1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Diesel – I Also Like To Live Dangerously

What can I say about the GM diesel V8 of the late 70s and early 80s that hasn’t been said by countless others? Many people hate them, some love them, but most either want to forget them, or already have.

But tonight I saw this on a Facebook group I’m in which is called Finding Future Classic Cars. As a big fan of these full-size top-of-the-line Oldsmobiles, I had to check it out.

Of course upon clicking the link I discovered it was one of those infamous diesels. Still, that’s a pretty attractive early 80s sedan, especially in dark green with tan leather interior.

I always like these 1980 to 1984 Oldsmobile 98 Regencys. When I was a kid back then our neighbors two doors down had one, an ’83 or an ’84 if memory serves, in triple navy blue and it was gorgeous. Of course it had a standard gasoline-fueled V8 too. Probably the 307 by then.

Anyway this one’s for sale in Butler, New Jersey, has a claimed 117000 miles and the original engine was replaced in 1984 with a ‘Goodwrench replacement diesel’, according to the ad.

It also says that the car has been sitting for about 30 years. And is not currently running. So while the ask is $2,000 I would bet one would be able to get it for less. Should said person have a hankering for tinkering with an early ’80s GM diesel luxocruiser, that is.

This one appears to have the optional leather interior, but the rather plain standard wheel covers. Seems like 9/10ths of these came with the extra cost wire wheel covers. Regardless, it’s certainly an interesting time capsule, if nothing else.

26 Replies to “1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Diesel – I Also Like To Live Dangerously”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    With the diesel these were probably getting close to 30 mpg highway. 25 years later I picked a Saab 9-3 because my bank consulting business at the time required me to be on the road a great deal and 30mpg highway was something I required as I was out of pocket for my travel. This was something that the ubiquitous upscale six cylinder of the day from wherever simply could not promise. The idea that a diesel would give it to you with this level of luxury, presence and room is mind boggling. While I would have missed the Tiffany clock and gold key of the original 72 Regency, at the price, what a deal!

    Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        First let me congratulate you on spelling America right. For mouth breathers like yourself, it often comes out as Murica, so sounding it out doesn’t work.

        I would tell you that the profit went to America but it was an 04 leftover and so was heavily discounted. Oddly the Buick it was up against was a first year model and they weren’t discounting. The Mercury it was up against was heavily discounted but I wound’t get their advertised price unless I was simultaneously a veteran, a first responder, a recent college graduate, and got rolled up on the red carpet of their financing.The Volvo S80 was a possible stretch purchase that might have just made my price cutoff as there was an $8500 rebate. What there wasn’t was cloth seated, no sunroof base models anywhere to be had. The S60 didn’t drive as well. So all a long way of saying I was price sensitive circa 2005. Only our Japanese carmaking friends seem to have the advantage of buyers spending other peoples money indiscriminately.

        Reply
        • AvatarCJinSD

          “Only our Japanese carmaking friends seem to have the advantage of buyers spending other peoples money indiscriminately.”

          You definitely have the Marxist’s tendency for perverting the meaning of words. What part of spending money indiscriminately involves buying the best product which will also retain a fair amount of value when you’re done with it? Does GAP insurance pay out more on Toyotas than it does on the list of clunkers you considered? Not on a per-vehicle basis, which is pretty much evidence of money that was better spent.

          Reply
        • AvatarJohn C.

          Is that Esperanto you are perverting with you equating buying Japanese with the best product and the connected gap insurance scheme.

          The 9-3 did very well for me both in driving it and at trade time where it had kept over 60% of what I paid for it deeply discounted remember.

          What upscale offering from our Japanese friends could have offered 30mpg highway good seats and a decent ride in 2005 under 30K? All they had under 30k were overhyped a body clones.

          Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            You could have bought an Acura TSX, and kept it for twice as long while retaining the same value. All you’d have had to do is accept better mileage, a more sophisticated chassis, higher quality materials, and an engine that would have made it to 300K miles on two sets of plugs, two accessory drive belts, and several oil changes. I’ve driven them both. There were legitimate reasons that the TSX was winning comparison tests where the Saab was comic relief. I’ve seen an early TSX with failed clear-coat on its navy blue paint, but there’s a pearl white one in my parents’ driveway that still has no visible aging of its paint or tan leather interior. I also have a friend whose TSX’s leather looked like Edward Scissorhands was the previous owner, but it isn’t like most European cars weren’t made out of disintegrating eco-friendly experimental matter at the time.

        • AvatarJohn C.

          The Euro Accord had that since abandoned suspension that valued being compact over suspension travel and absorption of road noise. On the Sterling/Legend joint venture car years before, Rover/Austin explained to Honda that it was inappropriate in a luxury sedan and the Legend debuted with rear struts. No doubt Honda grated having to pay someone named McPhearson or Chapman and soon unilaterally switched to their in house crap. Soon C/D excluded the Legend for a sport sedan comparo on the basis of poor suspension tuning. The Sterling was invited. All that and a hard seat and too short top gear left the TSX a lousy highway car. No sale.

          Reply
          • AvatarCJinSD

            By the time the TSX was made, that suspension had evolved to have a full helping of suspension travel and vanquish the Germans and Swedes in comparison tests. It was also adopted by most top competitors in the midsized sedan class, only going away because narrow offset crash testing made its performance a prohibitively expensive luxury. I’ve seen the Rover myths of the Sterling being anything other than proof that the Brits can’t build a good car, or that they had anything to do with the BMW-clone suspension design of the first BMW Mini, having not engineered their own anything for over a decade. I always wondered if anyone was fooled. Now I know.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Notice how well those Accords with those eventually it evolved from crap suspensions did in Europe against those incompetent Germans and Swedes. So well that they don’t bother with Euro Accords any more despite being an old man car on a continent of old men.

            Notice that you don’t even bother to try to argue that the TSX was a good road car because you know it wasn’t. After all the customers needs in a vehicle are not important, the label is all that matters because that is what defines you as sophisticated. It even lets you dream of schemes regarding residuals. How very utopian Esperanto of you.

  2. Avataryossarian

    i’m wondering what the goodwrench replacement diesel is all about. the car wizard on youtube did a video about the 350 v8 diesel. his take was the problems were typical gm beta testing a not ready for prime time product on its customers. he claimed the engine had stringent maintenance requirements which were often not met and that there was a head bolt issue that could be fixed with a labor intensive head stud instalation. he also said that the engine improved during it’s production run. so if this goodwrench engine has dealt with those issues, it should be very reliable.

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      Most of the “first run” diesel engines from 1978-1980 ended up being replaced under warranty by the 1981 and up “DX” diesel block which had several improvements over the earlier diesel engines, it didn’t remove all the problems, but it made them better.

      They required good maintenance, and it was really recommended that you have a water separator too, diesel gas from that era was really crappy too.

      Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      Interesting that the also converted from gas VW Rabbit diesel never gets tarred with the same type of slams. Except when one shows up in the COAL stories at the other site, it always seems to also be getting a replacement engine. Hmmm…

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

        VW diesels were absolute lot poison for some of the new-car life and all of their used.

        In the early Nineties, diesel Rabbits and Jettas were priced like so: $price_of_gas_rabbit – $cost_of_junkyard_gas_rabbit_install

        Reply
        • Tom KlockauTom Klockau

          Meanwhile, Ye Olde Cantankerous Coot is re-running one of my posts from 2012…great to see the massive effort expended over there these days.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            Your great old pieces are much better than Tatra’s heres an old Subaru tall wagon with a Jaguar grille and a long explanation why that isn’t pathetic.

            156 comments on your CDV though… wow.

    • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

      IMO the car wizard is another Scotty Kilmer-style YouTube star, just not as obnoxious. I’ve not seen the video you reference, but I’ve seen others where the information presented was not accurate by a long shot. The later run diesels and the replacement diesels are fine motors, but you do have to maintain them differently than a gasoline engine. Which is what I really think was the problem. The first owners of these cars either didn’t realize the unique maintenance requirements of Diesels, or ignored them. Why GM didn’t make the water separator factory issue from the start is just plain ludicrous, but that’s another debate all on it’s own. I also have to agree with John about the VW diesels, as they’re not as bulletproof to keep running as the VW humpers seem to indicate.

      Gasoline engines have come a long way in their characteristics, that many mimic Diesel traits, without the expensive fuel, parts and maintenance. Heck, gasoline engines with modern 8 and 10 speed automatic transmissions can do the same work as Diesel engines, maybe more.

      The GM Diesel cars had quite the reputation over in the Old Country, as they were apparently a good value for the money. At the time it was hard to find a vehicle quite as large as a GM B-body with the tax-friendly and more powerful Diesel motor that wasn’t a Mercedes or Peugeot.

      Several years back, Car and Driver did a series of feature articles on beater cars they would drive across the country. Kind of like a mashup between a LeMons race and a Cannonball Run. One time they did it with a 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel they bought from some farmer out in the midwest somewhere. Much to their surprise (or chagrin) the Olds out-performed the other cars in the feature. At the end of the article, the writers implied that they actually liked the car… Whodathunkit?

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        The 810 RWD Maxima went after that C/D test to Nissan to study. The diesel conversion of “their” OHC inline six. Perhaps Mercedes should have taken a look at that one, but all the laughing would have probably killed productivity for the day as they would have started crank calling Carlos Ghosn

        Reply
      • AvatarCarmine

        The car “wizard” is part of the youtube morons I lump in with Hoovies Garage(OMG look at the stupid thing I just did!!!) and Tavarish and every other intolerable schmuck on youtube, a mechanic, even a pretty decent mechanic, but clearly not an expert and he does talk out of his ass, also, he seems to own a version of every car he tells his viewers not to owner, for Christ sake, can you take a mechanic that put his wife in a Land Rover seriously?

        Try Harrys Garage and Tyrells Workshop for some good content.

        Reply
  3. AvatarTracy Hopper-Vos

    This is actually my father’s car and my husband’s pictures of it. It’s at our family’s shop in Butler, NJ.
    Feel free to reach out if you’re interested. It’s an absolutely time capsule.
    30 years in the same family and looks just like it does in the pictures. Super clean.

    Reply
  4. AvatarSean Vos

    I’m the guy selling this car. Helping my father in law to sell it. He aquired it last year and just wants it to go to a good home. Anyone interested it’s on Facebook for more pics. This car is rock solid no rust!!

    Reply
  5. AvatarTracy Hopper-Vos

    This is actually my dad’s car and it is still for sale. If you have questions few free to reach out! It’s clean as it looks!
    Thanks for the great write up on it!

    Reply
  6. AvatarEd k

    My name is Ed. I bought the car recently. My wife actually encouraged me to get it. As a young kid my uncle Tony had one and it fascinated me. It was like something special. My parents has a new 83 fleet wood brougham and I liked uncle Tony’s car more. I remember the rides with him and he would have a six pack of Schmidt’s on the front seat with one open between his legs and he would take me for an Italian ice I was 10 years old I think. Today I’ve been working from home for the past 3 months with a very stressful job. My friend texts me and said look at this. You always wanted one like this. I showed my wife. She said go get it. I figured this coming summer will be nothing like I’ve been used to and I would be spending more time at home. So I have the time and $ to put into this. I will have it running by the weekend 6/5/20. I’m replacing the headliner hoses brakes tires. Then to the body shop for a high quality paint job. This car will run and look like the day she was born. Can’t wait to Sunday rides out to the east end of Long Island to see my family. Maybe New Hampshire in the fall. Drive a 2020 Lincoln Navigator but yet all I want to do is drive that car. Looking forward to my masterpiece

    Reply

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