Not a Grocery Getter: 1989 Olds Ninety-Eight

Across the USA, there are likely thousands of Olds Ninety-Eights rusting away in junkyards and impound parking lots, long forgotten as a former high-end luxury car. However, when a specimen pops up that clearly bucks that trend, is it worth taking a closer look at? This clean 1989 Olds Ninety-Eight Touring Sedan here on cars.com is listed for a heady $8,500, but the seller claims it’s one of the best ones left. Do you agree? 

The Ninety-Eight model has seemingly been around as long as Oldsmobile itself, as this model here represents the eleventh-generation. They were feature-rich cars, with Oldsmobile finding new ways each year to improve the previous year’s model. This example featured here may even have the desirable “Twilight Sentinel” headlights (also a good name for a band, IMO) that turned on and off automatically and could also be timed to stay illuminated after the driver parked the car.

Here’s big surprise number one for me: I had no idea Olds put such racy buckets in their family sedan! Those look practically Recaro-like in design, and the embroidered Oldsmobile lettering gives it another dose of prestige. The seller of this example cites his car’s overall condition as justification for the high asking price, noting that this isn’t just a grocery getter – it’s a bonafide collector car. To be fair, I am beginning to come around to the idea that high-spec examples of cars like these in mint condition are getting damn hard to find.

Is that real burlwood? Sure looks like it, but I’ll leave it to our GM experts to confirm. This Olds features a gear selector that was a throwback to the classic “horseshoe” shifter handle that many classic GM vehicles used in the past, and the interior is surprisingly clean considering how many buttons its sibling the Pontiac Bonneville was littered with. While I wouldn’t pay near $9K for this car, I’d be able to justify $5-$6K – what do you think a survivor-grade Ninety-Eight is worth?

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Comments

  1. dirtyharry

    No GM did not use any real wood. But that is an awesome interior and those seats are as comfortable as they look. The 3800 V-6 is a great little engine. This is a super car for a lot of my relatives, who prize things like a smooth ride, comfort, quiet and safety. I think it worth something close to the asking price. A new luxury car is 50k or more and if you are retired this fits the bill and leaves you and extra 40k for a cruise. Will it ever be a collector car? I really doubt that.

    • Ralph

      Actually from what I recall that is real wood, GM started using real wood again in Cadillacs starting in 1986. Pontiac still used real wood in the mid 70’s on the Grand Prix after Cadillac stopped using real wood around 1968-69.

      Like 1
      • MKW

        Touring Sedan did have real wood interior trim. Very surprising, but 100% true.

    • Nick

      Gentleman, I am the proud owner of this exceptional car. Owned 7 of these over the years, they are incredibly well designed(for gm). The car modification ( of a ninety eight model) was designed by ASC and the seats are Lear Siegler Design (Yes Lear jet Company) The wood is real burl wood, if you look very close at the passenger shot on the left hand corner of the real burl wood, you will see a little sticker, A picture of a tree! That is a factory sticker, never removed and is still on there. The suspension had higher durometer sub frame bushing in selected positions, 16 inch aluminum wheels, bigger sways. one thing that bothered me is that the rear brakes are drum, Wish they were smart enough to put disc on the rear and also offer a supercharger on the 3800. there have been a few brave souls that have put the s/c on the touring sedan. As I recall its possible to put rear discs from a Cadillac Seville and will bolt right up. The car is in fact based on the Fleetwood platform as I recall. The seats have air bladders for underneath the legs, lumbar, side air bladders from the upper arm down to the waists and power headrests. Way ahead of its time, adjust these seats just right and you can drive all day without discomfort.

      I have 8 wheels, and 16 center caps and the 4 reman wheels and 4 new center caps in the box!

      You can still get parts for these cars. These cars go forever ! Take care of it and it will go and go.

      Like 3
      • Jim

        I own and still drive a 89, 98 Regency Brougham. I love this car. But Some parts are no longer made. I needed a gas line for mine. It takes a special gas line made just for the 89, 98. My parts store said they couldn’t get one. So I called my local GM dealer, they told me the part is not made anymore. I asked him what I was supposed to do ? His answer was make one. My mechanic had to make some gas lines from plastic/rubber gas line. So you can get most parts but not all. But as far as the one in the ad being collectible. I believe the Touring Sedan are or will be because of so few of them sold.

