Home » The Oldsmobile LSS Was A Supercharged Frankenstein-Monster That Tried Going Toe-To-Toe With The Germans: Holy Grails

The Oldsmobile LSS Was A Supercharged Frankenstein-Monster That Tried Going Toe-To-Toe With The Germans: Holy Grails

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In the 1980s and 1990s, young professionals sold their cheap cars and brought home BMWs, Acuras, and Lexus vehicles. A new era of luxury had begun — one where cars shook off chrome and put on tight suspensions, ample power, and understated designs. Oldsmobile didn’t want to get left out and decided to create its own luxury sport sedan to go up against the imports. The result was the Oldsmobile LSS, a car that tried to beat the imports and really turned out to be a GM H-body gem.

Last time on Holy Grails, we took a look at the Acura 3.2CL Type S with a manual transmission. The CL Series was an important car for Acura. While the brand had set its stakes in American soil, it didn’t sell vehicles designed by Americans. That changed with the CL Series as it was Acura’s first car to be designed by and entirely for Americans. The CL Series featured a luxurious interior and stout performance, but Acura never offered the Type S version with a manual transmission until 2003, and only for 2003.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

Today, we’re staying in the same era that produced Acura itself, but focusing on how one division of General Motors sought to compete with luxury imports.

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Oldsmobile

In the 1990s, Oldsmobile took its Eighty Eight sedan and spruced it up a bit with parts that you’d expect in a sport sedan, then called it the LSS. This Buick 3800 V6-powered H-body was supposed to lure young buyers away from Lexus, BMW, and Acura.

Luxury Evolution

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Lexus

In the early 1980s, America’s economy reversed course from its 1970s slump. Buyers who were once concerned about a low purchase price and high fuel economy started selling off their cheap rides for something luxurious. During this era, luxury itself was undergoing a revolution. In the 1970s, luxury cars were ostentatious affairs with miles of chrome and lengths long enough to plant a Boeing 747 on.

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In the 1980s, this sort of style began falling out of favor. Buyers scooped up luxury import cars that did away with the chrome and large bodies for slimmer, more subdued designs. Specifically, those buyers were picking up European imports from the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

This demand for luxury sport sedans in the 1980s, as well as Japan’s voluntary export restrictions, helped spur the creation of Honda’s Acura, Toyota’s Lexus, Nissan’s Infiniti, and Mazda’s stillborn Amati. Japanese brands also figured they could make the best of the export restrictions by selling higher-margin luxury cars. The brands showed that they could build attractive and sporty luxury cars. Highlights from the era include the Acura Legend, the Lexus LS400, and the Infiniti Q45.

These vehicles apparently sold well enough to attract the attention of General Motors, which made a push to compete with these fresh import faces.

Enter The Eighty Eight: A NASCAR Champion

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NASCAR Archives & Research Center

In 1992, the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, née 88, entered into its tenth generation. The nameplate had been a staple of Oldsmobile for 43 years by that point. Launched in 1949, the 88 quickly became Oldsmobile’s best selling and most profitable model, where it stuck until 1974.

Those first 88s rode on GM’s A-body platform, which the 88 shared with the 76. However, while the 76 had a straight-six, the 88 had a 303 cubic-inch Rocket V8. The small body and big engine configuration made the 135 horsepower 88 what NASCAR argues to be America’s first muscle car.

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NASCAR Archives & Research Center

As NASCAR explains, the 76 was the same size but had less power while the 98 was larger and heavier. If you wanted a go-fast Oldsmobile, the 88 was your ticket. That’s exactly what drivers did in NASCAR. In 1949, Oldsmobile 88s took five of eight races that year. A year later, 88 Coupes took 10 of 19 wins, earning Oldsmobile NASCAR’s first Manufacturers’ Championship. Oldsmobile won it a second time in 1951 when 88 Coupes won 20 of 41 races.

The 88 wasn’t just a favorite of racing drivers, but of the illegal liquor industry as well. Those early 88s had that perfect combination of storage and speed, allowing drivers to outrun the cops with a car full of moonshine. Eventually, the Hudson Hornet would beat the 88 in competition, but the 88 had already reached stardom. The 88 was so popular that even music praised the vehicle. Rocket 88 by “Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats,” really Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm, reached number one on a Billboard chart.

