1985 Oldsmobile Firenza ES sedan

In this post, we’re once again revisiting interesting versions of mass-market eighties vehicles that just about nobody bought. This one is a sporty version of Oldsmobile’s J platform entry.

“A sporty way to tame the open road.”

For 1985, Oldsmobile offered three different Firenza body styles: a three-door hatchback coupe, a four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon. Both the hatchback coupe and the sedan had sporty versions: in the case of the hatchback, it was the GT, while for the sedan, it was the ES. I am going to write about the ES in this post.

The Firenza’s standard powertrain was an 88 bhp LQ5 2.0 liter/121 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Engine options included a $50 84 bhp LH8 1.8 liter/110 ci inline OHC four with the throttle-body fuel injection and a far more interesting $560 130 bhp LB6 2.8 liter V6 with multi-port fuel injection. Transmission options included a $75 five-speed manual (available for the LH8 only) and a $425 three-speed automatic (available for all three engines).

Standard equipment exterior and mechanical equipment on all Firenzas include front-wheel-drive, rack and pinion steering, and P175/80R13 blackwall tires on 13-inch wheels. Inside, contour-reclining bucket seats and an AM push-button radio with two front speakers and a fixed mast antenna were included. With a base price of $7,679 (about $18,900 in 2020 dollars), Firenza sedans added Deluxe wheel discs and a Deluxe steering wheel.

Firenza ES page from a 1985 Oldsmobile brochure

Standard exterior equipment on the ES sedan included amber turn signals, a Firenza ES nameplate on the front fenders, and blacked-out trim all around. Mechanical equipment included the 1.8 liter inline four, a five-speed manual transmission, tungsten halogen high-beam headlamps, a firm ride and handling package, and Goodyear Eagle GT P205/60R14 blackwall tires (a size still readily available, though generally not from major manufacturers) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe styled wheel discs.

Inside, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a Rallye instrument panel cluster were included. Only three exterior colors were available for the ES: Silver Metallic, Light Teal Blue Metallic, and Carmine Red.

Among the many exterior and mechanical options available for the ES were Soft-Ray tinted glass, a Vista-Vent glass-panel sunroof ($310), and two-tone paint. Inside, Oldsmobile offered a Four-Season air conditioner, power door locks, and a choice of three optional radios. A special contoured hood was added if the V6 was selected.

For Oldsmobile in 1985, the Firenza was emphatically not the center of the product line, with every other model—all of them at least somewhat larger—selling better. Of the Firenzas that sold, the vast majority were base sedans, not the GT hatchback coupe (498 sold) or the ES sedan (863 sold). Firenzas of any sort are now almost completely vanished from the nation’s roads, and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors.

Other J platform cars I have covered this blog include the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1988 Cadillac Cimarron sedan, the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe, and the 1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird S/E hatchback coupe. I will not ignore the Buick Skyhawk forever.

1984 Oldsmobile Omega sedan

“… comfort and value you can feel good about …”

In its final year, Oldsmobile’s Omega variant of GM’s X-car received few changes. The grille now consisted of horizontal stripes with vertical park/signal lamps, and there were new bumper treatments.

The Omega’s standard powertrain continued to be an LR8 “Iron Duke” 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with electronic fuel injection paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Powertrain options included the LE2 112 bhp 2.8 liter/173 ci V6 ($250) and a three-speed automatic transmission ($425). Mileage with the 2.8 liter V6 and the automatic was 21 city/33 highway by the standards of the day (17/24 by today’s standards). With a 14.6-gallon fuel tank, an Omega’s owner could expect a range of between 270 and 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,832 (about $19,900 in 2019 dollars) Oldsmobile Omega sedan included front-wheel-drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, P185/80R13 steel-belted radial tires (now a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels, deluxe wheel discs, custom bench seating, and a fold-down center armrest.

Moving up to the $8,104 Omega Brougham added a stand-up hood ornament, lower bodyside moldings, and a deluxe steering wheel.

Omega Brougham page from the 1984 Oldsmobile brochure, linked from Hans Tore Tangerud’s lov2xlr8 website.

The $675 ES package (RPO W48) remained available in 1984 as an upgrade for the Brougham, but only 224 were ordered. By far the sportiest version of the Omega, the ES included a suspension with higher-rate front and rear springs, firmer front and rear shock absorbers, and thicker stabilizer bars. In an attempt to appear more European, the ES2500 was the version with the 2.5 liter inline four, while the ES2800 was the version with the 2.8 liter V6. Both versions got a blacked-out grille.

Exterior and mechanical options on all Omegas included a glass-panel sunroof ($300), power steering, and high-capacity cooling. Inside, cruise control, power windows, and a four-season air conditioner were available.

Omega sales were significant, but not great, and they had been dropping steadily from the 1981 peak of almost 148,000 (including over 101,000 sedans). Oldsmobile produced 41,874 Omega sedans in the 1984 model year—small potatoes compared to all the other Oldsmobile sedans available (Firenza, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Supreme, Delta 88 Royale, and Ninety-Eight Regency).

I haven’t seen an Omega on the streets in well over a decade and they rarely show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or eBay Motors. I’m also pretty sure I’ve never seen one shown, though I’m not betting against that happening at some point.

Other X-cars I have written about include the 1983 Buick Skylark T TYPE coupe, the 1980 Chevrolet Citation hatchback sedan, the 1981 Chevrolet Citation X-11 hatchback coupe, and the 1985 Chevrolet Citation II hatchback sedan. For some reason, I have yet to write about Pontiac’s Phoenix.

