Buy/Drive/Burn: The 1993 C-body Showdown to End All Showdowns


I’ve been saving this one for a while on my Big List of Buy/Drive/Burns. The year is 1993, and you’re shopping the large front-drive sedan offerings from General Motors (rear-drive provides less traction and is archaic). Making a stop at the Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac showrooms, three ruched leather and wood tone sedans await you in top-spec trim. Let’s go.

The ’93 model year was selected because it was the last where all three GM brands had a C-body. For ’94, the DeVille moved on to the Northstar-ready K-body and lost the Touring Sedan variant for a while.

Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite

The Ninety-Eight remained at the top of the sedan offerings for Oldsmobile throughout its final 1991-1996 generation. GM didn’t fit the Rocket brand with its own rear-drive B-body sedan, but opted for the Custom Cruiser estate as its B-body for ’91 and ’92. Ninety-Eight’s Regency Elite trim was introduced for ’92, and came with Buick’s supercharged 3800 L67 engine. The Oldsmobile was the tech marvel of our trio: digital gauges, copious button count, and many trip computer functions across the very horizontal dashboard. Prominence faded from Ninety-Eight by 1995, when the Aurora took over as the new hotness flagship from Oldsmobile.

Buick Park Avenue Ultra

Buick’s C-body is the most upright and traditional of the C-bodies on offer today. Introduced in 1991 next to the Ninety-Eight, the Park Avenue shed its former Electra restraints and struck out on its own. Initially available only in standard trim, Ultra came along a year later. All Ultra models were loaded up, featuring the same supercharged 3800 you’d find in the Oldsmobile. The Park Avenue sat in second place on the Buick model list, slotted beneath the rear-drive Roadmaster. While its interior proved more conservative than the Oldsmobile’s, it was also easier to use. No digital gauge frippery here.

Cadillac DeVille Touring Sedan

The only way to get a V8 (4.9 impressive liters) in your C-body was to head over to the Cadillac showroom. The elder statesman here, DeVille models were part of the first wave of mid-eighties downsizing. It was all new for ’85, as Deville swapped rear-drive for front-drive. The Deville Touring took an interesting mid-pack place in the Cadillac lineup for ’93, above the standard DeVille, but underneath the front-drive Fleetwood and Sixty Special, and rear-drive B-body Fleetwood Brougham. Lengthening and modernization occurred in ’89 and ’91, bringing the DeVille in line with its C-body brethren. Speed-sensitive steering and traction control came standard on the Touring Sedan, as well as special camel-colored leather seats. The conservative interior was rounded out with a horizontal speedometer and minimal buttons and instrumentation. Exterior features included a lack of hood ornament, special Touring wheels, and minimal exterior chrome decoration.

Three flavors of GM’s finest sedan offering of the ’90s. Which one goes home for keeps?

[Images: General Motors]