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Project Car Hell, Mad Scientists Of GM Edition: Buick Reatta or Oldsmobile Trofeo?

Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell, Mad Scientists Of GM Edition: Buick Reatta or Oldsmobile Trofeo?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Yesterday, we watched two radically depreciated V12 machines from the roaring 90s slug it out bloodlustfully in the Hell Garage, and when the smoke cleared… well, actually, the smoke never cleared, as the frying ECUs of the two contestants emitted such copious clouds of toxic vapors that the Gawker server hamsters responsible for our polls keeled over in their little wheels. That means we have no idea whatsoever which of those fine automobiles won the vote, so it's our first-ever PCH draw. We're really hoping the hamsters have been CPR'd back into action today, because we'll need to know which of GM's super-expensive, whiz-bang-digital-dash-equipped Early Bush I Era cars shall triumph!

Back in the 80s, when The General still had plenty of money to throw around (even after the back-to-back-to-back energy crises/billion-dollar Wankel engine/Iron Duked Fiero debacles), the engineers and marketing gurus put their heads together and decided that a sporty two-seater with incredibly futuristic all-electronic instrument panels would be just the thing to get Buick buyers to sign on the line that is dotted. Thus was the Reatta created! However, the septua-, octo-, and nonagenarian members of the customer base that made their way into the showrooms to behold the new Buick staggered back in horror from all that newfangledy gadgetry and general lack of Buick solemnity (in spite of last-minute attempts to make the car reassuringly slow and mushy-handling) and the Reatta episode added another grim chapter to the very thick book of Massive GM Business Mistakes. Still, it was a good-looking car with serious performance potential for junkyard-minded individuals today, so it would be nice to find a deal on a solid one, right? The '86 Reatta sold for $26,700 when new- more than a BMW 5 series- but prices are quite reasonable now; in fact, we've found you this '89 Reatta (go here if the ad disappears) with an asking price of only $1,100. It doesn't run ("ran out of gas and won't start again"), but that won't matter once you get a supercharged 3800 for it! Will the Electronic Control Center work? Maybe! If not, how hard could it be to fix?
That Reatta is a pretty sweet machine, and (as Every Single Seller will tell you, hard to find), but say you want a back seat in your Visual Information Center-equipped GM machine, so you can haul along more passengers on your TRON-style journeys? Why, that means you need an Oldsmobile Troféo project, and you'll need an '88 or newer in order to get one with no unsightly Toronado emblems. It's already been demonstrated that the supercharged Buick 3800 swap is pretty easy with this car, which means all you need to do is hand over $750 for this 1990 Olds Trofeo (go here if the ad disappears), which has snazzy red paint and low miles. Don't worry about its non-running condition, because you'll be tearing out that naturally-aspirated boat anchor before you've even had a chance to discover whether or not the VIC dash actually works. The statement "Doesnt Run And Brake Line" is somewhat cryptic, but don't worry about that- just imagine the torque-steering fun you'll have while watching all the flashing lights and space-age bar graphs bounce around the dash! And, speaking of space-age, check out the new poll steroids our hamsters are now mainlining:

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DISCUSSION

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Rob Emslie

The Olds blows. First off, try and find a Olds dealer in your town. Can't? Ha! That's because there aren't any of them any more. You think that just because the entire make has been wiped off the face of the earth like the polio virus that a Trofeo will appreciate in value due to rarity? Dream on Cleveland.

Look, it's got a front overhang that'd make Pamela Anderson proud. The styling was done at the point in time when even GM realized they were pretty much out of ideas as to how to make a small car look like a big car while still giving the impression of a small car so everybody wouldn't thin it had the lousy gas mileage of a big car.

That and the Earl of Scheib paint job, probably with dog paw prints across the trunk lid means this beast is best left to the Sansabelt slacks, white shoes and matching belt crowd.

Besides, buying an Olds, any Olds, means you suddenly crave eating dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. Kids on your lawn make you nervous bladder act up, and John McCain starts making sense to you.

The Buick would be all this as well, but at least with the Reatta you'd stand a chance of getting some of that sweet grandma tail. While the Olds is definitely a "widower's" ride, Buicks embody the swinging seniors roll. There's a number of GMILFs out there that wouldn't mind dropping their Depends and taking a ride on the Viagra Stag. Buick says "I'm old, but I'm not dead." Olds says "Why don't you just bury me forchrisakes, but wait until after I finish my Salisbury Steakc at the Applebees."

Don't be the Olds.