(first posted 5/11/2013) As I recall, it was a bright sunny February morning when I accompanied my grandparents (whom I affectionately called “Nana and Papa”) to Quirk Oldsmobile in Braintree, MA, where my grandfather was to purchase a new car. It was 1997 and I was just shy of four years old. I’d been into cars since the first time I saw one on my hanging mobile as an infant, but this was one of the first days I can recall my fascination with real cars, and not toys.
While Papa was dealing with the salesman, Nana and I were playing in all the different cars in the showroom. Opening all the doors and compartments was like discovering a whole new planet. I particularly remember my amazement at the sliding doors of the Silhouette. However, my fun was soon interrupted, as we were ready to go home in the new car.
Papa had traded in his slate gray 1992 Ninety-Eight Regency for a new teal green 1997 Eighty-Eight LS (pictured above, with my grandfather to the far right). I must say that the neutral-colored leather of the new car, while rather sterile-looking, was softer on the eyes of a young child than the bright red velour of the Ninety-Eight.
Nana and Papa always took care of me during the day while my mom was working, so I rode around in this car nearly every day. Over the years this car would take me back-and-forth to nursery and elementary school daily, on day trips to the Cape, and countless rides over to Castle Island, my grandparents’ favorite walking spot.
I will forever cherish fond memories of riding around in the big green Olds with my grandparents, with either a Neil Diamond cassette or the Howie Carr talk show blaring on the radio, Nana always offering Necco Canada pink mints, and Papa expressing his frustration at other drivers by calling them “Turkeys” (he wasn’t a man to curse). I even miss the car’s quirks. The jet engine-like sound of the ignition, the loud “click” of the automatic door locks, and the rear windows that went down less than halfway.
I still see quite a few of this generation Eighty-Eight. Most of them are usually parked in driveways around town, so I decided that this 1994 example, parked at a garage, would be the easiest to shoot. The body of this Eighty-Eight Royale appeared to be in good condition. However, I noticed a reject inspection sticker on the windshield, so it must have been suffering from some mechanical or emission problems. I shot this one back in the winter, and haven’t seen it there since. Hopefully it was repaired and is now on the road again.
Oldsmobile gave its Eighty-Eight Royale sedan a complete redesign for the 1992 model year. As in generations past, this generation Eighty-Eight (née Delta 88) came exactly one year after a redesigned Ninety-Eight, borrowing styling cues from its larger and more luxurious sibling. Did Olds know that this would be the final generation of its second-longest-running nameplate? It’s debatable, but at this point the future looked bleak for the entire marque.
From selling over 1 million cars in 1985, Oldsmobile sales had sharply declined, slipping under the 400,000 mark for 1992. Even a complete redesign of Olds’ best selling full-sizer, our featured car, didn’t help much.
Like its predecessor, the ’92 Eighty-Eight (at least we’re not talking about an ’88 Eighty-Eight) was front-wheel drive, and shared GM’s H-platform with the Buick LeSabre and Pontiac Bonneville. Unlike its predecessor, this Eighty-Eight was far more distinctive-looking from its Buick and Pontiac kin, as well as the Olds Ninety-Eight and Cadillac DeVille for that matter. Apparently Lincoln’s snooty valet advertisements got to GM stylists.
Riding on the same 110.8-inch wheelbase, ‘92s were longer, wider, and taller than the ’91 models. The aero styling was clean and attractive, if not a tad boring. It fit nicely between the ultra-conservative Buick and over-cladded Pontiac. Headlamps, blacked-out A-pillars, and lower body cladding were all borrowed from the Ninety-Eight, though I think they looked better on the Eighty-Eight.
Base Royale and better-equipped Royale LS models were available in sedan only. The 170-horespower Buick 3800-Series I engine was carried over from the prior generation. Changes for ’93 and ’94 were minimal, save for the typical Oldsmobile grille freshening and new climate controls in 1994. 1995 was the first year of any significant changes. The base engine was upgraded to the Buick 3800-Series II, rated at 205 horsepower.
The Eighty-Eight Royale became the first production vehicle available with a GPS navigation system, GuideStar, a nearly $2,000 option. The majority of buyers who opted for this feature likely comprised of one of this car’s largest demographic: Hertz. More importantly, 1995 marked the introduction of the performance-oriented Eighty-Eight LSS. Unlike “sport” models of today’s family sedans, the LSS actually offered a more powerful engine, a 225 horsepower supercharged version of the 3800.
