What's New for 1997
New name for an old concept. Look closely...see the old Eighty-Eight before 1996's restyle? Regency takes over where the Ninety-Eight left off, satisfying traditional Oldsmobile buyers.
You're kidding, right? After years of rhetoric about the new Oldsmobile, the 1997 model year brings us a warmed-over 1992 Eighty Eight with whitewall tires and chrome trim. The Regency, as this plush full-size sedan is named, is the replacement for the departed Ninety Eight. Oldsmobile sold over 20,000 Ninety Eights in 1996, and isn't about to let those customers go hunting in other showrooms for their fix of traditional, ahem, style.
The 1997 Oldsmobile press kit touts the Regency as tasteful, expansive, and luxurious. We would dispute this claim. "If Oldsmobile could provide an easy chair for customers to watch the division perform its repositioning decathlon the new, full-size, four-door Regency would be it," says the press kit. Well, that's not the way to attract import buyers. They actually liken the Regency to an easy chair! John Rock, Oldsmobile general manager, knows the real score, and characterizes the Regency as a final chance for long-time Oldsmobile buyers to buy the type of car they've gotten from the division for the past several decades, telling Car and Driver magazine, "This is the last Buick we will sell." Attention traditional buyers; you've been forewarned.
At least the Regency is fully loaded. Options are few, and the car meets side-impact protection standards while offering antilock brakes, dual airbags, and traction control.
It is sad and pathetic to find a car like the Regency in the 1997 Oldsmobile lineup. The new Cutlass, Intrigue and Silhouette, along with the Aurora and Bravada, represent the real Oldsmobile, a division dedicated to providing well-equipped values to buyers who otherwise might be shopping Toyota, Honda or Lexus. At least the general public had forgotten about the Ninety Eight. By virtue of new model status, the Regency swings some of the 1997 spotlight directly onto its chrome plated, whitewalled existence, slowing some of the momentum toward remaking what Oldsmobile means to the typical import buyer.