Category Archives: Oldsmobile Cutlass

Yes, it is Chelsea’s mother’s Oldsmobile

We just caught wind of the fact that an ’86 Olds Cutlass Ciera that once belonged to Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton is up for sale.  That gave us an excuse to delve into our extensive image bank and retrieve some examples of similar cars we’ve captured in the wild.

Hill's ride

Hill’s last ride

The Cutlass Ciera was a GM A-platform car that had much in common with corporate siblings Pontiac 6000, Chevy Celebrity and Buick Century, distinct from the rear wheel drive Cutlass Supreme and smaller Cutlass Calais.  We have no idea what Ciera is supposed to mean but we’re thinking that Ford of Europe used Sierra so maybe GM just improvised something that sounded similar. Oldsmobile had so much luck with the Cutlass nameplate that their marketers were profligate in applying it to just about anything that wasn’t a full size Ninety-Eight or Eighty-Eight.   The ploy worked; over the course of its 14 years of production the dull-as-dishwater Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile’s best selling model.  We found a very clean, not to mention very boring, ’90 Cutlass Ciera S wearing fake wire wheels recently and had the foresight to photograph it.  Like the former First Lady and would-be 45th President’s ’86 Cutlass Brougham, it wears badging that includes flags of many European nations plus Canada.  This was meant to denote a level of technical sophistication and worthy of consideration for potential foreign car buyers.  As if!

USA! Canada! Belgium! Finland! Italy! Great Britain! Netherlands! Switzerland! France! Portugal! Sweden! Spain! Denmark! Italy! Germany! (but not East Germany!) Norway didn't make the cut for some reason.

USA! Canada! Belgium! Finland! Italy! Great Britain! Netherlands! Switzerland! France! Portugal! Sweden! Spain! Denmark! Ireland! Germany! (but not East Germany!) Norway, where are you?

According to current owner and former White House gardener — we’re not making this up — Mike Lawn, the car which wears its original Arkansas plates may very well have been the last car which she personally drove, hanging up her keys when her husband was inaugurated on January 20, 1993.  It seems to have been retained to give First Daughter a hooptie on which to learn to drive.  If only those WH family residence walls could talk: “Thanks, mom.  My father is the leader of the free world and I have to figure out how to parallel park with this?”

The excitement builds!

The excitement builds!

The car that Mr. (really his name) Lawn is selling has only  33,000 miles on it, a reflection of the fact that the Presidential limo (a ‘93 Cadillac Fleetwood-based car) obviated the need to run up any miles on the car for an eight year span.  It offers a modicum of middle class  elegance — it has blue crush-velour seats — but is, in fact, very basic, despite the fact that it wears a the quasi-luxury “Brougham” badge.  Yes, it has crank ’em up windows.   Then again, with power from a mighty 4-cylinder, 151 cubic inch “Tech IV” motor generating 110 horsepower and 135 pounds of torque, who would really voluntarily drive such a vehicle if they didn’t absolutely have to do so?  

The wild blue yawn-der

The wild blue yawn-der

We found an Cutlass of minimally more recent vintage, a Ciera SL, that proudly wears an ABS badge on its his ample aft.  This denotes that it is equipped with an anti-lock braking system,  the equivalent of having an “I’m trying to be responsible” sign on the back of one’s car. We’re OK with that but not the fact that the trunk lid seems to need adjustment.

Trunk funk

Trunk funk

There’s a walk-around video of Mrs. Clinton’s former car and we feel compelled to share it with you in the spirit of full disclosure.  Try to stay awake through its duration and, for heaven’s sake, don’t post nasty political comments.  It’s just someone’s old car so try to restrain yourself if you truly want to make America great again.

If you’d like to purchase your very own Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera there are many to choose from.  We especially like this ’89 in Washington.  Washington, Indiana that is. It’s price to go at just $1900 and the sales pitch on this ad could very well be appropriated by a Presidential candidate. To wit: “How comforting is the low-mileage of this great 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass? This terrific Oldsmobile is one of the most sought after used vehicles on the market because it NEVER lets owners down.”   How can you NOT vote for that?

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Everything Olds is old again.. and again

 

Big ass Olds

Big ass Olds

It was 15 years ago that Oldsmobile introduced its last new model, the third generation Bravada which was hardly an Olds.  Rather, it was a faintly re-badged Chevy Trailblazer/GMC Envoy that was only offered with a Chevy-sourced 6,  no “Rocket V8” was available for this pathetic last gasp offering.  The handwriting was on the wall and the oldest American marque, founded in 1897, would be completely eliminated by 2004.  Feral Cars Field Scout Ben Edge spotted a very real Olds that had been produced 50 years before that Bravada embarrassment. It’s a wild 1959 Ninety-Eight, the pinnacle of the Oldsmobile line at the time that’s a bit “distressed” but holding its own these days.

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Do we have to spell it out for you?

