By on October 22, 2015

28 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Jerry Garcia died more than 20 years ago, but Grateful Dead-themed stickers will be showing up on junkyard vehicles as long as junkyards exist.

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.

Now we’ve got this Malaise Era Olds wagon from the first year of the GM G-body.
08 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Most of these stickers seem insufficiently faded to have been applied while Garcia was still alive, given the fierceness of the Colorado sun, but it’s possible that this wagon lived in a garage when not heading to Charlotte for the June 17, 1992 show.

03 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Hand-me-down from Grandma, or owned by a veteran Deadhead who learned how to roll a joint one-handed at a Warlocks show in 1965?

18 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

No concert tapes in this wagon, unless a boombox lived on the seat.

24 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This appears to be the 307-cubic-inch Oldsmobile V8, which made 140 horsepower in the ’82 Cutlass Cruiser.

29 - 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The Cutlass name underwent a confusing schism in 1982, with the Cutlass Ciera on the front-wheel-drive A platform and the Cutlass Supreme moving to the G platform. Back in the late 1980s, I did a lot of traveling around California in an earlier version of the Cutlass Cruiser, and it was a decent enough highway machine.

There’s a Grand Junction dealership emblem on the tailgate, but Chicago had the best Olds commercials in 1982.

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41 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Wagon, Deadhead Edition...”

  • avatar

    I can’t write about Dead Heads because I don’t know anything about them as they are too before my time (plus the whole drugs thing is beyond my personal knowledge). So here is a completely unrelated piece I wrote in August.

    Garbage ft Brody Dalle – Girls Talk:


    The sun hit Roger’s face as the black Mustang left the Fort Pitt Tunnel and he could hear his turn signal clicking as he switched into the right lane on that bright Sunday morning. Sunlight glistened off the newly waxed paint and light danced off of the chrome bits in the black Bullit wheels. The custom exhaust of the GT slowly rumbled as the car turned onto the exit ramp and Roger’s attention was caught by the bright light reflecting off the Monongahela river on his right. Feeling forlorn he gazed at Station Square across the river interrupted by passing the black stone pylons which held the Wabash bridge sixty seven years prior. He turned his head and tried to focus his attention on the road but began drifting into daydream as the Mustang continued past the Grant Street exit.

    …”You only live once” Marie said pulling her top off and laying on her back just as Roger leaned down and kissed her. He reached underneath to unhook her bra and then arched his back straddling her as she took off her glasses and laid them on the night-stand…

    Scowling, he accelerated and shifted the transmission into third gear as the Coyote V8 came to life. He pulled his hand and swerved out of the right lane to pass a slower moving UPS truck. Passing underneath the corroding Liberty Bridge, he could taste the cold air conditioning blowing on his face as his heart grew cold along with it. The Oakland exit was coming up on the right and he began to place his feet on the brake and clutch to decelerate. Something came over him and again he felt the need to accelerate. The Mustang pulled into the left lane and increased speed as slower traffic, and the Oakland exit, passed him on the right. Something had tripped his wire.

    …”I’ve been thinking about it, yes I will be your girlfriend” Marie said with a bright smile. Roger leaned in to kiss her gently and then felt his teeth sink into her neck. She let out a loud moan as Roger flipped her onto her stomach and she pushed her ass up in the air.
    “Spank me” she said seductively…

    Jerking the Mustang back into the right lane he shifted the car up a gear as the Mustang accelerated to eighty miles an hour. Wind noise increased as the Mustang began to weave in between lanes passing slower drivers on the right and left. Roger could feel power flowing from the engine block to the transmission to the differential and the highway underneath, run baby run! The pavement lines seemed to race toward the Mustang faster and faster as more air flowed past the pony on the car’s grille. He felt a fire burning inside which could only be quenched, with speed.

