Oldsmobile Aurora

The Oldsmobile Aurora was a flagship sedan made by Oldsmobile from 1994 to 2003. It was produced in two generations: It was a luxury sports sedan which, along with the two-door Buick Riviera, originated the Cadillac-derived G platform.

Oldsmobile Aurora
1997 Oldsmobile Aurora.jpg
1997 Oldsmobile Aurora
ManufacturerOldsmobile (General Motors)
ProductionJanuary 1994-June 1999
November 1999-March 2003
Model years1995–1999
AssemblyOrion Township, Michigan, United States (Orion Assembly)
DesignerMaurice "Bud" Chandler (1989)[1]
Body and chassis
Classluxury car
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
PredecessorOldsmobile 98 & Touring Sedan
Oldsmobile LSS & Regency
Oldsmobile Toronado & Trofeo
SuccessorBuick LaCrosse

The Aurora became the high-end sport sedan offered by Oldsmobile, powered by a four-cam, 32-valve 4.0 L V8 supplanting the Oldsmobile Toronado coupe and eventually the Oldsmobile 98, LSS and Regency in the lineup. The Aurora offered both a V8- and a V6-powered version in 2001 and 2002 but returned to being V8-only in 2003. It was equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission with performance algorithm shifting. No manual transmission was ever offered on the Aurora.


Since the late 1980s GM had wanted a new car to rejuvenate Oldsmobile; thus the Aurora was developed, with several styling cues taken from the 1960s Oldsmobile Toronado.[2] Stylistically, the Oldsmobile Aurora was based on the 1989 Oldsmobile Tube Car concept car and, mechanically, it adopted a version of Cadillac's Northstar 4.6-liter V-8 engine.

By the time the Aurora was released, Oldsmobile badly needed hope for a comeback of the marque (Oldsmobile sales had plummeted from 1,066,122 in 1985 to 402,936 in 1993). As a symbol of its clean break from other cars in the lineup, the Aurora bore no Oldsmobile badging or script save for the radio-CD-cassette deck and engine cover. Instead, a new emblem consisting of a stylized A was used, foreshadowing a similar restyling of Oldsmobile's corporate "rocket" emblem for 1997.[3]

With the Aurora, Oldsmobile tried to ride the praise of the car by launching other models that borrowed styling cues from the Aurora such as the mid-size Intrigue and compact Alero, as well as the redesigned Eighty-Eight, Silhouette, Cutlass, and Bravada. The Oldsmobile "rocket" logo was even updated to be more in-line with the Aurora's emblem.


Early design work on what would become the Aurora began as early as the late 1980s and manifested itself with a 1989 engineering concept known as the Oldsmobile Tube Car designed by Bud Chandler. Beyond the overall similar shape, the Tube Car featured many detailed elements that were later found on the production automobile, including a full-width taillamp, wraparound rear windshield, and frameless windows. Unlike the eventual production car, the Tube Car was of a pillarless hardtop design with suicide doors. The final production design was signed off on in July 1989, originally set for a 1992 start of production.[1][4]

First generation (1995–1999)Edit

First generation
ProductionJanuary 1994 – June 1999
Model years1995–1999
Body and chassis
RelatedBuick Riviera
Buick Park Avenue
Cadillac Seville
Cadillac DeVille
Engine4.0 L L47 V8
Transmission4-speed 4T80-E automatic
Wheelbase113.8 in (2,891 mm)
Length205.4 in (5,217 mm)
Width74.4 in (1,890 mm)
Height55.4 in (1,407 mm)
Curb weight3,967 lb (1,799 kg)

After much research and development, the Aurora went into production on January 24, 1994,[5] and was released for the 1995 model year. It hosted a number of luxury and technologically advanced standard features including dual-zone climate control, driver and front passenger airbags, leather seating surfaces, genuine burl walnut interior accents, six-speaker sound system with in-dash cd-cassette, and eight-way power adjustable front seats with two-position memory.[6] An onboard computer displaying the date, current gas consumption, and other information was also standard, and was mounted in the center of the dashboard, above the factory radio and climate controls. Only a few options were available on the Aurora including power sunroof, Bose Acoustimass premium amplified sound system, heated front seats, and Autobahn package.

The Aurora's 4.0 L V8

The Aurora also came standard with Oldsmobile's 4.0 L (244 cu in) L47 V8 engine, a DOHC engine based on Cadillac's 4.6 L Northstar V8. The Northstar engine and 4T80-E had been exclusive to Cadillac prior to the Aurora. The L47 put out 250 hp (186 kW) at 5600 rpm and 260 lb⋅ft (353 N⋅m) torque at 4400 rpm.[7] The Aurora used a four-speed automatic transmission with driver selectable "normal" and "power" shift modes. A highly modified 650 hp (485 kW) version of this engine was used by General Motors racing division initially for Indy Racing League and IMSA competition starting in 1995 with the GM-supported Aurora GTS-1 racing program, then was later used in the Cadillac Northstar LMP program in 2000. Both engines retained the 4.0 L capacity, but the Northstar LMP version was twin-turbocharged.[8] The Aurora had a drag coefficient of 0.32.[9]

The Aurora was highly regarded at the time for its refined engine, excellent build quality, well-balanced ride, and structural integrity. During normal crush-to-failure tests done by automakers to evaluate body torsional rigidity, the Aurora's unibody construction broke GM's testing machine.[10] A frame-crusher otherwise used to test stronger truck frames had to be used instead, with the car exceeding federal standards for passenger cars by two times.

All first-generation Auroras were built in Lake Orion, Michigan, along with the Buick LeSabre, Buick Park Avenue, Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile 88, Oldsmobile 98 and Pontiac Bonneville. Production for this generation ended on June 25, 1999.[11]

Oldsmobile Aurora 1st Generation Rear View.

Year-to-year changesEdit

For 1996, Oldsmobile made some minor revisions to the Aurora including new rear glass which has less distortion than previous models. Further revisions include daytime running lights and OBD II compliant on-board diagnostic systems, tweaking the climate control and safety alarm, a revised keyless entry system with new features was and the short list of optional equipment was expanded to include chrome wheels and a gold trim package. The 1996-'99 models also had the passenger temperature toggle buttons on the middle right portion of the instrument panels replaced with air recirculator buttons.

There were minor changes for the Aurora in 1997. A new in-dash CD player for the Bose sound system highlighted the improvements. Another new feature was a tilt-down right-outside mirror that enhances the driver's view of close objects, whenever the shifter is placed in reverse. The underside of the door handles were slightly recontoured to minimize slipping fingers when the handles are pulled. Seat belt release buttons were moved from the face of the buckle to the end for improved convenience. An electronic compass was added to the inside rear-view mirror. Larger front brakes came along with cast aluminum front control arms and steering knuckles. The rear ashtray assembly was changed from a click-lock face to a pull-up face. Finally, the spare tire cover and jack cradle assembly was changed from the jack and cover being bolted down to one where the jack sat in a plastic "bucket" inside the spare with the cover simply placed on top. On some 1997s a modest "Oldsmobile" badge returned to the right-rear corner of the car along with the Aurora name.


1998 Oldsmobile Aurora

The 1998 model had a few minor refinement changes to the brakes, suspension, steering and emissions controls. A new front control arm design with front hydraulic bushing and rear cross axis ball joint for enhanced ride smoothness and better isolation from road noise and vibration. Internal rebound springs added to front struts for improved body motion control and to minimize crash-through. Increased wheel travel (3 mm) and redesigned jounce bumpers for softer feel at full travel. Dual durometer cradle mounts for improved isolation. Premium valving and damping in the front and rear struts for a higher refinement in calibration. There were more accurate wheel sensors for improved ABS actuation. New steering calibration for more on-center feel and reduced parking effort.

