The Oldsmobile Aurora was a performance/luxury sedan made by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors and launched in 1995. The Aurora rode on the same Cadillac-derived G platform as the 2-door Buick Riviera.
With the demise of the Ninety-Eight in 1996, the Aurora became the flagship Oldsmobile. A V6-powered version was introduced in 2001 as supplanttation for the Eighty-Eight and the LSS.
Since the 1980s GM had wanted a new car to bring new life to Oldsmobile, a car that was "not your father's Oldsmobile"; thus the Aurora was born, with several styling cues taken from the 1960s Oldsmobile Toronado. By the time the Aurora was released, Oldsmobile badly needed the Aurora, in hopes for a comeback of the marque (Oldsmobile sales had plummeted from 1,066,122 in 1985, to just 389,173 in 1992). As a symbol of its clean break from other cars in the lineup, the Aurora bore no Oldsmobile badging or script save for the 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.
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 Intrigue and 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. Because of this, a rumor started circulating at the time that the name of the whole Oldsmobile marque would be changed to simply "Aurora."
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. 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.
After much research and development, the Aurora went into production on January 31, 1994, and was released for the 1995 model year. It hosted a number of luxury and technologically advanced standard features including dual-zone climate control, leather seating surfaces, burl walnut interior accents, and power adjustable front seats with 2-position memory. An onboard computer displaying the date, current gas consumption, and other information was standard.
The Aurora also came standard with Oldsmobile's 4.0L L47 Aurora V8 engine, a DOHC engine based on Cadillac's 4.6L Northstar V8. The Northstar engine and 4T-80E had been exclusive to Cadillac prior to the Aurora. The Aurora had a drag coefficient of 0.32.
The Aurora was highly regarded at the time for its refined engine, excellent build quality, well-balanced ride, and structural integrity. In fact, during normal crush-to-failure tests done by automakers to evaluate body rigidity, the Aurora's unibody construction actually broke GM's testing machine. 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.
First year sales were strong, with the Aurora selling over 45,000 units, but sales dropped dramatically for 1996, as in many cases, buyers were turned away by the large price tag. All 1st generation Auroras were built in Lake Orion, Michigan, along with the Buick LeSabre, Buick Park Avenue, Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile 88, Oldsmobile 98 and the Pontiac Bonneville. Production for this generation ended on June 25, 1999.
- 1995-1999 • L47 4.0L (244in³) V8, 250hp (186kW) @ 5600rpm, 260lb·ft (353N·m) torque @ 4400rpm.
1996: Daytime running lights were installed in 1996 Auroras, and Oldsmobile claimed to have eliminated the distortion in the rear window, which had produced many complaints. A MAF sensor was added before the throttle body.
1997: An electronic compass was incorporated into the inside rear-view mirror this year. The right-hand outside mirror now tilted down when the car was put into reverse, allowing the driver to see the curb edge. An in-dash CD player joined the optional Bose sound system, and a 12-disc CD player could be ordered separate from the Bose setup.
1998: For 1998, GM modified the suspension and steering to provide a more comfortable ride and better low-speed steering feel. OnStar was made optional.
1999: Aurora production continued through the year, but no 2000 model was offered.
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. 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. Still using the G-body design, the re-engineered Aurora was the result, but retaining its 4.0 V8 Northstar still mounted to a 4T80E. Upon the demise of the Oldsmobile division in mid 2004, the related Pontiac Bonneville received a V8 option as compensation for the Aurora.
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." The V6-powered Aurora was produced for the 2001 and 2002 model years only, with production ceasing in mid-2002. This engine transferred power to the wheels using the GM 4T65E.
This Aurora, though still a competitive luxury sedan, did not attract the attention, nor sales that the original did. This can be blamed on several reasons. Most of all was that the new Aurora, as well as the new 2002 Bravada, was overshadowed by GM's announcement in December 2000 that the Oldsmobile marque was to be phased out over the next several years. Though still retaining its unique styling, now shared design cues from other Oldsmobiles, as well many parts in common with other GM vehicles. This took away the "separateness" from other Oldsmobiles that the original had. It should also be noted, that the 2nd generation Aurora was over six inches shorter than was the 1st generation. Automobile magazine wrote that "The Aurora's new look, is not quite as sensuous or elegant as that of the outgoing model."
The second generation Aurora went into production on November 10, 1999, and went on sale in February 2000. The last V6-powered Auroras rolled off the assembly line on June 21, 2002. The Final 500 Auroras ended production on March 28, 2003. 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 (53,640 in 2001, 10,865 in 2002, 7,217 in 2003). The closest successor to the Aurora is the Buick Lucerne (introduced as a 2006 model), which retains the Northstar V8 and a similar luxury status.
- 2001-2002• LX5 3.5L (214in³) V6, 215hp (160kW) @ 5600rpm, 230lb·ft (312N·m) torque @ 4400rpm.
- 2001-2003• L47 4.0L (244in³) V8, 250hp (186kW) @ 5600rpm, 260lb·ft (353N·m) torque @ 4400rpm.
The production numbers for both generations of the Aurora: