1971-1976 full-sized Oldsmobiles including Delta 88, Delta Royale, Ninety-Eight, 98 LS and 98 Regency, along with the Custom Cruiser station wagons. These were the largest, heaviest and most luxurious Oldsmobiles in the history of the marquee, coming at a time when federal safety standards mandated large 5 MPH front bumpers in 1973 and same for rear in 1974. Most of these full-sized cars were powered by the Olds 455 cubic-inch Rocket V8 (a 350 Rocket was standard on Delta 88s but many were sold with the optional 455, which was standard on Ninety-Eights and Custom Cruisers) mated to a Turbo Hydra-matic 400 transmission - one of the most reliable and bulletproof drivetrains ever offered by GM, thanks to Olds engineering such as positive valve rotators on every Rocket V8. These cars also came out just in time for the 1973-74 energy crisis that led to a great demand for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars and emerging fuel economy regulations led GM to downsize its larger cars in 1977. The '75 Delta 88 Royale was the last full-sized convertible offered by Olds and no more (factory-built) ragtops would come out of Lansing until the Cutlass Supreme convertible debuted in 1990. HISTORY Delta 88 1971: Base Delta 88, Delta Custom and Delta Royale offered in 1971 with Delta Royale offering the sole convertible in the line. Rocket 350 2-bbl standard engine in base Delta with 455 2-bbl standard on Custom and Royale and optional on base 88. Rocket 455 4-bbl optional on all models. All 1971 Olds Rocket V8s featured "Positive Valve Rotators" and were designed to run on regular, low lead or unleaded gasoline. Power steering and power front disc brakes standard through entire model year and Turbo Hydra-matic transmission made standard mid-year. 1972: Narrower and lower "waterfall' grilles and four-segmented tailights. Delta Custom models dropped with base Delta 88 including four-door Town (pillared) and Holiday (hardtop) sedans and Holiday coupe. Replacing Custom models was an expanded Delta Royale line now including the same coupe and sedan styles as the base 88 along with a convertible. Revised "Flo-Through" Ventilation system eliminated vents from trunk lid. New FASTEN SEAT BELTS light added to left portion of instrument cluster at mid-year along with accompanying buzzer which not only reminded driver and passengers to "buckle up" but also to turn off the headlights and remove the key from the ignition before leaving the vehicle. Rocket 350 2-bbl V8 standard on all models with Rocket 455 4-bbl optional. 1973: Same assortment of Delta 88 and Delta Royale models offered. New lower and wider waterfall grilles above federally mandated 5 MPH front bumper and rounded rectangular tailights in rear. Same 350 2-bbl and 455 4-bbl Rocket V8s offered as in 1972. With the demise of the intermediate-sized Cutlass Supreme and 4-4-2 convertibles after the 1972 model year, the Delta 88 Royale was now Olds' sole ragtop offering. 1974: New roofline on Holiday coupes with side rear opera windows. New grilles continued the waterfall theme but reveted back to the tall and narrow format of 1972 and four-segmented tailights returned in back above a newly-mandated 5 MPH rear bumper. Rocket 350 4-bbl new standard engine with 455 4-bbl optional. All models had the infamous seat belt interlock system along with integrated seat belts for both lap and shoulder and the first driver's side airbag in a production automobile was optional. Eighty-Eights, Ninety-Eights and Toronados also got "polite" fasten seat belt tones replacing the annoying buzzers of previous years. New instrument panel shared with Ninety-Eight, Custom Cruiser and Toronado features flatter appearance with horizontal sweep speedometer scaled back to 100 MPH from previous 120 MPH along with "Message Center" bank of warning lights replacing wrap-around cockpit dash of 1971-73 models. Radial tires introduced as extra-cost option. 1975: Revised spilt grille and one-piece tailights, plus revised rooflines on sedans with third window built into rear b-pillars and opera window on Holiday sedans. All models featured catalytic converters to require unleaded gasoline for both 350 and 455 Rocket V8s, along with newly-optional Pontiac-built 400 V8. Final year for Royale convertible. New to the option list was an Economizer gauge. Radial tires and High Energy Ignition now standard equipment. Seat belt interlock system discontinued after a few early '75 models were so equipped following congressional action to rescind such regulation. 