      • Chris Anderson

        Another Touring Sedan enthusiast. Thanks for informing Dirty Harry about the car. I have owned mine since 1995, she has 84k miles on her. If the Toronado Trofeo is listed as a collector car then the Touring Sedan should definitely be, it was Oldsmobile’s flag ship sedan. I am trying to find another Touring Sedan with a luggage rack. I have never seen another Touring Sedan with a rack, any ideas where to get one? I found the original window sticker for an ’89, shows just what this car was.

        Like 2
  2. Rock On Member

    Bucket seats were part of the touring sedan package. Wonder how much extra the seller wants for the wheels and tires. I really hate when people list cars like that.

    • Chebby

      I think he means there is a brand new set of wheels with center caps (pictured in boxes) that are not included with the car, but yeah I too hate those sellers that say they are keeping the wheels and tires pictured on the car.

  3. Rich

    These were some of the riding cars at the time. Super smooth and very quiet. The doors shut with a solid thump like a BMW 7 series. Probably not worth more than 6k though. The market isn’t right for these yet.

  4. nessy

    Ahh, an Oldsmobile 98 and a rare Touring Sedan too.

  5. Thatguy

    Yes, that in fact is real wood.

  6. Leon

    Seller could at least find a replacement front wheel cap and close hood for pic.

    • Nick

      Read the ad i have numerous caps used and new

  7. Keith

    A few years back I picked up a plain ol’ Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham that had low miles but suffered an interior calamity. Thanks to a couple junkyard Touring Sedans and a Toronado Trofeo, I was able to do a reasonable job of “faking it”, – turbine wheels, burled walnut and all. The Trofeo buckets weren’t exactly the same as the Lear-Siegler ones seen here, but nobody who rode in it ever complained.

    I’ve been keeping half an eye out for a “real” Touring Sedan ever since selling it four-ish years ago. This one’s nice, but white’s not my color, and the price is a bit CP in my book. Nice car otherwise – if you’re into that sort of thing!

    • redwagon

      jalop reader outs self with the comment “….. and the price is a bit CP in my book.”

      and of course i have just outed myself by announcing that i know that……..

      this car is just too much 1980s for me. i cannot see putting out the money for it. however, i will defend your right to spend silly amounts of cash on it if you like.

  8. Gregory J Wilkins

    Yes, those buckets came in both the 98 Touring Sedan and Toronado Trofeo. My dad owned both back in the day and I can attest that they were/are some of the most comfortable and supportive buckets I’ve ever sat in, and I’ve owned a few BMW’s and Mercedes. I want to say that they were made by Lear Siegler? Not like the “couch” seats in most Cadillacs of that period. The 3800 V6 was pretty bulletproof as well. The price seems a bit stiff to me, but they are nearly impossible to come across these days, especially in this condition. I’d still have a hard time offering more than $6K.

  9. doug6423

    I can’t get past the fact this was referred to as a ‘high-end luxury car’…. an Oldsmobile? If this is a ‘high end’ what’s that make BMW, Mercedes, etc… All that’s right, they’re taxis cabs and Oldsmobile’s aren’t!!! :)

    • nessy

      I guess you don’t remember the days when bringing home a new 98 Regency or a Toronado made you the king of the town right Doug?…. At one time, a top of the line Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac meant you really made it. Mercedes and BMW were not even in the picture.

      • doug6423

        I had to laugh when I read your reply. You’re either really up there in age or live way out in the country. I know MB’s started to be imported in the 50’s, my first was a ’67 base model 250S at 16. American cars, until recently, couldn’t even compare to the European cars. I’ll stop there, because I can really hammer on older American cars…

      • CJay

        I had a relative (from Cleveland OH) that would always show up at the family reunions (in small town central PA) driving a new Oldsmobile.
        A different one every year.
        While in town they had a minor traffic accident. We discovered hey were renting the car.
        Probably just showing off to the “kin folk” how well they were doing in the city.

    • Jim

      I think he meant high end American car. Witch it is.

  10. CJay

    About 25,000 Touring Sedans were produced. As a model by itself they have a group of enthusiast.
    Why advertise the car and tease with the wheels?
    At that price install the wheels to help justify the price.

