Last night the strangest damn thing happened, I was scanning the web for cars to write up on GCFSB and I some how ended up looking at a wide variety of Oldsmobiles. I mean, I know how it actually got started but the strange part was that I continued pouring over literature about various Oldsmobile models and ads for malaise era “bodydumpers”.
My trip down the Oldsmobile rabbit hole eventually led me to this ad for a clean, low mile 1987 Cutlass Supreme base model. This car is so fantastically late 80s America, a hot mess of chrome, Landau vinyl and GM designers frustration with not knowing how to mix classic Oldsmobile design elements with the G-Body platform. These cars are basically the automotive equivalent of a tuxedo t-shirt.
Production mercifully ended in ‘87 as interest in the car had been slowly dwindling throughout the decade. NASCAR teams had long since moved on to the Regal, Monte Carlo SS and Grand Prix, leaving the winless Cutlass Supreme outside in the rain to look past the flickering neon Bud Ice sign in the window and watch everyone compliment each other’s mullets.
During the 10 year production run of the fourth generation Cutlass the model did have a few bright spots. The ‘78-’80 “W-30” Hurst/Olds models offered the potent 5.7L “Rocket V8” which made between 160-170hp but put down 250lb-ft torque and a Hurst dual gate shifter with the 1980 model also being sold as the 442 which lacked the special shifter and had different taillights.
GM revived the Hurst/Olds name for a 15th anniversary model in ‘83 with the 5.0L 180hp/245lb-ft “VIN-9” V8. Demand was so high they brought it back for ‘84 which featured a stronger 8.5” rear end also found in the Buick Grand National. I remember a guy in my hometown had a ‘83 which was black with silver rocker panels. Pretty sure he had straight pipes on it because it would rattle the windows at the elementary school I went to but then again that building was 100 years old so I suppose it could have been the stock exhaust.
Like so many parents of the era, Oldsmobile and Hurst went their separate ways and from 1985 ‘til the end of the G-body run 3 years later Oldsmobile made the 442 their sportiest option. ‘85-’86 models were based on the Cutlass Salon and the ‘87 was based on the car you see here. These years are the final ones of the 442 option worth mentioning, it was offered as an option for the ‘90-’91 Cutlass Calasis but that thing was FWD and ugly as hell so we can just forget about that, most everyone has already anyway.
So given that this car isn’t a H/O or 442 you might be wondering why I chose to write about it. Well despite it not being a performance model I still think there’s something loveably simple about the Cutlass Supreme. The car represents the end of GM caring about the old guard and the start of the darkness that lingered until about 8 years ago. I know the malaise era was bad but at least GM still made some RWD cars with decent performance packs during that time. This Cutlass might not be fast but it is cool in an odd sort of way, the kind of car that you could roll down to a rural bowling alley in and have people talking your ear off about the 80s all night. $12k might seem like a lot for a non performance model Oldsmobile but c’mon, this thing has corduroy seats with ashtrays in the back, that’s got to be worth $500 right there!