The Eighty-Eight received a significant mid-cycle refresh for 1996. “Royale” was dropped from the car’s official title. Exterior changes included an Aurora-inspired front fascia, with ovoid headlights and split grille. Clear-lensed taillights, new wheel styles, and the removal of lower body cladding completed the exterior refresh. Although cleaner and more modern, the ’96 refresh made the Eighty-Eight even more anonymous and sedate-looking.
Changes on the inside were subtle with simpler climate controls and new fabrics. Additionally, LSS models received a significant bump in horsepower to 240, new bucket seats straight from the Aurora, a redesigned center console, and 5-spoke alloy wheels. For ’97, Eighty-Eights received Oldsmobile’s new rocket logo, inspired by (you guessed it!) the Aurora. The LSS ditched the “Eighty-Eight” moniker entirely, and was now considered its own model.
Most peculiar however, was the introduction of the Regency. As part of its plan to “reinvent” itself and appeal to younger buyers, Olds introduced the ’95 Aurora sports sedan. The next logical step in this plan was discontinuing the slow-selling and stodgy Ninety-Eight in 1996. But then, in an extremely counter-intuitive move, Oldsmobile introduced the 1997 Eighty-Eight Regency.
Basically a pre-1996 Eighty-Eight (front and rear fascia, body side cladding) with the Ninety-Eight’s grille, front seats, wheels, and loaded with every available feature, the Regency was intended to compensate Olds’ “mature” buyers for the loss of the Ninety-Eight. It even eschewed the new logo in favor of the older rectangular rocket. Two steps forward, one step back I guess.
The Eighty-Eight hung on for two more years. 1999 brought a special 50th Anniversary Edition, commemorating the nameplate’s 50th, and coincidentally its final year in production. Little more than special gold badging, this would be the closest thing to a farewell the Eighty-Eight would receive. Oldsmobile never gave the car a true successor.
A downsized Aurora arrived early the next year as a 2001. Rumor is, this car was actually meant to be the Eighty-Eight’s successor, known as Antares, as plans originally called for the redesigned Aurora to be larger and more luxurious. This would make sense, as the 2001 Aurora shared the same wheelbase as the Eighty-Eight’s corporate siblings, the LeSabre and Bonneville.
Oldsmobile would leave everyone’s life in 2004, which is right around the time my grandfather’s Oldsmobile left mine. Shortly after my grandfather’s sudden passing, the car was inherited by my relatives in Connecticut, as they were in need of an additional car. Over the next several years, it was primarily driven by my two older cousins. I rode in it several times during this period, developing a greater appreciation for it. It was a part of my grandfather that continued to live on, providing me with a small sense of some closure, if that makes sense at all.
Cars are more than just a mode of transportation; they’re a significant part of our lives. The time spent every day with my grandparents is something that I cherish and never will take for granted. Now that they have both passed on, I have but this treasure trove of memories to hang onto forever. If there is a car that invokes so many joyous emotions for me, it’s this one.
that was lovely, made me think of my Grandma Ruth’s 1985 Buick LeSaber Limited
I had a Grandma Ruth too – but she drove a 79 Grand Am.
Funny, my grandfather had a 1968 Olds Delta 88 Custom that was loaded to the gills. I have very fond memories of that car and the time I spent with my Grandparents.
The ’67 & ’68 Delta Customs are gorgeous cars…equivalent to the SS Impalas and Buick Wildcats. I’d love to own one.
I always found the Oldsmobiles of this generation extremely attractive, probably the only full-size cars that appeal to me. Yes, they’re somewhat anonymous. That’s part of their charm. And I very much like the baroque transformation into the 98, to the point that I’ve always kept my eye open for one in clean condition. So far, everything I’ve found are beaters.
By this point, Oldsmobile made the twin sin of losing their senior citizen clientele, while completely failing to appeal to the hoped-for younger generation. As if they had a chance with the latter. To that crowd, the absolutely last two marques they would consider were Buick and Oldsmobile.
Yes, it was your father’s Oldsmobile.
I love plain, simple cars. They don’t attract any attention. It’s like a free 20 km/h over the speed limit.
True, its like a cloaking device, you can fly in one of these, or a LeSabre, Park Avenue, etc, and no one would even notice.
I find that a silver Accord is similar in that respect.
Agreed. I once owned an ’84 Olds 98 (last of the big RWS) in one of those anonymous paint jobs GM is famous for, and it was invisible to the long arm of the law.
Always liked these, even the 98. Would love to find either with a supercharged 3800V6, just for the sheer rare unusual-ness of it.
