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Oldsmobile Aurora



  • The reviews of the 95-99 Aurora (in various places - like Edmunds) talked about the car not meeting their expectations - interior space seemed small for a big (Park Avenue size) car. I think that is a valid point. My 95 Riviera seemed much bigger inside. I really liked the Aurora's V8 and trip computer. Perhaps the "real" problem was that it was not rear wheel drive.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    While Olds is responsible for their own marketing, they aren't in charge of their own budget. I get the feeling they did not have a large advertising budget. While there were a fair amount of Aurora ads in 1994, and at least a few in 2000, there really weren't a lot in the other years. Plus, what did those ads push? I don't recall any Indy-related ads, or IMSA-related ads. Nor any that compared the luxury/power to other $35,000 cars. I think marketing was a big factor in Old's lack of profitability.
  • larryfllarryfl Posts: 214
    I think Olds' advertising of the car - such as it was - completely missed the mark. Not only was the message totally wrong (I especially remember an ad showing a woman driving the car inside a painting - huh?), I think some GM execs had begun to decide to kill Olds and so didn't fully fund or get behind the marketing.

    Corporate politics can be an ugly thing, and I think the Aurora was a "classic" victim.

    And yes, most of my friends that aren't gear heads like me have no idea what kind of car I drive and are shocked when they learn it's a 9 year old american car.
  • I think at some point after the Saturn division was put in place, GM must have decided they had too many divisions. I don't think the Oldsmobile divisions problems were any one single thing. Marketing may have been badly done, but the classic Oldsmobile buyer must have drifted off for other reasons too.

    At the end of the 50's Buick was in trouble, mainly because they were too successfull in the mid 50's. They had tried to build more cars than the factory capacity could do right, so they had a lot of problem cars. That resulted in sales dropping to 1/3 of what they had been.

    I think Oldsmobile could have been brought back, but all of GM needs help. Cadillac is really developing some good products (CTS, SRX, XLR and soon to be STS), the rest of GM's product line is not real good (its not real bad either - just not great).
  • In Reply To:

    a) the car didn't even have the Oldsmobile name on it, except for the radio.

    b) they contemplated renaming Oldsmobile to Aurora. The stylized "A" logo almost became the Olds division logo. Frankly, I wish they'd done that - would have been a clean break from the past. The "traditional" Oldsmobile buyer wanted a bench seat, and was unhappy with the model lineup in 2000.


    You are so right on that, I still cannot get over how they tried to use the thing about attracting younger buyers versus old timers for Oldsmobile.

    So their plan did not work out well (because of the bad marketing division) they could of moved on and not kill the Olds brand, Also anyone noticed how they introduced the Classic Aurora, "Aurora by Oldsmobile", not "Oldsmobile Aurora", hm.

    I don't know why they gave up easily.


  • that Oldsmobile dealers had to pay for a franchise to sell the Aurora. I don't know if this is true or not - but this is what an Oldsmobile/Aurora salesman told me and others.
  • sdasda Indian Land, SCPosts: 1,970
    I think there was some consideration about changing Oldsmobile to Aurora, but GM ran into copyright problems with Hankook tire which already had claim to the Aurora name. In some literature you will see the disclaimer, Aurora name used with permission from Hankook. oops.

    2010 Pilot EXL-RES, 2013 Accord EX

  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    I think all you guys are making good points. Olds did have the best line-up. The advertising was flat out stupid, and there was very little if any capitalization on the Indy and other racing heritage of the Aurora - stupid.

    Sometimes I think that "protect Caddy" thing does come into play.

    FJK - hey, I really think the Impala is the greatest. I love that car. With kids on the way, I truly believe the Impala will keep us away from the dreaded minivan. The car has been very solid with room everywhere. No other car in that price range could save me from a minivan. For that, I'm very grateful to Chevy for the Impala.

    Sorry - had to add that.
  • I have not looked at Chevys recently. The Impala looks like a good car - except for style. The big tail lights don't seem to fit. One thing Chevy should have is some kind of midsize wagon. Or one of the divisions should have some wagons (besides Saturn).

    I think that Oldsmobile/GM tried to sell the Aurora as a "sports sedan" that could/should be comparable to the 5-series BMW. The Aurora is really too big for that, it was really a low priced Lexus 400 LS kind of car. Or really a European luxury sedan with front wheel drive kind of car. The 95 Riviera I had did not have a driver information display which was one place that Buick was way behind on.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    All in all, when you step back and look at the big picture, Olds did have the best line of cars offered by GM and they're now dead. There is no single reason/screw up. There were lots of them and I bet we hit a lot of them right here.

