Junkyard Find: 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais International Series

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1990 oldsmobile cutlass calais international series

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.

Granted, the N Platform- based Cutlass Calais wasn’t quite as handsome as the ’90 E30, and the build quality wasn’t quite up to Bavarian standards, but this Olds was a pretty good bang-for-buck deal.

The idea of an Oldsmobile with a DOHC 4-valve engine and 5-speed transmission does seem strange, even after nearly a decade since The General axed its ancient division.

It’s got leather. It’s got an auto-reverse cassette deck. It’s got that goofy globe-surrounded-by-flags emblem on every possible surface, including the trunk lock. And now it’s all getting crushed and shipped to China.

Another GM dream that didn’t quite work out as the marketing guys planned.

We’ll show that Oldsmobiles are really for young buyers… by showing a 100-year-old man disappointed in his 74-year-old son for buying such a sporty car.

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  • OldsGuy89 OldsGuy89 on May 02, 2012

    I'm not interested in arguing with you either. But even in trying to clarify your earlier statement, you still can't keep from being insulting, derisive, and condescending. Amazing. I know my Cutlass Calais isn't a world-beater. It's not some candy colored supercar, won't go 200 mph, won't ever be featured in a magazine with a bikini clad girl draped on her hood, etc. I will grant you all those things, but that doesn't make it crap. I can't speak for the rest of the Calais that were built, but the one I have is solid. It has performed reliably, efficiently and comfortably for many years, and it shows no signs of stopping. For lack of a better word, that old car simply wants to live. You have to respect that. A crap car doesn't rack up over 327,000 miles. Call me whatever names you want, you won't change that fact. No need to respond. I won't be posting here anymore, and you'll just insult me or the car again anyway. Good luck to you.

  • DreadPirateDoc DreadPirateDoc on May 24, 2012

    Hey OldsGuy89 you have a nice ride there. My favorite car was my 1991 Olds Calais International in bright red. They came with four exhausts what were at the time huge wheels (16 inch polycast factory custom) custon vinyl body molding with a cateye reflective white stripe for the red ones and a nice powerful roar when you pressed the pedal. Mine did a respectable 112 miles per hour on the autobahn before the speed chip kicked it out I always wondered what my true top speed would have been without that little "feature". And it did all of this while getting 32 miles to the gallon. I loved that car until the day some idiot rammed it dead while it sat in a parking lot. It was not the same as the buick and pontiac vehicles for the nice leather trimmed interior. In warrantee alone it far surpassed the other quad four cars. When my engine needed a new head gasket at 65,000 miles the dealership showed me a buick that was in for the same repair at 55,000 miles and pointed out that mine would be covered by the warrantee but the Buick would be on the owner to pay for. Overall my Little red oldsmobile was the best car I have ever owned. Don't be disheartened by the sour grapes comments of some people. It is the nature of the internet to tear things down. People will pile on statements about how loud a car was that they never entered and tell you how there was a special edition car available in limited edition that was slightly better in their opinion than yours is. If only such a car had actually been for sale in a location you lived that might have made some sense but really they didn't buy that car either and who wants to pay for posche, ferrari, lamborgini insurance to get eight more horsepower? Don't let others get you down for liking your car. In the end it doesn't matter what they read on the internet you have driven the car and know about the XM-1 learning automatic transmission that shifted like a dream. You know about the smooth thrill of the muted harmonic roar of a quad four when accelerating. You know about the torque band that was solid as a rock allowing you to choose any speed on your cruise control and never see the speedo drop and rise more than one MPH when going through hills and mountains. You know how it doesn't lose traction in a curve even on ice. and virtually cannot be stuck in snow. In short you know you have a good car and it is your car and they can just do the sour grapes thing all day for themselves for nothing because they can't have one at any price. Enjoy your sweet ride.

  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”