Estate Survivor: 1987 Oldsmobile Delta 88


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Last week, we featured one heck of a creampuff Citation that drew quite a reaction – well, here’s another often ignored GM product that has miraculously survived with a mere 14,276 miles on the clock. Here on eBay is the 1987 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, complete with acres of red cloth seating and roll-yourself windows! 


While this Oldsmobile 88 is likely a perfectly reliable daily driver, it’s still hard to believe this passed muster when the Japanese were rolling out Integras and Camrys. Granted, there was nothing particularly impressive about the late 80s car scene, but crank windows in what was meant to be a slightly upmarket product? That blows my mind. And don’t get me wrong, I love crank windows – but only in my prehistoric German econoboxes that didn’t have enough power on board to have both functioning electric windows and working headlights.


Now, I will say the 3.8 V6 does have a solid reputation for longevity. That’s where we’ve always shined with our domestic vehicles – can’t kill it reliability. But when you realize that Honda was doing the same thing with its Accord and giving drivers luxuries like power windows and decent handling out of the box, is it really all that surprising that Oldsmobile is gone and Buick continues to look for a home run sedan? My first car was an ’87 Accord that had a power moonroof, auto up/down driver’s window and a willing (if not slightly anemic) four-cylinder mill. Got decent fuel economy, too.


I had a neighbor growing up who owned one of these, and for some reason the tail lights always stood out. I suspect it’s because the German cars in my life all had orange turn signals and most domestics were solid red, earning the Eighty-Eight a point or two in my youth-informed opinions of motor vehicles. For the record, I love survivor cars like this as they remind us just how far we’ve come on the automotive landscape. And while I may seem critical of this mint-condition 88, let’s be honest: I’d still rather drive this Olds than a Prius.

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  1. Bruno M


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  2. Blueprint

    The good old days – when one could actually see out of a car! Those amber turn signals had the same effect on me, and period reviews were pretty kind to that platform, especially in Buick T-Type guise. Much more elegant than the plastic-heavy cars that followed this generation.

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  3. Sam

    I owned one of these back in the day. Great family car, lots of room and outstanding performance and gas mileage. One of the best riding cars I ever had. You could cruise all day at 70 mph and never get tired.

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    • Rich Tague

      we got something in common Sam , you have owned a Delta 88 Guess whats my current Winter rat ? I presently own a 86 Delta 88 with now 100000 plus. Any words of advice or things that I should be concerened about would be greatly appreciated. Knock on fake wood ..he he all is well with her ….now New batt, new struts new tires new t.p.s. throttle position sensor, NIGHTMARE digital dash a Trusty Hayes book also helped me with minor power window fix Thanks Rich

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  4. JW454

    I’d be an interested buyer if it was a two door. They made a few in the model but I don’t think there was many.

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  5. Chris

    My Dad had the Buick Century from the same year. I believe it was the same engine, but I could be wrong. It was a terrible car. With 500 miles on it coolant was leaking in the oil and the heads had to be replaced. the car never did run right when it was cold, and it was dangerous pulling out into traffic until it warmed up. The quality was horrible.

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  6. DrinkinGasoline

    GM’s 9th Gen B-Body cars had a very good run with Buick’s Lesabre, sharing the same platform using the 3.8l engine (which had multiple generations itself). The Century was the A-Body platform sharing with the Olds Cutlass Cierra, used the 2.8l and 3.3l engines. By this time, all GM vehicles were “platform oriented”. Working in GM dealerships during this era, it was not uncommon for
    old- schooler’s to order the B-Bodies with crank windows.

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    • Tom

      My 1987 Century had the 3.8 SFI V-6 and was indestructible. It was fast and got good fuel economy too. Loved that car and miss it to this day. Had over 200k on it when it got stolen from my place of work.