    …Roger laid his back against the concrete wall of the parking garage of the Penn Brewery sipping his IPA as Marie finished a conversation. He reached his right arm behind her and tugged hard on a clump of her hair. Smiling, she turned her head and gazed at him with bright eyes and a satisfied grin.
    “Drunk Marie wants to tell Drunk Roger something” Marie said as she leaned into his right side. Roger nodded curiously as she whispered “I love you”…

    The driver in the white minivan observed the black stallion coming from behind and pulled his Caravan into the right lane as the Mustang passed close enough to briefly make out “5.0” on the quarter panel. Roger gripped the leather shifter and felt on fire as the car into fifth gear and watched as the speedometer turn past ninety. He tried to stay in lane while approaching the Edgewood exit but found himself keeping the hood of the car on the highway lines. The road became a slight hill and curved left as the Greenfield Bridge passed overhead. Evading a Town Car on the right a slight tear dripped from Roger’s eyes as said “f*ck it” while shifting the car up a gear as he headed toward the Squirrel Hill Tunnels.

    …”You don’t like my sister! You don’t get along with my roommate! Saturday was the last straw, I’m sick of you being mopey all of the time!”
    “Marie I lost my girlfriend, she pass-” Roger began to say as she interrupted with a shrieking “I’M YOUR GIRLFRIEND NOW! NOT HER!” while throwing her hands down “WHY DID YOU EVEN TELL ME?!?”. Roger feeling frozen in his seat stared into her angry eyes.
    “What do you want, Marie?” speaking with a quivering sadness. Her face turned into a scowl as she softly said “I want this to be over”. Roger opened the passenger door, turned to look at her one last time, and slammed the passenger door of the purple HHR…

    His eyes set on the tunnel entrance as the speedometer crossed 100mph, the black Mustang launched airborne into the entrance passing the parked PennDOT trucks and sparks flew up as the exhaust tips scraped the highway on landing. Feeling sweat on his left hand gripping the steering wheel, Roger leveled the hood off on the center lines and drove in between lanes as he heard the Mustang howling through the tunnel. Eyes focused on the road ahead as the white tiled walls and overhead lights flew past him in a blur. Pistons firing like wild, the loud exhaust note permeated all around as the Mustang headed toward the bright light at end of the tunnel. Three seconds ahead was the light and in the left lane sat a slow moving blue Chevy Blazer coupe with its brake lights flashing as he closed distance. Screaming, Roger slammed his right foot to the floor and felt the RPMs jump as the car shifted into sixth gear. The Mustang jerked into the right lane to pass the Blazer as it slowly drifted right and his hood was seemingly about to meet the Blazer’s side.

    Above the sky seemed to open up for him and the landscape rushed forward as Roger felt his arms and legs numb as the Mustang shot out of the tunnel. Life flashed before his eyes; his grandma, his parents, his brother, grade school, his best friend, his first crush Jamie, high school, college, then Lisa, Jill, Meghan, Kim, Robbianne, Crystal, Kayla, Kendal, Marie, and finally his beloved, a winged Kaleigh who blew him a kiss before she disappeared. Eyes opened wide he saw the world around him as a blur with colored blobs all around. Shaking his head, vision sharpened and he noticed his foot was no longer on the accelerator with the Mustang slowly dropping in speed in a slow motion. Three seconds ahead he saw light reflecting from slow moving tractor trailers in each lane. The rear tires squealed as rubber merged with pavement and white smoke flew up as Roger’s feet pushed down on the brake and clutch. The Mustang jerked around as speed quickly dropped and Roger’s left arm tensed up from the handling.

    One battleship.
    Two battleship.
    Three battleship…

    * * *

    “Girls talk shit when you’re backed up against it
    Don’t believe any word that they hear
    And you can do what it is that you want
    Without some little bitch in your ear”

    • 0 avatar

      Why do you always kill them?

      • 0 avatar

        I ask myself the same question. Although at the time I was going through some stuff which was different than the previous stuff. Oh and I forgot to change her name back to Ashley from Marie.

        I now look at my list of the junkyard stories I’ve only got three confirmed kills out of twenty two. Not a horrible ratio.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    “Now we’ve got this Malaise Era Olds wagon from the first year of the GM G-body.”

    First year was 1978.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s both right and wrong. There isn’t much difference between a ’78 and an ’82, but in ’78 the midsizers (Malibu/Monte/LeMans/GP/Cutlass/Supreme/Century/Regal) were all on the A-body. They were renamed G-body for ’82 because the A-body name was being used for the new FWD midsizers (Celebrity/6000/Ciera/Century). C, B, and D were the full-size cars, E was the big FWD personal lux coupes, and F was the Camaro/Firebird.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Thanks DrZ, interesting info. I was referring to the platform, I am unfamiliar with the letter designations. Thanks.