GM's previously optional OnStar system, standard for this year, uses a dedicated button on the cellular telephone putting drivers in contact with an information center that can provide them with emergency assistance. The system uses no transmitters to determine the vehicle's location and provide route information to any destination.

Almost all of the changes made to the Aurora for 1998 were aimed at refining what was already a highly regarded suspension system.

The last year for the first generation Aurora; changes for 1999 included additional engine mounts for improved engine stability. No 2000 models were produced.

Second generation (2001–2003)Edit

Second generation
ProductionNovember 1999 – March 2003
Model years2001–2003
DesignerDennis Burke (1996) [12]
Body and chassis
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Buick Park Avenue
Pontiac Bonneville
Cadillac Seville
Cadillac DeVille
Engine3.5 L LX5 V6
4.0 L L47 V8
Transmission4-speed 4T65-E automatic
4-speed 4T80-E automatic
Wheelbase112.2 in (2,850 mm)
Length199.3 in (5,062 mm)
Width72.9 in (1,852 mm)
Height56.7 in (1,440 mm)
Curb weight3,627 lb (1,645 kg)

Oldsmobile's original intention for the second generation was to move the Aurora further upmarket, retaining its V8-only drivetrain and sharing a platform with the new Buick Riviera, as the original Aurora had done. This would have created more room within the Oldsmobile lineup for a four-door Eighty-Eight successor known as the "Antares".[citation needed] However, Buick dropped its Riviera development plans and fiscal trouble found Oldsmobile, so Oldsmobile was forced to re-engineer the Antares into an acceptable Aurora in short time.[citation needed] Still using the G-body design, the re-engineered Aurora was the result, but retaining its 4.0 V8 Northstar still mounted to a 4T80-E.

Oldsmobile also offered a V6 engine in the Aurora for the first time. The V6 in question was the LX5, a cut-down relation of the DOHC Aurora V8, dubbed the "Shortstar."[citation needed] The V6-powered Aurora was produced for the 2001 and 2002 model years only, with production ceasing in mid-2002.

2001-2002 Oldsmobile Aurora V6
Oldsmobile Aurora 2nd Generation Rear View.

This Aurora, also a competitive luxury sedan, delivered sales for the 2001 Aurora topped 53,000, thanks in part to its extra long model year which started in February 2000, the success was short-lived, most notably was that the new Aurora was accompanied by GM's announcement in December 2000 that the Oldsmobile marque was to be phased out over the next several years. Retaining its unique styling, it now shared design cues from other Oldsmobiles, as well many parts in common with other GM vehicles. The second generation Aurora was about six inches shorter than was the first generation. Automobile magazine wrote that "The Aurora's new look is not quite as sensuous or elegant as that of the outgoing model,"[13] but the Auto Channel review said, "it was better in every respect."[8]

The second generation Aurora went into production on November 1, 1999,[11] and went on sale in February 2000[13] as a 2001 model. The last V6-powered Auroras rolled off the assembly line on June 21, 2002. The final 500 Auroras ended production on March 28, 2003.[14] These were all a special burgundy color (called "Dark Cherry Metallic"), had special chrome wheels, and "Final 500" badging. The Orion, Michigan plant built a total of 71,722 second-generation Auroras;[citation needed] 53,640 in 2001, 10,865 in 2002, and 7,217 in 2003.

Standard and optional equipmentEdit

The second-generation (2001-2003) Oldsmobile Aurora was very well equipped from the factory, as was expected of a luxury vehicle. Standard features on the Aurora were as follows: keyless entry, a security alarm, luxury leather-trimmed seating surfaces with power adjustments for the driver's seat, an AM-FM stereo with radio data system (RDS) and cassette and single-disc CD players, a six-speaker sound system, leather door panel inserts, wood interior trim, automatic climate control, OnStar in-vehicle telematics system (later introduction), steering wheel-mounted climate and radio controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power trunk release from the keyless entry remote, a multi-function driver's information center mounted above the factory radio and climate controls, a rear bench seat with fold-down center armrest, luxury-styled alloy wheels, a spare tire and wheel, automatic front head and fog lamps, a 3.5L V6 engine, a 4-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive (FWD), front and side SRS airbags.