I think the front end from the year your grandfather owned is the best looking one on this car. The front-end facelift that followed just didn’t work.
I wasn’t crazy about this car’s styling (or that of its GM brothers either) at the time but 20 years hence it’s mellowed on me.
These were nice looking cars, but I always had a tough time getting comfortable in the seats.
It’s also worth pointing out that while the S/C 3800 was available on the LSS, in my experience anyway, it was a fairly rarely chosen option. Maybe 1 of 8 I find will have it.
The supercharged engine had some pretty spotty reliability and besides, the 205 hp 3800 V-6 had plenty of power and, more importantly, torque without the complex blower.
Surprises me that the blower option only added 20 HP. True, that’s an extra 10% on top of the standard motor’s power, but it’s not a lot of gain for a lot of cost and complexity.
Very nice piece. It is true that for we car-guys, the cars owned by loved ones take on a special quality.
I will echo Jim Grey, these were my least favorite of this platform when new. I much preferred the looks of the LeSabre. But as time has gone by, I like these more and more. I grew up around so many Oldsmobiles that I got sick of them. Now I miss them.
If you wrote this for a freshman English project you should get an “A” even if your professor is not an Oldsmophile.
Very nice story, thanks for sharing. This made me sad, my Dad just replaced a pretty decent 1997 Olds 88 with a new ford escape.I tried to talk him into keeping it a bit longer. I prefer my cars to be v-8 rwd, but for a more modern vehicle, that 88 was great. good fuel economy, drove nice and seated six in a pinch.
What Chrysler engineer Pete Hagenbuch had to say about Oldsmobile’s demise: “I hated to see the Plymouth name disappear … The only thing I know of that was worse was killing Oldsmobile. That went back to 19 … what was the curved dash Olds – ’03? … Oldsmobile was the oldest American nameplate in continuous production. And those idiots at General Motors just dropped the g****** name. I’m still pissed at them, I’ll never get used to that one.” – from Allpar.com
yup, shouldve dropped pontiac, and saturn as they did, hummer sooner, but KEPT Olds! My Trofeo was the best-handling GM product I ever owned
Very well done, with many interesting details (i.e., what had been the 88 for decades was now the Eighty-Eight) snuck in but none impeding the flow.
Great article, and nice to see another New Englander in the room.
Always liked the LSS and Regency models of these. Classy rides at the time.
Reminds me of my late Grandmother’s 95 Lesabre purchased from Best Buick in Haverhill. Even with the carriage roof it was a pretty nice car at the time. Met its death by telephone pole in Chelmsford Center with about 4000 miles on the clock in 97.
These things are actually quite nice. Had a chance to test drove one when it was new (I think it was the LSS version), and it was quite tempting.
I always thought the way the rear door on this generation of H-body opened at the wheel well was an interesting touch.
Great hitman car, non descript, reliable as the tides, huge trunk and completely expendable.
I know, you’d think with such huge rear doors the windows would’ve rolled down more. Could’ve been a safety thing too I guess.
never noticed that even when shopping a Bonneville… my Alfa 164 featured that touch via Pininfarina.
And we hope you have learned a lesson about GM.
Can someone explain the useless vent windows GMs full-sizers had at this time? Never have I seen a car company that has wasted windows like GM.
>Can someone explain the useless vent windows GMs full-sizers had at this time?
Daily driver is a ’98 Eighty Eight LS; I wondered the same thing before I bought the car.
Turns out, it’s way, way quieter with the windows down at highway speeds than any car I’ve had before. So perhaps the shape of the glass works the wind around the A-pillar in such a way that it doesn’t come blaring into the cabin.
Great writeup Brendan. It is so true how certain cars will remain in our hearts forever. I had a close friend that had one of these Eighty-eights. It was a 1995 with 250k miles on it. He insisted it would reach 300k with no issues – until it was stolen right in front of his house!! I think GM has made a lot of mistakes over the years, and killing a nameplate that sold like crazy just a few years back is surely one of their greatest blunders ever. The whole “not your father’s Oldsmobile thing” was a stupid campaign. Shame on them.
Thanks for sharing!
Large family, couldn’t begin to count the number of Oldsmobiles we had. My two favorites were the ’99 Eighty-Eight Anniversary (incredibly quiet and smooth) and ’95? Ninety-Eight Regency (a little more boisterous in being luxurious).
What a cute picture. Standing by Papa and Nana’s Olds in a classic Americana neighborhood with park-like setting–couldn’t ask for a better childood!
