Junkyard Find: 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Cutlass name was applied to so many different Oldsmobiles that you could put together an all-day Cutlass Badging Trivia Challenge and have no shortage of material. By the middle-to-late 1980s, Cutlass had become something of a sub-marque for Oldsmobile, with the Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Calais, and Cutlass Supreme on different platforms and causing madness in subsequent generations of parts-counter guys. The Ciera (generally spelled “Sierra” by most owners, because what the hell is a Ciera?) achieved its greatest fame as the car driven by various bad guys in the excruciatingly Minnesotan film “ Fargo.”

Here’s a Cutlass Ciera — a Brougham, no less — that I spotted in Denver last week.

The Ciera in the movie was an ’87 sedan in Burnt Umber paint and Olds dealer Jerry Lundegaard never mentions a Brougham package, so today’s white ’86 isn’t exactly the same as the movie car, though I’d say it’s close enough.

The 1980s were fat years for American velour manufacturers.

There’s no point in photographing the odometer in this car, because GM was still using five-digit units at this point. However, the brightly-colored tachometer with the Oldsmobile rocket emblem and chugging 5,550 rpm redline has a lot of interesting design elements.

Under the hood of the Olds is the same 2.8-liter pushrod 60° V6 used in such machines as the Chevy Citation, GMC Sonoma, and Pontiac Fiero. Sadly, the Isuzu Hombre never got the 2.8.

#1 in sales in the New York tri-state Sales Marathon!

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars | Image Source: “Fargo”/PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Working Title Films]







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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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Mar 01, 2016

    My long time friend is currently driving a 1995 Buick Century wagon that currently has 160k miles on the odometer and aside from a new intake gasket and wheel bearing on the front passenger side has needed little else outside of normal wear and tear to the car. It is dead reliable, starts up everyday, even in 25 below zero weather conditions and can haul around a ton of stuff for his business. The best part, he bought the car for $350 because the car wouldn't start which ended up being a loose battery connection!

  • RP82 RP82 on Mar 22, 2016

    My parents had an '86 'Cutlass Cruiser' aka Ciera wagon purchased newish around '87 or '88 when I was 5 or 6. I remember it was a demo car and I pointed out to my father after he had purchased it one day that the rear tail lights didn't match. One side had the silver spear logo and the other had a fatter transparent logo that blended into the lamp(thinking back it was probably hit or maybe assembled this way by GM's quality control at the time). Fast fwd many years later it became my hand me down when I got my license. It had the 2.8 2v carb'd motor and 3 speed automatic slushbox. By that time the paint had faded down to the grey primer on most of the top of the car. It had the fake wood grain decal along the side and my father had removed much of the emissions equip out of the car over the years, including the cat converter. I must say it sounded decent w/ the hollowed cat and the factory muffler. My friend once had a cackle when he spotted the 'CHOKE' lamp indicator in the instrument cluster while we were crusing around. I definately put that car through hell and back being a reckless teenager but it kept trucking. I think it had somewhere around 140-150k at that time. It ended up sitting for a few years after I put through the tests and my father eventually gave it away. That's my Ciera experience

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.
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