By on July 9, 2018

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - Paardensex

Every once in a while, I’ll that I can tell was loved by some longtime owner. Maybe it shows some absurdly high odometer reading, or evidence of the single-minded pursuit of some lunatic mechanical obsession, or the work of .

Today’s Junkyard Find combines the first and third types.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar odometer - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexMost Oldsmobiles I photograph in wrecking yards — and — have five-digit odometers and thus no means of determining real mileage. This car has a six-digit odometer, which was unusual for GM vehicles prior to the 1990s, and it shows the staggering figure of 363,033.2 miles. I see 1980s and with big odometer numbers all the time, but a 1980s Olds?

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar door panel emblem - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexNot only that, but this is a cheap Olds, a . Only the loathsome Firenza had a lower price at your friendly Oldsmobile dealership in 1986.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar Iron Duke engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - Paardensex3.0- and 3.3-liter versions of could be purchased in a new Calais that year, but this car has the low-luxe base engine: the . 92 clattery, though fairly reliable, horsepower on tap here.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, custom paint - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexI’d be willing to bet that the owner who applied the red stripes and gigantic Oldmobile Rocket logos believed that the Iron Duke was the greatest engine in human history, and — given the total mileage on this car — he might have had a point. Of course, this car could have gone through eleven Dukes during its 32 years on the road.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar radio - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexInside, there’s a homemade console that reminds me of the one I built for my ’65 Impala when every penny counted.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar aftermarket cruise control - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexFactory cruise control? Sure, if you’re made of money! This aftermarket rig, no doubt sourced from JC Whitney in 1991 or so, got the job done just as well as that Rip-U-Off™ optional GM hardware.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, pillar front seats - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexThere’s plenty of wear and tear on the Whorehouse Red interior, but nowhere near what you’d expect on a car that turned nearly 11,344 miles during every year of its long, long life.

1986 Oldsmobile Calais in Colorado junkyard, custom paint - ©2018 Murilee Martin - PaardensexThe rust was the most likely culprit in this car’s forced retirement; cars don’t corrode so quickly here in Colorado, but it does happen. Perhaps this Olds emigrated here from points east.


So special, yet so attainable. It’ll sweep you away!

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66 Comments on “Junkyard Find: Customized, 363,033-mile 1986 Oldsmobile Calais...”


  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    “Goodride” tires?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      When Goodyear just doesn’t cut it!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I can’t imagine what a pain it is to find 13″ tires anymore. I’m surprised they’re not trailer tires…

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Challenge accepted! Tire Rack’s website has the Kumho Solus TA11 in 185/70R13, and for $62.74 per tire! Does “Solus” mean “good ride” in Korean?

        I have nothing good nor ill to say about Kumho; I haven’t owned a set. But I recognize it as a mainstream brand at this point and am a little unsettled that someone apparently thought $63 per tire was too expensive, even for an ’86 Calais. Researching more . . . .

        Wait, the plot thickens:
        – Searching by model rather than by tire size, Tire Rack’s website indicates 14″ as the wheel size for the ’86 Calais. However . . . ,
        – an ’86 Olds brochure posted online shows the pictured wheels, and the picture here clearly shows 185/70R13 tires.
        – Discount Tire indicates 185/80-R13 as the base OEM tire size and further indicates no inventory in that size. In other words, the pictured car may be rolling on tires with too small an outside diameter. That would partially explains the ultra-high mileage.
        – Tire Rack does have that size, but only for trailer tires. They’re “Power King Towmax STR II’s.” I wonder if the Good Rides are trailer tires.

        Really surprising, or maybe not, that no one put scrapyard higher-trim Calais 14-inch wheels on at some point in 32 years.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Even for my Ranger my preferred 225/70R14 size is becoming a challenge to find. Some online tire retailers dont even have 14” as part of their drop down menu any more!

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The 225/70 14 has been hard to find for many years. It was probably 5 years ago when I went to find tires for my mother in law’s Ranger that I found only no-names or BFG Radial T/A’s. So a set of Crown Victoria 15″ wheels went on with 215/70-15 which were still available in a couple of mid priced options.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          @Featherston: It’s hard to say how or why this car still has 13″ tires on it; maybe due to the availability of SOME KIND of 13″ tire, they never bothered.

