This was my road warrior for a number of years, a 1988 Olds Touring Sedan. It was the most expensive Olds 98 available that year going out the door for a cool $25,000. I think that the only option available was a sunroof, which my car didn’t have, which is ironic since the Touring Sedans were finished by ASC (American Sunroof Corp).
I bought this car from my father after the 1978 Uber Rabbit decided to rust itself to death.
A quick call to my father determined that, yes, his ‘88 Olds TS was available (all of my father’s cars were for sale, always), in fact I bought three used 98s from him. When I bought this car from him it had 64,000 miles on it (103,000 km). Cost me $5000.
I always thought that the Olds had a cute ass end. The car was commodious-huge trunk and a back seat with enough room that my 6’4” and 6’6” sons never complained about having to ride back there. Yes Tom, I debadged it.
The interior on the Touring Sedan was different from run-of-the mill 98s. Leather interior with buckets up front, full analog gauge package, real burled walnut fascia. The Bose stereo was great.
The steering wheel is a 13” Jackie Stewart Momo which was just smaller enough from the 15” stock unit to endow the steering with great feel. My older son liked it so much that he had me install a similar Momo in his Olds 98.
The TS was a good handling car, but not necessarily a good riding car. The rear end was too stiff which was a bummer on bumpy corners.
Sorry for the text here. I prepared this photo for a Touring Sedan website over ten years ago. The Buick 3.8 V6 was a great engine, but I did have to change out the timing chain at 144,000 miles. The timing chain and gears were fine, it was the chain tensioner that had given up the ghost. Cheap little part, but critical. When I had the timing chain cover off, and could look into the block innards, I was surprised to see absolutely no varnish or deposits on the block. Looked like a brand new casting. Thank you Mobil 1.
The 3.8 V6 was not quick, but was a great long distance cruiser. At 83 mph it was a very composed at 2200 rpm. Once, with an (obviously) strong tail wind, I recorded 31.5 mpg between Salt Lake City and Laramie, Wyoming. I’ll take that any day. My Subaru Impreza can’t touch that figure, tail wind or not.
The Olds was also a great snow car. I pulled Sheridan Hill, a 6% grade just east of Laramie with six inches of snow on the ground and an inch coming down every hour. Not by choice. White knuckle, but I made it. Love them Yokohamas.
The galvanized steel body panels did their job-no corrosion. But GM hadn’t yet figured out how to maximize paint adhesion on galvanized panels, and given the sandy environs out in the western US and the high speeds commonly run, paint loss was a problem. And I generally had to replace my windshield every two years, or else I couldn’t see where I was going in the morning or evening. When I worked in Denver, the radio stations routinely reported “slowdowns” in rush hour traffic due to “glare”. I, as many Denver residents who commuted east in the mornings, and west in the evenings, had problems with pitted windshields.
Bad news, good news. Windshields were crap after two years, but in Salt Lake, which suffered the same problems as Denver, a new windshield was only $94 installed. Didn’t even bother to inform my insurer.
My father sold me his 1994 Cadillac STS with 65,000 miles on it in 1999 while I was on a job in Baltimore. At that point I gave him back the ‘88 Olds TS with 177,000 miles on it. Not a good trade.
I think those cars looks quite nice. But how is the ride, comfort and quietness compared with the old B / C -body from 1977 -> ?
ride quality was comparable, but the additional isolation of the BOF design of the older cars took some of the harshness and noise out from the unibody and separate subframes of the FWD H/C bodies.
Mom had a ’92 LeSabre (this car with an updated body basically) and while it was a good riding car, didn’t compete with the ’84 Olds 88 or the ’76 Chevelle we had at the same time for impact harshness. The Buick you knew you hit a rough patch of road, the other two just soaked it up, and certain road types could get the LeSabre to be a bit loud, something that the Chevelle had issues with as well, I don’t remember the 88 being terribly noisy.
They Ride absolutely fabulous…
I am starting to think that I could like one of these. Funny how the Taurus/Sable was the “modern” car at that time, but these seem to have turned out to be the best over the long haul. A shame that GM could get the basics so right but miss so badly on the outward “appeal” factor.
I dont think that many people really didn’t like they way these looked, square was big until the Taurus, and these predate the Taurus by a year, the first C-bodies were out Summer 84, when some of the best sellers in the US were square as heck cars like the Ciera, Cavalier and Celebrity.