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  7. HoA Howard AMember

    Now just a ding-dang diddly minute. Let’s not put a Prius in the same sentence with an ’87 Olds. Opposite ends of the spectrum. These were pretty miserable years for GM, and this car was a shred of what Oldsmobile buyers were used to. While they were comfortable cars, the whole platform stunk, unlike a Prius, that does it’s intended job well. As far as crank up windows, believe it or not, my old man didn’t have electric windows in most of his cars. Didn’t trust them, like A/C, never had that either. I knew people that wouldn’t have power brakes. If, for some reason, you are turned on by this car, it won’t get any better than this, but if you look at junkyards of the 90’s, they were full of cars like this.

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    • Donnie

      Iwould almost bet that a new prius is faster to.

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    • MountainMan

      All he is saying is as dull as the Olds may be it’s better than driving a Prius. I have to agree. A Prius is an appliance. The olds is at least a car

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    • David Querido

      I had a 89 Olds 88 coupe and had plenty of power with V6 very reliable car with FE3 suspension. Loved the car but traded with 120K for newer car. Loved my Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs and Buicks. This generation was rather boring styling wise but can’t say we have progressed much in the last 40 years since everything looks the same.

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    What a nice time capsule to an ordinary car. I still see a lot of these cars daily driving out there so the longevity speaks for itself. As for the roll up windows remember you could still order the cars the way you wanted them.
    I miss doing that

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  9. Roseland Pete

    I think it was a mistake killing Olds but it was a bigger mistake killing Pontiac. I saw Pontiacs on the road everywhere. When my mother wanted to replace her 86 Ciera wagon, I took her to the Olds dealer and we had no idea what those cars were. As far as Buick is concerned, I knew how an Electra, LeSabre, Regal, and Skylark related to each other but I have no idea what the current line-up means.

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    • Carl

      I can not agree more. I went to an Oldsmobile dealer with my dad in 99, he looked at a Bravada. For the record I wish the SUV craze never begin. I was talking to a different sales man and he told me they were discontinuing the Delta 88 in favor of those modern names to appeal the younger buyers. We both agreed that it was foolish and without names like Cutlass Supreme and Delta 88 Oldsmobile was doomed. We were right, Oldsmobile didn’t make it past 2001.
      In my opinion both brands did suffer from badge engineering but the name changes did both Pontiac (my favorite brand) and Oldsmobile in. I don’t agree with any of GM’s current car naming methods accept Impala, Malibu, Camaro, Corvette, Regal, and Caprice a car I would love to see saved and made in America again!

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      • Roseland Pete

        I didn’t know GM still made the Caprice. I know there’s still an Impala.

        As far as killing Pontiac and Olds, why didn’t GM let the market decide? If those dealers were able to remain open, sell some cars, and provide jobs, why not let them? GM must have lost some sales to competing brands. Even going back to GM’s decision to kill the ubiquitous Nova (which they later admitted was a mistake) and some other bonehead decisions, I don’t think these executives are the sharpest knives in the drawer. Personally, as I’ve gotten older, I lost a lot of the respect and admiration that I had for US car companies when I was a kid.

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  10. Jim Marshall

    Sold them new, had 2 of them used plus had several for demos. Good cars.

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  11. PaulieB

    I had an ’87 Chevy Celebrity Eurosport Wagon. It had 120,000 on it when I bought it and needed a helicoil repair done on one of the sparkplug holes on the V-6 on the firewall side. I did the repair myself..pretty much blind.. and never had trouble with it after that. For some odd reason it would eat alternators in about a year’s time. I bought one with a lifetime warranty and never had trouble afterwards. One summer trip to Cape Cod we arrived an hour earlier than planned. “How did that happen?” I wondered aloud. “Dad you were doing 90 all the way down Rte 495..” said my 14 year old son.. He was right.. it was a Saturday morning no less. I finally got rid of the car after it kept going through brake rotors with regularity.. I saw it a week later back on the road..

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  12. Donnie

    90 all the way with a kid in the car smart

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    • PaulieB

      Thanks..I knew someone would like my exaggeration..

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  13. jim s

    BIN is now $ 5500. a lot of car for the money. great find.

