It's so GM it hurts.
(Full disclosure: Oldsmobile wanted me to drive this Cutlass Ciera so bad that they made this very white people commercial.
You see this commercial was so good that my grandma loved it and bought one similar. She kept it till the day she died, leaving me my technical first car. Oldsmobile then ran out of business. )
So what is the Cutlass Ciera? I'm not really sure, nothing in the 80's seems to make sense. You see this is basically a little more luxurious Chevrolet Celebrity, and pretty much a Buick Century, and I guess a little less sporty Pontiac 6000. What I'm saying is GM made 4 of the pretty much same cars, because I guess that made sense. Anyway compared to the Japan and Euro imports they were mediocre. Compared to Chrysler K-cars and the Ford Tempo, the A-body siblings were not bad. Tell me the last time you've seen a Tempo on a road compared to the fwd A-bodies. The only thing GM got"right" in this era was some of their drivetrains. The 3.8 was a near bullet proof engine in these cars, the Iron Duke as well. We won't talk about the diesel.
(Photo cred me)
I would have to say it's a pretty handsome design compared to everything else at the time. The sharp rear window gives it a neat silhouette. The 85 had my favorite grille from it's 10+year long run. You can't forget that hood ornament. Chrome wire hubcaps, so sexy.
(photo cred me)
Shag everywhere! The doors are carpeted. Seats are comfier than a couch. The carpet is something I want to sleep on. There is lots of big ashtrays. The 80's were sweet. The top of the dash is nice and flat and in easy snorting range.
The Iron Duke. If you aren't aware, this is GM's practically bullet proof 4 cylinder that I have the displeasure of experiencing. Yeah it has torque, but it falls flat on it's face once it gets going. Oh, and pair that to a 3 speed automatic which makes an already anemic motor go on hospice.
What does 90hp feel like? Dangerous. The gaps that you're used to pulling out in? You need to triple them when you drive this. Merging on to a highway? It better be a long on ramp, there are some ramps I refuse to take because they are just too short for it. It teaches patience and that speed doesn't really kill, zero speed actually does. Every once in a while going from my V8 dd to this, I'll pull out into traffic only to remember what I'm driving followed by honking.
What braking? Just like accelerating into traffic I have to keep triple the distance behind everyone than what I normally do. The first few inches of travel are mush. Once you get to the middle of travel, weight violently shifts; suddenly sky starts to appear in your rear view mirror. Panic braking will quickly smoke those tiny rotors in the front followed by lockup of one or more of the rear wheels which causes the back to swing about which ever way physics is feeling that day.
It's really like floating on a cloud. It wallows and swings. You get this giddy feeling in your stomach like your'e on an amusement ride. It's that sense of controlled uncontrollable about it that can make you smile sometimes.
That cloud like ride has a payoff, and that is the dangerous handling. Here's a senerio I encountered: Coming back from Belle Tire one day with a fresh alingment and roatation. I was enjoying my cloud floating doing the 45mph speed limit, which took me aprx. 50 sec to get to. Suddenly a wheel, yes a freaking wheel, is barreling right at me. I mash the brakes, rear end lifts up. Frantically turn left, car plows heavilly on the right wheel. Rotation ensues from the unloaded rear since I braked earlier. Shit I'm going to lose it, turn hard right. Car violently transfers weight, I'm hanging onto the wheel. The seats they do nothing! Left again, right again, left again, straight, finally! What would've been a simple manuever was one that scared the living shit out of me. Looked in my rear view mirror there was an Escort in the opposing direction on the curb missing her wheel..
It "shifts gears". I mean there's only 3 gears, how can it not know what gear you need to be in? Well it will never know. It's not like any gears are really useful anyway. You need to downshift, nah not today buddy. Don't need to downshift? Well it's happening I can't stop it! *Jerk *
It came with an Am/Fm radio and cassette. It also came with a complimentary Oldsmobile cassette which had this fine song on it. Enjoy.
This is one of the noisiest engines I've ever heard. It's not a good noise either, you can hear every valve open and close, every lifter move, fuel spray into the top of the throttle body. It's a terrible symphony of buzz. It's the voice of your older chain smoker aunt talking so close to you it vibrates your chest.
Rest in peace to my grandma and grandpa, they were amazing people and I wouldn't be where I'm at today without them. The Cutlass was something they always wanted me to have so I still have it. My dad keeps it and drives it occasionally since I don't have the room. Insurance is next to nothing even in Michigan. It's needed just basic maintenance since it's been around me. I would say it's a great value and I'm very thankful for it.
Engine: 2.5-liter TBI I4
Power: 92 HP /135 lb-ft
Transmission: 3 speed automatic
0-60 Time: 16 seconds (estimated)
¼ Mile: 20.5 sec @ 67 mph
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Seating: 6 people