Although to GMs credit they did give the Celebrity a low coefficient of drag for such a boxy car. God did I love the trunk on mine, it was so square you could get 4 golf bags into a 15 cubic foot space. Try that on a brand new Cruze or Malibu…
A couple years back I briefly owned a Celebrity and though it was kind of a strippo model, I liked it quite a bit. Compared to the g-body Bonneville I was using at the time, it seemed roomier and more airy inside, especially without the huge trans tunnel the G-bodies have. If it had more options and needed less work, I probably would’ve kept it, only had 55k on it. I felt it had more in common with my Caprice than the ’83 Bonneville did. Handled pretty well too from what I remember. There was an odd clunk when you’d accelerate which bothered me but otherwise it seemed okay.
I couldn’t believe when my Mom brought that ’86 Celebrity home. “WTF is this?”, I asked. First FWD car in the family. That torque steer OMG. Then went to change a flat tire and discovered those “lug nuts” were fake (they had a “metric” stamp on them!) and that was a plastic wheel cover. She was a larger woman, not fat, and looked silly coming down the street in that car. Looked like her head was touching the roof. And everybody had to have a luggage rack put on the trunk in our market. Just silly. I’m surprised she didn’t get the suede simulated convertible top glued on too.
Good point, but the aero T-Bird was out in late 82 and was plainly the way of the future. I don’t think these sold well so much because of their looks but despite them. And the biggest customer base was 50+ customers turning in their B/C body cars. They started to look “normal” fairly soon because GM sold a lot of all of their big cars back then. Hell, GM sold a lot of EVERYTHING then. Whatever they made became the styling norm, at least in the midwest. The market for this Touring Sedan was a much younger demographic that was not really lit up by the styling on these cars. I think this is why Touring Sedans and Buick T-Types are so rare now – they were rare then.
I do not know specifically about the Electra T Type, but the Olds Touring Sedan was limited to a certain extent by the fact that it was farmed out to ASC to be finished. Furthermore, it was about a $6000 premium over the regular Regency.
A lot of people like capable cars but not all of them want them to look like space ships.
The Electra T-Type is 100% GM. I’ve done tons of research on the 3 GM C-body Touring Sedans. OTS,T-Type and DTC/DTS. I don’t know why. I guess I became fixated on them the day I found an 87 Deville Touring Sedan in the boneyard. Only the Olds and Cadillac were converted by ASC. Here’s a pic of the door jamb sticker from the DTS. The one feature I really like on the OTS was the painted window reveal moldings and door handles. If you look closely they are a shade of gray or charcoal and not chrome or bright. And if I’m not mistaken(according to the GM parts catalogs) every year of OTS had it’s own shade of gray so if you were really sharp you could narrow down the year just from the exterior details.
I was in my 20s and had to have that 1990 Touring Sedan. Found a repo with 42K in 1992. A friend even agreed “This is NOT your father’s Oldsmobile” which was their ad campaign at the time.
This makes me miss my 1990 TS. Which I feel was the best all-around cars that I have owned. Some cars do one or two things very well but usually suffer in other areas. My TS was a large car (but not obese), easy to see out of (unlike my Camaro sometimes), reasonably fast (but of course not the fastest), gave impressive fuel economy for its size (like Kevin I regularly broke 30), could haul a lot of stuff and people, handled well and rode well (but of course not as well as the Camaro or Cadillac respectively), and was eminently comfortable. The real burl wood was a nice touch as was the shifter on the floor. And of course the look was nice in dark maroon with the square formal 80s design. It was like European performance with American look and comfort.
The 1990 model had the revised 16″ finned aluminum rims, steering wheel with finger controls, and a few other small tweaks.
The Touring Sedans were built in a separate building by ASC at the Lake Orion plant in Michigan which built some of the C FWD cars in those years. They were ordered as W12 Merchandised Package and sent semi finished over to the ASC building. ASC then fitted the interior pieces, dash trim, and specific exterior trim. They also did the sunroofs there if ordered. That practice was discontinued for the 1991 redesign.
The little red box is the battery positive distribution box. Just a connection where electricity is split from the battery to different parts of the car. Underneath is just a couple of studs with wires bolted down to it.
They are hard to find now in good condition and command big dollars. A 21K example went last year on eBay for $7200.
This to me, was a 4 door TRofeo .
It was similarly priced, used the same leather buckets.
and those Lear Sigler buckets were so fine! (’90 Trofeo)
I traded my ’90 TS (bought used) for a ’92 Trofeo (also purchased used with only 24K) and boy was I sorry. I thought of the Trofeo as a 2 door TS as well but the TS stiff handling and ride was superior. I was doing outside sales at the time and didn’t take into account those large, heavy doors on the Trofeo. In/out of your car 20 times a day in parking lots and you’d understand. Funny story……..remember those 228 buttons all over the dash of the Trofeo that made it look like the Space Shuttle? Well one day I took a gulp of Hawaiian Punch and it went down the “wrong hole”. The shit came out through both nostrils all over that dash. I was at a red light and this lady was looking at me like I was dying or something. So I went home and cleaned that all up with a toothbrush. Those buttons were still all crusty and crunchy the day I got rid of it.
Agree these had a nice rear end, beautiful car. So distinctive with the greenhouse shape and signature GM chrome door handles. The last few Olds like the Intrigues were completely forgettable.
Love the Momo!
Other way around for me. This looks like so many forgettable boxy GMs of the generation. When Oldsmobiles later began to catch my eye, the brand was shut down.
Turn the engine the right way move the diff to the back and youd have something worthwhile. This constant aping of British leylands utter stupidity didnt end well for either company did it.
GM did copy British Leland’s bankruptcy about 35 years later.
My guess is that you don’t get a whole lot of snow in OZ. That’s something we’re not short of here in the Intermountain West. The blizzard I described in the post was on May 17, 2000. The Olds handled the snow and steep grades with aplomb, all without special tires or all wheel drive. I want an all-weather car that I can hop into at any time and hit the road without having to worry about which end of the car is doing the driving. I only change tires when they wear out.
This, along with the early Seville/Eldo Touring versions, might be the best American interiors of the decade. Real leather & wood, good ergonomics, and that old-fashioned American flair, without the usual haptic letdowns.
The exteriors are… subtle. I can see why B-body buyers would turn up their noses.
As you might imagine, I agree. The interior was a very pleasant place to be. My addition of the Momo steering wheel just made it better.
Although I’m a “car guy”, I’m not entirely sure what a “B body” was. I owned a ’79 Caprice and modified the suspension to make it drivable. The Touring Sedan had much more interior room, handled and rode better, and got much better fuel milage than the piece of crap 305 that was in my Chevy.
I was required to have an annual inspection performed on the TS in Utah. With a full tank of gas, the official weight came in at about 3500+ lbs. How did today’s cars get so porky? Didn’t have no friggin air bags or or the crush ability crap that today’s cars have.
What do I miss? My Momo steering wheel. F airbags and radio controls on the steering wheel. The Momo is on my garage wall as an homage to the past.
Any garage wall with license plates on it is okay by me.
I think the bumpers not being wider than the body panels contributes to the clean look of these.
True and I think it was the whole monochromatic thing, no chrome and minimal badging. Although the non-gray colors still had the gray cladding and bumpers.
Oops, the pre-1990 had the chrome bumpers, mine were the gray to match the cladding and coincidentally the body color of mine. The 1990s had almost a totally different look and different wheels which is why I liked it better I guess.
One thing has been bugging me for a long time. Does anybody know what the Oldsmobile crest means? Here’s a pick of it from a 89 OTS I found in the boneyard a while back. I know it goes back to the early days of Oldsmobile and R.E.Olds himself. Alladins lamp on top. The goofy winged crest in the center. The 3 acorns falling. Any experts care to chime in? BTW the OTS emblem was different than the 98 emblems.
The crest on the TS was not exclusive to that model. The 98s started using it again in 1982 on the Brougham models, look closely.
The crest in slightly modified form has been around since 1929.
The lamp meant Lamp of knowledge
The lamp flame meant the eternal flame of work by Oldsmobile engineers
The leaves meant Strength and sturdiness oak trees
The micrometer represents precision and craftsmanship
The horseshoe with wings meant harnessing of horsepower
The three scores meant the seeds that which grew Oldsmobile and the automotive industry
Oldsmobile was my sponsor at GMI. We learned this as well as the other emblems like the ribboned florid crest that appeared on the first Curved Dash to the earth with rings used in the 40s and 50s to the ubiquitous rocket that was used until the alteras logo was launched with the Aurora. As it was displayed on the wall in Lansing above the main entranceway penned by recently departed Oldsmobile chief John Beltz “As we design the great cars of tomorrow, we shall never forget the great cars that brought us here.”
John Beltz, who died tragically at age 46, was to Oldsmobile like DeLorean was to Pontiac. They shared the same trajectory and nearly the same personality. Like DeLorean, Beltz was often thought of as Presidency material. Once, when asked about how he felt about building cars like the Toronado and the 442′ he replied: “It just makes you feel like God.”
And that’s how it was…
You know your Oldsmobile, that was almost like a pledge!
