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Nobody with a good car needs to be justified.
-Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

The example of fine American engineering you see above was a 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale coupe. It didn't have a name, but then it didn't need one. Would you ever confuse it with another car? I think not. Under the hood lay 403 cubic inches (6.6 liters) of V-8 power, the final legacy of decades of great American highway cruisers.

The Delta 88 holds a special place in my heart, because it was the first car I ever purchased and insured entirely on my own. Below I have related the story of its short life with me - I hope you will enjoy it, and perhaps even identify with it.

The Delta 88 Story

I purchased this fine automobile for $90, between my sophomore and junior years in college. For such a trivial investment, it served me remarkably well, driving for nearly 12 months and more than 4000 miles and requiring relatively little maintenance. During its noble year of service, it transported my friends and I to Denny's and Taco Bell on many a chilly Pittsburgh winter night, and whisked me between Pittsburgh and Long Island on a number of occasions. The moment in its career which shines above all others is the great trek back from winter break, when it made the trip from Freehold, NJ to Pittsburgh laden with four passengers and all of their quite considerable luggage - so much, in fact, that we had to pull the spare tire out of the trunk and lash it to the trunk lid with the bike on the bike rack. Does that not represent perseverance to you?

Sadly, I had to part with the Delta 88 after a bittersweet final drive from Pittsburgh back to Long Island for my sister's high school graduation. After putting $100 and many messy hours into the car to replace the battery and starter motor, I started out along US 30 one sunny Pennsylvania morning. The pleasant drive soon became a nerve-jarring one, as I stopped every 50 miles to top off the oil, and to try to locate the source of a variety of burning odors I could not identify. I feared that my make-shift repairs to the starter wiring would not last the entire trip, and yet I knew that I would have to stop often to top off the oil. Then, on my way through New Jersey, I began to realize that I was beginning to feel ill - there was exhaust getting inside the cabin. I knew then that this was the last trip the Delta 88 would ever make.

Interesting Delta 88 Facts:

Movies In Which 1977 Delta 88's Can Be Spotted:
  • Bulletproof Heart (1994) - mobsters drive a yellow 4-door on a hit.
  • Heat (1995) - Al Pacino parks next to an abandoned 2-door at the chop shop.
  • Kiss of Death (1995) - the feds grab David Caruso in a blue 4-door.


Basic Information:
  • Make : Oldsmobile
  • Model : Delta 88 Royale
  • Model Year : 1977
  • Body Type : 2 door
  • Color : Red, white landau top, red velour interior
  • Options : Cruise control, tilt steering, power windows
Mechanical Information:
  • Engine : Olds 403 cubic inch V-8 (6.6 Liter)
  • HP : 190
  • Torque : 390 lb/ft
  • Weight : 3100 lb
  • Fuel Economy: 10 city/17 highway

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