          On a side note: I wonder how the folks at Kumho pronounce Solus. Is it like soul-less (i.e. not having a soul) or like soll-lass (solace, being comforted)?

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          They’re M+S (mud and snow) rated, so I think they’re passenger car tires. Goodride tires are Chinese (as I suspected), made by ZC Rubber (Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd.):

          http://www.goodridetire.com/

          I just perused their Website, and they still make this tire (the SP06), and it’s a “touring” tire. They make it in *nine* different sizes that fit 13″ rims.

        • 0 avatar
          cimarron typeR

          I just put a set of Solus sport touring a/s on our 07 Eos. Not a bad tire, poor mans Michelin MXV

    • 0 avatar
      AmcEthan

      ive got a set of goodride tires on my 96 ram. bought them new last fall, super soft tire. ones already bald from doing a total of 3 10 second burnouts

  • avatar
    mankyman

    Wow, just wow. At one time these were as ubiquitous as cockroaches. You’d see them everywhere. And they were completely forgettable in every way.

    The owner of this one must be a very special person. The dedication required to keep this thing alive. Imagine driving this thing in 2016!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ve acquired a bit of a perversion with mid 80s-mid 90s GM oddballs since moving out to Indiana in 2013, right in the “GM corridor” that starts with the now demolished stamping plant in Indy and runs up I69 through Anderson, up to Fort Wayne’s truck plant. Loads of Rivieras, Cutlasses, Tornados, Caddys, etc that GM UAW guys bought as retirement gifts to themselves in the late 80s before things got really rough. When these guys pass on the families often sell this single owner creampuffs at estate sales. The supply is growing thinner but some real gems pop up on craigslist from time to time. I really ought to sample one of these fine automobiles as my next winter ride rather than playing it safe with a cheap Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You know to whom to place your faith, brother.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If it is something you want to drive almost every day I’d stick to (fuel-injected) H/A/B bodies.

        If you’re just looking for a Dairy Queener then the sky is the limit.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Unfortunately my constraint is nothing too nice that I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to drive it in the winter. What I’d really love is a mid 80s G body Cutlass Supreme on rally wheels, or an original and decent shape box B-Body. Sadly the former is climbing beyond the $5k or so that I’d be willing to pay for one of these old 80s GMs. And heck even the clean un-donked B-bodies are starting to climb past the $5k mark.

          As old and as cheap as I think I can reasonably go is a late 80s H body. I like the simple, good quality and roomy/airy interiors in them. I honestly wouldn’t turn down the right A-body either. 92-96 Lesabre and Park Ave are the two cars I’ve sort of honed in on as the sweet spot of what I’m looking for. 91-96 Regals I don’t like the interiors of. All the ’97+ H/Ws have horrid interiors IMO.

          We’ll see. I always end up buying on condition rather than a particular make/model/year anyways so it could end up being a Panther (with requisite snow tires), grandpa’s K-car, an old RL (pre-trans problems), etc. My hard constraints are a cushy ride and suspension that can hold up to bad roads, cheap to buy and easy/cheap to DIY. Easy to resell is a factor too so unfortunately Reattas are out :P

          Ultimately I do want to have a house with enough garage/pole-barn space to accommodate something like this for DQ-cruising with the fam:

          indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/d/1966-buick-electramile-true/6635051278.html

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            I have a 1987 G-body Cutlass Supreme coupe in original factory two-tone blue on original Oldsmobile alloy wheels, with blue bucket seat interior, full gauge cluster, FE3 suspension, 307 tied to the 4 speed 200R4 transmission and optional 3.08 rear gears and absolutely love driving it around during the Summer months. Even the A/C still blows cold. Had to pay 6200 to get it but then it only has 27K original miles on it and is very clean so it was well worth it to me.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus


            I have a 1987 G-body Cutlass Supreme coupe in original factory two-tone blue on original Oldsmobile alloy wheels, with blue bucket seat interior, full gauge cluster, FE3 suspension, 307 tied to the 4 speed 200R4 transmission and optional 3.08 rear gears and absolutely love driving it around during the Summer months. Even the A/C still blows cold. Had to pay 6200 to get it but then it only has 27K original miles on it and is very clean so it was well worth it to me.”

