1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham LS: Finest Full Size

It’s time, once again, my friends, for the weekly Klockau Lust Object. Unsurprisingly, it is another GM luxo-gunboat. In this case a metallic Sage Green Olds.

For years, the Delta 88 was the mainstay big Olds. Solid. Comfortable. Reliable. Imposing, but not so fancy as a Ninety-Eight, or, gasp, a Cadillac, to offend those at the Sons of Knute lodge when you went over for canasta.

But in the mid ’80s the second round of downsizing hit the flossiest of the General’s wares. Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra and Cadillac De Ville and Fleetwood all were right sized, and although interior room was equal and in some cases better than the older rolling stock, some still pined for Brougham by the Foot.

So in mid ’84, Oldsmobile rolled out an extra plush Delta 88, which retained its 1977 dimensions.

Fancier than even the plush Delta 88 Royale Brougham, the Royale Brougham LS featured the outgoing Ninety-Eight’s luxury interior, among other extras.

It returned for a full model year in 1985. Weighing in at 3,515 pounds, with an MSRP of $14,331 (the Royale Brougham sedan, one step down in the 88 hierarchy, went for $11,062), it was the luxury Olds for those who wanted a premium car, but were not yet ready for V6 power or front wheel drive.

Delta 88s came standard with the 110 bhp 231 CID V6, but Royale Brougham LSs came with a standard 307 V8 with 140 hp. A 350 CID diesel V8 was optional but likely rarely ordered by The Year Of Our Lord, 1985.

Like earlier writeups over the past month, I saw this on the Finding Future Classic Cars group on FB. Offered for $8,000 in Columbus Grove, OH, this appears to be quite the time capsule, with a claimed 31,500 miles.

As you’d expect it is nicely equipped with sage green velour, power windows, power locks, AM/FM stereo with cassette, power trunk release, cruise and A/C. It looks good. If you’re so inclined you can check it out here. Until next time, stay calm, Brougham on, and always tip your bartender, folks!

19 Replies to “1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham LS: Finest Full Size”

  1. Mike

    My grandfather, R.I.P., owned one of these, in dark green. He used it to ferry him and Grandma from Buffalo, NY to Sebring, FL every fall and back again after the last snows melted. 307 V8, of course- Grandpa never owned a 6 cylinder car in his life. Never had a lick of trouble with it, as far as I know. I have two vivid memories of that car:

    1) The hood ornament, unlike that on the Mercury Grand Marquis, was _not_ spring loaded. It was firmly attached at the base. I know this because I was so used to playing with the springy hood ornament on my _other_ grandpa’s Mercury GM, that when I tried it with the Old’s hood ornament it broke clean off. I was so scared and ashamed I hid the broken-off hood ornament under a cinder block in the backyard and never told anyone. Somehow Grandpa never noticed, or at least never said anything, and I never did get found out. I’m not sure whatever happened to it, either- I eventually forgot about it and those cinder blocks are long gone, as is the Olds.

    2) One time, after grocery shopping with Grandpa, we got home and he found out he’d been overcharged for a melon. We got back into that Olds and drove the 10 miles back to the store for him to correct the mischarge- which as I recall was something on the order of 79 cents. I recall, even then (I was probably around 10) questioning the logic of burning over a gallon of gas to contest 79 cents worth of injustice. But, Grandpa had his principles.

    • sgeffe

      Interesting—the hood ornaments on my parents’ (cars were my Dad’s company cars, which he bought before moving into the next car) 1980 Cutlass Sedan (base model with Salon appointments) and 1993 Regal Custom Sedans, as well as the 1986 Century Limited my Dad bought when my Dad took a promotion, losing company car privileges (which is when he purchased the Regal from the company), had spring-loaded hood ornaments.

  2. John C.

    Interesting that the 110 horsepower 3.8 V6 was still standard on more basic versions of this. Well why not, remember it debuted full size in the giant 1976 Lesabre cousin. The FI 3.0 liter version if the Buick V6, one year only in Lesabres and Deltas were up to 125 hp for much smaller 86 Lesabre/Delta88. .Already low 3500 pound weight would lose 300 more going front drive and standard horsepower up 14 percent. Shows how efficiency minded was 80s GM while still always trying to improve the experience of the owner.

    • Carmine

      The 3.8 V6 became the base engine in these since 1977, except for the Chevrolet, which still used the 250 6. I’ve never driven one of these with a V6, I imagine it must be sluggish. I want to say that the 3.0 V6 was also the base engine in the 1985 Electra and 98 but it might have still been carburated, not sure. The FI 3.8 finally became the base motor in all of them for 1987 and the diesel was gone.

  3. Trucky McTruckface

    My grandparents moved up from a Chevy Impala to Olds that year, and chose a mildly-optioned Ninety Eight Regency over this. They were fairly traditional, but practical, and I think the front wheel drive and better maneuverability appealed to them.

    The popular notion is that the downsized H/C body cars were a complete disaster, but as Tom can vouch, they were all over Northern Illinois in the late ’80s. Even the much-derided Cadillacs sold well, at least at first. Full size Oldsmobile sales collapsed after about ’88, but I think pants-on-head stupid marketing has as much to do with that as the size, styling, or shifting consumer taste.

    Of course, that ’85 Regency my grandparents had was a lemon that never ran right. The folly of buying a first-year car (something I never seem to learn, either). Oddly enough, they traded it on a ’91 Eighty Eight Royale rather than go with the new, much bigger Ninety Eight that came out that year.

    Also, I never noticed until now that the LS doesn’t have the amber rear turn signals the lesser Delta 88 trims used on the last couple years of this generation.

