One Owner 1986 Oldsmobile Firenza Wagon

This 1986 Oldsmobile Firenza wagon isn’t a muscle car or exotic… anything, really, but it’s a loved one-owner car and it appears to be in great condition. This 34-year-old wagon can be found here on eBay in West Warwick, Rhode Island, just west of, yes, Warwick, Rhode Island. There is no reserve and the current bid price is a mere $1,300. Let’s check it out.

General Motors made several variations of their J-body platform and everyone got in on the game. Chevrolet had the Cavalier, Pontiac had their Sunbird, and Buick had a Skyhawk. Even the top dog, Cadillac, showed up to the table with their famous/infamous Cimmaron, which I have to own someday. The Oldsmobile Firenza, like Oldsmobiles in general, came somewhere in the middle of the pack between Chevrolet and Cadillac, as always.

I haven’t seen a flaw in this car until seeing the left rear corner of the rear bumper. The internet will be your friend while you search for one of those replacements. I spent a few minutes on it, even on which usually has anything and everything from junkyards around the US, and didn’t find one. I didn’t look under the other J-body cars online to see if one of those could be had somewhere. There were no different generations of the Firenza, just one shot and they were made for the 1982 to 1988 model years.

Other than a worn driver’s seat, and not seeing a manual transmission, the interior looks great. The back seat looks like new and if the original fabric for the driver’s seat can’t be tracked down, I would transfer some of the back seat fabric to the driver’s seat, but that’s just me. The underside looks solid but there is some rust showing up in the lower crevasses, such as on the bottoms of the doors. For a Northeast car this old, though, it looks solid.

The seller really has offered up a clean looking car, even the engine looks nice and clean. It’s a GM 1.8L inline-four which would have had a mere 82 horsepower but they say that it starts, runs, and drives perfectly. For not much money a person could sure have a unique eye-catching little wagon in this Firenza. Have any of you owned one?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Member

    I get to play the game “no matter how obscure the car, someone on Barn Finds had one, or had experience with one.” I had a Firenza, a 1982 4 cyl 4 speed hatchback. It looked sharp with its two-tone silver and gray paint; would have fit right in today. It was an “okay” car. Two things I distinctly remember: when you depressed the clutch, the rpm’s would stay up for a second or two before dropping. Emissions-related tuning, I’m guessing. And the shifter was exceedingly rough and gritty-feeling.

    Probably the most interesting thing about the car is that we offloaded it to mother-in-law (a widow) in 1986. She drove it, sparingly (a few thousand miles per year) for about twenty years. I think it had around 100k miles when we offloaded another car for her to use. So if nothing else it lasted a long time. I still chuckle about an 80 year old woman with a stick shift car.

    Like 11
    • Geoff

      I have a buddy whose mother finally gave up driving at 92 before which she was still driving her 5 speed Honda Accord to lap swimming at the Y 4 days a week. She always insisted on a manual for of all reasons: “because if the battery died you could roll/push the car to jump start it.”

      Like 12
  2. Oldog4tz Member

    The J platform as a whole were overpriced, underpowered, and of a build quality that made the k-car look good

    Like 4
  3. Jim

    What is commonly known as a 10-footer.

    Like 1
  4. JCA

    Yeah…there was really no difference in any version, even the “top of the line” Cadillac Cimmeron. They all had terrible build quality, cheap interiors, thrashy engines and were slower than a jar of molasses found in a kitchen in Siberia.

    Like 4
  5. Quintin Torsen III

    This will attract no quality women, why own it?

    Like 7
    • Jim

      Very strange criterion on which to judge an automobile.

      Like 8
      • Quintin Torsen III

        Thats how many of us judge a cars worth. Taught that by the best, my dad.

        Like 3
    • Spud

      You’re probably correct. Although now that almost seems like a challenge that someone should rise to. Not sure that it’s a challenge that’s worth at least $1301…but it could be fun trying.

      Like 1
    • JCA

      There’s almost no reason to want to own it hence the marginally better than scrap bids. If it was rwd at least you can make a drift car or sleeper out of it.

      Like 1
      • Superdessucke

        Bolt in a 260 horse 2.0 turbocharged Ecotec from a 2008-10 Cobalt SS. And don’t forget to splice in the launch control system!

        Like 3
    • Joe Fair

      Says you. It IS a wagon, so it has THAT going for it.

      Like 6
      • JCA

        For 2K I can buy a used GTI with the same amount of utility has this mini wagon. Not to mention a five speed, twice the horsepower, 100 x the handling and a gazillion trillion times better in every other way. Plus it won’t be a chick repellent like this is. If you like to sport leather sandals with white knee high tube socks, cargo shorts, a pocket protector, and your cell phone in a case on your belt, then yeah, maybe this car is for you.

        Like 3
    • Jonathan Q Higgins

      Sir, it’s yellow. Women like yellow. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about it

      Like 2
      • David Ulrey

        This is actually to JCA. It’s not my type of car but your description of the perfect owner for this car is – WOW, just WOW

  6. Arby

    Respect for the owner who took care of his vehicle, albeit one of little value.

    Unlike so many on here that had great value but an irresponsible owner left it in a “carport” or even worse, a field, to rot.

    Like 8
  7. creepycrawly

    talk about a nice piece of shredder bait jejejeje

  8. Bob C.

    I had a 1984 Buick Skyhawk, virtually the same car. Had the 2.0 OHV that growled like a coffee grinder. Nothing inspiring, but it did the job for at the time.

    Like 4
    • Joe Fair

      Had a ’85 Cavalier two door with the same engine. Only saving grace was that it had five forward gears and three pedals. Digital dash even worked.

      Like 3
  9. Jon Devens

    I had an 84 Sunbird Turbo.
    It was quick with the turbo… 150hp.
    Torque steer was brutal and the transmission must have come from a tractor.

