“It goes beyond the Ninety-Eight of your mind to the Ninety-Eight of your dreams.”
The 1985 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency sedan was substantially downsized from the previous year and switched to front wheel drive. Overall length dropped over two feet from 221.1 inches to 196.1 inches.
Standard power (if you could call it that) came from the LK9 110 bhp 3.0 liter/181 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor. Optional engines were the LG3 3.8 liter/231 ci multi-port fuel-injected V6 putting out 125 bhp and the LS2 4.3 liter/261 ci V6 diesel (don’t do it!) putting out all of 85 bhp (at least it had 165 lb-ft of torque). All engines were teamed with a four-speed automatic transmission. Both the 3.0 liter V6 and the diesel V6 would be gone by the time the 1986 model year rolled around.
Mileage for the standard engine was 18 city/25 highway by the 1985 measures (16/23 by today’s standards). Hilariously, the upmarket 3.8 liter engine was rated at 19 city/26 highway, the multi-port fuel-injection more than making up for the increased displacement. Buyers of the diesel could expect 22 city/32 highway. With an 18-gallon gas tank, a Ninety-Eight Regency owner could expect a range of about 315 to 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard mechanical equipment on the $14,665 (approximately $35,100 in 2018 dollars) Ninety-Eight Regency included an automatic leveling system, power steering, and power front disk brakes. Inside, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo radio, six-way power driver’s seat, power door locks, power mirrors, and power windows were all standard.
Stepping up to the $15,864 (approximately $38,000 in today’s dollars) Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham made the 3.8 liter engine standard and added fancier seats, intermittent windshield wipers, larger wheels and tires—and over 300 pounds of weight.
Optional items included Astroroof ($1,230), twilight sentinel ($60), and cornering lamps ($60).
These C-bodies (there were also Buick and Cadillac versions) had a stately look about them. Big and (I think) handsome, they had a lot of interior room despite the downsizing—at 110 cubic feet, they had only two cubic feet less than the 1984.
Sales of the Ninety-Eight Regency sedan were good—at almost 155,000, more than double the approximately 69,000 that had been sold in 1984. A little over 70% of Regency buyers chose to move up to the Brougham.
C-body Ninety-Eight Regency sedans sometimes come up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. As I write this in July 2014, there’s a white 1987 with 38,000 miles advertised for $7,550.
Updated January 2019.