Thank you. Yeah, they really made my childhood complete. And fortunately my grandfather liked taking pictures of his cars too. I have photos of probably all of his Oldsmobiles from the early 80’s til this one.
I had bought a pristine, grandmother driven Oldsmobile 88 Royale off of a cute old lady who did all the maintenance at the dealer and obviously took great care of the car. This was a 1995 model, the first year of the 200HP series II 3800 engine. Now, I had bought the car on the premise that the 3800 motors were very durable (which they are – – minus the niggling issues that the series I and III motors don’t have) but I had nothing but issues with mine. The car had 55,050 kilometers when I bought it, in 2010. Although the mileage was low, she did drive it on a regular basis, just not big distances, the car needed nothing but front pads and rotors for a safety check, so I insured it and away I went! The car was sold to me for $1600 CDN and then the liscensing/safety fees brought that to about $1950. I had thought I got the deal of a lifetime, the car was MINT! Then the issues started popping up. It had an idling issue which ended up being the fuel pressure regulator that I fixed myself. The power window on the passenger side failed, followed by the driver’s back side two months later. Had those both fixed. Then, after about 6 months with the car, it started stalling and sputtering at the most random of moments; only after driving for over an hour. The car left me stranded a good 4 or 5 times, due to the upper and lower intake manifold leaking as well as the EGR was clogged. I had never owned an automatic-equipped vehicle at this point, so after all of the tows and uncertainty, I never trusted the car again, and wanted to go back to a manual transmission. I sold the car for more than I bought it for fully disclosing the issues it had; these people wanted the car because they had a ’96 that blew the head gasket, so they were looking for a car to replace it with. The man already knew about the intake manifold issues so he replaced it with an metal/aluminum one and had the EGR cleaned out. The car had 64,000 kilometers when I sold it. I bought a new car and never looked back, but MAN those seats were comfy! I loved the ride of the car and effortless torque, but it just wasn’t enough to make me view it as a dependable car. Here is a picture:
I was going to ask how Oldsmobile managed to go from being the most respected IMHO and most popular GM division to dead so quickly but you have just reminded me of why. I believe that given a little more freedom ( Okay, a LOT more freedom would have been necessary) Oldsmobile might have survived and possibly thrived. Their engineers were trying hard. They had a reputation for conservative stylishness and quiet power. The Aurora had great potential I thought, but as you describe above Olds was let down by the GM parts bin. For another $500 per car they could have owned the world and they could have gotten it too if they went after Lexus instead of competing with Chevy. Instead….well, we all know what happened
Funny you should mention it in passing, because I remember in 1988 expecting Olds to make more of a deal about the “’88 Eighty Eight” than they did. Sadly, they didn’t get a second chance because the Ninety Eight did not survive until ’98.
I don’t think there was any question that the 2001 Aurora was originally intended to be a freshened Eighty Eight (whether called that or Antares or whatever). However, with the decision to kill off Oldsmobile already in progress, and plans for another generation of Buick Riviera (on the same platform) also dropped, GM instead went for a shameless ploy to suck more money out of the last cohort of Oldsmobile customers by slapping the more upscale Aurora name on the car together with a commensurately upscale price sticker. I remember those Auroras being priced amazingly close to a Cadillac Deville even though they were equipped like middle-class Eighty-Eights. In a sense it was even worse, because the Aurora name plate invited comparisons to the Gen 1 Aurora, against which the 2001 Auroras looked ridiculously decontented.
Well they split the Aurora into 2 models, they had a lower end V6 Aurora 3.5 which they didn’t have before and then the up line Aurora 4.0 with the V8, all Auroras were well equipped, they had pretty much the same level of equipment that the 1995-1999 Aurora had, they just looked less impressive, because, well, it wasn’t an Aurora, but like you pointed out, the next gen Riviera was DOA so the Aurora was too.
Yeah $34.000 USD in 2000 IIRC,,,, Ridiculous. It Looked like a 88 Too.
Thank You For saying What Ithought For Years> HOW COULD THEY NOT Make a big Deal out of an 88 eightyeight ?
They -Olds Must have been Run By Stale Old Addicts Of coke if nothing more ALCohol flavored. They Produced Like 7 Cars in 1998 Only To FOLD like not even trying 3 years later. gm is idiotic to cut this and then pontiac. saturn . long tern that was fatal move in my opinion. i miss gm having 5 distinct car divisions. this 3 brand car thing will never be the same. hope they bring one or the other back eventually.
