Junkyard Find: 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon Fastback Brougham Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Here’s a 4.3-liter engine, but it’s not the later 4.3-liter Chevrolet V6. Nope, this here is an Oldsmobile 260 V8, basically an Olds 350 engine with a smaller bore.

There’s no way that GM sold cars with these interior colors. I hope. The purple has the look of a custom touch added by the car’s final owner.

Red velour and the flags of All Oldsmobile Nations, including what appears to be Albania.

If you’re springing for the Brougham, why not get the radio option that’s a little snazzier than Delco’s Poverty Package AM-only unit?

There wasn’t much good on AM in 1979, although fortunate Oldsmobile drivers may have picked up on this overlooked Ace Frehley tune.

Rickie Lee Jones learned a few things about songwriting while she was shacked up with Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss in Los Angeles. So the AM wasn’t a complete desert for your Cutlass driver in 1979.

Forget those imports — the Cutlass Salon has more headroom than the Volvo 242, more legroom than Audi Fox, and a longer wheelbase than the VW Dasher!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • LansingT LansingT on Sep 10, 2016

    My family bought a 1978 Blue Cutlass Brougham used in 1980. I doubt it was driven more than 15,000 miles per year, but was completely falling apart by the mid 80s. I can remember helping with a head gasket circa 1984 on the 260 v8, and had never before or since seen such sludge collect in an engine. The entire top end above valves was SOLID graphited oil. The engine ran true until the late 80's but car cancer took over the frame and suspension. It was junked by 1988. It's hard to imagine today that an 8 year old car was clawing from the grave and completely junk by year 10. It's funny to see people that would hope to resurrect a car like this - I can remember what a financial curse this car was to our family, not to mention all the time spent under it for different repairs!

  • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Nov 13, 2016

    What I find odd about the plastic parts is that these hard plastics in the car are deteriorating, yet the polyester slacks the driver was wearing are probably in the back of a closet, still totally intact. Polyester seemed to be indestructible, which is probably why the clothing manufacturers started selling Dockers in the 80s.

    • Jhefner Jhefner on Nov 13, 2016

      You answered your own question without realizing it -- those polyester slacks are spending most of their time sitting in a dark, climate controlled closet, not roasting in the heat of summer and freezing in the cold of winter, and basking in the UV rays of the sun. That is what causes plastics to break down so fast in car interiors; an automobile in climate control storage or a museum would likewise look pretty good a decade or two later.

  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
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  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):