From Brooklands Books, Oldsmobile Muscle Cars. This is a reprint of a March 1970 Car and Driver article covering The 1970 Oldsmobile Delta Royale with B07 Package.
CAMOUFLAGE A POLICE CAR ANY WAY YOU LIKE
AND IT STILL COMES ON LIKE J. EDGAR
HOOVER AT AN S.D.S. CONVENTION
Police cars are just not like the regular cars made for we and thee, and the difference
isn't all in the decoration. Paint a police car any color you like, hide the red light and
hooter, and dress the driver in mufti. No matter what the camouflage, it will still come across
like a police car. It will still have that flat- (you should excuse the expression) footed
stance on the road; a kind of hunch-shouldered readiness to lunge and pounce.
Your Aunt Maude might not see this, but it is unmistakable to those of us who occasionally do
things pounce-worthy in the eyes of the law and have, therefore, come to scrutinize other
vehicles on the road with more than casual interest. The difference is, we think, in the way a
police car moves. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that most policemen are expert
drivers, and drive more decisively (also faster) than your average man at the wheel. The rest
of it is surely in police cars having what the manufacturers are pleased to call the "police
Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Police package! James Bond and his police package Aston Martin.
Bullet-proof glass and a death-ray built into the headlight. Riot guns racked against the dash,
and windshield washer nozzles rigged to squirt Mace. All very exotic and intimidating, that
police package but only in the popular mind. We suppose that police cars are supplied with
such equipment, but that's not what the police package is all about. Basically, it consists of
items that have more to do with life than death; items that transform your average limp-spring
floater into a taught, controllable, it-goes-where you-point-it CAR. A car that is stable in
crosswinds, or on high-crown roads, and one that is safer at 80 mph than most sedans at a sedate
At least, that's the theory, and various police units-notably the California Highway Patrol run
performance trials to insure that all the police package stuff does what it is supposed to do.
And, as we couldn't really expect to wrangle an invitation to participate in the CHP trials, we
decided to hold our own. With an Oldsmobile. Which is available to anyone, with police package
installed. You don't even have to show them a badge or gun.
We ordered the police package with an Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale a nice enough car in standard
form, but not what you would consider one of the all-time great, agile handlers. The big 88 carries
lots of weight on a long wheelbase, and while it delivers precisely the kind of handling and ride
most customers want ("Sure there's a road down there, but I'd rather not know about it" ), it isn't
what you would pick for a serious game of lunge and pounce. Not in standard form. But when you add
option BO7, it gets to be an entirely different car.
Here's what you get: stiffer springs; shocks with heavier damping; anti-roII stabilizer bars front
and rear; and reinforced lower suspension arms at the rear axle. These last are U-channel pressings,
as standard, and they weld on plates to completely box in the channel for the police package. And the
cost? You get the police package suspension for a piffling $ 17.80. That's so inexpensive it sounds
suspicious, but really all you're paying for is the slight difference in cost between standard and
"heavy-duty" springs and shocks, a little welding, and one more length of bent steel bar. The price
is for real, and it is more or less typical of what all the manufacturers charge for police package
Oldsmobile also offers a police package engine, and we had that included in our test car.
For $77.94, we got the W33 455 cu. in. V-8, which delivers 390 hp and 500 lbs-ft of torque-with the
super-zoomy dual exhaust system. Now then, having ordered that engine we also had to take Oldsmobile's
heavy duty 3-speed Hydramatic transmission, which cost another $ 15.84, and having gone that far with
it there was no reason not to kick in a final $46.60 for the limit-slip differential.
We had a choice with disc brakes and power steering: We could have been dumb and asked for a car
without them. Few people are that dumb, now, and all Oldsmobiles but the "little" F-85 and Cutlass
will be sold only with these items. All to the good, we say, after having once tried an Olds 88 with out these options.
Recalling the days of stem-winder steering ratios combined with power assist, we marvel at the present
Oldsmobile. The steering is fairly quick, and very light without any loss of road feel. You can
actually sense what is happening down there between the tires and the road. The same could not be
said of power steering in its infancy and it cannot be said of all the power-assist cars, even today.
Similarly, a lot of cars with a power boost for their brakes are still a disaster. About all that can
be said for them is that very little foot-pressure is required to make them do their damnedest.