            *turns red with envy*

            I hate you and love you at the same time.

            Lol, but seriously: nice car man, I’d love to have it. Glad its in the hands of someone who knows what he’s got.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Last year, I was being followed by a lady in a 1979 Chevette. How did I know it was a ’79? The front license plate said so.

      The car was very clean.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Funny you mention ‘vettes. I’ve seen 2 up for sale on Craigslist locally, the one that was of interest was a somewhat rusty 4spd with low miles, but I think they were asking $2000. A chevette is as close as I will get to owning an old fiat based lada in the US and back in high school I was obsessed with a Canadian chevette ice racing series. But no, even I’m not interested in paying $2k for a rusty one.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Wow, imagine going 363K even with all those missing parts ;-) What is the saying about GM cars? They run poorly for a long time. Considering this was built at the height of the malaise era it is quite an accomplishment

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      1986 was in no way the height of the Malaise Era. ’86 cars as a group were far, far better than their predecessors of 10 or 12 years earlier – better handling, better packaging, better corrosion protection, and better reliability. An archetypal Malaise car would not, for example, have the pictured TBI.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        The Malaise Era is generally considered to be ‘72 to ‘83 as it pertains to automobiles. The years may vary as far as social and economic malaise are concerned.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Ok, but I sure had a lot of crappy cars from the 80s, so it may not be OFFICIALLY the malaise era it’s a pretty close 2nd. Maybe we can call it the sub-malaise era

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Iron Duke making a run for deification.

    LLV runs the Duke, just think about the mileage on some of those over three decades.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_LLV

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I could *almost* see this much dedication to a Quad 4/manual car, but the Iron Duke paired with a slush box? Probably the more reliable setup, but I wouldn’t think it would elicit this much love from its owner. If I found a Quad/manual Calais coupe, I’d be tempted to get it. Same with its Achieva and Alero descendents.

    Then again, I’ve loved some pretty not-exciting cars over the years, including a 4 cylinder/automatic Tempo, and it wasn’t even a coupe! However, I didn’t feel the need to decorate it with the kind of flare this guy shows. Alloy wheels, fog lights and little Ford ovals (stickers) on the 1/4 windows was as far as I got.

    “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.”

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, that’s dedication. Or desperation. I’m not sure which.

    FWIW, those cloth front seats have held up pretty well for 32 years and 300K miles. They have had to seen a lot of a$$ over 32 years. I go to bone yards now and see 10 year old cars with cloth seats that the fabric practically shredded of the seat frame.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I was a kid / teenager in the 1980s, and these cars were freakin’ everywhere back then. Ownership cut across all demographics… average working folks, senior citizens, high school kids, you name it. Probably only doctors and financial kingpins didn’t drive them. They felt incredibly cheap back then, even in the Malaise days. 363K miles? Amazing.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    I can understand someone driving one of these cars for 363,000 miles. These were good cars in the mid to late ’80’s, and generally reasonably well made. Yah, if you got a bad one, it could be awful, but they were light years better than their predecessor X cars. The N cars were reasonably light weight, so the low HP numbers weren’t as bad as they seem today, and they had an attractive combination of sportiness and luxury. They were more mature and grown up and aspirational than the J bodies they borrowed a lot from. Reasonably roomy, handled well, the formal roofline made for a very usable trunk opening, stylish, and comfortable, they ticked a lot of the right boxes for a lot of people. Almost all of them were handed down to teenage drivers, being more stylish than an A body or Chrysler’s K, and quickly vanished.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      363,000 miles is a very big outlier, SavageATL, but you make some good points. There’s a misconception amongst the B&B (younger readers, I’m guessing, or Boomers with faulty memories) that wrongly places the peak of the automotive malaise era five to 10 years after it actually occurred. Cars improved hugely from the mid ’70s to the late ’80s. The four hallmarks of this improvement (though they weren’t limited to that time frame) were improved packaging, electronic ignition, electronic fuel injection, and improved corrosion protection. The introduction of GM’s LN3 in 1988 was indicative of the fact that the malaise era was effectively over.