1982 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham coupe

Barrett-Jackson’s second Northeast auction at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut in late June 2017 included a 1982 black Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham coupe with a tan interior, a 5.0 liter/307 ci V8, an automatic, and 12,000 miles. It sold for $10,000. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an eighties Toronado up for auction, though the “sister” Buick Riviera and Cadillac Eldorado are often present. Time to write a blog entry, methinks.

“Nothing ordinary”

For 1982, Oldsmobile gave up on the (slightly) sportier XSC variant that they had offered for two years and made the Brougham the only available version. Changes included a new chrome/argent grille with more horizontal bars, a new memory seat option with two memory positions, a revised instrument panel, and a new optional radio.

The standard engine was a 125 bhp 4.1 liter/252 ci V6 with Rochester four-barrel carburetor. Optional power included the 140 bhp 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with Rochester four-barrel carburetor at no additional charge and the (don’t do it!) 105 bhp 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8 ($825). A four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive was standard with all three engines. The Toronado was not light—curb weight was 3,705 pounds—so even with the more powerful V8, 0-60 mph took about 13 seconds. With the gasoline V8, mileage was rated at 16 city/27 highway by the standards of the day; with the 21.1-gallon fuel tank, Toronado owners could expect to travel about 400 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included in $14,462 base price (about $38,000 in today’s dollars) included power disc brakes and P205/75R15 tires (still readily available) on 15 by 6-inch steel wheels. Inside, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, and divided cloth seats were standard. Options included Twilight Sentinel ($57), Tempmatic air conditioning ($50), power Astro Roof with sliding glass panel, and leather seats.

Oldsmobile sold 33,928 1982 Toronado Broughams, down from over 42,000 the previous year. In 1982, Buick sold 42,823 Riviera coupes along with another 1,246 convertibles while Cadillac sold 52,018 Eldorado coupes, so the Toronado was not holding up its end of the E-body platform bargain.

1982 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham page from the 1982 Oldsmobile full-line brochure

Third-generation Toronados from 1979 to 1985 have a following, though (a little strangely) models after 1980 are not rated in Hagerty’s valuation tools. These Toronados sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. When I wrote this blog entry in July 2017, Hemmings was listing a 1983 Toronado Brougham with a champagne exterior and red cloth seats for $9,900.

I like these big coupes, though I think the Toronado may have too closely resembled the Eldorado for its own good—something that had not been true in the 1960s. Make mine Medium Slate Firemist, please.

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1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe

 “America’s favorite Cutlass for flair, value and price”

For 1981, the exterior of Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme was substantially revised, with a lowered front, a slightly higher decklid, and quad headlamps. With the new styling, aerodynamic drag dropped by about 15%.

The standard engine remained the 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester M2ME two-barrel carburetor. The optional engines, a 4.3 liter/261 ci V8 with a Rochester M2MC two-barrel carburetor ($50) and a 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8 ($695!), both had (this makes no sense) five less horsepower than the V6. A three-speed automatic transmission was the only transmission available. The Cutlass Supreme was stylish, but slow—0-60 came in a little under 15 seconds. Mileage with the V6 was 21 city/30 highway by the standards of the day (17/22 by today’s standards); with an 18.1-gallon fuel tank, a Cutlass Supreme owner could expect a range of about 315 to 415 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,484 Cutlass Supreme (about $22,200 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power front disc brakes, and P195/75R14 steel-belted radial-ply backwall tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a deluxe steering wheel, an instrument panel with simulated butterfly walnut veneer, and a custom sport bench seat with a choice of vinyl or cloth were included.

Moving up to the $7,969 Brougham added snazzier exterior moldings, full wheel discs, and a divided cloth velour tufted bench seat.

Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included cast aluminum wheels, tungsten halogen high beam headlamps, engine block heater, limited slip differential, power antenna, dual sport mirrors, electric rear window defogger, and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add either Four-Season or Tempmatic air conditioning, Tilt-Away steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, bucket seats, digital or regular electric clock, and a series of radios.

Cutlass Supreme page from the 1981 mid-size Oldsmobile brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Cutlass Supreme sure was popular—Oldsmobile sold almost 189,000 of them in the 1981 model year along with another 94,000 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupes for a total of over a quarter of a million. Olds made it well known that the Cutlass brand overall continued to be the most popular car in the United States.

A few folks are collecting these cars, but they still aren’t common at shows. You do see Cutlass Supremes for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I update this blog entry in February 2019, there’s a Dark Claret Metallic 1980 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe with dark claret velour seats, a 5.0 liter/307 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and 162,000 miles listed on Hemming‘s for $13,900.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Updated February 2019.

1985 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency sedan

“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. The target market probably didn’t care about 0-60 times, which was a good thing; the best case was likely about 12 seconds.

Standard mechanical equipment on the $14,665 (approximately $35,100 in 2019 dollars) Ninety-Eight Regency included an automatic leveling system, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc brakes, and P205/75R14 steel-belted radial-ply white-stripe all season tires (a size still available thanks to Hankook and Kumho) on 14-inch wheels with bright deluxe wheel discs. Inside, four-season air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo radio, a six-way power driver’s seat, power door locks, power mirrors, and power windows were all standard.

Stepping up to the $15,864 (approximately $37,900 in today’s dollars) Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham made the 3.8 liter engine standard and added simulated wire wheels with locks, fancier seats, a deluxe steering wheel with tilt-away feature, and intermittent windshield wipers—along with over 300 pounds of weight.

Optional items included Astroroof ($1,230), cornering lamps ($60), electronic air conditioner ($125), and twilight sentinel ($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.

Page from the 1985 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Sales of the 1985 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 Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I update this blog entry in February 2019, there’s a Brown Metallic 1985 Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham with medium beige cloth seats, a 3.8 liter V6, an automatic, and 131,000 miles advertised for $10,000.

Make mine Platinum Metallic, please.

Updated February 2019.