Unhappily, in a hard stop it is often impossible to keep from locking the wheels; you can't modulate
the braking properly. The general switch to disc brakes is improving the situation and the Olds is
near-perfect. The pedal pressure required to bring about wheel lockup is high enough to provide a
broad control range, and the retarding action you get between a touch and a mash is linear.
Handling was, we discovered, a tad short of perfect at the ten-tenths end of cornering, because
really forcing the Olds would make it lean enough to use up all the travel in the outside front
suspension and send it hammering hard against the stops. But that only occurred while running the car
around a race track. In fact, not even some demon-eager trooper hot on the trail of a recidivist Willie
Sutton would force the car that hard out on the public highways, and we would have to say that
Oldsmobile's engineers have struck a good balance between cornering power and ride harshness.
And you should know, before you rush right out and buy one of these police package cars, that the ride
is harsh by showroom stock standards. The Olds isn't exactly a spine-shortener, but it does jounce
around a good deal at low speeds. Aunt Maude wouldn't like it at all.
Where the Olds really lives is cruising at 70 mph, at which speed the wheels seem to follow ripples in
the road without transmitting their motions to the rest of the car. That's a big improvement over the
standard floater, which tends to be up on tippy-toes and lurching with every change in road camber at
Interstate speeds, and it is a quality we find well worth a little jouncing in city traffic.
People who like to drive and have always found their enjoyment in Porsches and such will be greatly
surprised by the Olds, for the car is not only enormously agile, it is arranged inside to convenience
its driver. All of the controls and instrumentation have been placed within the driver's reach and
vision, and the relationship between steering wheel and pedals (gas and brake) is perfect, so that when
one's legs are stretched comfortably, the wheel is right there where itshould be. And a little toggle
on the side of the driver's seat trips serves to move the seat fore and aft, and to adjust it for rake.
The whole thing will seem very Hero Driver if you get wheel and seatset to your liking and then close
your eyes. Leaving your eyes open will not help the illusion: First,the instrumentation consists mostly
of idiot lights, and these are stuck in clusters into holes that look like they should be filled with
genuine gauges. Second, the interior decor features a depressing amount of glittering chrome and fake
burley walnut and (in our car) "tooled" white vinyl lhat would be more appropriate on one of Roy Rogers'
saddles. In fact, the whole thing tastes of Roy Rogers and Buck Rogers in equal, overwhelming parts. In
all, the interior appears to have been done either by, or for, Aaron Slick from Punkin' Creek (pronounced
But if you can forget about the awful appearance, the Olds' interior is highly livable, with every
creature comfort known to automobiles. A heating/defrost system that works well in the worst weather.
Air-conditioning that will, if operating full-blast, turn the car into a giant beer-cooler even in
summer heat. Stereo tape deck. An AM/ FM radio. Cruise control. Lots of elbow room (which keeps the
driver from caring about the acute shortage of back-seat leg room). The car even has a clock that keeps
Of course, there are a couple of little flaws in all this loveliness that we must mention. That AM/FM
radio has tremendous tone, but we found that Oldsmobile may have made a mistake with the antenna, which
is a couple of wires laminated into the windshield. When it rains, and you turn on the wipers and the
radio is playing, you hear this funny "skritch. skritch, skritch" from the speaker as the wipers sweep
across the buried antenna wires. We don't know what causes this perhaps magnetic pulses getting from the
wiper motor up into the blades but it is there and it's annoying.
Another disenchantment is that cruise control, which we don't like on principle and because it doesn't
work as well as a skilled driver. It's tricky: You flick the panel switch to activate the governor, and
push the button set into the end of the turn-indicator wand when you get to the speed you want to hold.
After that, you can sit back and let the black-box control the engine if you don't mind it doing a
moderately lousy job. The box is blind, you see, and it does not anticipate the greater throttle needed
to hold speed when the car starts up a hill: neither does it know that the car has crested the hill and
will shortly go past the desired speed. The accomplished driver will do these things much more accurately
and smoothly, and without giving the job a thought. We wonder, too, about the safety aspect of the thing,
for while the cruise control disengages at a touch of the brake, we wonder about these people who fall
asleep at the wheel.
