Oldsmobile Cutlass

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Oldsmobile Cutlass
1971 Cutlass Supreme convertible.JPG
1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible
Manufacturer Oldsmobile (General Motors)
Production 1961–1999
Assembly Lansing Car Assembly Lansing, Michigan
Body and chassis
Class Compact (1961–1963)
Mid-size (1964–1988, 1997–1999)
Predecessor Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (for 1997)
Successor Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (for 1982)
Oldsmobile Alero (for 1999)

The Oldsmobile Cutlass is a line of automobiles produced by Oldsmobile between 1961 and 1988, and again briefly in 1997-1999. The Cutlass was Oldsmobile's smallest, entry-level product, an approach not used since the 1940s Oldsmobile Series 60 and Oldsmobile Series 70 were discontinued in 1950. The all new Cutlass began as a unibody compact car, but saw its greatest success as a body-on-frame intermediate.

Introduced as the top trim level in Oldsmobile's compact F-85 line, the Cutlass evolved into a line of its own, spawning numerous variants, including the formidable 4-4-2 muscle car in 1964, premium Cutlass Supreme in 1966, and outright performance Hurst Olds in 1968.

Over time the Cutlass name accumulated great brand equity, becoming not only Oldsmobile's best-selling model but one of the most popular nameplates in the industry in the 1970s.[citation needed] By the 1980s, Oldsmobile was using the Cutlass as a sub-marque, with numerous vehicle lines bearing the name simultaneously. These included the Cutlass Calais compact, the midsize Cutlass Ciera, the Cutlass Cruiser station wagon, and top of the line midsize Cutlass Supreme.


The first Oldsmobile Cutlass was an experimental sports coupe designed in 1954. It rode a 110 in (2,800 mm) wheelbase, and featured a dramatic fastback roofline and stock V8. Its platform was quite similar to the later compact F-85, which was not introduced until seven years later.

First-generation (compact) 1961-63[edit]

First generation
1961 Oldsmobile F-85 DeLuxe Station Wagon.jpg
1961 F-85 DeLuxe Station Wagon
Also called Oldsmobile F-85
Production 1961–1963
Assembly South Gate Assembly South Gate, California
Lansing Car Assembly Lansing, Michigan
Lakewood Assembly Lakewood Heights, Georgia
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door hardtop
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform Y-body

215 cu in (3.52 L) V8

215 cu in (3.52 L) V8 Turbo "JetFire" with 50/50 Methanol/Water injection (1961 - 1963)
Transmission 3-speed Roto Hydramatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase 112 in (2,800 mm)[1]
Length 192.2 in (4.88 m)

General Motors began developing its first compact cars in 1956, beginning with initial planning on what would become the Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. The following year a second series of somewhat larger cars was planned for Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac, what would be termed "senior compacts." They would share the same body shell and lightweight engine. Oldsmobile designer Irvin Rybicki began work on the Olds model in 1957. It finally went on sale in 1960 as a 1961 model.

The Oldsmobile F-85 shared a new Y-body platform with the Buick Special and Pontiac Tempest, using a 112-inch (2845 mm) wheelbase and still-novel unibody construction. It was Oldsmobile's smallest, cheapest model – some two feet (60 cm) shorter and $451 less than the next-smallest Olds. The F-85 had double wishbone front suspension and a four-link live axle in the rear, suspended with coil springs all around. Standard engine was the new 215 cu in (3.5 L) all aluminum V8, (which later became famous as the Rover V8). With a two-barrel carburetor, it was rated 155 bhp (115.6 kW) and 210 pound force-feet (280 N·m). Transmission options were initially three-speed manual or the newly introduced three-speed Roto Hydramatic. The F-85 had drum brakes of 9.5 inches (240 mm) diameter. Overall length was initially 188.2 inches (4,780 mm), and curb weight was around 2,800 pounds (1,300 kg).


The first-year F-85 was offered as a four-door sedan in base or Deluxe trim, or a four-door station wagon with either two or four seats, in base or Deluxe form. Initial sales were somewhat disappointing, but were soon picked up by the May introduction of a two-door sedan and the Cutlass sports coupe (a pillared two-door for 1961, which became a pillarless "hardtop" for 1962) sporting unique trim, an interior with bucket seats and optional center console, and a four-barrel version of the 215 cu. in. aluminum V8, rated at 185 horsepower (138 kW). This engine was optional on other F-85s, as was a four-speed manual transmission. 80,347 F-85s were built in total. It used a full perimeter frame.[1]

Car Life magazine tested an F-85 with the standard engine and automatic transmission, and recorded a 0-60 (0–96 km/h) time of 14.5 seconds, with a top speed just over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). They praised its construction, but found its steering too slow and its suspension too soft for enthusiastic driving.