Yes!! you had the afterburner style shifter. So comfy and nice to drive. All “touring” models (Lesabre touring etc) seem to have a firmer ride then the non touring
I think I’ve made it clear by now how much I love Oldsmobiles. This car is no exception. I’ve always liked the interior of the Touring Sedan, with the real wood trim, bolstered leather buckets, and cool floor shifter. The lace-spoke wheels and restrained amount of body cladding were nice touches too. Glad they didn’t go too over the top like car makers did with many of their high performance models.
The Touring Sedan was exactly what it was-a very comfortable four passenger sedan (five if you hated the fifth person) that handled long distance cruising effortlessly. The interior was the best aspect of the car, followed by its handling and road manners. Had my father not offered his Caddy STS to me for free, I would probably still be driving the Touring Sedan. In many respects, the Touring Sedan was a better car.
Olds was probably correct in feeling that its customers wanted the 98 that I bought from dad for my wife Sue. Yes, it had the F41 suspension, but it also had that god-awful velour interior and a venereal padded roof. I finally got rid of that turd when I donated it to charity. Shortly thereafter GM quit building Oldsmobiles, and my wife began leasing Camrys. I can’t see anything that GM is building today that I would want to buy or lease, with the exception of the Volt. But neither my wife or I put enough miles on a car annually to justify the cost of a diesel or hybrid. But wifecita gets all hot and bothered when her lease term nears termination, as it will soon. But the next lease will probably be another Subaru Forester. Subis in Salt Lake have very high residuals. I don’t give a shit, my Subaru Impreza, the last new car I will ever own, was paid for in cash. It will be Suzy Q’s property once I croak.
I don’t know how the above comment was attributed to (undefined), but it was me.
Thank you for writing your High Praise article. Your found ness of the mighty ’88 OTS has encouraged me to purchase on yesterday… Garage kept it’s whole life, 106,000miles (low for this solid engine), looks just like momo, but with a sunroof 😉
Original owner ta’boot! My fiancé were looking for a reliable road warrior to take us on a American Adventure and we feel very blessed!!! MAHALO NUI LOA~
I bought a ’90 TS and it was my favorite car ever. It was a repo with 42K on it and not sure what I paid but remember it was a steal. Just needed brakes. It was that gun metal monochrome gray with the different non-lace wheels which I liked better (sorry). The handling and stiffness was incomparable. My brother who drove Ford trucks even said “damn this thing is tight, what is it?”. Everyone loved that car, even my mother. My boss from the west coast who only drove imports even said “Wow, this is a nice car, what is it?!” (there was no Olds badging on the interior). Those seats with the side bolsters you could wrap around you were awesome. A real tilt steering wheel you could bring all the way down….that shifter. A couple funny stories with this car…..that cigarette lighter was upright. One day I pushed it in and blew about 15 fuses. There was a dime in there. The various controls in the center console for the passenger seat quit working along with the power seat. One day while cleaning I hit the passenger side power lock button detailing it and accidentally hit the seat buttons on the armrest and the seat moved. So all you had to do was hold the power lock button down and you could adjust the seat. I noticed the armrest on the door was slightly loose obviously from the previous owner…some kinda short. So I took it to the Olds dealer and while explaining to the service manager the problem I noticed he was drunk, could smell the alcohol. He started banging on that armrest and I got pissed and yelled ” What the F are you doing?! (didn’t want it broken more) and left. Well……..it worked fine ever since.
Hah! Just remembered another BIG issue with that ’90 TS. My first car with ABS. It happened twice. The brake pedal would basically lock up, maybe an inch of play but rock hard. You would stop but took quite a distance. Once on the freeway I went up on the shoulder. Probably wouldn’t have collided but wasn’t taking chances. Took it in and explained. I mentioned it probably had something to do with moisture as last time it happened it was raining. Got a call back that I needed back brakes and it was “causing the front brakes to overheat”, yada yada. BS, but do the rear brakes. Service guy called back the next day and said he took the car out after the brake job and it did “it” to him and “scared the shit out of him”. Said “We’ll give you a loaner (car well out of warranty) because NOBODY is driving this car and GM engineers are coming to look at it”. Well, turns out there were two suppliers for the ABS system and one was getting moisture in it. Fixed it for free and the car had about 90K on it at the time.
Here’s my 1990. Taken in front of the Henry Ford Museum.