        • 0 avatar

          A was the midsize cars, both RWD and FWD.

          B was the regular full-size cars, and C was the middle full-size cars (generally speaking). D was the Cadillacs.

          The G designation was also used for FWD full-size cars from 1995-2005.

          H was the designation for the ’70s subcompacts (Vega, Monza, Astre, all the other rebadged variants), but was later used for the FWD downsized full-size cars (88/LeSabre/ ) starting in ’86. This FWD H-body was largely interchangeable with the ’85 FWD C-bodies.

          J was the Cavalier and all its variants.

          K was the Seville, but was closely related to the E-body. Later K-bodies were full-size rather than mid-size.

          L was the Corsica/Beretta, and shared some components with the N-bodies.

          M was the later Suzuki-based subcompacts (incl. Geo Metro).

          N was the “premium compacts” (Grand Am/Calais/Achieva/Alero/Skylark), and later the el-cheapo Malibu.

          P was several sporty subcompacts from Geo/Isuzu, as well as the Fiero.

          S was the first Suzuki-based subcompacts (incl. Geo Metro)

          T was the Chevette and (T)1000.

          U was all the minivans (and is still in production 25 years later in China).

          V was a modified E-body that underpinned the Allanté. It was also a series of Opel and Holden vehicles that included the infamous Cadillac Catera.

          W was the multi-billion dollar “mid-size of the future”–the new personal lux coupes, and later more pedestrian mid- and “full-size” cars. Along with the U and Y platforms, it’s the only letter still in production.

          X, of course, was originally the Nova and its variants (incl. a modified version used for the first-gen Seville), but later the infamous Citation and its variants.

          Y was originally the “senior compacts” in the ’60s, but later the Corvette (and briefly the XLR).

          Z was the Corvair.

          • 0 avatar

            G-body continued to be used/made until 2011 as DTS and Lucerne.

            Z-body was used as a designation on both the Corvair and the SL/SC Saturns.


          • 0 avatar

            F was the Camaro and Firebird.

      • 0 avatar

        You are correct. 1978 was the first year for Olds. Good eye! The A bodies only used the G body for a few years. Malibu, Le Mans, Century, Cutlass Salon did switch to FWD A platform in ’82. The strangest G was the Bonneville, which was fine as B body. It was resurrected in ’84 as the Parisienne…Canadian Bonneville, basically. Like an admission of a bad mistake. Weird…none the less.

    • 0 avatar

      You are correct. 1978 was the first year for Olds. Good eye!

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know how a part of my comment got posted, but whatever.

        The Diesels ruined things for GM. My Grandfather had a ’81 LeMans wagon and loved it…being a gas V6 maybe. Anyway, he decided to get the Olds Cutlass Cruiser in ’84…diesel of course. After a multitude of problems, he dumped it and went Chrysler…Town and Country back when it was a wagon.
        I’m not sure if it was really much improvement. LOL

  • avatar

    Oh the memories. After a dismal ’78 Malibu wagon with the 305 V8, the family replaced it with a Cutlass Cruiser Diesel, silver with a maroon interior. Frankly the car was bullet proof. I believe the oil changes came at 3,000 miles and the thing would black out anyone driving behind you if you stomped on it. The diesel was reliable until the end, and that was about 8 years. Perhaps one of the few.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      What usually killed the V8 Olds Diesels was even a tiny amount of water in the fuel. A lot of fueling stations weren’t too careful about preventing contamination back then, and the olds diesel had zero tolerance for it, plus was not equipped with a fuel/water separator. Get one tank from a sloppy gas station, and the engine was toast.

      I’m told the V6 olds diesels were completely unkillable, though.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    That circa 1978-80 Bonnie next to the Cutlass sure took a bad hit. Hope you photographed it for a future article, I’m sure CrabSpirits could get inspired by it…

  • avatar

    It’s interesting that all of the A/G-body sedans and wagons got a frontal facelift in ’81 and ’82 that resembled the corresponding fullsize B-body cars. Was this some contingency plan by GM to replace the big cars with the midsizers if 1979’s fuel crisis became permanent? Pontiac actually followed through with the idea when the 1982 midsize Bonneville G replacing the B-body cars.