Oldsmobile 88 1950 Wallpapers 5
Oldsmobile

The 88 would continue to evolve over several generations, gaining size, chrome, fins, and even bigger V8 engines. At some point, you could even order your 88 with a 455 cubic inch V8 with 390 gross horsepower. By 1977, the 88 would enter its eigth generation. Like many models during that era, the 88 was downsized considerably, given a blocky design and saw its engines shrink to match. Then, in 1986, the 88 downsized even further and moved to General Motors’ H-body platform, becoming a front-wheel-drive vehicle. In 1989, the 88 would be renamed the Eighty Eight.

Today’s car comes from the tenth and final generation of the Eighty Eight. In 1992, Oldsmobile unveiled the new Eighty Eight. As the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1991, the new car featured the technology of the time such as a side air bag, anti-lock brakes, a computer-controlled automatic transmission, and modern crush zones. The publication noted that the new Eighty Eight was essentially a rolling hotel room for six people. However, the Los Angeles Times wrote “It has neither gumption nor mechanical innovation” while stating that the vehicle had really nothing to get excited over.

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Oldsmobile

As the Los Angeles Times continued, Oldsmobile itself was fighting an image problem. The brand had a lineup of cars with overstuffed interiors and little excitement. Younger buyers appeared to not be interested. Oldsmobile certainly felt the pain with its sales. In 1990, the automaker moved 537,856 units and by the end of the decade in 1999, Oldsmobile moved 352,163 units after dipping as low as 304,759 in 1997.

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One of the vehicles that was supposed to jump-start Oldsmobile was the Aurora. Released in 1994 for the 1995 model year, the Aurora leapfrogged Oldsmobile design from the early 1990s to something that could pass for an early 2000s vehicle. The Aurora was beautiful, advanced, and a fitting flagship. Of course, with the power of hindsight, we know that the Aurora did not save Oldsmobile. But before the fire flamed out, the Aurora trickled some of its ideas down the line.

The Grail

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Oldsmobile

In the middle of the 1992 model year, the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Royale got a sort of performance package called the LSS, or “Luxury Sports Sedan.” This took a high trim level Eighty Eight Royale and added an FE3 sport suspension, a floor-mounted shifter (standard Eighty Eights had column shifters), alloy wheels, and bucket seats. Those parts, plus an optional supercharged GM 3800 V6, were supposed to convince American buyers to go with an Oldsmobile instead of that Acura.

This is not our grail — that would come a few years later. My wife, Sheryl, made a plea in last week’s Holy Grails for the Oldsmobile LSS, the standalone version of Oldsmobile’s attempt to sway import buyers. A lot of you upvoted her comment:

Please upvote this so my lovely, gorgeous, and brilliant wife can make the supercharged Oldsmobile LSS, a standalone model for only two years of which there are maybe a couple thousand remaining total, the next Holy Grail. (Thanks to my dad and grandma, I will forever love Oldsmobile and Pontiac, two brands that no longer exist lol).

I mean – it was a shortlived cross between the 88 and Aurora that GM actually pitched as a competitor for BMW and Lexus. That’s just amazing in its audacity. Also, I miss mine. 

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Mercedes Streeter

Your wish is my command! Introduced in the 1995 model year, the Oldsmobile LSS was a Frankenstein monster of sorts. Oldsmobile sold it as a standalone model, but it had a largely unchanged body and powertrain of the Eighty Eight but with a bit of flair dragged down from the Aurora’s orbit.

Oldsmobile brought a lot of small changes to the Eighty Eight to better equip it in a fight against luxury imports. The Eighty Eight and LSS got a new face evoking Oldsmobile’s “Hammer” design study of 1993. This gave the refreshed cars a far more modern front end that’s far more pleasing to the eye than the previous design. Among those changes include thinner headlights, a twin-port grille, and some minimal sculpting that makes the car look a bit more racy.

