72 Delta 88 Royale air ride

Old August 15th, 2015, 08:26 PM
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72 Delta 88 Royale air ride

Hi there, new to the forum. I inherited my great grandparents 1972 Delta 88 royale 4 door hard top. It is a cool looking car and has a ton of potential in my opinion. I have to replace the fenders and quarter panels due to rust, and also the strip of metal under the rear window. Past that the car is in beautiful shape. I am an upholsterer by trade and know quite a bit about painting and refinishing, so I will be doing pretty much all of the work on my own. Anyway, I would like to put a full air ride suspension on the car after I get the body work taken care off. I've searched the internet up and down but can't find a kit specifically for my vehicle. I'm pretty sure the car is compatible to other full size GM cars of the era, but I don't know which one(s). Has anyone done or attempted to do this to this type of oldsmobile before? I would really appreciate all the help I can get. I have had a hard enough time just tracking down all four fenders from a rust free vehicle. If anyone knows where to get those for a decent price I would appreciate that as well. I have big plans for this car and can't wait to turn them into reality...with a little help of course. Thanks in advance.

-Andrew Wilhelm

Last edited by awilhelm; August 15th, 2015 at 08:28 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old August 15th, 2015, 08:32 PM
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In this series, the suspension components should be the same as the Impala, Caprice, Grand Am, Bonneville, Electra, and LeSabre, 1971 to '76, and probably the LeMans and the Riviera.

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Old August 15th, 2015, 08:34 PM
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Thank you very much. I was hoping it was compatible to something popular like the Impala. Any idea what an easy fuel injected motor and transmission to swap in would be also?
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Old August 15th, 2015, 09:02 PM
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Well that's too bad. Maybe I'll just go with an LT-1 or rebuild the 350 that's in it.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 09:02 PM
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No such thing.

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Old August 15th, 2015, 09:03 PM
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You will find that many of the locals here are not very friendly toward non-Olds motors in Oldsmobiles, so be sure to post in the "Non-Olds-Powered" section if you decide to go that way.

It's no more expensive to build (or to inject) a 455 than a 350.

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Old August 15th, 2015, 09:10 PM
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Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. I'm a long ways out from swapping any engine in or out of it. The 350 in it works great, I just want something with a little more power and reliability. I just figured another 350 would be the way to go. I plan on putting a whole lot of miles on this car once I get it where I want it. I would also like to switch it to front disc brakes at least and maybe four wheel disc breaks. Would ones for an Impala of the same years fit as well?
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Old August 16th, 2015, 03:32 AM
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I believe that Impala brakes are the same in these years, but I can't swear to it.
I'm surprised it didn't come with discs.

A set of Bilstein shocks, an up-to-'98 Jeep Grand Cherokee steering box, and replacement of worn suspension components go a long way toward making this car feel "normal."

As for engines, while a used, running 455 will likely cost a bit more than a used, running 350, buying the parts and rebuilding either one will cost essentially the same amount, so if you're re-doing the engine, a 455 is worth considering, especially on these heavy boats, which don't wake up without a pretty serious amount of torque.
(by the way, the transmission you have is a TH375, not a TH400, so if you go to a big block, you will want to swap the transmission and the driveshaft yoke as well).

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Old August 16th, 2015, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by awilhelm View Post
Anyway, I would like to put a full air ride suspension on the car after I get the body work taken care off. I've searched the internet up and down but can't find a kit specifically for my vehicle. I'm pretty sure the car is compatible to other full size GM cars of the era, but I don't know which one(s). -Andrew Wilhelm
Andrew, GM standardized the b/c-car chassis in '71. Look for a listing for '71-76 Impala/Caprice. If they have a kit for that, it will bolt right into your '72 Delta 88.

I'd agree with Eric as far as suspension improvements, though. These year big cars can actually be made to ride and handle surprisingly well considering their size & weight. Upgraded springs, shocks and sway bars, along with wider, low-profile tires and a faster steering box can really make a huge difference. Of course, many prefer the air suspension for it's look and that's OK, it's your car, do it the way you like.
Keep in mind that the 403 is also a great engine swap candidate. Since it's also a small block, it'll be a simple bolt-in replacement for your 350, using all your original accessories, etc.

Last edited by copper128; August 16th, 2015 at 07:46 AM. Reason: add info
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Old August 16th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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One other thing I just thought of. Your Delta likely has a "corporate" 8.5" 10-bolt rear. I'd guess it probably has 2.56 or 2.73 gears in it. A swap to 3.23 or 3.42 gears will put some noticeable snap in it's acceleration. It probably won't hurt the fuel mileage as much as you might expect, either.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by awilhelm View Post
I would also like to switch it to front disc brakes at least and maybe four wheel disc breaks.
Originally Posted by MDchanic View Post
I'm surprised it didn't come with discs.
It did. He probably just hasn't looked. Front discs were standard on Oldsmobiles by 1973, at least on the big cars.

There is absolutely zero reason to spend the time and money to put rear discs on these cars. I wonder if such things are even available as they certainly weren't an option back in the day. These cars stop just fine with the standard front discs and rear drums. Keep the brakes in good repair and properly adjusted, and spend your time and money on other aspects of the car.


Here's the dealer specs book page for 1971 dealing with the Delta 88. I don't have the '73 available. Look at the fourth item down on the leftmost column. If front disks were standard in '71, they were certainly standard in '73.

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Old August 16th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by MDchanic View Post
In this series, the suspension components should be the same as the Impala, Caprice, Grand Am, Bonneville, Electra, and LeSabre, 1971 to '76, and probably the LeMans and the Riviera.

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Well, half-right...

Grand Am and LeMans are A-body cars. I'm not sure if the Riv was still considered an E-body or not by then.

The D88 is a B-body and uses the same suspension parts as Impala, Caprice, Bonneville, and LeSabre.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 01:04 PM
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I can't thank you guys enough for all the input. You're right, I haven't checked if it has front discs, but it sounds like it does. Mine is a '72 and not a '73, but it sounds like it should still have them up front, which is good enough for me. They won't be visible with the wheels I'm planning to put on there so they really are not necessary on the back. I may just upgrade the suspension with your suggestions as well. I just really like the look of the air bags and the ability to have the car sit very low. I'm not looking to make it super fast by any means either. I would just like a nice comfortable ride and to have it sit pretty low. It does sit decently low the way it is now. I would like it to have a nice growl too when I'm done with the motor and exhaust. Everyone here has really given me a lot to think about, that's for sure.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by awilhelm View Post
I can't thank you guys enough for all the input. You're right, I haven't checked if it has front discs, but it sounds like it does.
Discs were the only brakes available on the 1971-up full size cars.

Here's the D88 page from the 1972 Salesman's SPECS booklet. Note what is says for brakes under standard equipment:

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Old August 16th, 2015, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by joe_padavano View Post
Grand Am and LeMans are A-body cars. I'm not sure if the Riv was still considered an E-body or not by then.
Not being a Poncho guy, I had to check.

It was Grand VILLE. I knew it was Grand-Something.

Yes, Gand AM was later. Thanks for clearing it up.

... And I forgot they still made Catalinas that year.

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