We’re nearing what would’ve been my parents’ 42nd anniversary, so I figured I would tell you all about the car my mom hated more than any other car she ever owned, by a wide margin.
A few months after a young Shop Teacher received my driver’s license, I had finally saved up enough money from working on my dad’s construction crew during summers and at a local hardware store/lumber yard during the school year to buy my first car. Coincidentally my mom was now a couple years into being a real estate agent, and she decided she needed to do what had previously been unthinkable to her: buy a four-door car.
The deal was mandated by my dad. There would be no Chevy S-10 or 9C-1 Caprice for me. I was going to pay my parents $3000 for their ‘89 Oldsmobile Toronado Troffeo, and mom was getting a sedan. As had happened a few times in the past, my dad declared that he was too busy for car shopping and dispatched my mom and I to go pick out a new car.
We picked out a new Oldsmobile Intrigue. A car nobody remembers because it was neither great nor was it horrible, it was just fine. As he always had whenever he sent Mom and I to pick out a new car, Dad then bought something completely different.
Dad pulled a classic internet commenter move ... you might say he was ahead of his time... why buy a new midsize sedan, when you can buy a used full size luxury sedan for the same money? Dad came home with an off-lease 25k mile ‘95 Oldsmobile Aurora, in a lovely emerald green, with the Autobahn package.
The Aurora had a striking design, and was very much a love it or hate it car. Mom hated it from the word go. The Aurora had a pretty glorious 4.0 liter “baby Northstar” V8, which wasn’t super torquey but really sang when you built up some revs. It made the car decently quick, and it handled better than any giant front wheel drive car had a right to.
When the Aurora was launched in ‘93, it was done with a huge fanfare. GM was really letting it all hang out. In an effort to shed its stodgy image, Oldsmobile left their name off the car completely. Unfortunately no car represents wasted potential like the Oldsmobile Aurora, and ours was the perfect example of it.
Compared to the Intrigue my Mom actually wanted, the Aurora pulled off the impressive feat of being simultaneously bigger on the outside yet smaller and more cramped on the inside. It was also constantly breaking. Whenever we really needed the Aurora, it never failed to fail. The final straw was when it broke down while on vacation in Florida.
Mom was fed up with paying for repairs while still making payments. Fed up with a car she couldn’t depend on. Fed up with a car she couldn’t stand the sight of. Buoyed by the confidence she’d earned negotiating real estate deals, Mom relieved Dad of his family car buying duties, picked out a new 2001 Bravada, and wore the salesman down until she got it for the price she wanted.
Here’s a couple more pictures of the car that could have saved Oldsmobile, if only it hadn’t been terrible.