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Mercedes Streeter

Trickling down from Aurora is a new badging scheme where the car minimizes any text saying Oldsmobile. There’s a stylized Oldsmobile logo up front and just “LSS” everywhere else. Oldsmobile gets a tiny mention on the trunk lid. The five-spoke wheels are also another Aurora design trait to make it over.

Inside, Oldsmobile continued the Aurora inspirations by giving occupants leather thrones to sit in. The main difference between the LSS seats and the Aurora seats are that the LSS seats didn’t get the flagship’s lumbar adjustments. Weirdly, if you didn’t like leather, you could downgrade the interior to cloth if you wanted to.

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Capping off the features list is faux wood trim, dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors, automatic headlights and even an optional primitive Oldsmobile Guidestar GPS-based navigation system that stuck off of the dashboard. Under the hood, the LSS is motivated by GM’s venerable 3800 V6 Series II, which pushed 205 HP to the front wheels in naturally aspirated form or 240 HP with a supercharger.

In Oldsmobile’s marketing, the automaker named direct targets. The automaker said that the LSS is a worthy competitor to the Infiniti J30, Lexus ES300, and Acura Legend. Oldsmobile also made it clear that it really just wanted any and all import buyers to give America’s sports sedan a go.

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Mercedes Streeter

Now, before you laugh, the LSS tested well with reviewers in its day, even “romp[ing]” its V8-powered Aurora sibling. Here’s what MotorTrend had to say:

All the energy so discreetly bottled up under the hood pours forth on cue from the throttle. Accelerating from rest to 60 mph is a torquey 6.9-second process, while the quarter-mile trip takes only 15 seconds and delivers a terminal velocity of 94.2 mph. In case you’ve fallen behind in your Road Test Review studies, the Oldsmobile LSS easily eclipses every Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus sedan currently sold in the U.S., as well as an impressive list of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo models. (It also romps the V-8 Aurora, which carries 400 pounds more weight and produces 20 pound-feet less torque.) The only real down side to the LSS’s prodigious power is evident when booted in the lower gears; during the first couple of seconds under full throttle, the front tires feel like they’re guided more by torque steer than the steering wheel.

Blend somewhat-more-restrained acceleration with a bit of cornering, and the LSS takes a firm set, with fairly firm shock damping to quell the body roll. Fat Goodyear Eagle GA 225/60SR16 tires bite into the skidpad at 0.80 g, a level of adhesion fully competitive with the import sedans Oldsmobile has targeted. Although a long-wheelbase, 3600-pound front-driver is a handful to hustle through any slalom course, the LSS doesn’t embarrass itself with crippling understeer or a wagging tail. We clocked a slalom speed of 60.8 mph-not exactly BMW-chasing, but only 0.1 mph slower than the Infiniti J30.

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Mercedes Streeter

The positive reviews even predated the LSS as a standalone car. In 1994, Oldsmobile’s marketing quoted other publications, where Car and Driver apparently said: “Demand to be handed the keys to the Eighty Eight LSS.” Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times said: “You could spend more than $10,000 over the LSS Special Edition’s price and not get as good a car.” Though, perhaps my favorite review was a November 1992 issue of Popular Mechanics where the highlight of the magazine’s Eighty Eight Royale LSS tester was the fact that it didn’t break.

Speaking of marketing, Oldsmobile had some wild commercials for the LSS, including a drag race between two imports and a chef plus a race with a cheetah:

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Sheryl, my wife, owned a 1997 Oldsmobile LSS for about a month. I got to take the vehicle on a couple of road trips and honestly, I’m not entirely sure what Oldsmobile was thinking. When this car was on sale, you could buy a classy Lexus ES300 or a stately BMW E39. My acceleration times were on par with period reviews. Indeed, the LSS was fast in a straight line, but it didn’t quite hit the mark with handling. But, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I found the LSS to be more comfortable than Sheryl’s current E39 wagon. The LSS floated down the road and made me feel as if I was commanding a pair of sofas with wheels attached to them. Sadly, the vehicle was killed by poor workmanship at a repair shop, but that’s for another day.