    • nessy

      Say Dougy6423, as for your saying I am old? I am 40 so most likely younger than you. Are you new here? You must be, I don’t recall your name but then again, I must be getting old. For you to come here and “hammer on older american cars” as you stated, is not a way to become popular on this site. From the looks of all the thumbs down you are getting from your silly remark, you need to read up on automobile history. Mercedes were laughed at in this country until the last 30 to 35 years ago and when you think about it, that was not such a long time ago. You said you had a base model 67 250S? Yea right and that was a better car than a 67 Eldorado or a 67 Corvette? A 250S. Blah. Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Imperial, Lincoln, Packard ect were the best of the best for decades. I never said this here before but I am one of the head historians for the AACA. I think I am the youngest AACA historian. My comments are based on facts, not my personal opinion.

      • doug6423

        You’re not very much younger than me. I don’t comment much because of how out of hand it can get. I thought my comment with a smiley on the end would be taken lightly, but I was wrong. And I could care less if I get thumbs up or down, just having a little fun. Yes it was a silly remark and I had a smile on my face when I posted it as well as my other posts. But now I see you stepped this up, so…

        As stated the 250S is a base model and you’re comparing it to top of the line American. So apples to apples for that era (60’s & 70’s) would be the MB 600. There was nothing more elite, well engineered automobile than it at the time. Was it complicated and expensive as hell to maintain… Absolutely!! But it was the best high end luxury car you could buy in that era. And I was always proud of the fact a beat a 70’s era Corvette in my base model straight six 250S. Quarter mile? No way! Nice twisty back road. American cars back then were not built to handle, only a straight quarter mile. I’m not sure of the year but when Mopar fans made a big deal out of hemi breaking 200 at the track. I believe MB set and still holds the 200+MPH record for a public highway speed which was set in the 30’s and I believe still stands today. And people got excited about 200 at a closed track. They didn’t expect much back then I guess.

        You name an American car from the 60’s & 70’s and I’ll name the Euro car that can out do it.

        But this is all in fun hopefully. I have a 65 Corvair I enjoy now and it is far cheaper to maintain than a MB from that era! :)

    • Nick

      They never made 25 k touring sedan, around 7800 as I recall someone with foresight would offer a number, including wheels. Make sense?

    • Chris Anderson

      Here are the actual numbers by year:

      1987: 3985

      1988: 8531

      1989: 7193

      1990: 5566

      After 1990 the Touring Sedan the body style lacked and thus the drop in sales of 98’s.

  11. Jeff Staff

    You are all doing a bang-up job of making me want to own this. And it’s local!

  12. CCFisher

    Very underrated cars in their day: sophisticated chassis with an excellent balance between ride and handling, richly appointed interior, fantasitc seats (I had a ’92 Trofeo with the same seats). Too bad it looks just like the regular 98 your great aunt Matilda took to bingo every Friday night, at least to most eyes.

  13. Duane Boda

    This Car Is Knee Deep In Denture Grip – War Bonds – Yappy Dog In The Back

    Seat – Oh Dear – Goodness Me – Lawrence Welk and Two For Tuesday

    Coupons along with Rotary Mower. Believe me….it’s a Granny Car and to those

    in doubt….No hard candy from the decorated glass bowl or Cinnamon Rolls that

    Granny just baked fresh from the oven for you.

    • Jim

      It may well be a Grandpa car. But this Grandpa loves mine. And no hard candy for you ! LOL

  14. Dovi65

    Real nice ride. Tho even with the original wheels this car is a bit over-priced at $9k. True enough that you can’t get a comparable luxo sedan today for that money, but this Olds doesn’t offer a lot of the creature comforts of today’s cars the senior set is used to, $6k-$7k with the wheels, AND replace the missing center cap

  15. Nova Scotian

    …wood on the dash ruins it. Never one for fake or real wood inside or out. Why? It’s not the 1940’s…
    …on another note I believe this is a solid car, and they are getting scarce, for what they had to work with at the time,..this was/is a very nice automobile.

  16. 68 custom

    among the best looking Olds front wheel drives in super shape and I love the color combo, but still not worth 8500 to me…

  17. Marty Member

    A family member worked in the factory in Wentzville, Missouri, one of the factories where these were made. On a tour, I watched them go down the assembly line. I stood mesmerized as I watched the robots paint them, and people putting them together for the first time.

    Later, I got to drive a brand new Buick version of this car. I’ve always loved them since, and it’s still one of the cars on my automotive bucket list. Some will consider this total heresy, but I’d rather have the Park Avenue with pillow top velour seats!