I had a 1990 Olds Touring Sedan and one day the ABS light came on, I took the car to have the ABS system repaired and they told me it would cost $700. I figured it was too much so I sold the car to a friend of mine who “Just had to have it” That was about the dumbest thing I have ever done. I have been trying to buy it back ever since. I regretted selling that car an hour after I did it and he keeps telling me he will NEVER sell the car. Oh yea and to make matters worse the only thing wrong with the ABS system was a Freakin 5 dollar relay.. My Dumb ass has been looking for another Clean 90TS for the last few years.. I will find one, and when I do I promise I will never sell it…
Well, I now have 120,000 on my ’88TS….
This is by far the most luxurious and fun to drive cruiser I’ve ever owned…
I’m considering selling it to the right enthusiast. I’m thinking a Toyota truck is more in alignment with my future needs. If anyone is interested, please email me. I’m located in S.Oregon.
Mine was an ’87 and it was great right up until the wreck that totaled it. If I were closer to Oregon I would be visiting you this weekend to talk you into letting me take care of your car for the rest of my life (I am 65). We live in Virginia so I guess I will have to get by with just my memory of the many miles we went happily in my Merry Oldsmobile. Thanks for the pic.
I wish Virginia was 7 states closer!
I’m in the process of finding a suitable home for my 88TS….
My first new car purchase was a 1987 OTS with FE3 badge on the rear. Fabulous car! GM really got it right with that one. I am certain I would still be driving it except my sweet wife got T-boned in it so badly that I let the boneyard have it. We drove it every weekend from Knoxville, TN to Memphis and back to help take care of her dear mother the last few months of her life. 30 mpg was common for us. I miss that car and I miss my mother-in-law, too.
I meant to respond to your post a year ago! I get it about wishing the ones we Love, would hurry back… My Grandma Rose drove a metallic grey Buick, which reminds me of my ’88TS. I had a potential buyer named Steve, drive down from Olympia Wa. , to become the new proud owner, as he loved my car and had been looking for one in great shape like mine. Anyways, he disappeared, and I still have Gandolf The Grey… It’s posted on Craigslist in Medford/Ashland Oregon…. In the meantime, I am Loving cruising the Valley with the Astro roof open!!!
Have been driving an 88 Touring Sedan for the last 10 months. Just love the feel of the old GMs. The car needs some love but is very reliable. I am looking to sell. 75K original miles.
Located in greater Philadelphia/ South Jersey
I had one in the mid 90’s loved that car, one of most favorite. Mine was gray with red leather interior. wish i still had it..
I can’t believe how long this comment thread has continued! It is great to find so many lovers of this great car. I had an ’88 TS in my early twenties about 15 years after the car was new and just loved it but sadly it rusted right out and had to be scrapped. I did keep the drivers seat and a few other select parts. Oh, I turned the drivers seat into my office chair – super comfy!
For the last 10 years or so since the car left me, I’ve periodically searched for them in the classifieds and online but never came up with anything local (or within a few hours drive) until two years ago I found this one. It’s a final year, super late build (May I think) 1990 in very good shape. It is Garnet red on Garnet red – a lot of red but it suits the era.
I look forward to many years of cruisin’
I brought my first 1990 Touring Sedan new, My 87 442 was in the service dept getting inspected and I had to walk through the showroom to get to the cashier when I noticed a Grey Touring Sedan sitting on the showroom floor,, after paying my bill I stopped to check out the TS. When I sat in that car I said “SOLD” I had to have it, I brought that car off the showroom floor. Sticker Price was 28K. It had the sunroof and Bose sound system. I loved driving that car, It had the FE3 suspension and the car handles like it is on rails. I still own that car, I swore I would never sell the car and I get a lot of offers and compliments on the car. I found another Grey TS a few years ago and brought it so now I have 2 of them.
I started my career as a service advisor at an Olds dealer in Atlanta in 1988, shortly after the Touring Sedan came out. They were great cars for fuel economy and styling. I loved the seating and visibility and dash layout. Unfortunately, for such an expensive car, they were in a time period where GM was having lots of quality problems with its parts. Electrical switches, ABS modules, a/c compressors, radios, you name it. And then there was the 440 transmission. The 3800 engine was quite suitable and had good reliability from 1988 onward. How it got the fuel economy it did we may never know. Customers loved the cars but many soured due to all the problems. Then in 1991 the body style changed and it was awful. Oldsmobile thought it would recover from falling sales with the 1995 Aurora which was a wonderfully styled car, but had some design issues and again, parts that failed and failed. Add the oil leaks from the Northstar engine and it’s no wonder that so many ended up in Pull-a-part junkyards when they were only 5 years old. I’d love to have a preserved 1990 model T Sedan today if you could get parts for it. I remember all the colors to include black, maroon, dark blue, metallic grey, dove grey, but I think my favorite was the white with the red interior.