1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham: Gorgeous in Garnet

Jayson Coombes

Once upon a time in the 1980s, people bought cars. Actual cars, with four doors and a trunk lid, and no four-wheel drive. And one of my favorite marques, Oldsmobile, was still in business. One of its best, Broughamiest cars, and still a favorite of mine to this day, was the Ninety-Eight.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham hood emblem
Jayson Coombes

At the time, the Ninety-Eight was the top-of-the-line Oldsmobile sedan and had been for decades. The Toronado coupe may have been more of a halo car, but for maximum luxury and space, the Ninety-Eight was your best choice. In 1987, it was in its third year of second-round downsizing, the first shrink having been applied for the 1977 model year, when all GM C-bodies, from the Fleetwood Brougham on down, went on a crash diet from their 1976 Nimitz-class proportions.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham rear
Jayson Coombes

Also in 1985, the Ninety-Eight became a V-6 front-wheel-drive car for the first time. Wheelbase was 110.8 inches, with an overall length of 196.4 inches. Curb weight was 3316 pounds (for the 1987 Regency Brougham sedan).The Buick Electra/Park Avenue, its corporate sibling, got the same treatment. So did Cadillac, but those luxury cars retained retained V-8 power, though seeing as how they had the 4.1-liter “High Technology” first introduced in 1982, an argument could be made that you may have been happier with a Park Avenue or Regency with the remarkably sturdy 3.8-liter V-6.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham front chrome
Jayson Coombes

I remember these cars very well. My Aunt Candy had a silver-blue metallic 1986 Park Avenue, our neighbors two doors down had a 1987–88 Regency Brougham (it replaced a triple-navy-blue 1983–84 Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham), and our neighbor caddy-corner from our house had another ’87–90 Regency Brougham, in gunmetal gray metallic with matching interior. They were really nice cars.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham badge
Jayson Coombes

Despite the 1985 downsizing, they retained full-size interior space. The glass area was impressive, with corresponding visibility. They were almost like an American version of a Volvo 740, albeit with much more elaborate chrome details and upholstery! You didn’t see many Volvos with wire wheel covers, whitewalls, and opera lamps!

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham interior seats
Jayson Coombes

The 1987 Ninety-Eights received a mild facelift, adding composite headlamps to replace the former quad sealed-beam units, a new grille, and other refinements. It was available in three models: the $17,371 ($47,050 today) Regency sedan, $18,388 ($49,802) Regency Brougham sedan, and $18,388 Regency Brougham coupe. Yes, the two Broughams were the same price, whether you selected the two-door or the four-door.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham side
Thomas Klockau

But this was the final year you could get a Ninety-Eight coupe. Starting in 1988 it would be available only as a sedan. Sales of the coupe had been going down, and it became more rapid with the 1985 downsizing; only 4207 Brougham coupes were produced for 1987.

Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham ad

It may have been that the proportions of the 1985 body were a bit more awkward on the two-door version. With those long doors, you expected the car itself to be longer. Coupes as a whole were on a downward trajectory though; even the Toronado would go away after ’92. The Brougham sedan was much more popular, with 60,817 sold. It was actually the best-selling Ninety-Eight, as the less fancy Regency sedan sold 19,738 units. Still better than the coupe, though!

Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight ad

In this fashion the Ninety-Eight continued through 1990 with only one more minor facelift for ’89. The 1991 model would bring a total redesign, with swoopier lines. That ’91 would be the final generation of the Ninety-Eight series, sadly. Times were changing, and traditional luxury sedans were going in a different direction.

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham front three quarter
Jayson Coombes

Our featured car, in fetching Dark Garnet Red Metallic with matching velour interior, was spotted by my friend Jayson Coombes at the Oldsmobile Club of America national meet in Murfreesboro in July 2022. He texted me car pictures all that weekend, and there were some amazing Oldsmobiles, but this ’87 was one of my favorites. Of course, I flashed back to the classic 1996 film Fargo, as this was very close to the car Jerry Lundegaard drove in the movie.

My only question: Does this one have TruCoat? Oh ja, you betcha!

1987 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham rear three quarter
Jayson Coombes



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    My grandparents bought a new 1985 Ninety-Eight, Regency Brougham, in Sandstone which was a solid beige color. They piled the miles on it in 2 years, traveling through the Western US. The car became famous in the Nevada desert, as they pulled into a small town to get a hotel room late a night, and it was completely booked, the closest place was 200 miles away. My Grandmother said, “Come on, it’s just another 200 miles you can do it”. His response “Hell no, that will put us in at 4 am, I’ve been driving since 6 am, you can drive if you want but I’m not.” They spent the night sleeping in the Oldsmobile, which turned out fine the Police stopped by to check on them surprised to see a couple sleeping in a new loaded Olds.

    He traded out for a 1987 Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham, the same color. Pulling up he was smug, waiting to see if my father would realize he traded for a new one. My Dad didn’t, but as soon as he pulled up 5 year old I said, “You got a new car!” My Grand Pa said, “How’d you know I made sure to get the same color so nobody would realize I got a new one.”

    I knew because his 85 had those wire wheel covers as above and his 87 had those fancy Crosslattice aluminum wheels also seen on the W Body Supreme Coupe at the time. Both were great cars, comfortable and reliable. I saw them everywhere along with Eighty-Eights, and Buick Electra’s, and Le Sabres. I miss seeing them out and about as it always felt like home and reminded me of him when I would see one.

