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1985 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight commercial


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Not being the right age, I’m not sure if this was considered a big deal back then or not. Hindsight being 20/20, I see these being so downsized from the big RWD models that preceded them and I can’t imagine favoring the smaller version. But, this was just about the height of Olds sales in the US, so they must have done something right.

Also, I know that startup sound effect they used. I can hear it a mile away or just go down to my garage. That was an Olds or Chevy V8, not a 3.8 V6.

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3 hours ago, David said:

Compared to the 98 of the 70's this is such a mid size by 1985.

If you compare this 85 Olds 98 to its immediate predecessor (then-new FWD G body to old-school but shorter RWD B body), yes it does look like a midsize car.  Then again, the midsize FWD W body did not come out until 1988.

Truthfully, I understand WHY GM basically went FWD on all the large and midsize sedans (mostly because they already did that with the compact and subcompact cars earlier in the decade), but the typical Olds buyer was not really looking for a small-looking FWD top of the line sedan.  The long slide in sales, until the 98 was replaced by the 1995 Aurora, began right here.  I still think that the typical Olds/Buick buyer in those days wanted a RWD unibody version of the B body, NOT the FWD G body.  Same with Cadillac buyers.  The lack of RWD (excluding the F body, Corvette and pickup trucks/SUVs) was what contributed to a sharp decline in GM market share and the sales of Oldsmobile were cut in half by 1990.

It saddens me that "make it cheaper, make it common" led to the eventual slow but sure destruction of America's eldest car maker.  And it all started with the 1985 Oldsmobile 98, which looked like the same model year Buick Park Avenue, and worse yet could be easily confused with a same year Cutlass Ciera!

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9 hours ago, riviera74 said:

If you compare this 85 Olds 98 to its immediate predecessor (then-new FWD G body to old-school but shorter RWD B body), yes it does look like a midsize car.  Then again, the midsize FWD W body did not come out until 1988.

Truthfully, I understand WHY GM basically went FWD on all the large and midsize sedans (mostly because they already did that with the compact and subcompact cars earlier in the decade), but the typical Olds buyer was not really looking for a small-looking FWD top of the line sedan.  The long slide in sales, until the 98 was replaced by the 1995 Aurora, began right here.  I still think that the typical Olds/Buick buyer in those days wanted a RWD unibody version of the B body, NOT the FWD G body.  Same with Cadillac buyers.  The lack of RWD (excluding the F body, Corvette and pickup trucks/SUVs) was what contributed to a sharp decline in GM market share and the sales of Oldsmobile were cut in half by 1990.

It saddens me that "make it cheaper, make it common" led to the eventual slow but sure destruction of America's eldest car maker.  And it all started with the 1985 Oldsmobile 98, which looked like the same model year Buick Park Avenue, and worse yet could be easily confused with a same year Cutlass Ciera!

All of this.

I will say though that initially, sales of the FWD 98 and 88 were still quite good. Olds was bringing in a new buyers with these models and there was some brand loyalty in those days so that some B-Body drivers did switch over.  But I get the impression that the B-Body drivers missed their old cars and wanted to go back. That's why the Caprice and Roadmaster kept hanging around as long as they did. 

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4 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

All of this.

I will say though that initially, sales of the FWD 98 and 88 were still quite good. Olds was bringing in a new buyers with these models and there was some brand loyalty in those days so that some B-Body drivers did switch over.  But I get the impression that the B-Body drivers missed their old cars and wanted to go back. That's why the Caprice and Roadmaster kept hanging around as long as they did. 

I read somewhere years ago Oldsmobile did not want to downsize the Ninety Eight. They wanted to redesign it and keep it large the way it was because it was successful and sold well, and GM said no. It ended up being downsized along with Eighty Eight and Toronado. Buick did well in the 1990's because they had Roadmaster and Park Avenue and LeSabre. Just think Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser would have had more unique parts if Ninety Eight had been left large and rear drive. I own a 1996 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. They tried to bring back that traditional Oldsmobile Ninety Eight look back. The car did get upsized in 1991 for its 50th year anniversary. It had been rolling since 1941. 

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Those 1980s squarish FWD C platform did well in Quebec (Montreal) .  Especially the Bonnevilles and Delta 88s.   

I dont think going FWD with the C Platorm did Oldsmobile see any harm. At least initially and at the short term. And at least in Quebec anyway.  The W-Body Cutlass Supreme, the FWD Calais/Achieva/Alero were also great sucesses here. 

Maybe the Achieva was a sales dud in the US?   I also think the 2nd generation C Platform Oldsmobiles were what did Oldsmobile in with sales.   The 2nd gen C Platform Oldsmobile and Achieva were ugly cars...    The 2nd gen FWD Bonneville was GORGEOUS but this

The 10 Best-Looking Sedans of 1991 | Oldsmobile, Sedan, Buick cars

1991 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Photos, Specs, News - Radka Car`s Blog

was just old, stale and UGLY.  And the Achieva looking like a smaller, frumpier version. 

1992-97 Oldsmobile Achieva | Consumer Guide Auto

 To compare what Pontiac was selling...(I see an argument for FWD versus RWD over at Pontiac, but NOT at Oldsmobile)

1994 Pontiac Bonneville Review & Ratings | Edmunds

I get that Oldsmobile wanted to keep the old fossil buyers and styled their cars accordingly with the demise of the RWD B Body sedans, but that was what killed Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile was at a crossroads.  Many left when Olds stopped being Oldsmobile when GM forced all brands to be corporate...    Many left for greener pastures over at BMW, Acura and Infiniti.  But, many also stayed.  But Oldsmobile confused the shyte out of these buyers.

Hot 4 cam DOHC Quad 4s and 3.4 liter V6s.  Supercharged 3.8s.  Sexy W-Body Cutlass Supremes sedans, coupes and convertibles. Forward thinking luxury SUVs and to a degree minivans.   But stale, staid styling of Delta 88s, 98s Regencys and ugly as phoque Achievas.    

Oldsmobile saw the mistake and corrected itself when it introduce the DOHC V8 Aurora and styled that ugly shyt 98 to emulate the Aurora. 

Oldsmobile 88

But still offered the early 1980s Cutlass Cierra well into the mid 1990s...  Like WTF???!!!  

And then the new gen...badge engineered in every single way with its Chevy Malibu cousin... just as the sexy Intrigue arrived.  The Alero couldnt come fast enough and if Im not mistaken, this shytty car was actually sold ALONGSIDE the Alero... 

1997-99 Oldsmobile Cutlass | Consumer Guide Auto

Olds buyers that actually were not dying from...old age...wanted to actually buy an Oldsmobile, and hence why the Aurora was a sales success, but those that wanted to stay in the Olds family but couldnt afford an Olds, had all these ugly, staid, stale cars to choose from.

The Intrigue came along, and that name plate was two-fold.  It could have had better success than it did. Maybe the name did it in?  Maybe if it was actually called a Cutlass Supreme?

The W-body Cutlass Supreme WAS a success.  

The Achieva not so much. THAT is why Alero as a name was necessary.  Intrigue?  Maybe people were not intrigued enough and wanted a Cutlass Supreme instead. 

Anyway...long story short, I dont think going FWD did in Oldsmobile. I think the stale, ugly styling of Oldsmobile in the early to mid 1990s did Oldsmobile in. Oldsmobile bounced back really fast with their aim to be a Japanese import fighter and their really pretty Aurora/Intrigue/Alero offerings.  If only GM did not kill Oldsmobile so early into the 2000s and actually let the new direction set some roots....

 

 

 

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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