    I still think many of us here could probably teach some high priced stuffed suits at GM a bit about advertising and promotion on the cars we love. We know what the competition is, but we got what we got and can give lots of reasons. Not enough of these 6-figure goofs are passionate about the product either in development or promotion. There is a lot of corporate politics and good products go to waste.

    Another reason - from 95 to 99 they sure should have made some outwardly noticeable changes and or improvements. I know there were continued mechanical refinements, but the general public isn't aware/doesn't care about the suspension improvements too much. Things like different wheels or at least some wheel options go a long way. For 5 years it was the same wheel which was a bit boring to start with. Or how about some minor improvement that boosted power just a little? As for bigger improvements, I thing GM waited too darn long to get VVT.

    They are still doing the stupid stuff with the high performance Bonneville. The 4.4 Northstar still wont have VVT and they went out of their way to make it 4.4 liters. Oh boy, somebody might think the Bonneville and Caddy both have a 4.6 - and they won't buy the Caddy. Yeah right - more stupidity. They should at least just drop the out-going 4.6 without VVT into the Pontiac. The performance would be a tad better and it's easy. The Caddy will have the much higher performance version of the 4.6 - fine.

    Look at Nissan - they offer that same 3.5 in just about everything and tune it differently/accordingly. It's simple - it works. But GM seems to be afraid of a 4.6 in a Pontiac. Stupid. When will they learn they have to offer as much as they can because there are imports out there too? They have to stop worrying about protecting one line against another and lowering the bar.
  • hammen2hammen2 Posts: 1,313
    The Bonneville GXP is getting a version of the 4.6L Northstar - just not sure which one - and not the ex-Aurora bored-out 4.4L.

    Myself, I'd like to see the 3.6L VVT engine in a GTP, along with a decent interior, but that's probably not going to happen. Guess I'll pick up a 2001-2003 Aurora in a year or so, eschewing my GM discounts (employee, GM card, etc.) to get something I like, and hope GM turns it around in another 3-4 years and offers something I like.

  • Having owned the 95 Riviera and then 98 Aurora, I guess that I am not sure the Olds line was all that great. I was disappointed that Buick was not given a chance to use the V8 too. I do have to say that my 2002 Seville with the 275 hp northstar is much nicer than either the Buick or the Aurora. But for the money, the 95 Aurora was a lot of car. By 98 though, the price tag on the Aurora was too high for what you got I think. And, my Seville was $10,000 off the list price or it would not have been a good deal either.

    I really think Cadillac's CTS and other rear wheel drive cars will be good cars. But price tags may make them too expensive. Hopefully, their success will bring affordable RWD cars from Buick/Pontiac in the future. Maybe even Chevy.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    fjk - I wasn't including Cadillac. Of course their stuff is top shelf, but usually at a large premium to the other lines. I hear you about the price for an Aurora by the late 90's. My 98 stickered for over 39k I think. I got it used with 13k miles for less than 1/2 of the sticker.

    The SLS or STS is "nicer" inside than an Aurora, but at the same time it's not as "cool" either. It's a little boring. I think the interior of the new Aurora is the best. It's as cool as the classic, but refined a bit more. I really like it.

    Hammen2 - I just read that the GXP will be the 4.4. If it's the 4.6, it is de-tuned because neither the HP or the torque is 300. That's still stupid. But I think it's a 4.4.
  • The Aurora's dash was different and nice. But I found that the design of the dash made for a lot more reflections in the windshield. The Aurora was a definite step in a new styling direction for Oldsmobile and perhaps GM.

    What I have read in the car magazines suggests that Pontiac will get one of the standard 4.6 northstars - either the 275 hp or the 300 hp engine. The FWD northstars have not been re_engineered for VVT as yet. Now Cadillac could also introduce a variable length intake manifold to boost the power, so there is room to give the Caddy versions of the engine some extra's and still let Buick and Pontiac have "lesser" versions.
  • hammen2hammen2 Posts: 1,313 amp;regionID=1&divisionID=7&type=0&vehicleID=342&- section=modelhome&page=&butID=1

    The GXP has the 275 HP, 300 torque 4.6L engine - is this from the SLS?

    fjk - I agree with you about "sticker shock". The Aurora came out pretty well equipped at $32,995. My '98 (roof/chromes/Bose/Autobahn) stickered for over $40k, and I, too, bought it for less than half that. GM thought it had a hit and kept raising the price - and then wondered why sales fell.