  18. Greg Mosho

    way overpriced!!!!

  19. Kevin

    I had one as a company car but mine was a 1990 model. It was such a good car I bought it from the company when I was getting my new car. The dash wood is real. It called for furniture polish to clean and protect. We kept that car up till my youngest turned 16 and gave it to him as his first car. He proudly drove it for three years then sold it with a touch over 300000 kms. The body was still rust free and a few minor dents. The only problem was the air conditioner quit but with the astro roof and power windows we didn’t miss it much. The nicest vehicle I ever owned. Ultra comfortable and fun to drive through the mountains. Still wish we had it but its still going as of a month ago when my son and I spotted it. Still looking good. Kev

    Like 1
  20. Dick

    I also had one that started out as a company car that became mine. 1986 model – which I believe was the first year of this body style. Fully loaded with everything except reliability. At about 75K miles it needed an engine rebuild. After another 10K or so, the transmission needed to be rebuilt. When the tranny was going again less than 20K miles later, I gave the P.O.S. away. I got the best of that deal. (And I really mean I gave it away for free.)

    Without a doubt, the worst excuse for a vehicle I ever had. Since then, I’ve only purchased Japanese brand vehicles. Never pulled an engine or a transmission since. Only regular maintenance items on every vehicle I’ve owned since that Olds in the late eighties.

    • Clay Byant

      Never heard of anyone lunching a 3800 at 75k. Then a tranny? I was a dealer 20 some years ago and made a market in these and always had 4-5 around. Drive a 88-98 now with 270k on it. The 98s had air suspension on them and you could put a whole football team in and on them and it would stay level. 88s never had that. I think someone’s driving habits need examining here…………. Into my 70s and there’s not hardly anything I haven’t driven.

  21. Ron G

    I looked at the ad for it on cars.com and learned that in fact, it does have real wood on the dash, kinda surprised me GM used it during this time period. This is a really nice car, yet another 80s- early 90s GM car I am drawn to from my early childhood. I think the price is a little on the high side, considering it has 86,000 miles and the seller mentions the need for a new headliner, there is a crack in the drivers seat and the power antenna needs fixed. They do mention they have the headliner material though. The center cap missing from the front wheel and what looks like fading around the driver side front bumper just below the headlights make me feel around 5k to 5500 would be much more reasonable. I’m nitpicking too, I can’t remember the last time I have seen a ninety-eight touring sedan, let alone one this clean. Wish I had the cash. I know people on this site prefer older cars and true barn finds, but being younger, I’m 30, I enjoy seeing these cars from the 80’s and early 90’s pop up from time to time on here. Thanks for keeping a diverse mix of finds.

    • Chris Anderson

      Clay,

      Did Touring Sedans come from the factory with luggage racks? I have never seen another one in person with a luggage rack.

  22. Chebby

    This platform was new when I was a car-crazed teenager and I remember them as problematic….plagued by recalls and by GM using plastic parts where they shouldn’t have. There are lots of old RWD GM cars still around, but these are largely extinct.

    I rode in a loaded Park Avenue version that my friend’s dad had, we called it “the fuel injected couch”. I was surprised how comfy and powerful it was. I think you either got a good one or a lemon.

    • Dovi65

      Chebby … “I think you either got a good one or a lemon” .. that’s true of just about any US produced car from the 1980s up to early 2000s. I’m amazed that any 1980s/1990s domestic car can still be found in decent shape

      The engine quitting at 75k is unusual, but not totally out of reality given that US cars were largely heaps at the time. Only getting 20k out of a trans rebuild .. someone’s head should have rolled for that one.

  23. Rustytech Member

    The early 3.8L ( pre plastic manifold ) were very good engines. These second round downsized GM’s were better than most of us at the time thought they would be. I had a Lesabre for years, it was almost as roomy as the previous RWD models, it rode just as well, handled better, and got much better fuel mileage. This appears to be a very nice car, but it is NOT a classic, I agree with Jeff on this one $5 to $6k max.

  24. Jay S.

    Can’t fault the guy for asking $8500. Can fault anybody who pays that much.

  25. DLM

    I owned an ’89 Touring Sedan in Silver, same interior. I drove it for a number of years and it was very comfortable, decent handling, a little light on power but that was usual in that time. My opinion, it held its own very well against the European sedans of the day unless you had a Mercedes 500E, for the price of about 3 Touring Sedans. I’ve had a 2003 Audi S8 and a 2010 BMW 760 since then and I think the Touring Sedan needs no apologies. I wish Olds had stayed on that path. Well worth enjoying.

