In this series so far, we’ve seen several Steal Your Face-ized junkyard inmates, including this ’68 GMC pickup, this Ford Probe that no doubt had Kansas Highway Patrol sniff-dogs straining against the Colorado border in their eagerness to make an easy bust, and this stereotype-reinforcing ’83 VW Vanagon.
Mark’s look today at a couple of late Sixties’ performance icons has inspired me. Yes, my automotive ADD kicked in and off I went to eBay in search of affordable Cutlass and Mustang projects.
And, really, I’m still searching. The majority of what I’ve found are either total basketcases, poorly-done “customs,” or pristine show cars with prices to match. I’d love to find a car that has needs, but could be driven away and worked on over time.
Confession time: I’ve never driven a car built before the 1980s.
Actually, scratch that. I may have driven a car built before the ’80s — likely late ’70s — but it wasn’t memorable enough for me to actually, well, remember.
Thankfully, my hobby-turned-career has afforded certain pleasures, such as driving two incredible examples of what Detroit had to offer the buying public more than 40 years ago.
It was time to right my dark secret. These two cars — a 1968 Ford Mustang GT and an Oldsmobile Cutlass S of the same vintage — would allow me to do just that.
The early fifth-generation Olds Cutlass was a huge seller in the United States; not as big as the Cutlass’ peak in 1976 (when it was the best-selling car in the country), but one of the most popular cars on the street during that period. However, very few Oldsmobile shoppers opted for the odd-looking Cutlass Salon fastback sedan (or its Buick Century sibling), making today’s Junkyard Find nearly as rare as, say, a Geo Prizm GSi.
As more proof that rare does not always equal valuable, I present a rust-free, totally restorable Cutlass Salon Fastback Brougham Sedan, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard last week. (Read More…)
My friend Adam is a great guy. He is a first generation American, Air Force Officer and genuinely pleasant person. Like anyone else, he has his preferences and dogmas. He believes television peaked with “The Rockford Files” and owns the complete series on DVD. He also believes any car worth owning was built before 1973. As such, he owns a stunning all-original 1963 Pontiac Gran Prix and this beautiful 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible.
Plenty of front-wheel-drive Cutlasses go to The Crusher without being photographed for this series, but here’s one with an interesting customization job that attracted my attention. Why didn’t GM ever make a wagon with a red-glass option? (Read More…)
The fourth-gen Olds Cutlass was one of the few bright spots for The General as the Malaise Era grew darker for Detroit. You could get T-tops, factory 8-track players, velour interiors in a wide range of bright colors, and who cared if engines were making less than one horse per two cubic inches? The Salon was the top-of-the-line Cutlass for ’74, with reclining bucket seats, radial tires, and other futuristic goodies. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver self-service yard not long ago; nearly 40 years of personal luxury for this Olds. (Read More…)
Yes, yes, I know… it’s supposed to be the age of the Aerostar! Don’t be such a historical literalist! Go back to Curbside Classics, why don’t you?
No, seriously, stay here. Please. We’ll have snacks later. Possibly.
Right now, on eBay, an Aeroback of eye-watering rarity is being auctioned. It’s a 1978 Cutlass Salon. That’s not rare: the Cutlass was often the best-selling A-body. It’s a Cutlass Salon Brougham. That’s not rare: the economy wasn’t great back then and a lot of people downsized from Cadillacs into Cutlasses. However, according to the owner, who would have no possible reason to lie, “There were only 6558 of these cars built with the 260 V8 and only 170 of these had the T50 Borg Warner 5 speed transmission.”
Now we’re talking. But the question now becomes: Why was there ever an Aeroback in the first place?
Now that we’ve looked at the corpse of a GM product that flopped in the American marketplace, let’s exhume an example of a GM product that sold like crazy: the Middle Malaise Era Olds Cutlass. (Read More…)
In 1990, you could give your BMW salesman $24,650 and drive off the lot in a 325i coupe weighing 2,811 pounds and equipped with a 168-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission… or you could hand $14,895 to your Oldsmobile salesman and drive off the lot in a Cutlass Calais International Series coupe weighing 2,823 pounds and equiped with a 160-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission. Ten grand more for rear-wheel-drive, eight more horses, 12 fewer pounds, and a blue-and-white hood emblem? I had forgotten all about the Quad 4-powered Cutlass Calais International Series until I ran across this forlorn example in a California self-service wrecking yard last week. (Read More…)