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There’s something about a cheap GM V8 that is just fun. From the noise to the torque and everything in between, any GM V8 is a quintessentially American driving experience. Among the cheapest V8 GM cars you can get today is from a long-dead brand. Remember the Oldsmobile Aurora? Neither did I, until I passed one in Vermont and suddenly flashed back to my childhood.

How much horsepower comes in the cheapest GM V8?

Oldsmobile Aurora Northstar V8
1997 Oldsmobile Aurora Northstar V8 | Cars and Bids

Upon debut in 1995, the Oldsmobile Aurora came with a classic Northstar V8 engine. Specifically, the L47 variant with dual overhead cams and a 4.6-liter displacement. All of that tech and displacement gave the Aurora a thrilling…250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. As it turns out, there is a replacement for displacement.

But in 1995, 250 horsepower was a respectable number. The ‘95 Ford Mustang offered, at most, 240 horsepower, save for the SVT Cobra variant. And critically, the Aurora engine could be modified to churn out up to 300 horsepower, and a heavily modified version made 650 horsepower for GM’s IMSA and Indycar racing teams.

Perhaps the biggest thorn in the side of the Oldsmobile Aurora was its four-speed automatic transmission. But as Oldmosbile was a mid-tier luxury brand, outright performance was never the Aurora’s goal.

The Oldsmobile Aurora was supposed to save the Oldsmobile brand

When the Aurora arrived in 1995, it was supposed to help resurrect flagging Oldsmobile sales amid tougher competition from Germany and Japan. It was a sweeping, angular design, marking a stark departure from the brand’s boxy roots. A radical design included no front grille, narrow, sharp headlights, and a bold light bar across the trunk. Sound familiar? It’s not that unlike modern EVs and designs from brands like Hyundai and Tesla.

What’s more, Oldsmobile’s reputation for boring, stuffy cars was so bad that GM decided to ditch the Oldsmobile emblem for this cheap V8 luxury sedan. Instead, a stylized “A” emblem adorned the hood, and a simple “AURORA” emblem landed on the lower right of that wide tail light.

In addition, the Aurora’s interior featured a driver-centric design that was revolutionary for the time. From the passenger seat, you could hardly see the center stack controls. And that passenger had their own controls on the door handle, along with a dedicated vent in the same area.

The backlit fan speed dial, and steering wheel mounted climate controls are unique touches that, honestly, I wish we still had today. The MK8 GTI could learn a thing or two here.

Two generations of the cheapest GM V8 luxury sedan

Oldsmobile Aurora taillight
1998 Oldsmobile Aurora | Cars and Bids
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There are two generations of Oldsmobile Aurora to choose from, with a major update after the 1999 model year. The next-gen Aurora featured a more upright, traditional four-door sedan design. It ditched most of the unique curves and lighting elements that made it so unique in 1995. It even lost that broad tail light concept, and became a hum-drum quasi-luxury cruiser in Oldsmobile’s dying days.

The second-gen Aurora is still one of the cheapest V8 GM cars, featuring a 4.0-liter version of the Northstar V8 that offered the same 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of the original 4.6-liter models.

How much is a used Oldsmobile Aurora V8 in 2023?

The Aurora was a unique car for GM, but its status as the cheapest GM V8 in 2023 stems from its massive production figures. In total, Oldsmobile made over 208,000 Aurora models, of which 136,289 were from the first generation. Those cars sell for as little as $3,500, though some low-mileage second-gen examples can fetch up to $9,000. In all, if it’s cheap GM V8 power you want, this forgotten failure is a great place to start.