  26. BRAKTRCR

    I always liked these, and was disappointed when GM pulled the plug on Olds. I agree with many that feel it ridiculous to charge separately for stuff that came with the car. I also agree, the car is over priced. However, at roughly a $2500 premium, for a car that you truly want, pay it. As Jeff wrote in the header, most of these are rotting in junkyards across America. Looks to me to be a fun semi nostalgic ride

  27. Tirefriar

    I like this car but thanks to the seller it’s a bit of a disappointment. For this kind of scratch you can by a minty W210 E320 and drive circles around this car. simple question, which car would you prefer to drive to your high school reunion, this Olds or a W210?

    • rando

      Call me old school, but I don’t even know what a W210 is and don’t care. Have had opportunity to drive several Euro cars. Owned an Audi. Had a BMW motorcycle. Will never own Euro again. Not worth the effort and expense. And the people at my reunion that I would care about would be just aas interested in this Olds as a BMW or MB. Whichever the W210 thing is. I can appreciate the aesthetic of the W210 thingy maybe. BUt ownership means nothing to me. I have rich people “friends” on FB and hate reading their posts and am not impressed with their wealth. I’m a poor guy and could care less; usually more annoyed by shows of wealth than anything else.

      This site just gets worse and worse.

      • Tirefriar

        Relax snowflake. I happened to own both an Audi and am on my 4th Boxer (that’s a BMW boxer twin just in case you are not familiar with that description). While I can understand your emotions about the Audi if it was a 5000 S like mine, I don’t know what you might hold against Beemers. My desire to own Euro hardware has nothing to do with snootiness, at least in my case, but rather with enjoying top notch engineering and the performance it delivers. I agree with you that I should have worded my thought a bit different as in which car you’d rather be in the canyons or traversing the road at tripple digit speeds. Oh, yeah and by the way the W210 refers to Mercedes Benz E class built between 1995 and 2002 (wagons version lasted one additional year) which are considered to be one of the best engineered Mercedes sedans right next to the W126…oh, never mind

  28. Reviekev

    Based on your pic’s I’d say it’s priced about right. Speaking of shifters, if it’s the one I’m thinking about those GM shifters were cheap at best. Geeze, it’s a good thing those days are in the past for GM.

  29. JohnD

    My boss had something very similar when I was a college student in the 80s. If memory serves it was a ‘sport’ model or ‘SSR’ or something like that. Does that ring a bell? I had just bought a new Toyota p/u and sold my ’77 Buick, so my fondness for GMs was temporarily fading. Drove it to the dealer for him once and was very impressed. Seats, handling, power, panache…it was a very nice car. I’d drive one today, but I don’t think at 9k.

  30. JohnD

    Oh and I think the drooping headliner was a matter of when not if. All GMs of this era seeem to have that.

  31. JohnD

    After some brief googling, maybe it was a Touring Sedan. See I told you I was an old fart. A nice car nonetheless.

  32. CelestialGryphon

    Being a nearly 30 year old American male I have this to say… I’m not sure why it would be a collectable, but I do know that they had appeal.

  33. Jim

    I still drive an 89 Olds 98 Regency Broughham. I love it ! 160K on the clock.

  34. Jim

    I still drive one of them just not a touring sedan. Its a Regency Brougham

  35. Clay Byant

    One last afterthought…………I used to keep new in box luggage racks for those I sold and you would be surprised at how many people wanted that on to bring up the tail end. I kept the Olds and Buicks together, and looking down the back ends people would say, “I’d take that one if it had a luggage rack”. No problem……..sold car.

  36. Tedwolcott

    I as well remember when pulling up in an Oldsmobile 98 was a very proud feeling they were very beautiful luxury cars and they had style I’m not that old in my 40s and remember if you had one you had arrived I frankly don’t get it with some people who put them down I’d have one anyway

    • Clay Bryant

      Funny you should post on here at this time. I just got a 89 Regency Brougham to replace my 88. Belonged to an elderly couple who gave it to their granddaughter but she wanted a smaller car.(Young kids aren’t as skilled at parking as older people that have done it all their life) Best thing about it…….102k miles and condition shows it They’re still out there………………

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