As for production numbers? It’s hard to say. I’ve seen some enthusiasts estimate that somewhere around a couple thousand of them were made, but that isn’t backed up by sources. Further, it appears that when Oldsmobile tallied up its sales, it lumped the LSS in together with the Eighty Eight. What I can say is that the LSS disappeared after 1999 and there are far more regular Eighty Eights out there than the LSS sibling.

Lissy
Mercedes Streeter

GM’s H-body was shared between the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight and LSS, the Buick LeSabre, and the Pontiac Bonneville. While performance was similar between the three, the LSS stands out for at least trying to emulate the import experience but in an American car.

Sheryl generally keeps tabs on LSS for sale around America and currently, there are just a few out there. While there may not be many Oldsmobile LSS out there, collectors don’t appear to be snapping them up. The highest-priced one I’ve seen in the past year was $7,000, and it had under 50,000 miles. So, if you’re looking for a classic GM front-driver that apparently had the grunt to keep up with the imports, an Oldsmobile LSS is a cheap highway bomber to play with.

Do you know of or own a car, bus, motorcycle, or something else worthy of being called a ‘holy grail’? Send me an email at mercedes@theautopian.com or drop it down in the comments!

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Christopher Andrew Adkins
Christopher Andrew Adkins
23 days ago

There is 1 on FB marketplace in Denver. $800, won’t start. Owner doesn’t know what it is, someone debaged it but you can still make out the LSS on the side.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
24 days ago

Just for fun, who remembers the last generation 98? It was the long wheel base version of the 88. If I remember the styling was tweaked some to appeal to the grandpas that were still alive to shuffle into the Olds dealer. I don’t think it lasted long. Certainly not as long as the 88 and not reviewed as well either. They’re probably a rare bird as well.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
24 days ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

Definitely rarer, couldn’t tell you the last time I saw one, I think the Park Ave outsold it handily. It was pretty handsome especially in Touring trim. 91-96 so it did run as long as the Park Ave, but a couple years shy of the Eighty Eight like you said (92-99). The Ninety Eight nose did get shifted over to the Eighty Eight to make the 97-98 Regency as sort of a half-measure for the traditional buyer, sort of like the 97-99 Cutlibu.

Jay Miller
Jay Miller
24 days ago

There was supposed to be a second generation for the LSS, but that car became the second-gen Aurora when Buick killed the Riviera. That’s why the Aurora oddly became smaller in its second iteration.

Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
25 days ago

This is amazing and I love it (and you) so much!!!

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
25 days ago

Oldsmobile was really out of touch by 1993. They wanted me to by this thing rather than an M5?.ROFLMAO!

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
25 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

The Oldsmobile had an MSRP of $26,600 in 1996 ($51,825 today). The closest M5 I could find was 1991, which had an MSRP of $56,600 then ($127,000 today). So no, they wanted you to buy this rather than buying two-fifths of an M5.

Philip Allen
Philip Allen
25 days ago

Sorry but you lost me as soon as you mentioned them using a 1949 car to run liquor, prohibition was over by 1933. Pretty doubtful anyone was running liquor in the 50’s

Scotty Scott
Scotty Scott
24 days ago
Reply to  Philip Allen

Junior Johnson went to prison for bootlegging in 1956. He was caught at the still, not on the road. The premise of Smokey and the Bandit is that Snowman is delivering Coors beer to Atlanta, where it wasn’t sold legally.

Technically, alcohol sales in the US are restricted mostly at the local level. The 18th Amendment applied nationally, but local governments had the option of such restrictions before and after the 18th Amendment was in force.

Also, there was money to be made by producing liquor and not paying excise taxes when selling it. Large operations couldn’t get away with that, but a small operator might be able to get away with that.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
16 days ago
Reply to  Philip Allen

Jack Daniels is to this day distilled in a dry county.

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
16 days ago
Reply to  Philip Allen

Dry counties, and lower prices for shine versus commercial (and taxed) liquor.