      A friend’s experience with an ’88 Grand Am fits your scenario:
      – His father purchased it new.
      – A perhaps important detail is that the selling dealership and the indie mechanic who serviced it were in an affluent area. Whether because of altruism or because of fear of the many attorneys amongst their clients, they were honest and conscientious.
      – It was optioned nicely (tape deck and an SE trim level that firmed up handling). The Quad-4 was a very risky option, in retrospect probably the unhappy medium between the Iron Duke and the LN7 and LG7 V6’s.
      – We loved the packaging the formal roofline gave it. Even though it was a two-door, the back seat made it very usable for four people.
      – Friend got it as a hand-me-down in ’92 or ’93. It received regular servicing but always was parked outside thenceforth.
      – For the next seven years, it gave very good service. The issues were: (1)a hole that developed in the muffler in ’94, a non-issue after it was replaced; (2) a radio knob that fell off in ’95 or so; (3) rust around the rear wheel arches that developed in the late ’90s, not shocking for a Northern car that lived outside.
      – The car died suddenly in 2000. It developed a catastrophic oil leak. Even though my friend pulled it over very soon after the check engine light came on, the engine ran dry quickly enough that it was ruined. I can’t remember if there was a hole in the oil pan or the engine block, but the mechanic said that it looked almost like someone had sabotaged it by punching a hole in it.

      I’d categorize 12 years and ~120,000 from an ’88 car as not great but as pretty good. Yeah, some buyers undoubtedly did better with Mercedes and Volvos and (in non-rust climates) Toyotas and Hondas. It was a solid ownership for the price point. I think a lot of N-body criticism is leveled by people (a) with no experience or (b) who know people who were the 3rd or 4th owners of abused examples.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Just a little side note about the malaise era and when it occurred from Wikipedia:

        “There has been some disagreement over when exactly the “Malaise era” ended. Some feel that the era ended in 1983, with the advent of computer controlled vehicles, and turbos beginning to take a foothold on Japanese vehicles, while others put the end date at 1996, when OBD II computer controls were mandated federally.”

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ Lie2me – Interesting, just looked at that. I don’t necessarily disagree with the mindset of picking a particular event-related date. Unfortunately, they (“they” being the Malaise Motors Facebook page cited by Wikipedia) simply are way off in terms of the event and the date.

          “Critical mass of EFI on the market,” which isn’t an exact date, would be a better definition of the end of the automotive malaise.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Well, for me the malaise era ended when I could drive a new car home from the dealer and not already have a problem, which for me occurred in the early 90s

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          For me, the malaise era ended throughout the ’80s, as computer-controlled EFI engines proliferated throughout car lineups. It’s hard to overstate how much better those early computer-controlled engines were than their vacuum-tube-festooned predecessors. For instance the first Taurus was so good partly because of its design and partly because the Vulcan/AXOD combination was so incredibly better than the carbureted Essex/C3 combination it replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            Malaise was more about performance, specifically the lack thereof, than it was about reliability. Malaise ended way before 1996. Malaise from my point of view, having lived through it, was probably closer to ‘74 through ‘83.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            That’s funny, because I only owned one car built in the 70s, a 1976 Gran Prix, bought it in ’77 and owned it through 1984. Until this day it still stands out as one of the best cars I ever owned

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          ” while others put the end date at 1996, when OBD II computer controls were mandated federally.”

          Pfff that’s the first I’ve heard of such an absurd claim. Yeah a 1993 Accord or Camry really wreak of Malaise! I’d definitely put the end of malaise at about the ’82-’83 model year. Once the Fox body mustang came out, things like the ’84 Civic appeared, cool stuff like the Starion, 4Runner, Tercel 4wd, we were out of the woods IMO. If anything I’d put the early 90s-mid 90s as peak/golden age of design and content for the Japanese makes. It’s been cost cutting ever since then.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            “Absurd” is a good adjective, gtem. The 1996 claim comes from one guy’s opinion on a Facebook page, which someone else (or the guy himself) saw fit to cite on Wikipedia. Cue rant about the death of expertise. Yes, this is an informal topic, but 1996 is clearly wrong.

            dal20402 is on point re: EFI. Post-EFI I don’t think I’ve *ever* had a car conk out or fail to start apart from either a dead battery, a dead fuel pump (once), or an accident-damaged ECU. Car trouble was much more common in the carburetor era.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Modern engine controls really are amazing. I’d hear all sorts of tortured devices limping down the road in my old neighborhood, old Maximas misfiring on multiple cylinders, old Kias laying down a smoke screen, absolutely horrible looking/sounding ex-police crown vics, etc. And yet all of these cars were still moving under their own power. I mostly see cars on the side of the road with blown tires, and occasionally a Chevy truck with a bad fuel pump or something. But you’re right, generally speaking cars are vastly more dependable.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I was complaining about the carburetor on my ’69 F-100, and someone said “yeah, back in them days, you could actually work on them, but these modern cars? you can’t”. Before I could stop myself, I rather rudly shot back “right, because you don’t HAVE TO work on them constantly!”

            I mean, issues with fuel injection systems are far more rare than issues with carburetors. In the 5 or 6 years I’ve owned my Taurus, I’ve done nothing whatsoever to the fuel delivery system, other than replace the fuel filter, which I did for the sake of preventative maintenance rather than trying to solve a problem. I’m sure the fuel pump will go out one day, but its not like mechanical fuel pumps never fail. I’m also sure the injectors could use cleaning, but having just spent most of the day driving in city traffic, not once did it stall or flood out or bog down or refuse to start or anything of the sort.

            It just works, consistently and reliably.

            Cranks with the first turn of the key every time, and although I do let it complete its warm-up cycle (which is shorter than with a carb), I could (and have, in emergency situations) throw it in gear and take off immediately after cold starting it. Can’t do that in a carbureted vehicle unless you want it to run like complete s#¡t, if at all.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            John, add a can of Seafoam to your gas tank for a quick easy way to clean your injectors

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            @Lie2Me,

            Thanks man, I may try that. I did clean the upper intake manifold (and what I could get to of the lower) when installing aluminum valve covers recently, it honestly wasn’t as gunked up as I have seen on other cars with less than 200k (mine as over 240k now). I cleaned the MAF as well. Again, this was all because I simply had it apart already, and I’m a stickler for maintenance.

            I do think my MPGs could be better, then again, if I kept my foot out of it, I’m sure that’d help too, lol.

            BTW, I had upgraded to aluminium valve covers (from a 2003ish junkyard car) because the joint where the oil filler neck connects to the rest of the valve cover on the old plastic ones was leaking a bit. Not a lot, but enough for me to notice. The gaskets needed changing as well.

            If we could post pics, I would show you how it looks now. I painted the new v/cs Ford blue, of course. Yes, I’m a weirdo. Haha

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            EFI and better hoses were the end of malaise. I had to rebuild the carb on my 1977 Ford E150 every 30,000 miles and replace the heater hoses every other year (radiator hoses every fourth year). Plugs wires and cap when I did the carb. Now I just retired my 2000 Lincoln LS with one heater hose fitting needing replacement in 18 years and 190K. All other hoses were original. Fuel system I did one filter change just because. Plugs and coils were its weak spot did a set at 70K and another at 120K. But the car told me they were bad and once told I could just barley notice the misfire.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            @Lie2me

            Well, I put a can in there. I had just filled up earlier, so it should be good. Like I said, the only thing I find lacking is that the fuel mileage isn’t as good as I believe it could be. Not that it’s a heavy drinker by any means, I just think it could be better (I’ve had several of these cars).

            We shall see.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        363K miles on ANY car outside of a Merc Diesel is pretty impressive. I’d say that a couple of hundred thousand miles on an old Mercedes would be routine and probably take as long to accumulate as this car did it’s miles.

        Oddly, I didn’t know too many people with the early generation N bodies and I grew up in a GM town. My one brother had a 1985 Grand Am, which intially was not a bad car, but it had a number of problems (that I no longer recall with any clarity) that eventually pi$$ed him off enough to get rid of it. It was his last GM car, but not his last domestic.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          If my 300D was any indication, you’d have to invest quite a bit to reach 363k. I got sick of spending money on it long before that.

          My brother’s 1997 GMC Sierra’s 4.3L Vortec V-6 made it to 373k before it locked up due to running out of oil. The most that had been done to was intake manifold. The heads had never been off of it.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I have to believe there was an equally Herculean effort to keep this thing on the road for 32 years, also. I say this as a GM fan, although ANY car from the mid-80’s require a lot more work than anything from the last 20 or so years.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            @geozinger

            I agree 100%.

            Mine just had typical old car issues, including some with the engine, and it didn’t have as many miles as my Taurus does now. I also had a stack of receipts from the previous owner dating way back, lots of work had been done to that car over the years, including to the drivetrain. The automatic in particular had evidently been a reoccurring issue, and it shifted hard into some gears when I had it. I just tend to take issue with people (and I’m not saying you’re one of them) who seem to think that they will all run and drive a million miles with nothing but fuel and an occasional oil change, based on my experience. Parts were also incredibly expensive and even with the interwebs, could be hard to come by.

            If I bought another W123, it would be a 240 with a 4 speed. No turbo, no slush box. Slow as $#¡Г on Sunday? Absolutely, but then the legendary reliability has a chance of living up to the hype. And, judging by my 300D’s rather abysmal fuel mileage, I’m sure the 240 would do better there as well.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What sort of mileage did you get from the 300D?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Fuel mileage? I can’t remember exactly, but it was in the teens as best as I can recall. I remember thinking “really? What’s the point of having a diesel if it drinks like a V-8 and accelerates like an I-4.”

            I replaced all the filters (fuel, oil, air, etc) with the best quality I could find (I remember buying some at a Mercedes-Benz dealer, the guy said it was his last in stock and his computer showed he couldn’t order more).

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        A couple of addenda:

        I think my last comment above is a little unfair to Toyota and Honda. The late-’80s Japanese cars I recall were much improved over ’70s Japanese cars in terms of rust protection. I’ll also opine that everyone aside from Volvo and Mercedes was some flavor or bad on that front through much of the ’70s.

        I’ll also add a more subtle improvement in terms of ascending from the automotive malaise era: balance shafts (tips of the cap to Frederick Lanchester and to Mitsubishi). As RWD V8’s and I6’s faded from the market, balance shafts helped make transverse FWD I4’s and V6’s more palatable in terms of NVH.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Featherston: WRT balance shafts: Actually, the balance shafts gave big 4 cylinder engines (above 2 liters) smoothness which made them more palatable. For years smaller 4 bangers were smooth enough, but the secondary order vibrations on the bigger 4 cylinder engines were off putting to many.

          I had a 1979 2.3L Pinto back in the day, it was one rough corn cob. Compared to my buddy’s 1982 Plymouth Sapporo (Mitsu Galant) the 2.6L Astron motor was a smooth sewing machine.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ geozinger – Yep, balance shafts are something that makes it possible for I4’s in the 2.5-liter class to be a staple in Camcordibus. A different type of vibration, but I used to be the frequent borrower of a pickup with one of the last of the non-balance-shaft-equipped Chevy 4.3 V6’s. It definitely rougher than any other vehicle I’ve driven (V8’s, I6’s, and balance-shaft equipped V6’s, I4’s, and I5’s).

            I don’t think they necessarily were the game-changer that EFI was, but they were a nice improvement that occurred very broadly at the same time.

          • 0 avatar
            SaulTigh

            I vividly remember the steering column of my dad’s ’82 Buick Skylark vibrating wildly at stoplights. I asked him about it and he said “it’s because it’s a 4-banger, son.” He bought a Honda Accord in 1987 and never looked back, having owned nothing else since.

            I still think that Skylark was the most handsome of the X-bodies, but haven’t seen one in years.

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        Featherston: mine has approx 130,000 miles on it.

        Everything I liked about it when I bought it in 94 [with 21,000 verified by smog records miles], I still like.

        Passed it on to my parents, they to my little brother and he, back to me. I missed it when I let it go.

        The velour is still immaculate. The Iron Duke still noisy. The ride comfortable. Still looks more like the downsized Eldorado than any of the other Ns. Tight turning circle. Smooth quiet ride.The right size. Room enough in the rear [more than a current Ford Focus or a 70-72 Monte Carlo], good size trunk.

        Like a downsized Cutlass Supreme.