  • avatar

    I had a 78 Malibu with 305, 4-speed, buckets, gauge-package, sport suspension. A beautiful car I really enjoyed and eventually built an engine for and repainted. Sold it for $1,000 to buy a Sunbird (??)Now a good example gets $10K

    • 0 avatar

      As I’ve stated in these A/G-Body comments many times, I had a used-up hooptie of a 1978 Cutlass Salon in a none-too-manly Pastel Blue, inherited from an aunt. 260 Rocket V8 which guzzled gas like a 455, while not making much more oomph than a similar car of the same vintage equipped with the 231 3.8L Buick V6, especially considering it was likely hooked-in to said THM 200 tranny. Had some “first-year” issues that my Mom & Dad’s 1980 Cutlass Sedan and 1983 Regal Custom Sedans didn’t. Two things:

      1. As bad as that car was, it got me through my senior year of HS and 1st year of college commuting. If I would have had the foresight (and a little more $$$), I would have squirreled the thing away in storage until after I graduated from college, whereupon I would have done a full frame-off.

      2. Failing that, the last year of the Sedans was good indeed! Find me an ’87 Cutlass Supreme Sedan Brougham with the 307 V8 and THM 4-whatever AOD transmission, along with every option on the sheet checked (wire OR Rallye wheels, but no Rallye gauge cluster), rust-free, in decent enough shape to restore to showroom-spec with maybe $1,000 worth of NOS parts and TLC; only mods I’d do are to swap out the ubiquitous Delco DIN * 1.5 cassette stereo for a Delco CD unit with aux input, an auto-dimming inside mirror from the latest of the coupes, and the “” flash-to-pass mod. I’d use it as a summer toy to drive on the weekends, hit a car show or Olds meet or three, and work on my skin cancer whilst seated in a comfy chair next to the car, hood open, and a cooler of “adult beverages” at the ready!

      Yes, as I always say, the likelihood of finding example two has two chances: slim and none, since most of these that haven’t already been recycled into Chinese laundry appliances are either demolition-derby fodder, the targets of many a monster truck, or are living horrid lives under the care and feeding of a demographic with preferences for tires stolen off the various large airborne conveyances at major airports, with sound systems that will shatter 88th-story skyscraper windows from two miles away, and with seats that are permanently reclined at a 50-degree angle.

  • avatar

    My parents ride of choice growing up. Some families had Suburbans, some had Wagoneers, some had Chrysler Minivans but we had Oldsmobile station wagons.

    They really were versatile and sized “just right.” I haven’t seen one on the road in ages and I know there were a lot of them made.

  • avatar

    Brushing your teeth with Chinese-restaurant Soy Sauce seems like a bad idea.

  • avatar

    I got my license driving an ’81 Cutlass Cruiser. It was maroon with a maroon cloth (IIRC corduroy) interior. It had a 3.8L V6 that never ran right once the computer went into open loop. I was in auto shop at the time so we tried diagnosing it with all the neat new equipment our high school received just before my senior year. We eventually replaced the computer, after which the car ran well enough just long enough for me to get my first speeding ticket.

    There was this mile long, steep hill just before this hobby shop I frequented. The car was originally running so bad that you’d have get a run at the bottom and hold the pedal to the floor just to barely get to the top of the hill. My first time up the hill after replacing the computer and the car just kept pulling (as much as an early 80’s 3.8 V6 is going to pull) and I ended up getting clocked doing 45 in a 30. Had to go to court with my mother and everything. Good times.

    • 0 avatar

      The ’81s were the first year with the computer-controlled carb (called Computer Command Control), and the first year of that sucked in general. My Mom’s ’83 Regal Custom Sedan, OTOH, was damn good, except for a slight stumble from the first or second stop when the engine was cold–you just had to be prepared for it.

  • avatar

    Weren’t these also equipped with an automatic transmission that featured some failure-prone plastic internals? Recall that friend bought a new El Camino around ’84 and that trans gave him trouble from the beginning. The dealer told him that if the thing actually blew GM would pay to have it replaced with its predecessor. Oddly enough, the trans blew sky high a few days later. All it took was a tree stump and a couple of old tires and a furniture blanket to protect the paint.