The existing F-85 models returned, and a convertible was added to the line-up in September, available in both standard and Cutlass versions. The Cutlass was available as a "hardtop" model, without a center post and door window frames, the previous year it had been a "coupe" with a "B" pillar and door window frames. Overall F-85 sales rose to 97,382, with the Cutlass displacing the four-door Deluxe sedan as the top-selling model.

Rear view of 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Club Coupe
1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Convertible

Bigger news was the arrival of the Jetfire model, a Cutlass hardtop with a Garrett turbocharged version of the 215 V8 rated at 215 bhp (160.3 kW) and 301 lbf·ft (408 N·m), bucket seats and console, unique trim, and a vacuum gauge mounted in the console (where it was almost hidden). Although much faster than a standard F-85, the Jetfire was criticized for having the same soft suspension as its less-powerful brothers, for its lack of a tachometer and other instruments, and for the poor shift quality of both the automatic transmission and the optional four-speed. Car and Driver tested an automatic Jetfire and obtained a 0-60 time of 9.2 seconds, with a top speed of 110 mph (176 km/h). The Jetfire's high cost (nearly $300 over a standard Cutlass coupe) and reliability problems with its turbocharged engines limited sales to 3,765.

Ultimately the Jetfire engine was far ahead of its time. With forced induction and an already high compression ratio the JetFire was capable of producing more torque than a naturally aspirated engine that was twice its size, significantly improving the engine's efficiency and usability in real-life driving conditions, turbo lag not being an issue at motorway speeds. But since turbo and supercharging the engine essentially means forcing the compression in the combustion chamber even higher, the JetFire was prone to 'spark-knock' and without modern engine management systems the only way to mitigate this was to use a 50/50 mixture of methanol and distilled water.


1963 Oldsmobile F-85 Convertible

A modest restyle for the 1963 model year added four inches (101.6 mm) to the F-85's overall length, increasing it to 192.2 inches (4,880 mm). The design was considerably more squared off than the 1961-1962 models. Three-row seating was dropped on station wagons. The Jetfire and its turbocharged V8 returned, for what would be its final year. Overall sales climbed again to 121,639, of which 53,492 were Cutlasses.

Second generation (intermediate) 1964–1967[edit]

Second generation
Also called Oldsmobile F-85
Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass
Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Production 1964–1967
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
4-door hardtop
2-door coupe
2-door hardtop
2-door convertible
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body
Related Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Engine 225 cu in (3.69 L) V6 155 hp
250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6 155 hp
330 cu in (5.4 L) V8 230-310 hp
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 345 hp
Transmission 2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase 115 in (2,900 mm)
Length 1964: 203 in (5,200 mm)
1965–67: 204.3 in (5,190 mm)
Curb weight 3,440 lb (1,560 kg)

Disappointing sales of the compact F-85, along with the introduction of Ford Motor Company's intermediate Fairlane in 1962, prompted GM to enlarge the senior compacts for the 1964 model year.


The new intermediate F-85 now rode a conventional body-on-frame chassis with a perimeter frame. Wheelbase grew to 115 inches (2,900 mm), overall length to 203 inches (5,200 mm), and weight by more than 300 pounds (140 kg). Both the aluminum V8 and the Roto Hydramatic were discontinued in favor of a new cast-iron small-block V8 of 330 cu. in. (5.4L) displacement and an optional two-speed Jetaway automatic transmission with variable-pitch stator. Buick's 225 cu. in. (3.7 L) V6 was the standard engine.

The body styles of the previous model returned, and a new Vista Cruiser, a stretched-wheelbase (120"/3048 mm) version of the standard station wagon featuring a raised rear roof with tinted skylights and a fold-down, forward-facing third seat, debuted on February 4, 1964. The 4-4-2 model, derived from the BO-9 police package, was also introduced in March 1964 (costing $285.14 in 1964),[2] as an answer to the new intermediate muscle car market created by the Pontiac GTO that same year.

Sales increased to 167,002 for 1964, not counting Vista Cruisers.


1965 Oldsmobile F-85 two-door coupe, rear view

For 1965 a modest facelift increased overall length to 204.3 inches (5,190 mm) while the front end received a "dumbbell-style" grille similar to full-sized Olds models. A bigger 400 cu in (6.6 L) engine was included with the 4-4-2 option, based on the newly introduced 425 cu in (6.9 L) engine from the full-sized Oldsmobiles while the Buick 225-cubic-inch (3.69 L) V6 and Olds 330 cubic-inch Jetfire Rocket V8 were carried over from the previous year with increased power ratings for the V8 options. Sales increased again to 187,097. The year 1965 was the first for Oldsmobile's "Rocket" logo that would last, with minor variations, until the 1990s.


1966 F-85 Deluxe four-door sedan

The 1966 models were slightly restyled again with bodylines similar to the full-sized Olds 88 and semi-fastback rooflines with extended sail panels and tunneled rear windows on Sport (pillared) and Holiday (hardtop) coupes. The Buick V6 was replaced on base models by an Oldsmobile-badged "Action-Line 6" version of Chevrolet's 250 cu in (4.1 L) "Turbo-Thrift" straight-6 engine, while the 330 cu in (5.4 L) Jetfire Rocket V8 continued with power ratings of 250 and 320 horsepower (190 and 240 kW). New that year was the Cutlass Supreme four-door hardtop sedan also dubbed the Holiday Sedan by Oldsmobile, the first such bodystyle for Olds' intermediate line.


1967 four-door hardtop sedan Cutlass

Changes for 1967 included the availability of optional disc brakes and the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic to supplement the two-speed Jetaway. An unusual new model was the Turnpike Cruiser on Cutlass Supreme coupes and convertibles, which used a two-barrel carburetor and mild camshaft with the 400 cu in (6.6 L) engine and a (numerically) low axle ratio for efficient and relatively economical freeway cruising. The Turnpike Cruiser used the heavy-duty suspension of the 4-4-2, and was available only with Turbo Hydramatic.

Third generation (intermediate) 1968–1972[edit]

Third generation
Also called Oldsmobile F-85
Oldsmobile Cutlass S
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser
Production 1968–1972
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
4-door hardtop
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body
Related Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Engine 250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6
350 cu in (5.7 L) V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
455 cu in (7.46 L) V8
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm) 2-door coupe, hardtop and convertible
116 in (2,946 mm) 4-door sedan and station wagon[3]
Length 201.9 in (5,128 mm) 2-door coupe, hardtop and convertible
205.9 in (5,230 mm) 4-door sedan
212.6 in (5,400 mm) station wagon
Width 76.2 in (1,935 mm) 2-door coupe, hardtop and convertible
76.8 in (1,951 mm) 4-door sedan and station wagon
Curb weight 3,515 lb (1,594 kg)


The F-85/Cutlass underwent a major body restyle in 1968, as did all other GM A-body cars. Oldsmobile's was penned by the styling studio headed by Stan Wilen. Two-door and four-door models now rode different wheelbases: 112 inches (2,800 mm) for two-doors and 116 inches (2,900 mm) for four-doors. Ostensibly, this change was to allow more individual styling, although several engineers were quoted off the record as saying the 115-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase had created problems with uncomfortable "freeway hop" owing to its resonance frequency. Overall length shrunk about 2.6 inches (66 mm), but curb weight rose approximately 75 pounds (34 kg) to 3,465 lb (1,572 kg) for the hardtop coupe. Two-door F-85 and Cutlass models adopted a semi-fastback roofline with a massive rear end.

Base model remained the F-85, with mid-level Cutlass S, and upscale Cutlass Supreme, as well as the 4-4-2. A limited-production model was the Hurst/Olds, a special 4-4-2 marketed by Oldsmobile and Hurst Performance. The H/O combined the 4-4-2 suspension package with the big 455 cu. in. (7.4 L) V8, not ordinarily offered in Cutlasses because of a GM policy limiting intermediates to engines of 400 cu. in. (6.6 L) or less. Redesigned base model F-85 and mid-level Vista Cruiser station wagons were also available. F-85 station wagons without the rooftop glass were also available with a 350 CI engine with a 2 barrel carburetor and two-speed JetAway automatic transmission.

Engine options were similar to the previous year, although the Cutlass's V8 option was expanded to 350 cu. in. (5.7 L). The variable-pitch stator feature of both optional two-speed Jetaway and three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmissions was discontinued.


1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible

The 1969 F-85/Cutlass models received only minor trim changes from their '68 counterparts such as a now-Olds trademark split grille with vertical bars and vertical taillights. Per federal safety regulations, headrests were now standard equipment and the ignition switch moved from the instrument panel to the steering column to lock the steering wheel when not in use, in common with all other 1969-model GM cars, one year before the locking steering columns were federally mandated.

Engine offerings were unchanged from 1968, but a new three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 350 transmission was added to the option list and available with all versions of the 350 cu in (5.7 l) Rocket V8, including the standard two-barrel 350 cu in (5.7 l) version, four-barrel "Ultra High Compression" 310 hp (230 kW) option and the W-31 option, conservatively rated at 325 hp (242 kW).[4] The old two-speed Jetaway automatic was still available with the Chevy-built 250 cu in (4.1 l) "Action-Line" six or the two-barrel 350 cu in (5.7 l) V8. The Turnpike Cruiser two-barrel 400 cu in (6.6 l) Rocket V8 was dropped and the four-barrel 400 engine from the 4-4-2 was available only in the Vista Cruiser wagons.


1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe

The 1970 Cutlass was available in seven body styles: the base F-85 two-door sedan, as well as two-door hardtops offered in both notchback Cutlass Supreme and fastback Cutlass S and 4-4-2 body styles - a practice similar to Ford and Mercury intermediates of that time, which were offered in both notchback and fastback coupes starting in 1968. Also available were a four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, a convertible and a flat-top station wagon called the Custom Cruiser, as well as the fancier Vista Cruiser station wagon.

With GM tossing out the 400 cubic-inch limit for intermediates and the 4-4-2 now coming standard with the larger 455 cubic-inch Rocket V8 from the big Oldsmobiles and previously used in the 1968-69 Hurst/Olds, Olds discontinued the 400 engine entirely and also offered the 455 as an option in the Cutlass S models and the Vista Cruiser wagons. There was an SX option that became available in 1970 and was available only on the Cutlass Supreme hardtop and convertible. The SX cars all had the 455 engine and TH-400 automatic transmission.

The same assortment of three- and four-speed manual transmissions were carried over from previous years with Hurst shifters used on floor-mounted three-speeds and all four-speeds. The two-speed Jetaway automatic transmission was discontinued entirely with the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic now the sole offering for shiftless driving. Cutlass S coupes with the optional Strato bucket seats and Turbo Hydra-matic could be equipped with the Hurst Dual-Gate shifter (also known as the "His and Her-Shifter") in conjunction with the extra-cost center console. The Hurst Dual-Gate made it possible to either put the transmission in Drive, and let the transmission decide when to shift. Or it could be placed in a manual mode, much like today's computer-controlled automatics.


1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan

The 1971 model shared much of the same exterior sheetmetal as the 1970, but with a new hood, grille, and headlight assemblies, as well as new bumpers and taillights. Four new exterior body colors were offered, Viking Blue, Lime Green, Bittersweet, and Saturn Gold.

The famous "Rocket" V8 continued in several different sizes and power options, with both the large 455 and 'small-block' 350 available with either 2- or 4-barrel carburetors. This was the last year for the 250 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, as it had not been a very popular offering in Olds intermediates. In 1971, all engines came from the factory with hardened valve seats, preparing for the upcoming mandate for unleaded gasoline that took effect with the introduction of catalytic converters on 1975 models. The 1971 Olds engines also featured lowered compression ratios and designed to run on regular leaded, low-lead or unleaded gasoline with a research octane rating of 91 or higher (equivalent to 87 octane by today's octane measurements).


1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass hardtop

For 1972, there were minor style changes to the Cutlass, and the 4-4-2 reverted to being a trim line (W-29 option) on the Cutlass instead of an individual model, as it was in 1971.

The primary changes to the 1972 Cutlass were the front grilles and the tail lights.

The new 1972 Hurst/Olds used the Cutlass Supreme notchback hardtop and convertible body. A Hurst/Olds Cutlass 4-4-2 paced the Indianapolis 500, and Olds built about 630 replicas, some 25% of them convertibles.[5] The straight-6 engine was retired temporarily, but returned to the lineup in 1975 following the 1973-74 energy crisis for two model years before it was replaced by a Buick-built 231 cubic-inch V6 in 1977, which was basically the same V6 previously used on some 1964-65 Olds intermediates.

The low-line F-85 series was down to a single four-door sedan and was then discontinued during the course of the 1972 model year due to low sales. This move also ended the use of the F-85 nameplate that dated back to 1961, although it would resurface briefly a few years later on a base-line version of the compact Omega.

Fourth generation (intermediate) 1973–1977[edit]

Fourth generation
'74 Oldsmobile Cutlass Coupe (Destination Décarie 2012).JPG
Also called Cutlass S
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon
Oldsmobile 4-4-2
Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Production 1973–1977
Assembly Lansing, Michigan; Arlington, Texas; Lakewood Heights, Georgia; Framingham, Massachusetts
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
2-door coupe
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body
Engine 231 cu in (3.79 L) Buick V6
250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6
260 cu in (4.3 L) V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) V8
403 cu in (6.60 L) V8
455 cu in (7.46 L) V8
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed manual
3-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 112 in (2,800 mm) (coupe).[6]
116 in (2,900 mm) (sedan)
Length 207"[6]
Width 76.5"[6]


The Cutlass line was redesigned for 1973 using GM's new "Colonnade" A-body platform. While rooflines were shared with other GM divisions, Cutlass bodies now sported convex bulges aft of the front wheel and fore of the rear wheel on all body styles. The model lineup consisted of the base Cutlass, Cutlass "S", Cutlass Supreme, Cutlass Salon, Vista Cruiser station wagon, and the 4-4-2 appearance package on the Cutlass "S" colonnade coupe. The Cutlass "S" and 4-4-2 offered, as an extra-cost option, unique Strato bucket seats with high seatbacks and built-in head restraints that could be swiveled 90 degrees to permit easier entry and exit for the driver and front-seat passenger.

The new Cutlass Salon was an upscale Euro-style luxury/sports sedan similar in concept to the Pontiac Grand Am of the era. The Salon, which included items such as uprated suspension, radial tires, reclining bucket seats and hand-operated headlamp dimmer switch (integral to the turn signal lever) was based on the Cutlass Supreme series, first as a 4-door Colonnade sedan, joined by a 2-door Colonnade hardtop coupe in 1974. The Cutlass Salon was the first Oldsmobile with the international-flags emblem, later carried on the Cutlass Ciera. Front disc brakes were standard.[6]

All Cutlass models came standard with a 180-horsepower (130 kW) 350 Rocket V8 (k code). Optionally available was a 200-horsepower (150 kW) 350 rocket V8 with dual exhaust (m code), a 250-horsepower (190 kW) 455 Rocket V8 (U code or L75). The top engine option was a 270-horsepower (200 kW) 455-rocket V8, with a hotter cam, and W30 style heads. This engine was called the L77 (V code), and was used primarily in the 4-speed cars, and automatics without the air conditioning option in the Hurst Olds Cutlass. Transmissions included a standard column-shift three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual with Hurst shifter or the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic. Upgraded gauges were optional.[6]


Only minor styling changes were made on this year's Cutlass models. These included flush taillight lenses[citation needed] and new grilles up front, including a fascia with bumper mounted turn signals on the base model not shared with any of the other trim levels. There were newly mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumpers (joining the 5 mph (8.0 km/h) front bumpers mandated in '73), with a new hydraulic energy absorpotion system.[7] Both the 350 and 455 Rocket V8s were carried over unchanged from 1973 aside from revisions required to meet 1974 emission regulations. The Turbo Hydra-matic transmission became standard equipment on all Cutlass models.[citation needed]


1975 Cutlass sedan

For 1975, Oldsmobile introduced in September 1974, added two smaller engines to attract economy-minded buyers in the aftermath of the 1973–74 energy crisis. Those included the Chevrolet-built 250 cubic-inch inline six (previously offered on 1966–71 Olds Cutlasses) and a new 260 V8 based on the Olds 350 Rocket V8, which continued as an option. Also available was the 455 Rocket V8, rated at 190 horsepower (140 kW). All engines had catalytic converters and required unleaded gasoline in the United States; Canadian buyers could opt to delete the converter.[8] The three-speed manual transmission returned as standard equipment in conjunction with the six-cylinder engine on all Cutlass models except Salons and station wagons. However, very few Cutlasses[vague] were built with those items as most customers overwhelmingly preferred the 350 V8 and Turbo Hydra-matic as in previous years.[citation needed]

