Cushy Elderly-Owned Cars: 1994 Lincoln Town Car vs 1994 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight

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Welcome back! Today we’re asking an important question: What’s wrong with being comfortable? But before we can do that, we need to finish up yesterday’s stickshift sedans:

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Another lopsided one. But I guess I’m not too surprised: the siren song of all that horsepower in an unassuming-looking sedan is hard to resist.

Now then, to new business: David wrote an article yesterday detailing his desire to fight his body’s natural want for comfort.

It may be because I have an eighteen-year head start on David in choosing cool fun vehicles over practical comfortable ones, but from my viewpoint — within a stone’s throw of half a century old — comfort is something I have earned. I’ve done my time going eighty miles an hour in a Miata with the top down, and bouncing along over potholes in a Pathfinder on all-terrain tires, and sweltering in a non-air-conditioned Scirocco in the heat of a Chicago summer, the backs of my thighs cooked medium-rare on the black vinyl seats. I’m done. I have my MG and my truck if I want to relive my glory days of rough noisy “cool” cars; for the daily grind I want cushy seats, soundproofing, and air conditioning that will keep a side of beef fresh.

The way to find comfort, as in so many other pursuits, is to seek out the wisdom of those older than you. In terms of cheap transportation, this means elderly-owned cars. I’ve found two of them for us to look at, both from the Sacramento area, and thankfully neither with a vinyl top.

1994 Lincoln Town Car – $2,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.6 liter SOHC V8, 4 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Carmichael, CA

Odometer reading: 188,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does

Lincoln’s big sedan was softened and modernized in 1990, in a classic example of aerosion, and in the process became a much more attractive car. It still rode on Ford’s big rear-wheel-drive Panther platform, upgraded with air suspension and four wheel disc brakes. Starting in 1991, the Town Car was powered by Ford’s “Modular” 4.6 liter single-overhead-cam V8, which would go on to power zillions of Crown Victorias, Mustang GTs, pickups, and vans. But it got its start right here in the Lincoln Town Car.

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The ad for this Town Car doesn’t give us much to go on; all we’re given is that it has new tires and a new battery, and that everything is “up to date.” One would hope that the seller has records to back that up, but I wouldn’t count on it.

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But judging by the photos, this car looks like it’s in good shape, and quite original, which is nice to see. It even still has the original stereo with a tape player. Break out your Tony Bennett’s Greatest Hits and sing along!

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This wouldn’t make a bad daily driver at all, I don’t think. It’s comfortable, reliable, and the gas mileage isn’t great, but it isn’t atrocious either; twentyish miles per gallon looks like the norm. The biggest problem I can see is the size: This car is a foot and a half longer than the Coupe DeVille I used to drive, and that thing was ponderous in parking lots.

1994 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight LSS – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.8 liter OHV V6, 4 speed automatic, FWD

Location: Fairfield, CA

Odometer reading: 200,000 miles

Runs/drives? Excellent, the ad says

Oldsmobile’s big Delta 88 sedan switched from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive in 1986, and dropped the “Delta” from its name in 1989, becoming the “Eighty Eight.” In this form, it went through two body designs, but was powered by only one engine: the legendary Buick-sourced 3800 V6, available only (of course) with an automatic transmission.

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This Eighty Eight, from after the 1992 restyle, is an LSS (Luxury Sport Sedan) model. In later years, the LSS gained the supercharged 3800, but as far as I can tell, in 1994 it only meant bucket seats and a center console, a little bit firmer suspension, and maybe a little less chrome. Oldsmobile never could decide if they wanted to be sporty like Pontiac or luxurious like Buick, and ended up trying to do both at the same time.

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This car has a lot of miles, but appears to be in excellent shape. It’s a one-owner car, with records going all the way back, and the seller says it must be driven to be believed. You hear that line a lot, so take it with a grain of salt, but it does look like a really nice car.

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It’s a handsome machine in general, too; I’ve always liked the Oldsmobile version of the H-body better than the Buick (too stodgy) or the Pontiac (too plasticky). The 3800’s crown has become a little bit tarnished as the years and miles go by, but it’s still an excellent engine, and if this one has been kept up as well as they say, it should have some life in it yet.

Cool cars that are difficult to drive are still cool, and always will be. But sometimes a guy just wants to sit back in a comfortable seat, turn on some music, and isolate himself from the traffic a bit. We’ve got two good options to do just that. Which one is the one for you?

 

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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74 Responses

  1. Lincoln all the way! I happen to own (and drive daily) a 1997 Town car with 38000 miles on it. Super comfortable, quite, smooth and BIG. Only complaint…crappy cup holders. Other than that, I love it.

  2. I went Oldsmobile just because it was my high school girlfriend’s car (now my wife), so memories could be re-lived. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the front bench, which would put it over the top and I’d have to be making some phone calls.

  3. Hang on…a mid-’80s Cadillac (which I presume based on his observation that a not-that-gargantuan ’94 Lincoln is a foot and a half longer than the Cad he had), little more than a gussied-up Celebrity, is “ponderous” for the author…?? God help him if he ever saw a 1966 Lincoln, or Olds 98…and those were not even the biggest cars made that year, although the former was the heaviest.

    But I digress. I do admit that Olds did some good work trying to freshen the look of the evolution of the shrunken horrors that debuted across GM in ’85…but the Delta-88 was not Olds’s high-end model. The 98 was…and in that year, it would take a trained eye on GMs to see the difference between the two.

    The Lincoln, on the other hand, still was what a luxury car should be, even though I did not really care for the ’90s look all that much..but I’m biased, I’ll admit. Anything not of the late-’60s doesn’t match up. That said, it still was easy to recognize, despite increased frequency of badge-engineering by that time. Plus, Lincoln was a luxury marque from its beginning, never an upstart like some German, East-Asian, or even American makes. Olds was an upper-class marque but never luxury. Near-luxury, yes, but not full luxury. Plus, one’s parent still exists; the other is an orphan…and trying to sustain an orphan make is all the harder.

    So, based on that, including my own personal bias, I have to give my salute to Lincoln.

  4. I went with the Town Car because this generation was just coming online when I worked at a Ford dealer that really wanted to also be a Lincoln dealer, so we serviced a lot of these. Not sure what I’d do with it, but if it were reliable enough it could rival our Pacifica as a cushy long-distance cruiser.

    I’m also freshly stung by the leaky intake manifold issue in my sister’s ’04 LeSabre that 3800s of this vintage are known for. She’s on a tight budget, and by the time she had the work done (I do a lot of the work on her car, but that was one I wasn’t comfortable touching, for logistics reasons) I think some coolant got into the oil (it went somewhere) and my paranoid ear is now hearing some ticking. Those things are cockroaches, and she babies the car, but I’m just hoping that she can keep it together until she can assume responsibility for our mother’s Jeep Renegade.

    1. I didn’t know the manifold design problem persisted for that long. I thought they fixed it in the Series III 3800. I have a ’98 88 as my daily, and I had plenty of notice that the coolant would begin to find its way into the combustion chambers and eventually hydro-lock the mill, and when it started coughing and spouting glycol mists, I was able to get the car to my mechanic in time to save it. There’ve been no repercussions, fortunately. I find the size of the Olds is about as big a car as I can handle, and it has FWD, which, together with 4 snows, gives plenty of traction in the snow. It rides very well, and handles OK if you look around curves and start the turn early.

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