Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Twofer Tuesday returns with a couple of Malaise-era barges

I was ambling along the tony Carrol Gardens neighborhood when this schlub got in the way:
This grubby slab is a 1983 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Brougham in White. It is filthy and beat.
That octagonal hood ornament is nowhere to be seen on every Oldsmobile 98 I can find from '79-'84. My guess is that it was snapped off at some point when the car was somewhat new and that sort of thing was common, only to be replaced with a Pontiac Grand Prix or full-size Buick hood ornament.
This was the full-size pinnacle of luxury for Oldsmobile customers in 1983. Everything about this ride says ancient technology; big carbureted V8 up front, rear wheel drive, body on frame construction, and more thought to cushy plushness than performance.
This beast is a veteran of the Brooklyn streets! You can see that the owner has welded on additional huge bumper guards to augment the smaller factory ones still in place. They've also screwed the thick black rubber to the front of the guards after heavy use.
 There are reasons most cars are some sort of sandy beige gray these days; they tend to hide the everyday grime and wear better than say a white car like this. White cars show every grain of dirt and impending rust just like black cars highlight even the smallest scratch or scuff.
Love the mismatched $15 plastic hubcaps Mr. Luxury Owner Bro.
In between the front and rear door glass you can see a vertical black rectangle. These were the original opera lights typical of Malaise-era luxo barges. When new they would cast a white glow when the headlights of running lights were on. There are no bulbs to replace as they are actually electroluminescent panels; printed layers of phospor onto a surface that conducts electricity. The result is a glow much like a nightlight. Much to my astonishment I found a 10 page tutorial online on how to restore them on your Malaise yacht. Thanks Internet!
Whoa! Up close the roof is NASTY to the point of absurdity. This thick icing treatment might be waterproof but it looks like it was applied by the same little old lady that "touched up" the Jesus portrait on a Spanish church wall a few years ago.
The overall design inspiration for this ride was a brick. Those have to be the biggest reverse light ever put into production.
This corner sums up this ride perfectly; more welded bumper guards, white touch-up paint directly over the pinstripe, and more silly putty filling up the space between the bumper and the body. At least he placed several plastic reflectors to the bumpers in case you were about to miss this beast somehow.
Something that feels strange to type is that this is actually a much more aerodynamic redesign of the 1977-1980 version! That actually was an almost perfect square.
Being a full size American car these still sold very well to everybody accustomed to such things. As hard as it is to imagine now there was still a great deal of animosity towards Japanese and German imports in 1983. My own grandfather flat out rejected a Honda my aunt purchased new until she lead him out to the metal plate on the doorjamb where he could see that it was built in California. If you want a glimpse into the state of domestic auto production I highly recommend the first film by Michael Moore called Roger & Me.
Don't you just love German Black Forest Cake?
This Regency and Brougham emblems denote the highest of gaudy luxury. It included extra plush velour seats, deep carpeting, this sweet formerly-vinyl roof, and of course those opera lamps.
Is this where I should feel bad about pointing out all the home repairs? Naaa.
Now that's a lock! Your puny Club means nothing compared to my armored neckbrace that actually contains the entire ignition switch!
The AM/FM Stereo in the dash has no cassette player that I can see. The year before this one was the last for the 8-track player in Oldsmobile. Amazingly there was the option of having an 8-track player installed by the factory in certain GM trucks all the way through the 1988 model year. Incidentally that was the year the last 8-track commercially produced came out; Fleetwood Macs Greatest Hits.
Well let's just back away from this dirty slab of cream cheese and gaze upon its sibling.
Here we have exactly the same year, make, and model in Black (though it is NOT a mighty Brougham). This one is in great shape!
This is the correct hood ornament for the '83 98.
The lack of a side parking light between the lower edge of the bumper and the wheel is an indicator of the non-Brougham model.
This ride is parked near my shop and is definitely someones pride and joy. These were winter pics when every car gets dusty but this car is usually gleaming.
The Ninety-Eight name originally meant full-size 90 Series with an 8 cylinder engine. The meaning was moot when 6 cylinder engines became available as standard from 1981-1982.
This is the standard placement for the non-Brougham opera lights. Most look like this; faded and cracking from the sun and utterly devoid of lighting ability.
This car has a small handful of aftermarket doodads but it's just short of too much. The fender skirts might have been an option, but the mudflaps and chrome visors over the side windows are add-ons.
We can see a couple of hail-Marys to curry favor from the cop running your license on the bumper; 2 American flags and an NYPD sticker. There were also a couple of police stickers attached to the windshield on the drivers side.
The black wheels look pretty tough on this ride.
There isn't much else to say about this black beast. Chuck D used to brag about driving his Olds 98 on his first couple of albums. Eventually though his "98 was 87 on the record yo, so now (he drove) Bronco". Rolling effortlessly from GM to Ford? Chuck D is a magnanimous customer.
Well there we have it; two of the biggest last-gasps of the Malaise era. The punitive Federal bumper regulations of the '70s were rolled back in '84 meaning that these were the last vehicles with egregiously massive guardrails hanging off the ends. The following year would be the last for rear-wheel drive 98s. It also happened to be the first year for the FWD replacements making it possible to go into a dealership and have the old and new next to each other for sale. Whatever, over and out.

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