Given how the 88/98 represented a completely different design, platform, and philosophy from the more modern Aurora, I was and remain pretty impressed with how thoroughly Oldsmobile managed to “Aurora-fy” the H-body in 1996. That LSS managed to look pretty fresh, modern, and sporting for what under the skin was yet another hoary old GM sedan.
Nice writeup. I’ve always liked the looks of these with the softened front clip–very clean and classy, and they still look good now.
This sentence did catch my eye: ‘Unlike “sport” models of today’s family sedans, the LSS actually came with a more powerful engine, a 225 horsepower supercharged version of the 3800.’
True – but with the ‘standard’ V6s in today’s family sedans giving upwards of 270 hp, and 0-60 times in the low sixes/high fives, the typical owner could hardly use more if it were available!
Probably was referring to 4-cyl models such as Accord Sport, Sonata SE, Camry SE–which provide an “additional 5 hp from dual-exhaust” or whatever the marketing hype is/was. Most sedans today are sold with the 4-cyl engine.
That 1960 Edsel grille or fascia they put on the last generation Delta 88 was the final nail on its coffin. The grille on the beat up 1994 you also show was much better. And the tail lamps on either…ugh.
These cars are just boring to me. I simply can’t get excited over their generic 90s styling. I do like the simple interior though, its a lot better than modern interiors, with their monster consoles. Also, weren’t they mainly competing with the LeSabre? To me, this car didn’t slot in well between the bonnie and the buick. Rather, it tried to mix elements of both brands, and in the end, the people wanting sporty bought the pontiac, and the people wanting luxury bought the buick.
On another note, I can see why you love this car so much, with the connection to your grandparents. I have a very similar connection with my grandparent’s ’94 Deville. They bought it when I was a year old, and still have it. It currently is collecting dust in their garage, having been off the road for about 2 years now. Every time I visit, I sit in it, enhale the smell of my grandmother’s perfume that still lingers quite strongly, and recall the memories of driving around in it when I was younger. It still runs, but not that great. However, I’m not going to let anyone sell it, as the memories are too valuable to me.
I know it was probably out of your hands, but too bad you couldn’t have held on to the olds. At least you’ll always have the memories!
Here’s a pic of my grandparent’s caddy (click for bigger image):
Nice! Glad they opted for the gold emblem package too! I would love if my grandfather’s Eighty-Eight was still around, and even more if it were in my possession. I decided not to mention what became of this car in the piece, as it would ruin the mood. After my grandfather passed away, it was given to an older cousin of mine who crashed and totaled it several years later. An tragic end to such a large box of memories.
One of GM’s better efforts from the period, at least with the original snout. The subsequent front clip restyle was dreadful.
its like they left it unstyled… an unflavored middle to the gm hierarchy.
My partner finds that our white 2003 Regal w/ the 3800 is also very stealthy and so is my 2005 Sonata V6.
Impressive memories from a kid! When you see a car like this, it exudes dignity and temper. It is a shame that Oldsmobile is gone forever, but good cars, like this, will be a monument to its memory (well, as long as they last).
This made me think of a wholly different car, but similar grandparent memories. My grandpa would drive me around in what now would be considered equally CC, but it was a Turbo and Intercooled Volvo 760. As I said, same memories though.
This is a nice story. Reminds me of one of my deceased aunt’s 1977 ? Olds 88 four-door. It was maroon, huge and was a dream riding it in when I was a kid. I just bought a 1997 Eighty-Eight LS a week ago. It kind of reminds me of the old GMs that I grew up seeing as other members of my family were also GM employees.
1994 was more than just a grille update – the whole interior was new. Dash, gauges, door cards, seats, fabric, climate controls, radio…
And the LSS did not come standard with the uprated engine. It was optional, and produced 225 hp from 1993-1994 and 240 hp from 1995-1999 (the Series II years). Take rate in the later years was around 10% s/c and 90% n/a in the stand alone LSS nameplate.
Like every H-Body, and the C-Body Park Avenue, these all came standard with a strut tower brace – sporty!
I took my driving test in mom’s medium silver 1994 Royale.
I was shopping for an LSS for a time – my elderly neighbor had a cream-puff one with the supercharged engine, but he wanted a lot of money for it so I passed. I did drive it, and it felt much bigger and heavier than my 1988 Electra T-Type did. Plus, you couldn’t tell where it began or ended from the driver’s seat.
Most of the other ones I looked at had the standard 3800 which was OK, but what was the point of buying a trim-only LSS? They have all gone to pick-n-pull heaven it seems, as I never see them on the road or for sale any longer.