        And my brother ordered 13″ tires. Whitewalls put on after he had had the wheels polished, the same ones as on the featured car and the same wheels pictured in the Calais/Firenza brochure.

        Yes, styled aluminum wheels and WWs were still a thing in 86, at least for GM.

        And no problem finding 13s for my 63 Valiant.

        I’m keeping it now I have it back.

        And that guy who owned the one above ? We’re on the same wavelength. I’ve spent money on mine, done an oil analysis, had more fun for less money than with a new car.

        New carpet and paint in the future as well as shocks and struts, and may be taking it to Salt Lake City in the fall, an 1800 mile round trip to visit my older brother and his wife.

        Point that long hood north, aim that ornament and roll, 80s GM style.

      • 0 avatar
        bgfred

        OK I’ll bite. My experience with this breed was very different.

        I bought a brand new 1987 Olds Calais with 3.0L v6 and it was the worst car I’ve ever owned. The only saving grace was that I bought an extended warranty which paid for itself in water pumps alone. These cars had an engine stalling problem which persisted for years until GM finally owned up to it. You’re driving along at 30mph and suddenly… no engine. and b/c there was no vacuum reservior, NO BRAKES. Awesome.

        Drove it 70k in a couple of years (I worked in Sales) and also found it handled poorly even after swopping 185/80/13 for 205/70/13 rubber and was really uncomfortable for long trips (seat contour issue). Swore a solemn vow to myself to never, ever, ever buy a GM car again… which of course I broke when I bought a 2008 Acadia (which has arguably held up better than any other car I’ve owned, go figure!).

        I replaced it with a very early example of the 1989 Dodge Spirit (bought the second one my dealer got, in fact) which in my experience was a vastly superior product in absolutely every conceivable way.

        Disclaimer: all observations based on a sample size of n=1; “data” is not the plural of anecdote, but your experience is YOUR experience. Judge accordingly.

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    I read that as Oldsmobile Malais, I need some sleep…

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    These and the Pontiac Grand Am that looked like it used to be everywhere. I went to Italy for 4 years in 98 and when I got back in 02 I don’t remember seeing them anymore. A significant number having the quad 4 probably saw a lot to the junkyard. Still the quad 4 and a manual was seriously fast for the day.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      and the iron duke and an auto was seriously not fast.

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        That fact was established on introduction in 1977, Art.

        An N Body all luxed out with the Iron Duke is a schizophrenic automotive animal.

        A GM specialty.

        A Calais looked like a mini mini Eldorado and sounded like a Vega with that engine.

        I love mine, but I know the truth about it and the other Ns.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I knew someone who bought this vintage Grand Am with an ironlung engine and thought it was the greatest thing since individually wrapped slices of cheese food.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My wife’s old Cavalier got past 200k mile on original 4cyl, and 4spd auto.Her dad bought if for her new for HS grad and she kept it for 7yrs. SHe sold/gave away to her younger cousin at around 80k miles, who put the other 120k on it.
    She bought a new Acura CL. At the time in 2002,Acura was at the top of their game and it was a driving revelation for her.

  • avatar
    2000ChevyImpalaLS

    As some of you may know, I had an ’89 Calais SL coupe for a long time. Nearly 10 years. It was an automatic with the Quad4. You can say they were cheap or crappy all you want but it drove great and rarely gave any trouble. I loved that car and cried when I wrecked it… with over 350,000 miles on the clock. And the engine would still start afterward. I’d have another one, or have it back, if I had a collection.

    But I think mine had 14″ wheels. It was still tough to find tires, though.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Oldsmobiles with 300K miles were seen quite often by us, even back in the 1990’s at various auctions and dealership trade ins. Tech IV engines were also plentiful with these amount of miles in various applications. One of our mechanics is still driving a 1992 Olds Delta 88 3800 with well over 300K as we speak. The dealership owner drove a 1998 green Delta LSS with 350K and we sold my best friend a 1989 Cutlass Ciera with the 3300 V6 and 286K miles that he put well over 50K more before wrecking it. I could go on and on with similar cars and high mileage.

    Also the Buick 3300 V6 was not offered until 1989 for the record. This car looks to be a 1986 so would only have offered the 92 HP Tech IV or the 125 HP Buick 3.0 V6 engines.


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