Entire sections of states were dry for a very long time, you would have to make a day trip to “the big city” to buy booze at a store. And there were no expressways out in the sticks back then, Appalachia in particular was still very isolated (hell, parts of it still are). Plus some people just prefer shine, you can get fairly creative flavoring it with fruit and such. Just look at all the “legal shine” you can buy these days, such as this brand: https://olesmoky.com/collections/moonshine ;people like this stuff, for sure.

And people still make illegal corn liquor today! Google “moonshine still arrests” if you don’t believe me. If you live in the right part of the country it is still quite common to see someone break out a Mason jar and pass it around.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
25 days ago

Have you guys done one of the Buick Lacrosse Super yet?

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
25 days ago

Finally. The LSS (and other H bodies) gets some internet love.Of all the cars I’ve ever owned, my 1995 LSS was my favorite. Spacious, torquey, efficient, quiet, loaded with everything you need and nothing you don’t, and the kind of handling capability that actually counts in everyday driving.

This is a car that seated 5 real adults, (or 6 in the standard 88 version) had an 18 cubic foot trunk, an 18 gallon tank, and weighed less than 3600 lbs. All this plus 205 hp and 30 mpg on the highway. There’s NOTHING today that does that today while also offering a genuinely appealing interior and formal appeal of a large sedan.

I drove that car on some of the most important nights of my life, took mutiple road trips to everywhere between Atlanta and Toronto, met clients, drove through snow drifts so deep they broke over the hood like waves over the bow of a ship. Sat through drive-in movies, cruised more than 500 miles without stopping for gas, and maybe, if the statute of limitations has expired, avoided a ticket for bumping it against the 108 mph limiter on a deserted stretch of highway. My beloved Medium Adriatic Blue LSS (plus a “holy grail” early build supercharged 1996 LSS and two 1995 Bonneville SEs) is long gone, but the memories will never be.

I know waaaaay too much about these cars, but I’ll stick to just two more things you might find interesting:

This generation of the H body was going to offer 4 wheel steering, probably intended only for the SSEi. The 1992 Bonneville gauge clusters included a warning light for the rear steer system, so it must have been cut at the last minute. Each side of the rear suspension has a peculiar toe links that would be perfect for a few degrees of steering.

The 1995 88 and LSS (they were separate models starting in ’95) were the first production cars to offer a GPS based navigation system, called Guidestar. I have one of the last Guidestars in existence sitting in a box next to me right now, after pulling it from my ’96 LSS. The display looks like an AS400 entry screen, but it had all the same basic features of a typical modern nav and really looked like the future when it was new.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
25 days ago

The first car I really remember was my family’s ’79 88, in maroon, of course. So hard to believe that was a downsized model.

My dad came from an Oldsmobile family, and he always talked about how valets would run to fetch his dad’s ’49 98.

PS – One should never mention “Rocket 88” without noting that it has a really good case as the first-ever rock n roll song. Still slaps.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
25 days ago

First, I just want to say: that Lexus is ugly as sin. For a second my brain thought it was one of The Bishop’s more ridiculous fantasies, but no, it’s just an incredibly malproportioned car. I didn’t ever expect to object to a car having too much greenhouse, but egad.

It’s interesting that Lexus had immediate success from a combo of lower prices than the Germans and better build quality than anyone, but it’s an objective fact that every new car, even Jaguars and such, is much, much better built than ’90s Lexuses.The bar was just so much lower.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
25 days ago

“The Oldsmobile LSS Was A Supercharged Frankenstein-Monster That Tried Going Toe-To-Toe With The Germans: Holy Fails”

There – IFIFY.

Der Foo
Der Foo
25 days ago

My grandmother had one from several generations earlier. 1970 Delta 88 with the 455 Pontiac Rocket engine. While it used as much iron in its construction as two Sherman tanks and only got around 10 MPG, I’d take it over any of the 1990s Olds. Maybe if I had driven one of these high end Olds I’d reconsider my choice, but GM cars of that era were in many ways just sad. Bad designs, marginal quality and scary weak brakes.

