My Favorite Cars: 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency

My Favorite Cars: 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency

The collector car market is taking off again as the economy seems to rebound along with many collector cars coming on to the market as estates are settled and owners are selling classic cars with increased values.

But if you want to know what motivates buyers for these cars its simple, nostalgia.

The pictured car is one of my favorite cars of all time, yes its a 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. But to me its way more than just a soon to be 40 year old car, you see my late father owned one of these, his was a two door and was gray and we named it the "Gray Ghost".

My father was in the midst of two car restoration projects (his beloved red 1967 Chevrolet Camaro & a blue 1969 Volkswagen Bug), but neither car was reliable enough to make the 20 minute work commute to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Garage at 103rd & Vincennes. Not to mention his former "daily driver" a 1979 GMC Sierra pick up truck was no longer reliable either and this would have been mid 1984 and my dad needed a "work car".

So our neighbor across the alley (Mrs. Kemp), had a 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency that she didn't drive much anymore because she got a work vehicle (she worked for the Postal Service), and thus my dad bought the car from her.

Now at the time I'm eight years old and my dad just bought a huge General Motors car that was older than me but in spectacular shape, "Clean as the board of health" as my dad would say. I used to check the car out as it sat next to our neighbor's house but once dad took ownership of the car, it was love at first sight and that went for my dad too.

I don't know what it was about that car, if it was just ridiculous in size (GM states it was 232 inches long, that's 19 feet), or that it was very similar to the car my dad owned when I was born. The first car my dad had when I was born was a 1972 Buick Electra 225 (yes a "duece and a quarter"), and that thing stretched halfway down 123rd Street.

Anyway so my dad got this "98" and I spend every minute I could be in the garage with him and the "Gray Ghost", its seats were more comfortable than our living room couch, it drove like a Cadillac, way more reliable than my mother's problematic 1979 Chevrolet Malibu Wagon.

My dad took the 98 to the Maaco body shop in Dolton and had it painted (well repainted the factory color), and it was subtle but was shining, he also went down to the old Warshawsky's auto parts in the south loop and bought new hubcaps for it. Every guy in the neighborhood liked that car and my dad took great car of it.

This 98 had the massive 455 cubic inch V8 engine (7.5 liter by today's standards), and was making 275 horsepower but it weighed 5,000 pounds, though it was still not only fast but smooth. I loved riding in that car, it felt like a luxurious hot rod.

The pictured car is coming for auction in the next Mecum classic car auction this Friday December 12th in Austin Texas, (its Lot F248), and similar cars are for sale up to
$ 20,000 in really good shape. And though there are a few of these cars still out there, most are pretty worn (well it is a 40 year old car), so the vehicle has some value.

But what makes these car desirable is why I like the car, memories, nostalgia and that new cars are nothing like this. I grew up loving Oldsmobiles, especially 98's up until the late 1980's after two downsizings there were nothing like this car.

And yes after a few years the gas for this car was adding up, especially after my dad got transferred to the CTA garage on the near west side on Washington Street and he decided to buy a new car (a 1986 Nissan 200SX that years later would be handed down to me), and he put the 98 in the sale ads in the Sun Times and one afternoon a man called and then came by and signed his pay check over to dad and bought the car. Dad got out his receipt book and wrote up the transaction and that was it.

I cried when dad sold that car (it was the first time I cried over a car but not the last), and since that day I've wanted to get a classic 98 for myself and I never forgot the "Gray Ghost".

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Filed under: Cars

Tags: Mecum Auction

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