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Oldsmobile Cutlass

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Cutlass
Vehicle Model

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A car produced by Oldsmobile.  The Cutlass name was added to by Oldsmobile to create names for other cars, some based on the Cutlass and some not, including the Cutlass Calais, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Salon, and Cutlass Supreme.  From 1964 to 1967, the 442 was an option package on the Cutlass or Cutlass Supreme before becoming its own separate model.

The Oldsmobile Cutlass was the car of 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup driver's champion Cale Yarborough.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Oldsmobile Cutlass page on 8 May 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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. 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

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).

Second generation (intermediate) 1964–1967

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), as an answer to the new intermediate muscle car market created by the Pontiac GTO that same year.

Third generation (intermediate) 1968–1972

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.

Fourth generation (intermediate) 1973–1977

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.

Fifth-generation (intermediate) 1978–1988

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.

Cutlass family 1982–1997

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

Cutlass Ciera (1982–1996)
Cutlass Supreme (1982–1997)
Cutlass Calais (1985–1991)

Sixth generation (midsize) 1997–1999

The Oldsmobile Cutlass name was revived in 1997 as a slightly upscale version of the mechanically identical fifth generation Chevrolet Malibu. 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. Mechanically, the V6 engine was the only engine offered. 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. Option-wise, it offered leather seats, chrome wheels and more standard equipment on base models; like a split-folding rear seat and power locks. 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. Production of this generation of Cutlass ended July 2, 1999, making it the final vehicle to bear the Cutlass name.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1983 Book1983 Oldsmobile Chassis Service Manual: Cutlass, Delta 88, Custom Cruiser, Ninety-Eight, Toronado; General Motors Corporation
1999 BookOldsmobile Cutlass 1974 thru 1988 Haynes Repair Manual: All rear-wheel drive V6 & V8 Models by Scott Mauck, Mike Forsythe, and John B. Haynes; Haynes


Photographs

1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible 1963 Convertible
for $8,750
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible - 3.4MB
1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible 1963 Convertible
for $8,750
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible - 3.2MB
1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible 1963 Convertible
for $8,750
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible - 3.6MB
1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1965 442
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
Reserve not met ($24,500 high bid) at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Mecum Auctions
View photo of 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 3.5MB
1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1965 442
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
Reserve not met ($24,500 high bid) at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Mecum Auctions
View photo of 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 3.1MB
1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1965 442
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
Reserve not met ($24,500 high bid) at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Mecum Auctions
View photo of 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 3.8MB
1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1965 442
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
Reserve not met ($24,500 high bid) at the Mecum 2012 Fall Premier Auction
Mecum Auctions
View photo of 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 4.4MB
Oldsmobile Cutlass Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 3,660KB
Oldsmobile Cutlass SX SX
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 13, 2011
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 2,825KB
Oldsmobile Cutlass SX SX
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 13, 2011
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 3,763KB
Oldsmobile Cutlass SX SX
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 13, 2011
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 3,272KB
Oldsmobile Cutlass SX SX
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 13, 2011
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 4,712KB
Oldsmobile Cutlass SX SX
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 13, 2011
View photo of Oldsmobile Cutlass - 3,560KB
1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 1970 Rallye 350
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 6, 2011
View photo of 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 - 4,331KB
1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 1970 Rallye 350
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 6, 2011
View photo of 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 - 3,358KB
1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 1970 Rallye 350
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night: June 6, 2011
View photo of 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Rallye 350 - 3,850KB
1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 Model 1972 Hurst 442
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
January 2010 Banquet of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 Model - 3,250KB
1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Wagon 1972 Wagon
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals
View photo of a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Wagon, 3,066KB
1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Wagon 1972 Wagon
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals
View photo of a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Wagon, 3,195KB
Weathered 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Model Car 1975
Johan kit
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
Attack of the Plastic Model Car Contest
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Model - 684KB
Weathered 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Model Car 1975
Johan kit
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
2009 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Model - 3,472KB
1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1975 442
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  October 11, 2011
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 2,306KB
1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1975 442
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  October 11, 2011
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 1,777KB
1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1975 442
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  October 11, 2011
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 2,105KB
1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 1975 442
Photo ©2011 Bill Crittenden
Green Street Cruise Night:  October 11, 2011
View photo of 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - 2,588KB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Pinstriped 1977
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass - 4.4MB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Pinstriped 1977
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass - 4.1MB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Pinstriped 1977
Photo ©2015 Bill Crittenden
2015 Cruisin' Spring Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass - 3.8MB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO 1977 GMO
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Gary Lang Auto Group Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO - 3,317KB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO 1977 GMO
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Gary Lang Auto Group Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO - 3,228KB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO 1977 GMO
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Gary Lang Auto Group Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO - 3,217KB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO 1977 GMO
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Gary Lang Auto Group Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO - 3,426KB
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO 1977 GMO
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Gary Lang Auto Group Car Show
View photo of 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass GMO - 4,043KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
1 November 1966NHTSA Recall 66V020003
1966-1967 Oldsmobile 442
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
19 December 1966NHTSA Recall 66V032003
1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
STEERING:WHEEL AND HANDLE BAR
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
9 November 1972NHTSA Recall 72V275000
1973 Buick Century, 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1973 GMC Sprint, 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1973 Pontiac Grand Am, 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1973 Pontiac Le Mans
Steering:Linkages
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
19 December 1973NHTSA Recall 73V250000
1974 Buick Century, 1974 Buick Electra, 1974 Buick Estate, 1974 Buick LeSabre, 1974 Buick Regal, 1974 Buick Riviera, 1974 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1974 Chevrolet Camaro, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Estate, 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1974 Chevrolet El Camino, 1974 Chevrolet Impala, 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 GMC Sprint, 1974 Oldsmobile 88, 1974 Oldsmobile 98, 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1974 Pontiac Bonneville, 1974 Pontiac Catalina, 1974 Pontiac Firebird, 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari, 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, 1974 Pontiac Le Mans
Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Arm
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
14 February 1975NHTSA Recall 75V032000
1975 Buick Century, 1975 Buick Regal, 1975 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1975 Chevrolet El Camino, 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1975 GMC Sprint, 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1975 Pontiac Grand Am, 1975 Pontiac Le Mans
Vehicle Speed Control
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
2 September 1976NHTSA Recall 76V132000
1977 Buick Century, 1977 Buick LeSabre, 1977 Buick Regal, 1977 Buick Skylark, 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet El Camino, 1977 Chevrolet Impala, 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1977 Chevrolet Nova, 1977 GMC Sprint, 1977 Oldsmobile 88, 1977 Oldsmobile 98, 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1977 Oldsmobile Omega, 1977 Pontiac Bonneville, 1977 Pontiac Catalina, 1976 Pontiac Firebird, 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1977 Pontiac Le Mans, 1977 Pontiac Ventura
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
18 July 2016New at Summit Racing Equipment: Goodmark Restoration Parts for Buick Regal and Olds CutlassSummit Racing Equipment


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