The mid-sized Aurora was introduced by Oldsmobile in 1995. General Motors had been trying to freshen the brand for a while, and hoped the Aurora would provide a shot in the arm for sagging sales of Oldsmobiles. The first generation cars had a somewhat racy coupe profile with a distinctive rounded front end, frameless windows, wraparound rear window and full-width tail light array.
The Aurora’s accent was on quality, and with the demise of the Olds Ninety-Eight in 1996 it became Oldsmobile’s top-of-the-range flagship with lesser models taking their style cues from the Aurora. Build quality was excellent and the car had a refined 4 litre V8 engine that delivered the smoothest of rides. The interior was luxurious, with leather-trimmed seats, burr-walnut accents, power-adjustable front seats and a trip computer as standard. The Aurora initially sold well, but the ticket price was high and sales started dropping off, despite the addition of gizmos like an electronic compass and a nearside mirror that automatically tilted down to aid backing up when the car was put into reverse.
Although total first generation sales topped 130,000, there was no upgraded model in the 2000 model year, ahead of the introduction of a second generation Aurora. This was a substantially re-engineered car, as it had actually been planned as the lesser Antares model, which would have allowed the new Aurora to go still further upmarket. But changes elsewhere in the GM range meant that the Aurora returned as a slightly smaller and rather less exclusive car. The V8 engine was retained, but the Aurora’s slide was reflected by the offer of a smaller V6 power plant. Although it remained a worthwhile luxury saloon car with much to recommend it, the Aurora’s major facelift failed to capture sufficient sales and it was discontinued in 2003.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1994 (until 2003)
4.0 I (244 cid) V8; 3.5 I (212 cid) V6
First generation – top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.6 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Oldsmobile (founded 1897) was the oldest-surviving marque in the USA and the historic badge had appeared on more than 35 million cars – but GM’s brave attempt to revive the ailing brand with the new-look Aurora failed and the Oldsmobile division of General Motors was folded in 2004.