The '75 grilles were somewhat more angular and separated into eight pieces on each side. The parking lights were now incorporated into the grille. At the rear, new two-piece taillights were divided vertically. The S and Supreme both have a chrome strip atop the bonnet, while the Supreme also has the Oldsmobile logo mounted atop the grille. A fuel economy gauge was optional.[9][citation needed]

The Cutlass line overtook the full-sized Delta 88 as the best-selling Oldsmobile line for the first time ever in 1975 with the Cutlass Supreme coupe accounting for the majority of those sales, becoming the best-selling intermediate-sized car in America by surpassing the Chevrolet Chevelle and Ford Torino for the top spot. The Cutlass was also the second-best selling car line in the U.S. in 1975, with only the full-sized Chevrolet Impala/Caprice outpacing it.[citation needed]


The Cutlass became America's best selling car this year and would hold this title for most years[vague] into the 1980s. A restyled front end with waterfall-type split grilles and new rectangular headlights was introduced that would become an Olds Cutlass trademark in coming years, lasting into the late 1980s. Coupe bodies were reshaped for a smoother, less contoured look than the 1973-75 design, a design change shared with Buick's top line Regal. Cutlass four-door sedans and wagons kept their bulges through the end of model year 1977. Taillights were revised and the license plate/fuel filler was moved above the bumper. The base Cutlass line was dropped, with the Cutlass S nameplate now applied to the entry-level coupe and sedan this year - both of which featured an aerodynamic slanted front nose in contrast to the upright front ends of other Cutlass models including the Cutlass Supreme coupe, sedan and wagon, Vista Cruiser wagon, Cutlass Salon coupe and sedan, and the new Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. The 4-4-2 option was still offered on Cutlass S coupes as an appearance/handling package.[citation needed]

Engine offerings were carried over from 1975 including the Chevy-built 250 cubic-inch inline six and Olds-built Rocket V8s of 260, 350 or 455 cubic inches. A three-speed manual transmission was standard with the six-cylinder engine but Turbo Hydra-matic was optional with this engine and the 260, and required with the 350 and 455 V8s. A new option this year was a five-speed manual transmission, which was available only with the 260 V8.[citation needed]


1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham

New grilles highlighted all 1977 Cutlass models with Cutlass S sedans and coupes reverting to an upright grille/front end while the more aerodynamic slanted front end was only offered with the 4-4-2 option. "Oldsmobile" nameplates in a new sans-serif typeface replaced the former script ones.

Inside was a slightly revised instrument panel with the clock relocated to the right side of the dash above the glovebox. This also marked the introduction of Oldsmobile's new mechanical digital clock. The Chevrolet inline six was replaced by Buick's 231 V6, while the 260 and 350 Rocket V8s were carried over. The big 455 Rocket V8 was discontinued and replaced by a new 403 cubic-inch Rocket V8. Transmission offerings included a three-speed manual (standard with the V6 engine on Cutlass S and Supreme coupes and sedans), five-speed manual (with 260 V8 only) or three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic optional on V6 "S" and Supreme models, and standard equipment on all Cutlass Supreme Brougham, Cutlass Salon and station wagon models, as well as all cars with 350 and 403 V8s. A sedan was added to the Supreme Brougham line, while the Salon lost its sedan version. The base wagon dropped the Cutlass Cruiser nameplate and became part of the Vista Cruiser line.[citation needed]

632,742 Cutlasses were built in 1977, the highest production for the model.[citation needed]

Fifth-generation (intermediate) 1978–1988[edit]

Fifth generation
1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon fastback 4-door.jpg
1979 Cutlass Salon fastback
Also called Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (1978–1988)
Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais (1978–1984)
Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon (1985–1987)
Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser (1978–1983)
Oldsmobile 4-4-2 (1978–1980)
Production 1978–1988
Assembly Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, Canada
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
4-door fastback sedan
5-door station wagon
2-door coupe
2-door fastback coupe
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body (1978–81)
G-body (1982–88)
Related Buick Century
Chevrolet El Camino
Chevrolet Malibu
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Pontiac Grand Am
Pontiac Grand Prix
Pontiac Le Mans
Wheelbase 108 in (2,700 mm)
Successor Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera


The 1978 Cutlass was downsized to the new version of GM's A-body with a shorter, 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase. This Cutlass was lighter than earlier versions at around 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg), and it could be ordered with any of several engines built by GM's different divisions; a Buick 231 V6, Oldsmobile 260 V8, Pontiac 301 V8 or Chevrolet 305 V8s with either two- or four-barrel carburetors.