    Personally, I view the car as more Mercedes-like (big solid autobahn-cruising sedan) that BMW-like (smaller, sportier, meant to take the curves quickly, etc.). Having sat in a Riv, I do believe the Aurora's interior was far superior - people, when getting into my car for the first time, still comment on how nice the interior layout is...

  • That is the SLS engine (which I have). I like the low end torque and the axle gearing. I can cruise at 70 MPH at just under 2000 RPM's (2000 RPM's = 72 MPH).

    My 98 Aurora was a program car and I figure I got it for about $30,000. It was a base car - no extras. The Riv dash was "retro" - intended to look a bit like the 1963 I think. What I noticed was the lack of shoulder room in the Aurora compared to the Riviera. My Seville seems bigger too, even though I think the car is smaller. The Aurora's handling was a bit better than the Riv and the Seville too. But not much better. The Aurora was no sports car like my 86 Corvette.
  • I should add that my axle ratio (on the seville) is a 3.11:1, not the 3.71:1 that the bonneville has.
  • garnesgarnes Posts: 950
    I just read that it was a 4.4 as I glanced through one of the latest car rags. Evidently there is some confusion out there. Giving the GXP the 4.6 as is in the caddy would be the way to go.

    FJK - are you saying that varying the intake length (don't understand that all too well) is something that can be done in addition to VVT for an even better power curve??
  • GM is GM, that's about the only explanation you give for all the stupid things they do.

    The original Aurora is easily GM's best overall car of the last 20 years or so.

    Absurd MSRP's and failure to continuously update is what kept it from really being a megahit instead of a hit.

    Any tips for me on where to find a good solid used 95-99, someday I may get the urge to sell my v8 SHO and get a used Aurora, just for kicks. What mechanical items should a person watch for?
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    Just like there is a certain valve timing and valve size and such that is more beneficial at a particular rpm, there is an intake tube lenght and diameter that is more beneficial at a particular rpm. BMW in particular has an intake that can vary the runners from like 7" to 20" or something. It is basically two curved runners, one of which can slide over the other. So when they overlap more they have a shorter overall length, and when they overlap less they have a longer overall length. At lower rpms, they would be longer and they would shorten up as the rpm increases. It has something to do with how the air pulses through the runners and some other stuff that I don't really understand very well. I remember someone here posting a good explanation once, though.

    I think though that magazines tend to portray this like the engine is always optimized at all rpms or something, where as lower-tech engines are all compromised. I think this is basically crap. There are still a ton of variables that have to be tuned for a particular rpm. For example, the runners diameter can't change, and in order to make them variable, they have less control over the actual shape and bending of them. Headers are optimized for a particular rpm in both length and diameter as well, again, as the shape of them (plus, I get the feeling OEM exhaust manifolds are more tuned for easy packaging and easy casting rather than optimized performance).

    Even variable-valve timing only reduces the compromises a bit. The valve sizes can't change. The lift generally doesn't change (though some cars have variable lift). But the main thing is that the valve timing isn't really all that variable. What varies is when that timing starts and stops in relation to crank position. So it is mainly the valve overlap that is variable. The actual duration the valves are open doesn't change. For example, you can't have 212 degrees of timing at low rpms, and then 235 degrees at high rpms. But you can have 220 that starts early at low rpms and starts late at high rpms (if that makes sense). Electronically/magnetically activated valves would allow this, though. But there would still be issues with valve sizing and such. Honda's VTECH does actually have differing cam durations, but it only has two variations then. It isn't variable over an rpm range, it has one setting for low rpm and one for high. The cam has two lobes on it for each valve. Basically the follower rolls along the low-rpm lobe until a certain threshold rpm is reached. At that point the cam is forced over so that the second lobe has the follower on it. I don't know how they make a smooth transition with this, and I imagine there are still compromises because of things like that they only have one valve spring means the two cam timings and lift can't be too radically different.

    I think that technology in an engine is pretty neat, but it is still a big compromise. Plus, a lot of the real "tech" is in the design and manufacture of an engine, not in how many moving parts it has. So if the technology doesn't make the engine perform much better, than why waste time with it? This is why, in spite of being "low-tech", and engine can still make 405 hp, have a very strong torque curve (peaking at 400 lb-ft), be a low emissions vehicle, and get 29 mpg on the highway.