Can’t all have gone away, I bought a 1994 88 LSS three weeks ago. Series 1, no supercharger, burgundy on burgundy. 132K on the clock, $600.
The front end had every wear item maintenance deferred, so I hit up the web for cheap parts. Ball joints $13/ea, axles (CV joints) $42/ea, strut/spring assemblies $56/ea, tie rod ends $12/ea, rotors $20/ea and pads at closeout for $6. Four hours of hammering and one alignment later, it drives wonderfully.
As far as I can tell, the only point of trim-only LSS is a way to get every option at once with sublimely comfortable bucket seats.
Very enjoyable article. My second car as a 16 year old in 1972 was a ’68 Olds Delta 88 with 105K miles on it – it ran like a champ – I was an Olds fan from then on to the 80s when GM’s deadly sins soured me on all their products. But I took notice of the LSS model when it came out – I agree, it was the best looking of the H models. It was in consideration when I was buying a new car upon return from an overseas military assignment in 99. Ultimately I settled on a ’99 Chrysler LHS because I thought it was more attractive and was less expensive. It turned out to be a great car too.
To me, the restyled C/H-bodies for ’91/’92 almost completely exonerated GM for their sins of anonymity with the first ones.
Nice story about a past car in your life and the people in your life. I saw one of these cars today on my way to lunch, they seem to remain fairly common and still blend in quite well as a modern car.
Even if the styling is rather conformist to most styling cues of its era, I always thought it was a pretty nice edition of the 88. The 1985 through 1991 generation ahead of this was very unappealing in my mind. That car didn’t know how to make the transition between the RWD edition before it, and a modern look. This car seemed to be a thoroughly modern take on the large American car.
Nice story and a reminder to me of how much I liked the LSS. Too little too late, that model was certainly a step in the right direction. I remember how the prototype LSS had wheels that were best suited for a “sports sedan” than what was used on the actual production car.
A number of these Eighty-Eight models can still be found in my part of the world. Priced right, my only fear of buying one would be the engine blowing days later.
My uncle bought a bonneville for one of my other aunts with his gm discount. It was soon replaced by a white 1993ish Corolla, one of the most boring cars ever made. Apparently it was because the bonnevilles were popular with car thieves at the time.
Neither of my two grandmothers knew how to drive a car. My Pop pop (mother) did know and he always drove a Dodge. My Grandfather (father) rarely drove a car living in New York City. So he never owned a car but when visiting, while living in Maryland, he could drive us around in my father’s car. Many years later I did an eye exam on him and discovered he couldn’t read the chart with one eye. Upon dilation I saw optic nerve atrophy and asked him how long? He said sometime in the 1920’s and here we were in 1985. My dad had no idea either that he drove with one eye.
I never cared for the initial styling of these cars on release in ’92, but the ’96 refresh cured almost all of that. So much cleaner, with most of the fussy detailing gone. A little anonymous, sure, but nonetheless an appealing shape stripped of ornamentation. Every time I see a late LSS, there’s a little part of me that whispers what a nice car it could be…good luck finding a decent one for sale though! Seems like the good ones are held on to and only the beaters show up in the classifieds.
Also, Brendan, nice writeup and tribute to your grandparents!
Brendan, I have an update on this model. I’m scooting around town in an ’02 Honda Civic Si hatch, which is loads of fun but very harshly suspended. I decided to look for a “road car” to complement it, and settled on a white ’98 88 that has 36K original miles ( the Nanas and Papas of the previous generation are going off the road, and these cars are beginning to become available). I absolutely love it. My experience with GM full sized cars came from the ’70s and ’80s, and the handling, with fully independent suspension, rack and pinion steering and fwd is a revelation. Not saying it’s a BMW, but it corners without sway and holds its own quite well unless really beaten about. I don’t really notice the lack of rear discs, and actually like the old-school pushrod engine with a timing chain (thank you!). It was actually a big selling point, as mechanics all over the net laud the ease of access, decent power and longevity of the Buick 3800, while citing excellent fuel mileage (in my first five tanks, I’ve run between 21 and 27 mpg, all in a 3400 lb car that is 200 inches long). With a mere 110″ wheelbase (a possible reason for the rear window’s half opening), the 88 doesn’t play “big”; It’s nearly identical in size to a ’64 Chevelle or Belvedere… but those cars had 6″ more length between the axles. And the bland styling isn’t a misfire, as the basic shape is quite well proportioned — simple and clean. There IS cladding on this model, even if it doesn’t appear to have it… Olds got rid of the bauhaus accents of the earlier versions, except on the ’98. It’s a great car!