The '78 Cutlass lineup included the Salon and Salon Brougham fastback coupes and sedans and the formal roof Supreme, Supreme Brougham and Calais coupes. The Salons were styled more like imported hatchbacks than racy fastbacks (although they had a separate trunk), and they quickly proved to be far less popular than the notchback Supreme and Calais coupes, which was a revival of an appearance from the late 1940s on the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 coupe, and again in the 1960s with the third generation. There were also "two-seat" (6 passengers in two rows) Cutlass Cruiser and Cutlass Cruiser Brougham station wagons; both being smaller, more conventional replacements of the three-seat (8 passenger) Vista Cruiser.

Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon

Broughams featured softer, quieter rides, and fancier trim and upholstery. A factory T-top was optional on notchback coupes only. The 4-4-2 appearance and handling package, available on Salon coupes, featured large lower body stripes and 4-4-2 decals outside but not always shown with decals, unique 4-4-2 seats and badges inside, and a taut performance suspension featuring quicker-ratio steering, heavier springs, stiffer shocks, a stiffer front stabilizer bar, a rear stabilizer bar, and bigger tires. The Cutlass Calais used essentially the same suspension as the 4-4-2, but it also came standard with several other performance and touring options, including full instrumentation, an aluminum spoked sport steering wheel, reclining front bucket seats and a center console with floor shifter.

Cosmetically, the 1978 line continued through 1979 with only slight changes front and rear. A bewildering array of grilles were used on the different equipment levels for 1978 and 1979, including two sets each of slotted (Salon), waterfall (Supreme incl. Brougham), and eggcrate (Calais) style designs.


Cutlass Calais coupe with the Hurst/Olds W-30 package

The same model lineup continued, with a revision of both the front grille and taillight lenses. A diesel version of the Oldsmobile 260 (based on the Olds 350 diesel) was optional; diesel Cutlasses had the "Oldsmobile Diesel" badges on the decklids, where gasoline-powered Cutlasses had the "Rocket" logo.

Only 2499 Cutlass Calais coupes were equipped with the Hurst/Olds W-30 package, featuring unique aluminum wheels trimmed with gold paint, an exclusive console-mounted Hurst Dual Gate floor shifter, special gold over black or white two-tone paint and an otherwise unavailable Oldsmobile 350 V8 with a four-barrel carb and dual outlet exhausts. It is estimated that only 537 cars with the H/O package had T-Tops.


Cutlass Supreme and Calais coupes received new header panels incorporating four headlights, mimicking the 1977 model. The four-door Salon was dropped due to poor sales. Taking its place was a conventional notchback sedan known simply as "Cutlass," with base, LS, and Brougham trim levels available. Sister division Buick did the same with their Buick Century sedan (the 1978 to 1980 Centuries shared the bodyshell with the Cutlass Salon). The 4-4-2 package was moved to the Cutlass Calais, and while it lacked the Dual Gate shifter, it was essentially a carryover of the 1979 Hurst/Olds, even having the Oldsmobile 350 V8 886 80 442's were produced for 1980. The 260 diesel engine was dropped, as it was considerably slower yet no more economic than the 5.7-litre diesel.[10]

1981 Cutlass Supreme notchback sedan


1981 Cutlass Cruiser diesel station wagon

The fastback Salon coupe was dropped, and the Supreme and Calais got a restyle that included a more aerodynamic nose and smoother body lines. Sedans got quad headlamps and a new grille. The 4-4-2 was dropped. Most of this range continued to be marketed as the Cutlass Supreme until 1986, although the Cutlass Cruiser was replaced for 1984.

Cutlass family 1982–1997[edit]

In 1982, Oldsmobile began using the Cutlass nameplate as a sub-marque, with numerous vehicle lines bearing the name simultaneously.

