For years–nay, decades, Oldsmobile made its bones on three primary cars: The 88, the Ninety-Eight, and the Cutlass. This secret formula of comfort, style, attainability and comfortable Midwestern middle-class prestige served them well for close to forty years. But around 1990, the party started winding down. This Regency Brougham is one of the last pre-sales-crash Oldses to be designed. A pity.
The shrunken, yet still spacious 1985 Ninety-Eight was not near as imposing as the earlier 1980-84 model, but it sold quite well, despite some quality issues on early models. But by 1987, this was a solid, comfortable car.
Ford may have mocked the mini C-bodies in their Town Car ads (and it was a great commercial), but plenty of folks liked them, especially in the Midwest.
In fact, a case could have been made that it was the Midwestern W126, as far as popularity and prestige went. The Coen Brothers’ great film Fargo was right on the money with both Jerry Lundegaard and his father-in-law Wade Gustafson driving Ninety-Eights. For many professional people in this region, a Caddy or Lincoln was seen as gauche–think Al Czervik. In Minneapolis (well, back when there were still a large contingent of happy, productive Scandihoovian folks…), this was the car to be seen in. Too bad Wade wouldn’t be seen in his for much longer, thanks to his idiot son-in-law. Oh, geez…
I’d loved to have sat in on that meeting: “Hey, I know! Let’s piss off our loyal customers in order to appeal to kids who wouldn’t be caught dead in an Olds showroom!” “OK.” “Sounds good.” “Let’s do it.” Yup…
Despite the best efforts of Olds manager John Rock–who had a spine!–and new products like the Aurora and Intrigue, GM still saw fit to kill off Oldsmobile shortly after the Oughts began. This was the single biggest thing to make me start hating GM. Those idiots! I loved Oldsmobiles!
I had never owned one, but I had relatives and friends who did and I always liked them. They were a part of the landscape, especially in the Quad Cities. It was comforting to see them in traffic, and seeing new ones all shined up in front of Zimmerman in Rock Island or V.J. Neu in Davenport. And now they’re gone. But not this one!
I found this white Regency Brougham in late February of 2013. That day, a gigantic storm was on the way, and I was running a few last-minute errands (consisting primarily of booze and fatty, salty snacks) before it hit. I saw those lacy-spoke wheels and knew I had to stop, storm or no storm. This one had a little bit of rust, but was pretty solid.
These final-facelift 1989-90 Regency Broughams are my favorite of the 1985-90 generation, especially with those most excellent lacy-spoke alloy wheels.
Though I’d prefer maroon, navy blue or black, this one still looks good in white over red, and, I’m sure, is still reliable wheels for its owner. And by the bye, the other metallic-sand Regency Brougham, in as-new condition, was spied by your author at the 2015 Oldsmobile Nationals, held at the Sheraton in Brookfield, Wisconsin, convenient to Milwaukee. Loved it.