Throughout history, the Oldsmobile story has inspired many automotive historians with its rich and celebrated heritage which started right in Michigan’s capital city of Lansing.
I remember a particularly exciting year in 1978 when Oldsmobile introduced their new line of vehicles and automotive catalogues to the buying public. My first impression was that Oldsmobile was using 1978 to create a family-oriented lineup of new cars. The company used its advertising and marketing to highlight many traditional family values along with luxury and engineering to sell their new products.
For example, during the late 1970s, the Oldsmobile Cutlass models became very popular among the motoring public. I remember several family members at the time who had purchased a new 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Many of them were very satisfied and excited.
The Cutlass Supreme model offered the consumer a classic formal roofline design, although engineers had completely redesigned the mid-size Cutlass for 1978. The new Cutlass offered more fuel-efficient mileage for the driver and excellent riding comfort and handling for the passengers when traveling. The Oldsmobile Cutlass was a completely redesigned intermediate model that became the centerpiece for the division's lineup for 1978.
The Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight LS models were also very popular vehicles that introduced improved fuel economy into the market along with great engineering and a luxury design for families.
The Delta 88 Royale sedan was a great looking vehicle. The models offered the consumer many advantages of a full-size car with the money saving advantages of a diesel V8 fuel economy that was available on Delta Royale models. There was one quirky difference when driving a diesel Olds – when you turned the key to the on position to start up the vehicle, an amber light on the instrument panel would tell you to “Wait” while the glow plugs pre-heat the combustion pre-chambers. After a matter of seconds, a green light would then tell the driver to start the vehicle.
The Delta 88 and the Delta 88 Royale were manufactured in a two-door pillar coupe and a four-door town sedan. All 88 models had a dual three-segment egg-crate style grille with large Oldsmobile block letters on the left side. The 88 diesel models offered the word Diesel as an identification logo on the right rear side of the vehicle.
A full vinyl top also was available for customers as well as a new landau option that was available on coupe models. The 1978 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser models offered the consumer a full-size wagon with a clean cargo area featuring four-foot wide panels. There were storage trays in both sides of the vehicle and a locking storage compartment on the left side for longer trips.
The Custom Cruiser wagon models were available in a two and three-seat version for the customers and the models could be ordered with optional body side moulding or with the deluxe option that included a wood-grained treatment. The Custom Cruiser models shared the Delta 88 grille and had the same 116-inch wheelbase. The Custom Cruiser also was equipped with power front disc and rear drum brakes, power steering and steel-belted radial-ply tires.
The last two models for this story are the 1978 Toronado and Omega vehicles. The 1978 Oldsmobile Toronado was a front-drive personal luxury car. It was available in a coupe model or the popular Brougham.
The Toronado models featured a new grille with a vertical bar design. The 1978 models offered a wide assortment of luxury options including power steering and a new engineering feature called “MISAR”, which was an electronic spark timing system as standard equipment on all models.
The last car featured as a part of this story is the Oldsmobile Omega. The Oldsmobile Omega was the most affordable Olds out of the 1978 lineup. The models were priced for the younger generation. The models came equipped with a long-life exhaust system and tough, front disc brakes, however, I remember a close friend at the time who had purchased the Omega model and he complained about having many engine problems with the vehicle.