    If a "low-tech" 400+hp V8 engine from Chevrolet can make more total power, produce less emissions, cost substantially less to manufacture, run more reliably, make substantially more torque all over the rpm range, out-accelerate, and use less fuel than a tech-laden 400+hp V8 engine from Ferrari, then what's really the point of all that tech?
  • I have a crack in the reflector panel and I have a source for the replacement part.

    Can anyone provide advice and information on how to remove and replace these part?

    Thanks in advance,
  • sure if all GM's low tech engines had 400hp and a basic archtiecture (v8) that allowed for inherently vibration free operation......

    and its only the Z06 that makes 405hp. The base model makes 350.

    So in a v8 application with that much engineering know how and devoting applied on the part of GM, the 'low tech' approach works. That same level of care and engineering is not applied in their v6's of the same low tech. If the same level of engineering was applied to the 3.8 for example, in normal aspiration ought to make 270hp. Not an underpowered 200.

    In the Aurora they could have maybe fit the 5.7 in there, maybe not. But back in 95 that engine still was not making too much more than the 4.0 northstar.
  • Interesting article.

    I think it illustrates the difference between having a "car guy" (John Rock) and a business manager (Karen Francis) managing Oldsmobile.

    Unforunately, the rest is history.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    Well, for one you are focusing on peak horsepower in describing GM's engines. However, that's only a small part of the story. What is much more impressive about them is the torque they make, and more specifically the whole torque curve. The 3800 is an incredibly torquey engine. Also, it does make 260hp in its top trim. In addition, it gets pretty incredible mileage considering the size of cars that use it, and the amount of power and torque it makes. The S/C 3800 can still easily make 28-30 mpg on the freeway.

    The same is true of the "mere" 350hp of the LS-1. It makes 375 lb-ft, and has an astoundingly flat torque curve. It is a torque monster, especially when compared to the 300+hp of cars like the M3 or 911 (which are as expensive or more expensive). They have pretty weak torque curves, and only make their power very high in the rpm range (around 7 grand) because the torque is so weak. Plus, they get worse mileage and I doubt are as smooth running.

    Also, it doesn't take variable-valve timing or variable intake lengths to make a smooth engine. The 3.5L V6 of the Intrigue/Aurora is incredibly smooth and has none of these. It also has a strong torque curve. The Aurora 4.0 is also a strong torquer (if you buy one, you'll notice it's torquier than your SHO V8). Why would they put a 5.7 in the Aurora?

    I also don't think I said that things like variable valve timing and variable induction length don't work, just that they don't solve the compromise nature of engine design. Nor do they guarantee strong performance or value. It's the engineering tech in the design and manufacture phase that is the most important.

    I think I am failing to see your point.
  • This article identifies many of the significant and unique characteristics of the "Classic" Aurora.

    The other point of interest in this article is that the designer responsible for the Aurora, Dennis Burke, is identified and interviewed.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    I'm watching the ALMS race at Miami, and Corvette had a real cool commercial about the C5-R effort. They focused a lot on the legendary Ferrari they compete with, and how the Corvette took top spot in the first 5 races of the season against them. It was a pretty cool commercial with plenty of shots of Corvettes cruising around in front of the red Prodrive 550 Maranellos.

    I couldn't help but wonder why Olds never tried anything like this when they were going head to head against the legendary Ferrari 333SP's in the World SportsCar championship. It was down to the wire with Aurora clinching the championship in the final race of the season. It's hard to imagine no one at the time thought this was good commercial material...
  • From the GM Photostore Website, "Collections" area:

    These designs were from 1990: ons&L2=12250&page=3
  • The BMW 7 series engine has a continuously variable manifold length. This is probably expensive (at least to fix). The northstar intake manifold is about 20 inches long I think. Longer (say 30 inches) will increase the low speed torque. Shorter will improve the high speed performance. A simple port in the design can halve the length of the tube for high speed performance. Mercedes 3.2 V6 does this. The Catera V6 also had a 3 stage intake manifold to improve the performance at different engine speeds. The new 3.6 also has a two stage manifold. The different stages involve changing the apparent length of the intake runner.

    On the VVT northstar I can see the peak torque moving from 4400 RPMs to 3500 maybe and increasing to 325 ft-lbs or so. Then a shorter length runner could boost the horse power to 330 or so. But this is just a guess on my part. The torque did not change much for BMW, but the horsepower did. But for BMW the horsepower moved up to 6000 RPM's which means that they improved the high speed performance. Cadillac is already peaking at 6400 RPM's, so horsepower gains will be harder.
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