    You and I are two of a kind! My first word was Car and I can tell You about any foreign or domestic model! When I was five 1973 I knew about all of the Mercury models out there! My parents were Ford People and My dad bought a new one every 40.000 miles! I remember with great fondness starring at all of the Body Styles and option pages of the brochures My father brought home!

    Another pop culture reference! You never disappoint.
    IMHO-the coupes were the way to go. I actually found the proportions to be perfect, in my eyes. I knew a local schoolteacher who owned a basic Buick Leasable coupe (same profile). Man how I loved that car!

    My parents had the 98 Touring Sedan model. Same year and similar color. It was really unusual in the sea of Park Avenues and 98 Regency models popular in our area. The dash, seats, and shifter really set the touring sedan model apart. Good times. Lots of family driving trips in that car. I started driving about when the 98 arrived. As a result I got the 1980 Delta 88 Royale as my first car.

    One of my all time favorite cars! The 1985-86, specifically, with its quad headlights were the best. I owned a 1985 Regency Brougham in Med. Sapphire Blue Glamour Metallic back in 1990-91. Adored that car. Also had a champagne 1987 Park Avenue a few years later and a sprinkling of Delta 88s and Lesabres thrown in for good measure. I wouldn’t be offended if I had one to tool about on the weekends today!

    We had several used Park Avenues and 98’s as taxi cabs. They were reliable roomy and great in the snow.

    My mom had a 98 exactly like the one in the pic. I thought it was totally ugly. When they revised them a few years later making them more rounded they became nice looking again. Anyhow mom’s car was a piece of junk.

    My girlfriend in highschool bought a 1985 Buick Electra Park Avenue off her uncle for $800. It was a neat old car, but I always thought it was a half-baked design. Yes it retained the same cushy, overstuffed velour seats of the previous RWD models, but the paint-shaker 3.8L v6 was a letdown.

    That was fixed with the 1987 refresh when the first “3800” branded engine was installed. Not only was it more powerful, but it also gained a balance shaft which significantly reduced engine vibration and made the Buick 3.8 into a powerplant worthy of a luxury car.

    I loved the details of the car though; the liberal use of fake wood on the dash, door panels, and even the steering wheel was a brougham-era touch of class. The maroon pillow- top velour seats were quite comfortable, even if the driver’s seat lacked a recline function. (The only way to achieve this was making the entire seat tilt backwards, bottom cushion and all, using the seat- bottom tilt functions.)

    Despite its glaring flaws, I ended up liking the car enough that it gave me a newfound appreciation for American luxury. I bought myself a 99 Buick LeSabre Limited in 2013, a 99 Oldsmobile 88 in 2015, then an 03 Park Avenue Ultra in 2018. I still have both of my Buicks and the Oldsmobile.

    The 85 Electra and my ex girlfriend are long gone, but the memories of that old car are still fond ones.

    You Made My Night!! I am 55 years old and a Life Long Sedan Lover! I at one point had ( between magazines and brochures) over a thousand car related books! My first ride was an 85′ Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser and it wasn’t until this year I got My first foreign sedan ( an Altima, which I love) it is sad that all anyone wants is an SUV!! Bring back style and class! We need that!

    These were not bad cars but they had to replace cars that were right sized and were much better designed.

    Everyone’s rush to FWD and smaller engines was done in panic mode and it was not the best for styling.
    Even Fords move to the Taurus was popular at first but it wore off by the second gen.

    Cadillac paid the biggest price and Buick and Pontiac salvaged things the best for the era.

    I always wondered how things may have been different under Harley Earl or Bill Mitchell would have handled this era. They liked things long low and smooth. This was far from that.

    I felt the Buicks came the closest to what the old School would have approved on but the box cut Olds well this was the start of their end. Once they killed the RWD Cutlass that was the end.

    Pontiac had been on the bubble but Olds soon replaced them and it was the cars Grand Am and SSEI that saved them. For a while.

    I had an 89 98. 3800 was bullet proof, other than finicky cruise control and an appetite for starters. Interior was plush, very comfortable. Drivers side armrests were heavy, pulling away from door card after 2 years. Good car, not great.

    I bought numerous vehicles in the dealership (Jim Lupient Olds GMC, Golden Valley MN–it’s still there but remodeled) that Fargo was filmed in, and signed papers more than once in Jerry’s office in the 90’s. Just get me my damn checkbook!!!

    Had an 83 Custom Cruiser in that maroon. With extra woodgrain of course..

    Another great write-up, my friend! My Grandmother’s third “almost husband” lol who was a great man by the way bought a brand new gray leftover ’87 Regency base sedan. He was skeptical at first coming out of a ’76 Monte Carlo, but absolutely ended up loving that car, so much so he kept it 13 years! I remember vividly getting a ride to the airport in that car around 1994 or so, and thinking how nice that car still was. He replaced it with a 2000 Lesabre which he hated. He mentioned that 98 all the time. They were great cars, and GM really did an amazing job with them, especially once perfected (by ’87 they were pretty much bulletproof). They were roomy, luxurious and efficient cars that were right for the time. I know many people that owned them and loved them!

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