  • avatar

    That RL Dukes TV commercial is priceless. Kind of sums up the late 1970’s in 60 seconds.

  • avatar

    Left Johnstown in 1998. A couple of months earlier was my last time in Pittsburgh. Replace that Mustang with a Triumph Trident, and it all feels so familiar.

  • avatar

    And I always felt the dead were overrated, no matter how much acid I did at the time. Now, talking Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service, that’s another matter.

    But where those original bands were incredibly interesting were the side projects that flitted in and out of their histories. Hot Tuna (still remember sitting up against Cassidy’s bass amp while the band played, tripping my ass off) and New Riders of the Purple Sage were the best. Actually, I always figured that the New Riders were the whole reason for the Dead’s existence.

  • avatar

    The fake wood on the dashboard is actually marginally more convincing than the Mercedes GLK350 we had as a rental last week. Even my DSW, who is not into cars, commented on how lousy the plastics quality and how faux the faux wood was on Mercedes defunct baby CUV.

    My dad owned two different station wagons while growing up, then was one of the first kids on the block with a minivan in ’84. He told me they were the future.

    I will always have a soft spot for the wagon – and I wish American buyers would embrace them more.

  • avatar

    I agree completely about the Dead, the music just never seems to go anywhere. I’m a huge fan of Prog Rock and love songs which take entire album sides, but I get bored with “jam bands” because there is just so much less musical variation. They might be playing a 30-minute song, but they’ll stick with the same time-signature and key for the entire duration. I think the difference is that “epic” length Prog songs were specifically written as long-form pieces, while the jam bands typically start with a basic 3-5 minute Rock song and simply add noodling/filler without actually “saying” anything additional musically.

    NRPS and Hot Tuna were special cases in that they were sort of like musical “labs” for their “parent” bands, so the very reason for their existence was to experiment musically beyond the confines of the “main” band and the result is a lot more interesting.

    Savoy Brown, Hot Tuna, and Cactus are about as close as I routinely get to the “jam band” genre.

  • avatar

    Ah! 78th & the Ryan! I know it well! :)

  • avatar

    It always amazes me that such an undistinguished car hangs around so long. If you have something interesting, then I can see someone planning to restore it “someday”, until they realize, like John Fogarty said, that someday never comes.

    • 0 avatar

      It was probably in the same family all this time; and someone hung onto it for nostalga’s sake until either the good feelings wore off or reality forced them to part with it.

  • avatar

    My buddy in high school was allowed to use his parent’s Olds wagon (not sure of the exact year, but right in that same era). It was blue and had the V8. He was an absolute maniac behind the wheel. I still have no idea why they would let him use it.

    I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would die before the age of 18 in that vehicle. I was strangely at peace with it.

  • avatar

    ” it’s possible that this wagon lived in a garage when not heading to Charlotte for the June 17, 1992 show.”

    Sad fact is, I was at that show. It was the summer before my enlistment started and my friend was huge into the Dead. He drove a super blue Geo Metro 3 cyl. which we lived out of the back of. We hit the Dead show in Walnut Creek first and Lollapolooza II and then proceeded south to see the Dead again and U2’s Zoo Tour in Columbia, SC. Opening acts for that one was B.A.D. II and a little group called Public Enemy. Crashed a frat party in Savannah, got a stripper fired in Dalton for following me out to the parking lot, and met spent a week living out of some dude named Quazi’s orange Vanagon with his “wives”, selling beads and “paraphenalia” for gas money. Continued to follow Lollapolooza and the Dead farther south into Georgia and Alabama. Finally brought back two hours before my MEPs appointment in Raleigh. Great summer.

    Thanks for reminding me :)

  • avatar

    These mid size wagons are exceedingly rare these days so it’s sad to see one junked. And finding a 1982 with the 307 option is even more rare with most examples being produced with the 231 V6 or the 260 V8. The moment one of these shows up on Craigslist that is in good original condition they seem to sell very quickly. The 307 was the engine to get in these 3400-3450 Lb wagons along with the FE3 suspension and larger P205/70 tires.

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