much better than the Caprice did (in the original whale Caprice, before the wheel arches were expanded).
I used to drive my ’93 98 Regency on frequent 700 mile round trips as a salesman. I put over 300,000 miles on the 3800 V6. I deem the 3800 as one of the world’s greatest motors! These cars had excellent visibility, great seat comfort and a truly comfortable ride. I sure miss comfy cars.
Life is strange.
I’ll admit, under threat of eternal damnation in confession, that I too have a considerable liking for those GM whales. I am prepared to perform the manifold penitential Our Fathers and Hails Mary in order not to have to explain why, because for sure, that “why”, I know not of.
But this! This Oldsmobile Tupperware collection, which well before its dented senescence in New York was barely able to keep the multifarious plastic addenda – the only thing making it an actual shape of any sort – from shedding like dandruff, this pile of UNOB (under no circumstances buy)? No. And never.
I’ve no doubt your brother is a nice person – in truth, I have no idea but assume so from your familial relation and sunny presence here – but please do try to give him even the briefest of tutorials in the subject of Things Not To be Shared.
Hahaha..you’re a very gifted and humorous writer my Catholic Brother! Hope you contribute to Church publications too!
I am on the same page as you Don. I like the whale B-bodies but not these 98s. I worked on and drove quite a few of these. They were softly sprung and felt like something from the past. The 3.8 sixes were good though and they had decent power and fuel economy for the time. Mechanically, they usually held up okay.
But if I am going for a 90s jelly bean style full size car, make mine an Impala SS.
Still is and will probably always be my favorite of all the C/H-body cars, especially in Touring Sedan guise.