Cutlass Ciera (1982–1996)[edit]

1987 Cutlass Ciera

The more space-efficient Cutlass Ciera was introduced on GM's new front-wheel drive mid-sized A platform in 1982. The Cutlass Cruiser station wagon nameplate followed the Ciera to its new platform in 1984. Coupes were produced until 1992, sedans and wagons until 1996. For the final year in production, this model was renamed simply Oldsmobile Ciera.

During its run, the Cutlass Ciera was consistently Oldsmobile's best-selling model.

Cutlass Supreme (1982–1997)[edit]


1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 442

Meanwhile, the previous-generation Cutlass Supreme continued on the (now renamed) rear-wheel-drive G platform for six more years. The Hurst/Olds edition reappeared for two years in 1983 and 1984. From 1985 through 1987 the 442 replaced the Hurst/Olds as the high performance model.

Until 1984, the deluxe Cutlass Supreme model was known as the Cutlass Calais. When the Calais nameplate moved to its own platform in 1985, the top Supreme was renamed to Cutlass Salon. As the new front-wheel drive Cutlass Supreme model was being launched in 1988, the rear-drive G-special coupe remained in production for one final model year as the Cutlass Supreme Classic.


1990-91 Cutlass Supreme sedan

The premium Cutlass Supreme nameplate was moved to the new front-wheel-drive mid-sized GM W platform in 1988. Originally a coupe, a 4-door sedan model was added in 1990. Convertibles were also produced from 1990 to 1995.

In 1998, the Cutlass Supreme was replaced by the Oldsmobile Intrigue.

Cutlass Calais (1985–1991)[edit]

1985-86 Cutlass Calais coupe

The third Cutlass nameplate introduced was the compact Cutlass Calais (originally just Oldsmobile Calais) on the front-wheel-drive N-body in 1985. The famed 4-4-2 nameplate was revived for the Cutlass Calais in 1990 and 1991.

The Cutlass Calais was replaced by the Oldsmobile Achieva in 1992.

Sixth generation (midsize) 1997–1999[edit]

1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass

The Oldsmobile Cutlass name was revived in 1997 as a slightly upscale version[11] of the mechanically identical fifth generation Chevrolet Malibu.[12] The Cutlass did have a few minor differences. Visually, it had a split grille front fascia like other Oldsmobiles at the time and all red rear tail lamps.[13] Mechanically, the V6 engine was the only engine offered.[11][12] The 3100 V6 engine equipped to the Cutlass was one of GM's most produced engines, despite issues with failure of the Lower Intake Manifold Gasket. Failure of the gasket could lead to engine failure, as coolant sometimes contaminated the oil. Replacement of the plastic factory gaskets with OEM grade metal gaskets solved the problem.[14] Option-wise, it offered leather seats,[11] chrome wheels and more standard equipment on base models; like a split-folding rear seat and power locks[citation needed]. This generation of Cutlass was intended as a placeholder model to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the Ciera, before the all-new Alero arrived.[11] Production of this generation of Cutlass ended July 2, 1999[citation needed], making it the final vehicle to bear the Cutlass name.


  1. ^ a b "Old car brochures 1961". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  2. ^ Gunnell, John (2006). standard catalog of American Muscle Cars 1960–1972. Krause Publications. ISBN 0-89689-433-9. 
  3. ^ GM Heritage Center. MY1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass Owner's Manual. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
  4. ^ Hot Rod, 3/86, p.54.
  5. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960–1972 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004), p.864.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Old car brochures 1973". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  7. ^ "Old car brochures 1974". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  8. ^ "Canada Hangs Tough in Rough Times", The Windsor Star, 9 July 1975, p.42
  9. ^ "Old car brochures 1975". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  10. ^ Hogg, Tony (ed.). "Four mid-size diesel sedans". Road & Track's Road Test Annual & Buyer's Guide 1981 (January–February 1981): 27. 
  11. ^ a b c d Vettraino, J.P. (26 January 1998). "Cars for the non-enthusiast". Autoweek. 48 (4): 20–21. ISSN 0192-9674. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Swan, Tony (31 October 1996). "1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Oldsmobile Cutlass Sedan GLS picture". 
  14. ^ General Motors 60° V6 engine

External links[edit]