    • Carmine

      Anyone that says the C/H cars weren’t popular has no idea what they’re talking about, they probably could have even been bigger if the proposed Chevrolet Caprice version would have been made. The Lumina was originally designed as the Chevrolet H body, but it was shifted to the W body later.

      The 1986 E/K Eldorado-Seville, Toronado, Riviera cars were the big disaster, those were off like 60% from 1985. Sales of the full size cars increased from 1984-1985 when the FWD C-body cars came out.

      I think the loss of being uniquely “Oldsmobile” kinda wanned off interest in the 98/88’s, if its Buick motored, why not just get the Buick, or even move more up the ladder and just get a Sedan deVille. The more unique looking Bonneville for 1987 probably didn’t help either. Oldsmobile sort of returned to its own unique flagship sedan with the Aurora which had the unique to Oldsmobile 4.0 V8.

      They all had “touring” bucket seat versions at one time or another too, the SSE, 98 Touring Sedan, Electra T-Type and the first DeVille Touring Sedan and Coupe

      • Trucky McTruckface

        Right. Something had to give when the cars became more similar, and Olds occupied the awkward middle ground. I always liked the touring versions of this platform; The were good vehicles for the time, but I think they were chasing a small sliver of the market. Most people who wanted something less traditional, rightfully or wrongfully, didn’t want it from Detroit.

        As for the E/K disaster, I think a portion of that can be blamed on the coupe market contracting – Ford’s MN-12 was an expensive flop despite better proportions and rear wheel drive. It obviously didn’t help that the cars looked like a Calais, which explains why Seville sales tanked as well.

        Speaking of the Seville, I saw an ’89-’91 STS on the road yesterday, looked to be in great shape. That’s another car I always liked in spite of its shortcomings.

  4. JMcG

    Thanks Tom,
    I don’t comment on these articles a lot, but I read every one of them and get a lot of pleasure out of them. I hope to buy you a gin and tonic with me fine summer evening.

  5. Tomko

    Just love those electroluminescent panels elegantly tucked into the B pillars.

    A part later reused in the late ‘80s Caprice Classic Brougham LS.

  6. Baconator

    This is not the sort of Brougham to get nostalgic for. This was the era in which they had lost much of the interior space and plushness of the 1970s cars. They also were bog-slow, not particularly reliable, and quick to rust.

    Plenty of would-be Olds buyers — some of them in my family, in fact! — went to trade-in G-body Cutlasses, looked at Olds’ late-1980s lineup, and actually defected to foreign brands. These cars were priced right on top of 240-Series Volvos, a car that was better-engineered in every way, and was faster than a big-body Olds or Buick even in anemic non-Turbo trim.

    • John C.

      It was not better engineered in terms of NVH or ability to survive a normal life cycle with an American maintenance schedule. I say that as a frequent Volvo owner. You can see that most pointedly when AMC/Renault/Eagle brought the Premier over to take on Taurus/W Cutlass. Prices were competitive and it sure was making the 240 Volvo look old and slow, but nobody bought and the few that did had a bad experience with all those Euro parts. Remember half way through Chrysler completely rewired it with Chrysler parts in preparation to make it an Intrepid. Bet more than a few owners of old Volvos wished Volvo did the same.

      Remember by the late 80s Deltas had 3800 V6 and the 240 just had the slow, noisy NA 2.3. Same weight and 50% more power. I know though, sometimes you just want a Volvo, after all there are no more Super Snipes/ Austin Westminsters/ Rover P5s.

    • Carmine

      I would take this car 240 times over a 240 Volvo. I always though that was pretty ugly overrated car that looks like a pleasures-less soulless soviet transport device that delivered 0 driving pleasure and no, an automatic non turbo 240 is not faster, trust me.

      • Tom Klockau Post author

        I have a soft spot for the 240s, because the folks had several when I was a kid, but I can’t imagine any of them being faster than a V8 Delta 88, except maybe an ’82-’85 Turbo.

        But. I test drove an ’86 240GL wagon about 2001, and compared to the ’91 940 Turbo I had back then, it seemed pretty agricultural to drive, even with leather and a sunroof and power windows.

        • Carmine

          I know you’re a Volvo guy and there are certain ones like the Saints P1800 and a few other that are cool, they’ve never been my thing, but I cannot find anything to like about the 240’s. I lump them in the pile with the other overrated 240, the Mercedes one.

  7. fishlaw

    Funny story. My father in law had one of these. His wife would drive it around town, running errands. After a stop or two she would get in and it wouldn’t start. She’d call her husband who would come over, get in and it started right up. Next time she ran errands, same thing. Father in law thought she was losing it—she’d call, he’d come over and fire it right up. Eventually, we learned that what was happening was the starter would start the engine a time or two, but then the starter would expand and wedge itself inside its housing, and would not turn over. By the time father in law got there, the starter had cooled down enough that it would turn over again. They replaced the starter. Same thing kept happening. Replaced it again and finally solved it.

  8. Randall wereldsma

    I have a 1984 delta 88 lbs that is pristine and in excellent condition. The ride on this car is great and is fun to drive among 2022 cars. The car was owned by a person that had a climate controlled garage and was an executive with GM. He had all the options available put on it and it is pretty at night when the lights on the b pillars are lit at night and the cornering lights go on to make a turn. The interior is very comfortable and people comment about the nice vinyl roof that goes with a beautiful deep brown body color. My family tell me to go new car, but I have resisted for years. If you were ever lucky enough to drive this car and really miss Oldsmobile you would know what I meant. The car has very beautiful wire rims that I caught someone trying to steal one night. I also love the front end and backend grill work this one has over the egg carton front end of 1985. I love that it has a great shifting overdrive transmission and I get on the highway often with it and let her have a nice open roaddrive.


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