Despite that side of it, people will still buy the cruise control and ignore the police package. Which is
a shame, because in the case of the Oldsmobile Delta Royale, at least the police package makes a great
big car into a great, great big car. The steering is light and precise, and the car has the property
someone once called "swervability." You can yank the Oldsmobile around in remarkable fashion, and place
it where you want it to be with comfortable assurance. It is a pure tiger in traffic; punch it, and the
cubic inches take over and the car simply lunges ahead and it's a shame that private citizens are not
also allowed to pounce. The performance, as is so often the case, is a lot better than our quartermile
times suggest, and with the Olds the times are really quite good. Even with the "long" 2.93-to-one axle
ratio, the Olds does step out very smartly the Hydramatic in our test car giving the smoothest shifts in
What we're trying to say here, sports fans, is that the police package Olds is a sports car and not just
a sporty car. It's huge, in a manner that makes one very glad that the fenders have raised edges to sight
along (to tell you the location of the car's sides) and it's heavy, but it is also very quick on its
wheels just as some very fat men are marvelous dancers. Only the Oldsmobile has an aura of a beefy, very
quick, off-duty cop. You meet guys like that at parties, and you know what they are even when you can't
see the badge. You can see it in their manner; in the way they move. The police package Olds moves that
way, too, and while we drove it various people we were about to overtake would slow suddenly and crane
their necks at the rear-view mirror. It's OK, guys; it's only us.
OLDSMOBILE DELTA ROYALE
Manufacturer: Oldsmobile Division
GeneraI Motors Corporation
Vehicle type: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive,
5-passenger, hardtop coupe
Price as tested: $5955.02
(Manufacturer's suggested retail price includlng
all options listed below Federal excise tax, dealer
preparation and delivery charges, does not include
state and local taxes, license or freight charges)
Options on test car: Base car, $3964.00; deluxe
belts, $12.11; electric windows, $110 59; air
conditioning, 421.28; console, 61.09; disc brakes,
78.99; HD auto transmission, 242.88; tilt steering,
$45.29; variable ratio power steering, 115.85; hood
lock 10.53; stereo radio, 238.02; accessory pack,
11,80; tinted glass, 44.23; power seats, 73.72;
electric trunk lid, 14.74; front floor mats, 7.37;
remote control mirror, 10.53; limited slip differential,
46.60; cruise control, 63.19; oil cooler, 15.80;
deluxe steering wheel, 15.80; white wall tires, 33.70;
tape player $116 91; police engine, $77.94; special
paint, $83.20; heavy duty engine cooler, $21.06;
police suspension, 17.80
Type: V-8, water-cooled, cast iron block and
heads, 5 main bearings
Bore and Stroke: 4.13 X 4.25 inches
Displacement: 445 cr in.
Compression Ratio: 10.25 to one
Carburetion: 1x4-bbl Rochester Quadra-jet
Valve gear: Pushrod operated overhead
valves, hydraulic lifters
Power (SAE) 390 bhp @ 5000 rpm
Torque (SAE) 500 lbs-ft @ 3200 rpm
Specific power output 0.86 bhp/cu in.
Transmission: 3-speed, synchro automatic
Max. torque converter ratio: 2.3 to one
Final drive ratio: 2.93 to one
Gear Ratio Mph/1000rpm Max. test speed
I 2.48 11.4 56 mph (490 rpm)
II 1.48 19.1 94 mph (4900 rpm)
III 1.00 28.3 113 mph (4000 rpm)
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Track F/R......................62.5/63.0 in
Ground clearance...............5.9 in
Curb weight....................4535 lbs
Weight dlgstributlon, F/R......56.84/43.2%
Battery capacity...............12 volts, 73 amp/hr
Alternator capacity............504 watts
Fuel capacity..................25.0 gal
Oil capacity...................4.0 qts
Water capacity.................18.0 qts
F: Ind., unequal-length control arms, coil
springs, anti-sway bar
R. Rigid axle, trailing arms, coil springs,
Type: Recirculating ball, power assist,
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.8
Turning circle curb-to-curb: 45.4 ft
F: 11,8-in. vented disc, power assist
R: 11.0 x 2.0 in cast iron drum, power assist
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheel size: 15 x 6.0 in
Wheel type: stamped steel 5-bolt
Tire make and size: Goodyear h78-15
Tire type: Polyglas, tubeless
Test Inflation pressures, F/R, 23/24 psi
Tire load rating..1770 Ibs per tire @ 32 psi
Zero to Seconds
Standing quarter............15.4 sec @ 90.6 mph
Top speed (estimated).......140 mph
80-0 mph ...................271 ft (0.79 G)
Fuel mileage................9-13 mpg on premium fuel
Cruising range..............225-325 mi