Curbside Coda: 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale – Pound-For-Pound

Earlier this week, I had profiled an example of the last model year of rear-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency, an ’84.  It had always struck me as interesting that the upmarket, new, front-wheel-drive C-Bodies (Olds Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra) that were introduced for ’85 had smaller physical dimensions than the still-RWD B-Bodies (Olds Delta 88, Buick LeSabre) that shared their showrooms for just that one model year.  Granted, the newer models were more efficient and made better use of space, but I grew up in a family that often put a premium on quantity over quality.

Instead of going to the nice steakhouse in town for a special occasion, the Dennises would have piled into our ’77 Plymouth Volaré to hit the Ponderosa by the mall, with its unlimited salad bar and a bottle of A-1 steak sauce on every table.  Similarly, if my parents had been in the market for a new, full-sized Oldsmobile in ’85, and even if they didn’t have five collective mouths to feed on my dad’s income as the sole breadwinner, they probably would have boasted about their choice of the Delta over the downsized Ninety-Eight.

I have nothing against a good all-you-can-eat buffet every once in a great while.  For ’85, and pound-for-pound, a new, entry-level Delta 88 Royale four-door sedan with a base price of about $10,600 and a starting weight of 3,600 pounds (at $2.94 / lb.) might have seemed quite the value proposition against a new, base-model Ninety-Eight ($14,700 and 3,300 pounds, or $4.45 / lb.).  The point of this exercise is not to provide any truly meaningful metric (I know of no one who has ever shopped for a car based on price-per-pound), but rather just to illustrate that in the eyes of some, sometimes more is more – which is completely legit.

The base Delta 88 4-door outsold the base Ninety-Eight Regency sedan, selling 69,600 units against 43,700.  In terms of overall sales of each model for ’85, and among just the two- and four-door sedans (and no B-Body wagons), it was close: 188,600 Deltas against 169,400 Ninety-Eights.  This would suggest that at that time, there were at least as many Olds shoppers who valued quantity as those who put a premium on quality, with the aforementioned figures also reflecting the downsized ’85 Ninety-Eight’s sixth-month head start in sales for that model year.  Regardless, there are positive things to be said for both quality and quantity.  Sometimes, and on special occasions, nothing but Ruth’s Chris will do, but much of the time, there’s nothing wrong with a sirloin steak from Sizzler.

First example as seen in Lakeview, Chicago, Illinois on Sunday, February 27, 2011.
Second example as seen in downtown Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday, October 25, 2017.

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