Richard Smith
Richard Smith
25 days ago
Reply to  Der Foo

455 Pontiac in an 88? Did she have the engine swapped? Only Oldsmobile made the Rocket.

Der Foo
Der Foo
24 days ago
Reply to  Richard Smith

Across the the top of the air cleaner it had the Pontiac emblem and “455”. The air cleaner itself was red’ish and the valve covers were blue. Which does seem odd. Her mechanic one time made the comment that it was getting harder to find Pontiac and Olds parts. Maybe that’s what made me think the engine was actually a Pontiac. My father did say that the car was purchased that way from the Oldsmobile dealer back in ’71 and to his knowledge my Grandmother never had the engine replaced. Could have just been that the air cleaner assembly was a case of the factory only having what was on hand.

Richard Odenweller
Richard Odenweller
24 days ago
Reply to  Der Foo

70-76 Rocket V8’s would have been metallic blue. Older ones would have been red. Pontiac engines would be metallic light blue. As for the air cleaner, who knows? But it’s likely not original.

Der Foo
Der Foo
20 days ago

Not sure which shade of metallic blue it was other than “Oil Soaked Metallic Blue”.

Per my father, who saw the car a few months after my grandmother bought it, the air cleaner was orange’ish. Like you said, it could very well been changed out. The dealership, though an Olds outlet, sold new Chevrolet, with some Buicks and Pontiacs as well. It was a larger town for the area, but only had like one GM and one Ford dealer. The rest of the dealers worth mentioning were probably John Deer and International.

Last edited 20 days ago by Der Foo
Richard Odenweller
Richard Odenweller
25 days ago
Reply to  Der Foo

The Olds Rocket 455 was a different engine than the Pontiac 455. The Buick 455 was yet again a different engine.

Der Foo
Der Foo
24 days ago

See my reply in this thread to Richard S.

SlowLayne
SlowLayne
25 days ago

I had an LSS as a leased company car in the late 90s. For slogging down the Interstate in cushy comfort it was a major upgrade from our pool of identical white Grand Ams, but when the lease was up there were no tears shed, no memories lost, and I convinced our CFO to spring for an A6.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
25 days ago

My Dad almost bought one, but bought a used ’95 Aurora instead. HUGE MISTAKE! That Aurora was such a shitbox from the word go. And for such a big car, the interior was CRAMPED. H-bodies are the exact opposite.

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
25 days ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

So true. The H bodies were big on the inside and not so big at all on the outside. Terrific packaging.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
26 days ago

The LSS floated down the road and made me feel as if I was commanding a pair of sofas with wheels attached to them.

As the owner of an older, land barge 88, that’s exactly how they should feel.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
26 days ago

I’ll never forget that the first car I ever drove was in driver’s ed- a 1985 Delta 88. Beige with tan cloth interior. Crank windows. And a 231, the ancestor to the 3800. As boring as rare wheat toast with no butter, but wow, what a great car.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
26 days ago

Our pastor in the mid-90’s had one. The license plate: REVVVY

Preston Flowers
Preston Flowers
25 days ago

got my upvote that is cool

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
26 days ago

I have always found the styling on these a bit odd, as the snout front end doesn’t quite match the abbreviated rear end. The Bonneville has always been more attractive to me, enough that I bought one a few decades ago, though the Bonnie’s seats weren’t as comfortable as the contemporary Old’s and Buick’s.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
26 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Agreed. I always had a soft spot for the Bonneville SSEi.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
26 days ago
Reply to  Bearddevil

Oh man, there SSEi’s must have had a record in the 1990s for most amount of buttons on the interior. I’ve always kinda wanted a 1999 SSEi supercharged.

David Fernandez
David Fernandez
25 days ago
Reply to  Bearddevil

My 1st car! I love it and miss it dearly.

That supercharger whine on a big sedan was *chefs kiss*

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
25 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

I think they did about as well as possible given the starting point: since it was a mid-generation facelift, I’m sure there were things the designers would have liked to change but just couldn’t get past the accountants. But I do think they were/are genuinely good-looking, even if they’re not perfect.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
25 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

The pre-’96 Eighty Eight did look a bit more natural to me for the reason you stated, although I think part of it is also the facelift smoothed out the rub strips/lower side moldings. That added some visual weight that made it look a bit more substantial especially on models where the rub strips were black or with two-tone lower accent.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
26 days ago

My parents almost bought one but went with a Thunderbird of the same era with a V8. Looked great in Green with tan leather. Ran like garbage.