It’s a four-door (no pillars between the front and back doors) hardtop that wears GM’s cantilever design roof and wrap-around rear window.  Shared with Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and Chevrolet, the ultra horizontal roof, introduced that model year, was supposed to give the impression of floating above the car. The term “rollover standards” hadn’t yet been conceptualized so the fact that there was very little structure keeping the roof attached to the car was of no real concern.  Seat belts weren’t even an option; keeping one’s head attached to one’s body in this fine car was not even a secondary concern.  Ah, the Eisenhower era – the age of innocence and/or willful ignorance.

Dashing Cutlass

Dashing Cutlass

So we got on an Olds tangent and it’s been going great guns — would “roaring rockets” be a better way to phrase this? — ever since. Of course, most of the Olds seen in the wild are more recent Cutlasses.  These mid-sized middle class models were both aspirational and, for the most part, attainable. Cutlass was Olds’ bread and butter from the mid-1960s until the Cutlass hangover of the late ’80s/early ’90s when Oldsmobile just slapped the name “Cutlass” on a broad variety of cars that didn’t have all that much in common. This brilliantly successful youngish brand within the greater Oldsmobile brand became very diluted and, ultimately, meaningless.  Way to go GM brand managers!

Rocket 'n' roll

Rocket ‘n’ roll

We like this spiffy ’72 Cutlass Coupe that epitomizes the long hood/short or sloping rear deck school of design. Isn’t it classy looking, waiting at the valet stand of a hip Koreatown boite (admission by invitation only) for a “now” and very much “with it” local entrepreneur-irony peddler.  Here’s where you can insert your own “not your father’s Oldsmobile” comment.  Thank you.

Slippery slope

Slippery slope

In a somewhat less trendy setting, we noted this ’68 Cutlass wearing the de rigueur vinyl top as well as some apparently well earned patina.  That’s quite a bit of front overhang but, then again, there’s quite a bit of rear overhang, too,   The Olds logo rear side marker lights  are as swanky as you would expect in a car that proudly bears rocket imagery,  a tradition dating back the the dawn of the post war era, the beginning of what we like to call “the age of Oldsmobile.”

That'll buff right out

That should buff right out

This drool-inducing ’72 Cutlass convertible seems to have been artfully posed for us with just a tad of spillover on the eco-conscious xeriscape lawn of this stately home. The car appears to have been immaculately maintained and is finished in gleaming Antique Pewter.  Marvelous!

Your dandy's Oldsmobile

Your Dandy’s Oldsmobile

We found another ’72 Cutlass convertible that’s all buttoned up.

Potentially topless Cutlass

Potentially topless Cutlass

That factory pin-striping really pops off the white body but, come on, how about sending the front bumper out for re-chroming?  Jus’ sayin’.

Stowe 'n' go!

Stowe ‘n’ go!

The next generation Cutlass, like this  ’76, used GM’s new “Colonnade” architecture: no more pillarless hardtops and convertible production ceased.  On the other hand, the federally mandated energy-absorbing bumpers look strong enough to take on a runaway locomotive

Twin falls

Twin falls

While the Cutlass name ended up on quite a number of disparate models, the essence of the original Cutlass carried on into the 1980s  by coupes wearing the Cutlass Supreme designation.  We kind of fell hard for this shovel nosed ’84.  “Central Car Casting? Send over a car that represents the fallen decadence of the ’80s.  No, don’t bother to wax it.”

Diana, Mary + Flo reign..

Diana, Mary + Flo reign..

During the swashbuckling Cutlass years, Oldsmobile still produced conservative sedans, most of which went by unloved or unnoticed.  Here’s a 1998 Olds Eighty Eight, one of the last of Oldsmobile “big cars” appropriately finished in vanilla.  By 1959 standards, this was kind of a small car.  It’s 200 inches long while the ’59 is a foot and a half longer and weighs almost a half ton more.

Profiles in discourage

Profiles in discourage

We captured an Eighty Eight of the same vintage speeding down an inner city street in the small hours of the night.  If only GM had thought to market it as a film noir homage.  But, dash it all, they didn’t and what remains of Oldsmobile is a gnawing feeling that keeps reminding you that something important is missing that hits you in the gut every now and then. That’s the heartbreak of Oldsmobile.

Ghostmobile

Noir star car

Want the most perfect ’59 Olds Ninety Eight convertible you could ever imagine?  It’s all yours here in nearby Plymouth Township, MI for a measly $72,900. Yikes!!! A tad less costly is this ’59 Ninety Eight two door hardtop, topped by GM’s “postage stamp roof” and offered for a mere $39,500 in nearby Clearwater, FL.