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  14. Pinesebrine

    My father bought one of these when I was a teenager. I was surprised because he too was a window crank man. But on this car he got everything power, including that digital dash. This car was comfortable, and very fast.

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  15. Poppy

    Bought a ’91 LeSabre in ’05 with 45K miles on it for $1400, drove it for 10 years and 100K more miles and sold it for…… guessed it….. $1400. It’s still on the road. First of many 3.8L GMs I’ve owned. Great cars with TONS of legroom in the back. Move the front seat up all the way and I can fit a pancake compressor or shopvac on the floor in the rear. (Try that with your moon-roof Accord). These cars had excellent torque, ride great, get close to 30mpg on the highway, and seat 4 adults comfortably, 6 in a pinch if some are children. Drove the ’91 for 10 years and sold it when I found a clean, low mileage ’92. Worse thing about my ’91 was keeping the “tape drive” power windows working. Knowing what I know about them, the manual windows on this car are actually a bonus. In ’92 they went to scissors type window lifts that are much more reliable.

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  16. Mike

    Well, I owned a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. To look at it was sheer eye candy, a beautiful 2 door coupe with about 3 times as much paint as came from the factory after I shot it with a custom silver color I came up with that had much more metallic in it than the original color. T-tops, great factory wheels, buckets, you name it, the car looked great. It was the biggest piece of junk of a car I have ever owned and I kept it for less time than any other car I ever owned. It used about a quart of oil every 100 miles, no joke, and that was when it had 50000 miles. The torque converter was going out and it stalled if you drove it more than a half hour, you had to stop and let the car cool down. And for a V-8 4 barrel it was amazingly slow and non-responsive even before the torque converter issues. Yes, Oldsmobiles from this period look great, especially from the front, but my Cutlass solidified the fact that I will never, ever purchase another GM product, or any UAW assembled car for that matter. To be such junk even when new is unforgiveable! I understand some of you will think, “well, GM has improved since then”. That holds no weight with me, Toyota was making great quality Camrys at that time and GM could have made better cars then too if they had chosen to do so.

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  17. Dan

    Window Cranks, one less thing to break.

    I had a 1988 Cutlass Calais, the power windows moved very slowly, kind of like the motor had a massive gear reduction.

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  18. Ed P

    I have always been attracted to Olds. Upscale trim, and smooth and quiet ride. I had a 1998 Olds Intrigue. Nicest car I have ever owned. If GM had not discontinued them. I would still have one.

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  19. Chebby

    This is probably an unusually well-built example. A friend’s dad had one of the good ones, with a plush red leather interior, and we called it “the fuel-injected couch”. But my recollection of these when they were new is most were poorly built and designed, with plastic internal parts in the transmissions, paint that peeled, cheap interiors, multiple recalls, etc etc. And ugly compared to the RWD platform, although this design seems to look better with age than it did new.

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  20. Poppy

    Maybe the first few model years of these new front drive C and H bodies had issues, but I’ve owned 5 of them (3 of them still – other 2 sold to friends and they are still driving them) from ’91-’96 and they have all been super reliable. I’ve had zero drivetrain issues. Not unusual to see these cars in the junkyard with over 250K miles on the clock. A little softly sprung depending on the model, but swap out springs and sway bars from a Bonneville SSE or LSS (all fit from 1985-1998) and they become downright fun to drive.

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    • Ed P

      These cars usually had the 3.8L v6. That engine would last over 200k if taken care of. The clear coat paint failed on some, but that problem was not limited to GM, it was industry wide.

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      • Poppy

        Yep, fortunately my ’92 still has excellent paint, but I started having poor paint adhesion on the ’91 that I sold last year. That’s the main reason I sold it (that and having to make room for the supercharged 3.8 ’95 LSS I found), but the new owner just wanted something cheap to drive 55 miles each way to work that would cost less in gas than his truck. He’s still driving it every day and racking up the miles. The other weak spot on these is for some reason the rear wheel wells. Often undercoating splits at the seam between the inner and outer wheelhouse and then they get water/salt up in there and you know the rest.

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