  10. Stilbo

    It’s a wagon… it’s in good shape. That makes it cool. I camped in a Falcon wagon all over Eastern Australia. I camped all over the Appalachians in a VW Squareback. I camped all over the Rockies in a Dodge Dart wagon… and it wasn’t always the destination that was great, it was the driving too..
    Sure, the drive wasn’t like my 912 or MGB but it was fun nonetheless…
    And big critters with sharp teeth couldn’t get me.
    Plus, this’d be the only one like it at shows or Cars & Coffee.
    I’ve owned a couple GTI’s too and anything worth $2K is a total beater… and money pit.
    I give a lot of credit to the owner for preserving this little guy unlike the numb nuts that leave a “running when parked” Firebird or Mustang.
    PS: Good luck to whoever has to replace the timing belt. It should be replaced and it’s a royal PITA…

    Like 5
    • Concinnity

      The Australian connection is worth mentioning. Back when GM’s various worldwide divisions were sorting out what they wanted in the J-car, only Holden in Australia was absolutely insistent on having a wagon version. So they got to make it, and supply the rest of the world’s GM divisions with the panels required for manufacturing their own local versions. So all J-car wagons, worldwide, Holden’s Camira, Vauxhall’s Cavalier, Opel’s Ascona and all the US and South American versions used wagon rear paneling and tailgate sourced from Australia, back when it had a car industry, and GM had overseas divisions.

      Like 3
  11. M_Wolf

    I sincerely don’t care who my car attracts. If you don’t like it, keep on keeping on, sorry if you needed a lift and my vehicle didn’t meet your standards. Admittedly, it is a bland car. I like it *because* it’s weird, and a survivor. It’s a wagon, so you have some practicality without having to be another cookie-cutter SUV/CUV/Whatever-BMW-calls-theirs. It’s cheap and in decent shape, and would meet my needs. There was a point in my life when those criteria were all that mattered to me, because I was poor and needed something to drive. *shrugs*

    Like 8
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Truer words were never spoken, well said.

      Like 8
      • M_Wolf

        Not to mention, a couple of the things I drove back when I wasn’t able to afford much weren’t in nearly as nice condition as this wagon. I’d have taken this in a heartbeat over the rust-eaten Malibu I had, even though this is older. Just because I can afford more now doesn’t mean I look down on a car for being something made to get someone and their friends or family, plus their stuff where they need to go. That’s all this thing and its siblings ever were. “An affordable vehicle that hauls people and stuff”. Get a personality and a sense of style to attract a mate. :p

        Like 2
  12. Curtis

    My parents bought a 1986 off the showroom floor and was in the shop 32 times in a year due to lemon engine. I love an Olds but this car brings back memories of this being broke down so many times.

    Like 2
  13. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    In regards to the comment about this car not attracting women, I have to disagree. My best friend inherited one of these in high school. It was a ten year old, 1985 gray sedan. We all had a blast in that car as kids. Anyway, he had a “clingy” girlfriend who became an obsessive, stalker type EX girlfriend.
    The Firenza finally gave up the ghost and blew a head gasket. He bought a Skyhawk and donated the Olds to the Auto Tech shop in school. They actually fixed the head gasket, installed a new catalytic converter amongst other things and sold the car for pizza money at the end of the year. The buyer of the car? The Obsessive EX girlfriend. So, these cars CAN attract women, but careful what you wish for.

    Like 2
  14. Phil Detweiler

    If someone has a need for a small wagon, this actually appears to be a decent one. You’re not going to win many stoplight to stoplight races, but if that’s what you’re into, you’re not looking for a car like this anyway.

    The Brazilian-built, Opel-designed 2.0 OHC engine (yes, it’s a two liter engine, not 1.8 as stated in the listing, unless it’s been replaced and downgraded) was actually a decent performer — certainly better than the Chevy-designed 2.0 overhead valve engine that would have been standard in this and every other non-Pontiac J-body in 1986 (this engine was standard on Sunbirds, optional on Firenzas and Skyhawks, and not available on Cavaliers and Cimarrons). Throw a new timing belt on it every 30,000 miles and it should be very dependable.

  15. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice job, Scotty. Even little yellow wagons deserve love. I helped my Mom order a new ’82 Buick Skyhawk, a blue Limited notch-back two-door with 2.0 and 5-speed manual, and a sumptuous dark gray cloth interior. It looked fabulous for a long time, surviving numerous Pennsylvania winters. A stalling problem plagued it and the dealer for years until someone finally replaced some stupid part near the end of the car’s life. That purchase paved the way for me to buy her ’73 Mercury Capri 2.6 four-speed for $600, which I drove until it nearly rusted in half. Anyway these can be fine little cars, and good luck to the new owner!

    Like 1
    • JCA

      Interesting…when I was a kid, I coerced my Dad into buying the new 83 1/2 Honda Prelude that just came out. He was opposed to an import, and of course, paying over sticker price for it was an even tougher pill to swallow. But after suffering with a disastrous lemon GM X body he was open to change. It only took one test drive in the Honda and he was hooked on imports for the rest of his life as were many other value buyers. So, in period context, I don’t see these ever as being “fine little cars” compared to its peers in the mid 80’s. And the price reflects that on the collectable market. That said, you certainly can’t go wrong for $1,700 if you are ok with driving it around. As they say, there is always an “a$$ for every seat”

  16. chrlsful

    don’t know these motors or GM in general but this 1 has my interest. Too bad RI is one of the most econ. depressed states in country – it should have gone for more than the 24th bid @ under 2K $. I look for a short WB waggy like this 1 (well, may B ford). Stop that rust, cover seats, tune up, oil/coolant change, ck tires…what’s not to like? After “6 mo” consider efi or carb?

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