1976: Final year for this design. New rectangular headlights and grilles. Royale coupes available with Crown Royale option featuring landau vinyl roof and blanked out opera windows. Also final year for 455 Rocket V8, Holiday hardtop sedans and coupes, and seldom-ordered airbag option. Pontiac 400 engine discontinued. NINETY-EIGHT/CUSTOM CRUISER 1971: Both 98 and Custom Cruiser wagon ride on 127 inch wheelbase. Custom Cruiser, first full-sized Olds wagon since 1964, features clamshell tailgate that disappears under the floor and rear window that retracts into the roof along with rear multileaf spring suspension and optional forward-facing third seat. Grillework from 98 and wood paneling on sides and tailgate standard and could be deleted for credit. Interiors feature all Morroceen vinyl upholstery and full carpeting. Ninety-Eight offered in Holiday sedan and Holiday coupe in both base and LS (Luxury Sedan) models. Power steering, power front disc brakes and Turbo Hydra-matic transmission standard on all 98 models with power windows and seats standard on LS and optional on base models. Turbo Hydra-matic initially optional on Custom Cruiser but made standard in mid-1971. 455 cubic-inch Rocket V8 with four-barrel carburetor standard on both 98 and Custom Cruiser. Engine features "Positive Valve Rotators" runs on regular, low-lead or unleaded gasoline. 1971 models have louvers in decklid on 98 sedans and coupes and upper tailgate on Custom Cruiser as part of new Flo-Through Ventilation system for this year only. 1972: New slimmer and shorter eggcrate grilles along with revised tailight lenses. Decklid or tailgate louvers dropped in favor of vents in doorjam with revised Flo-Through ventilation system. New FASTEN SEAT BELTS light added to left portion of instrument cluster at mid-year along with accompanying buzzer which not only reminded driver and passengers to "buckle up" but also to turn off the headlights and remove the key from the ignition before leaving the vehicle. In celebration of Oldsmobile's 75th anniversary, the Ninety-Eight Regency Holiday sedan was introduced mid-year as a special model featuring pillowed velour upholstery, a clock by Tiffany & Co. and standard features from the Ninety-Eight LS. 1973: Lower and wider egg-crate grilles above newly-mandated 5 MPH front bumper and revised tailight trim. Regency Holiday Sedan returns along with base and LS sedans and coupes. 1974: Revised tall and slim egg-crate grilles similar to 1972 models along with revised rear and tailights. Regency now available as a Holiday coupe as well as a Holiday sedan. Base 98 coupe dropped from line. New instrument panel on all models with horizontal sweep speedometer and "Message Center" bank of warning lights replacing wrap-around dash of 1971-73 models along with new digital clock standard on Regency and optional on base and LS models. All models featured federally mandated 5 MPH rear bumpers and seat-belt interlock system. All full-sized Oldsmobiles offered new driver's side airbag as extra-cost option and among the first U.S. production cars to offer such devices.All models also got "polite" fasten seat belt tones replacing the annoying buzzers of previous years. Radial tires introduced as extra-cost option. 1975: New grilles with rectangular headlights on both 98 and Custom Cruiser. Base 98 sedan dropped leaving the LS and Regency Holiday Sedans and Coupes. Holiday sedans got revised rooflines with opera windows carved into B-pillar while Holiday coupes lost their pillarless hardtop design and now featured rear side opera windows. Power windows and seat now standard on all models. 455 Rocket V8 continued but now mated to new catalytic converter which mandated the use of unleaded gasoline. Available as no-cost option was a Pontiac-built 400 cubic-inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor. Radial tires and High Energy Ignition now standard equipment. Seat belt interlock system discontinued after a few early '75 models were so equipped following congressional action to rescind such regulation. 1976: Wider egg-crate grilles and new parking lights that wrapped around to sides of front fenders on all models along with revised tailight lenses. Last year for this basic body design, Holiday hardtop sedan and coupe bodystyles, clamshell tailgate on Custom Cruisers, and 455 V8. Pontiac 400 engine discontinued.
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1971-1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88, Ninety-Eight and Custom Cruiser965 photos