1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS: Excess is Good

I always liked Toronados. My favorite is probably the inaugural 1966 fastback, but I love them all, right up to the final 1992 models.

But as those of you fine folks following my random scribblings over the past three years know, I also have a MAJOR soft spot for the more formal, glitzy and Broughamtastic 1971-78 Toros.

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1976 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Coupe: Chris-Craft on Wheels

You all well know my fondness for those velour-clad, opera-lamped, gas-guzzling and totally impractical, totally awesome ’70s Detroit cruisers. So it will surprise exactly no one that I went gaga upon seeing this light metallic blue Olds coupe this beautiful, sunny Thursday afternoon, whilst sitting on my deck and working on gin and tonic #2.

Yes, ’76 was last call for the unapologetically huge big GM C-bodies: Cadillac de Ville, Buick Electra and the majestic Olds Ninety-Eight.

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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.

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1965 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight: Maximum Mitchell

When Bill Mitchell took over GM Design in the late ’50s, his presence was felt almost immediately in the new GM cars, particularly in the 1961 models. Simple, clean elegant lines were his forte, when compared to the brash, wild and bechromed chariots favored by his predecessor, the unforgettable Harley Earl.

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1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme: King of the Coupes

Today, the most popular new cars tend towards silver silvermist combover anonymity. Because, as you know, it is much better to have a car that does 17 things crappily rather than one that does one thing very well. But I digress. Things change. It’s a given, especially in the fickle car market. But approximately 45 years ago, the top selling cars in the land of the free were actually attractive. Due to having several in my family when I was a kid, I especially long for the 1976-77 Cutlass Supreme; in all likelihood, so do a number of people, as they set sales records in the ’70s and early ’80s. Luckily, I spotted a primo example at the Oldsmobile Nationals in Brookfield, Wisconsin back in 2015.

1976 Oldsmobile Mid-size and Compact-02-03

We’ve all heard the Colonnade story: In 1973, GM unveiled the new A-bodies. They were new and modern, but were festooned with the first 5-mph safety bumpers. And in certain quarters, draw a serious amount of ire from Monday morning quarterbacks. But at any rate, sporty muscle coupes were on the way out, with the world of Brougham taking over. The Cutlass coupes, in various S, Salon and Supreme forms, did quite well.

But in my opinion, they hit their stride in 1976, when an attractive new face and sheetmetal greeted visitors to Olds showrooms. The smooth sides (sedans and wagons retained the 73-75 fender blisters), quad rectangular lights and waterfall grille all looked great. It was a clean, attractive restyle, what one would call a near-luxury car today. For the up-and-coming young professional to announce his moving up in the world.

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1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera: Ya, But That TruCoat…

I grew up in Northwestern Illinois. Due to this, I am very familiar with the GM A-bodies, and Cutlass Cieras in particular. They were everywhere at the time. So were their brethren, the Chevy Celebrity, Pontiac 6000 (a friend of my dad’s bought a white 6000 STE brand new) and Buick Century. There were at least two Cutlass Cieras on my block circa 1985. They were as common on the streets as CR-Vs and Tahoes are today. Arguably, the most famous Cutlass Ciera was the tan 1988 Cutlass Ciera that Jerry Lundegaard gave the hit men as partial payment in the classic 1996 film, Fargo. Of course, that Oldsmobile was what ultimately led to everything going pear-shaped in spectacular fashion. An aside, if you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it right now. I’ll wait. OK, ready? Then let’s continue!

In Autumn ’81 the Cutlass Ciera first appeared, as a 1982 model. It had some very big shoes to fill, though the larger rear wheel drive Cutlass Supreme remained in the lineup. The Cutlass nameplate was Oldsmobile’s most successful in the 1970s, and the Cutlass Supreme coupe in particular was the undisputed best selling model in the lineup. The Cutlass was downsized in ’78, followed by a more aerodynamic restyling in 1981. It remained in the line with the addition of the Cutlass Ciera, however. It was the first time the Cutlass nameplate was applied to more than one car line. As the ’80s progressed, Cutlassization would run rampant over at Oldmsobile Division. Likely at its peril, but never mind that today.

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1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel: In Defense of the Olds 350 Diesel V8

My Grand Dad always had a beater, for everyday driving, and a good car, which he bought new and brought out only on special occasions. Once, he said he’d buy a new car when he retired and give his current garage queen, a 1966 Chrysler sedan, to my Dad. In 1977, Grand Dad did retire, and Dad held him to his word.  To replace the Chrysler, he headed down to Carter Chevrolet-Olds and placed an order for what is oft regarded today as one of General Motors’ biggest blunders: a 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with the then-new 350 CID LF9 V8 diesel engine.

The Delta 88 4-door sedan was the most popular 1978 Olds to be ordered with the LF9 diesel. Much like the base-model 1966 Chrysler, the 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was advertised as more car for not much more money than “lesser” automobiles. Undoubtedly this appealed to Grand Dad’s innate frugality, as it still allowed him to have an upscale, but not ostentatious, full-size automobile.

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1975 Oldsmobile Starfire: Lansing’s Monza, Plus Bonus ’60s Starfire History!

While many people who are into classic cars know the Oldsmobile Starfire, odds are they are remembering the full-figured yet sporty early ’60s hardtop coupe and convertible. Honestly, the name had to have come from the early ’60s. Could there have been a more Jet Age name for a car than Starfire?

Introduced January 1, 1961, the new Starfire was a flossier version of the Super 88. Following the introduction of the 1958 Thunderbird, Detroit quickly caught ‘buckets and console’ fever, and as a result many special models were added by all the manufacturers.

In addition to Super 88 equipment, the Starfire received, naturally, buckets seats and a center console, but also a tachometer, brushed aluminum side moldings on the ‘cove’ stamped into the bodyside, power seats and dual exhaust. It was available solely as a convertible, with a base price of $4,647. Only 7,800 were built.

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1962-63 Oldsmobile Jetfire: With Turbo Rocket Fluid!

Note: Another one from Tony LaHood! The featured car was spotted by yours truly at the Oldsmobile Nationals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, back in 2015. Enjoy. -TK

Our youngish readers might find it hard to believe that in the early 1960s the idea of a turbocharged production car was only slightly less fantastic than that of a pocket-size wireless flip phone. But in 1962, General Motors (Yes, there was a time when GM was a real innovator) rolled out not one but two such production passenger vehicles: the Corvair Monza Spyder, and the Oldsmobile Jetfire, America’s first turbocharged volume-production cars.

The Jetfire was essentially a 1962 F-85 Cutlass hardtop coupe (Holiday Coupe, in Olds-speak) with specific interior and exterior trim and, of course, a big surprise under the hood.

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1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan – A Special Feel

After the GM A-bodies became G-bodies, each division did its own thing when it came to deciding what models stayed in the lineup. Consider the sedans: The Chevy and Buick versions departed after ’83. Pontiac’s G-body Bonneville lasted until 1986, after which it became an H-body. But Oldsmobile, arguably the purveyor of the best A/G-bodies in the corporation, kept its sedans going all the way to 1987. All in all, not a bad run for an Olds model that had flopped (at least in four-door form) when it first appeared in 1978.

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