Most equipment was standard on the Aurora, with a few additional options that included a driver's memory package with memory front driver's seat and memory for radio presets, heated dual front bucket seats, a premium audio system with external amplifier by Bose, a power tilt-and-sliding sunroof, chrome-finished alloy wheels, a gold emblem package for the front and rear Oldsmobile emblems, Aurora emblem, and 3.5 or 4.0 emblems, and the 4.0L Northstar V8 engine (this engine became standard equipment in 2003 for the Aurora's final year of production). Starting in 2002, a voice-activated, CD-ROM based navigation system was available. In an homage to days gone by, the plastic hub caps on the 17' wheels used on the second generation V8 Auroras (except for the "Final 500" which used Cadillac wheels) were made with mold number 442.


  • 2001–2002• LX5 3.5 L (212 in³) V6, 215 hp (160 kW) @ 5600 rpm, 234 lb⋅ft (317 N⋅m) torque @ 4400 rpm.[15]
  • 2001–2003• L47 4.0 L (244 in³) V8, 250 hp (186 kW) @ 5600 rpm, 260 lb⋅ft (353 N⋅m) torque @ 4400 rpm.[16]

Production numbersEdit

Production numbers for both generations of the Aurora:

Model year Units
1995 45,677
1996 22,349
1997 25,579
1998 23,955
1999 18,729
2001 53,640
2002 10,865
2003 7,217
Total 1st generation 136,289
Total 2nd generation 71,722
Grand total 208,011

Pace carEdit

1997 Oldsmobile Aurora Indy 500 Pace Car

Aurora was the official pace car of the 1997 and 2000 Indianapolis 500. At the beginning of the race in 1997, the pace car was driven by three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford. At the beginning of the 2000 race, the pace car was driven by actor Anthony Edwards. These cars marked the ninth and tenth time an Oldsmobile had paced the Indianapolis 500 race.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1994-03-20/gms-aurora
  2. ^ "Oldsmobile Aurora (1996)". Theautochannel.com. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  3. ^ "1997 Oldsmobile Aurora Detailed Pricing and Specifications". Archived from the original on September 15, 2006. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  4. ^ "Oldsmobile Tube Car". Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  5. ^ Ward's Automotive Yearbook 1995. Ward's Communications, Inc. 1995.
  6. ^ General Motors Introductory Sales Brochure "1995 Oldsmobile Aurora"
  7. ^ "1996 Oldsmobile Aurora specs". Edmunds Online. Retrieved March 3, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Weitzman, Larry (2001).The Aurora by Oldsmobile (2001), Better in every respect. Autochannel. Retrieved on June 28, 2009.
  9. ^ "Oldsmobile Aurora specs". Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  10. ^ 1994 Aurora brochure by General Motors.
  11. ^ a b Binder, Alan K, ed. (2000). Ward's Automotive Yearbook 2000. Ward's Communications, Inc.
  12. ^ Keebler, Jack (April 2000). "First Drive: 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 Road Test". Motor Trend. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "2001 New Cars". Automobile Magazine (September 2000).
  14. ^ Binder, Alan K, ed. (2004). Ward's Automotive Yearbook 2004. Ward's Communications, Inc. p. 116.
  15. ^ "1996 Oldsmobile Aurora specs, Second Gen, V6". Edmunds Online. Retrieved March 3, 2008.
  16. ^ "1996 Oldsmobile Aurora specs, Second Gen, V8". Edmunds Online. Retrieved March 3, 2008.

Further readingEdit

  • Matt Delorenzo. "Oldsmobile's Slide to Oblivion". Legendary American Cars (2007).

External linksEdit