The good thing is the z28 was purchased to replace the t-bird.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
26 days ago

You’re a good spouse, Mercedes.

When I ask my partner to write a several-thousand-word ode to my favorite car and publish it on a global platform with millions of monthly views, she just ignores me 🙁

David Tracy
David Tracy
26 days ago

lol!

Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
25 days ago

She’s the bestest! As well as the most beautiful.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
26 days ago

What’s the acceleration feel like on these, real world? Is it a torque-steer roller coaster ride, or does the mass of the V8 help plant it, make it feel more stable if less seat of the pants crazy fun?

(I’ve never driven a FWD V8 powered car and have always been curious)

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
26 days ago

You used to be able to buy aftermarket Quaife limited slips for these 4T-60/65 transaxles. If GM had put these as standard on the supercharged models I think they would have had a better chance vs imports.

http://www.grandprix.net/upgrades/quaifeinstall.html

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
26 days ago

My fault – I completely was under the impression these were 8s. D’oh!

I did once drive a Spirit R/T sedan and it was fun/scary, so always wondered what bigger versions of that kinda setup felt like.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
26 days ago

I’ve driven both a Z52 Corsica (which used a chipped V6) and a Northstar-powered Seville STS. Both contemporary front-drive GM cars. GM had a very good damping system for their more powerful front-drive platforms. If you stomped on the gas, first gear required just a steady, firm hand — much like keeping control on a well-bred, powerful horse. At the kick when second gear took hold, it settled right down and the car would just keep building speed without needing any additional steering correction. The Corsica had firmer than GM-normal power steering in the chain to help damp it down; the Caddy had the Magnesteer variable-assist power steering which would clamp down on it.

GM bet heavily on FWD technology moving to the forefront of car designs back then. Front-drive was everywhere back then, and it was inevitable that I drove many versions from various manufacturers. You just couldn’t get away from it. With the right tires and suspension setups, GM had the ability to put an awful lot of power (for the times) to the front wheels and still have a well-behaved car. Have to hand them that.

Somewhere there’s an alternate universe/timeline where 90’s era GM re-captured the domestic automotive market and dominated it with high-powered, sharp-handling cars, where sedans and coupes still were desirable, and SUVs and crossovers never took over. It would be fun…

Lardo
Lardo
24 days ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

My boss had Caddy Allante. Besides the overly complicated top, was awesome. I drove it a lot and there was some torque steer in 1st. Very steep learning curve for 1st gear but once understood it was very fun.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
26 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Haven’t driven one of these but have driven two late ’90s Pontiac Gran Prix GTPs with this engine and they are torquey and fast-feels like a period GM v8 but agree with the author the torque steer is very noticeable in 1st and 2nd, not quite trying to steal the wheel from you but as I recall you wanted to have a firm hand on it if you floored it from a stop, and even at a roll you’d feel a noticeable tug when you gassed it.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
26 days ago

They sound quite fun and very much of their time, which is endearing to me.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
26 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Oh yeah they definitely are very of their time-good and bad. I owned a ’88 Pontiac Trans Am for awhile and the Gran Prixes felt very much like a FWD version of that car

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
26 days ago

I’m a sucker for that era as possibly the final iteration of the classic American car formula – large engines and medium everything else. Euro-balanced or Asian-competent they weren’t, but there was a undeniable charm of a 1950s concept taken as far as it would go.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
26 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Late 80s through mid-90s GM made some nice examples of the classic three-box design, molded either into attractive, streamlined wedge profiles or more formal boxy designs, but still with the sharp edges gently smoothed and typically a slightly abbreviated trunk and smoothed kamm-tail. They leaned into the aero styling with some simple and classy lines, rather than going all blobby. They corrected their early 80s mistakes of some real gutless wonders and figured out how to get more torque and power out of smaller engines even if they still preferred pushrod designs. There was probably a model and package to appeal to just about anybody looking for a domestic car, at least.

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