We couldn’t help ourselves when we remembered that Ringo and his daughter Lee Starkey did a “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” commercial at the start of marque’s death spiral in the 1990s. You didn’t ask for it but here it is.  How do you supposed they licensed the original version of “A Hard Day’s Night” for this?  Theories? Peace and love, peace and love!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

Stars, Strikes and the Grandest of Prix

As we noted earlier, when reporting on a cream puffy ’76 Ford Elite, we’re big fans of Dan Epstein’s baseball cum-cultural cypher Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Yes, 38 years after Sparky Anderson’s Cincinnati Reds swept the World Series in four straight games, demolishing the Yankees, in the third year of the reign of Steinbrenner with Billy Martin at the helm, there’s a book that puts it all into funky perspective.  So does this stellar, “as is” 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix.  It’s one of the era’s “personal luxury coupes,” on par with Chrysler’s Cordoba, that Ford Elite and Chevy’s Monte Carlo. They all had long hoods, short rear decks for that bicentennial “eleganza” air.  Grand Prix shared its GM A body architecture with Monte Carlo and, in fact,  it was the same platform used to underpin Buick’s Century and Olds Cutlass Supreme.

What a difference a dozen years makes

What a difference a dozen years make

The pillar free hardtop, the most sought-after body style of the ’50’s and ’60’s, as seen in this breathtaking ’64 Grand Prix, was swept into the dustbin of automotive design history. That breezy look was replaced by cars with a fortress-like aspect; the rear windows, etched with decorative scroll work, were fixed in place. GM described the look, set off by frameless side windows and a thick pillar aft the front doors, as  “Colonnade” styling. It’s as much of the (Gerald) Ford era as was Oscar Gamble’s outtasite ‘fro.

“They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is, But It Do”  - Oscar Gamble

“They don’t think It be like it is, but It do” – Oscar Gamble

Feds to lead: get out!

Feds to lead: get out!

This Grand Prix carries a reminder that lead was on the way out of gasoline at that time.  New cars, from ’75 forward, were equipped with catalytic converters, incompatible with that toxic additive that had been poisoining us for decades. ’76: the year we began to breathe easier.

Collonade coupe

Colonnade coupe

Speaking of no-lead, this ’62 Pontiac, badged “Grand Prix,” was caught tanking up the other day but it’s not what it appears to be. Note that Pontiac didn’t offer a Grand Prix convertible in ’62, the first model year for the most sporting full-size Pontiac.  Huh?

Faux Prix

Faux Prix

It’s really a Catalina convertible to which every possible Grand Prix-specific piece of trim, inside and out, has been appended.  It’s a masterful creation, filling a perceived gap in Pontiac’s model line more than a half century after the fact.

We found a ’76 Grand Prix in very impressive condition here for under $10K.  You can’t go wrong with this kind of true personal luxury at a low price like this. I’s the biggest bargain we’ve seen since the Kansas City Royals shelled out a measly $126,000 to pay George Brett’s salary in 1976.  His batting average was .333 the year American celebrated its second century.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

For Olds time sake: tear the roof off the sucker!

Souped up tomato

Souped up tomato

We happened upon three Oldsmobile Cutlasses, each representing a different era and each with its own way of dealing with the ever present need to go topless by hook or crook.. or hatch.

Wild Colonade style

Wild Colonnade style

The first of these is a fairly together ’73 Cutlass Supreme, finished in Crimson Red and equipped with an oh-so-seventies T-top.  Convertibles were on the wane back then when Federal roll over standards loomed large and manufacturers were so spooked that convertible variants disappeared from product lines.  The T-top was a way to let the sunshine in, Aquarius style, without having to deal with fabric of any kind.  Hatches over the front driver’s and passenger seats were removable like rooftop emergency exits on a school bus.  Hardly a wind-in-your-face solution, T-tops were, nonetheless, comparatively popular at the time.  Supreme or pedestrian, it seems as though the rubber gaskets on this one had grown brittle so the owner resorted to the age-old duct tape remedy to keep moisture intrusion at a minimum.

Weather tight and outtasite

Weather tight and outtasite

By the 80s and 90s, true convertibles had made something of a comeback.  This Cutlass was, in truth, an adapted 2 door coupe from which the roof had been torn away while the B-pillars, aft of the front windows, remained, with a hoop extending across the span from port to starboard.  Like the Volkswagen Cabriolet of the time, it was a compromise that recalled the heyday of the convertible while giving in to structural compromise.

Necessity is a mother

Necessity is a mother

This Cutlass was a dulled compromise that pleased very few and presented a lumpy silhouette.

It was 20 years ago today..

It was 20 years ago today..

The final example in our Cutlass showcase  is this noble 1970 model, a true convertible.  You put the top down and that’s it.. no residual superstructure to obscure your view of the world and vice versa. As it should be.

Ain't nothin' like the real thing

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing

Badge of honor

Blade runner

They don’t make Olds Cutlass convertibles anymore.  In fact, they don’t make Oldsmobiles of any kind at all any more, the last one having rolled off the assembly line in Lansing ten years ago.  It wasn’t a Cutlass and it wasn’t a convertible so very few took notice.  Living and dying by the sword, anybody?

Full boat

Full boat

Let’s go back to a time when Cutlass was a newly sharpened blade.  Here’s a commercial from 1964 in which a Cutlass convertible — a true convertible — was showcased for all the world to see.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.