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History of the 1971-1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88
The early 1970s saw the last of the truly full-size Oldsmobile Delta 88s. This generation rode on a 124-inch wheelbase under the GM B-Body. The Delta 88 was the basic Oldsmobile, offering comparatively few creature comforts. Standard equipment included vinyl or cloth upholstery, power front disc brakes, flo-thru ventilation, and a few other minor items.
Moving up the line, the Delta 88 offered the Custom and Royale series. The Custom mainly added power steering to the base Delta 88, while the Royale could be had with leather upholstery, a vinyl-covered roof, a deluxe steering wheel, and a special paint package.
Available body styles on the Delta 88 and Delta 88 Custom included a selection of two- and four-door holiday hardtops, or a four-door town sedan. The Royale was available as a two-door hardtop or a two-door convertible only.
Power for all of the Delta 88 series in 1971 came from 350-cid small-block or 455-cid big block V-8 engines. The 350 offered 250 gross hp, while the standard 455 delivered 280 gross hp with a two-barrel carburetor. The 1972 model saw the 350 engine become standard, and the rating drop to 160 hp. In fact this was not such a big loss, because 1972 was the first year for net hp ratings instead of the old gross hp ratings. The 455-cid big block remained a popular option throughout this generation, though power dropped off as the years went by.
Also for 1972, the Custom line was dropped, leaving the Delta 88 with the base model and the Royale. Body styles were changed slightly to a two-door coupe, four-door holiday hardtop, and four-door town sedan. The two-door convertible was still offered in the Royale trim. The 1973 through 1975 models continued largely unchanged, but the Delta 88 Royale convertible was now Oldsmobile’s last remaining droptop. The convertible was not offered for the last year of this generation in 1976.
Standard 350 engine power got a boost to 180 hp in 1974, and that continued through 1975. An optional 400-cid engine was available in 1975, but that offered only 170 hp, so it was not a popular option. The 1976 Delta 88 saw the standard 350 V-8 drop to 170 hp, while the optional 455 big block had dropped to 190 hp.
Collectors shopping this era of Oldsmobile Delta 88 will want to seek out the Royale line, with their enhance comfort. Convertibles are especially attractive, mostly due to rarity. Big blocks fetch a premium, especially for the 1971 and 1972 model years.
1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Info
2dr Hardtop Coupe
4dr Hardtop Sedan
4dr Town Sedan
8-cyl. 455cid/250hp 4bbl
8-cyl. 455cid/225hp 4bbl
8-cyl. 350cid/180hp 4bbl
8-cyl. 350cid/160hp 2bbl
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