Cutlass Supreme

Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was a mid-size car produced by General Motors for the American market. It was always at the top of the Cutlass range. It began as a trim package, developed its own roofline, and eventually was mechanically divorced from the later, smaller Cutlasses.

The Cutlass Supreme name lasted from 1966 until 1997. There was no direct replacement for the Cutlass Supreme itself, although the Intrigue introduced for 1998 was designed in size and price to replace all the Cutlass models.

First generation: 1964-67

The name first appeared in 1966, the first year of GM's new intermediate four-door hardtop sedan - also known as the Holiday Sedan. In addition to the new body style (also available on the midline F-85 Deluxe series), the Supreme featured a plusher interior that included a notchback bench seat with armrest, full wheel covers and deluxe door panels among other items including "CS" emblems on the rear C-pillars and trunk lid.

The Cutlass Supreme was only offered as a four-door hardtop sedan (Holiday Sedan) in 1966. For 1967, the Cutlass Supreme line was expanded into a full series that also included a two-door hardtop coupe (Holiday Coupe), two-door pillared coupe (Sport Coupe), four-door pillared sedan (Town Sedan) and a convertible. Generally, interior appointments in Supreme models were more luxurious that lesser F-85 and Cutlass series cars and included a cloth or vinyl notchback bench seat with armrest in sedan models and all-vinyl Strato bucket seats in coupes and convertibles.

For both years, the standard Supreme engine was Oldsmobile's 330 cubic-inch "Ultra High Compression" Jetfire Rocket V8 rated at with a four-barrel carburetor with transmission offerings including a standard three-speed manual with column shift, floor-mounted four-speed manual with Hurst shifter or a two-speed Jetaway automatic.

In 1967, the 400 cubic-inch 350 horsepower V8 used in the Oldsmobile 442 was made available as an option on the Supreme coupes and convertibles only. Also available was a more economical 400 cubic-inch V8 with a two-barrel carburetor and rating along with a numerically lower rear axle and Turbo Hydramatic transmission as part of a "Turnpike Cruiser" option designed for high-speed highway cruising.

Second generation: 1968-72

The Cutlass and other GM intermediates were completely restyled for 1968 with wheelbases shortened to for 2-door coupe models and lengthened one inch to for four-door sedans and station wagons (with the exception of the glass-roof Vista Cruiser wagon, which rode on an even longer wheelbase). The Cutlass Supreme, now the top-line Olds intermediate series was pared down to two- and four-door hardtop models with the pillared sedans and coupes dropped and the convertible moved to the lower-priced Cutlass "S" line. Also the standard Rocket V8 was enlarged from 330 to 350 cubic inches with . The 1969 models received only a minor facelift with the same model and engine offerings with a new three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 350 replacing the two-speed Jetaway automatic on the option list.

For 1970, the Cutlass Supreme nameplate was switched to Oldsmobile's equivalent of the downsized Pontiac Grand Prix on the GM A platform, to give the division an entry in the burgeoning market for smaller personal luxury cars. As such, the two-door hardtop had a new notchback roofline, while lower trim-line Cutlass coupes had a near-fastback roof. The model remained in this role for virtually all of its production life. Unlike the Grand Prix and the also-related Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which had wholly separate bodies and names from their less expensive siblings, the Supreme used front and rear body parts from the standard Cutlass line and was always marketed as part of it. In addition to the two-door hardtop (Holiday Coupe), the Cutlass Supreme series for 1970 also included a four-door hardtop (Holiday Sedan) and regained the convertible bodystyle.

Supreme interiors were more luxurious that those of other Cutlass models, with a choice of a Custom Sport notchback bench seat with armrest in Osborne cloth or Moroceen vinyl or, at no extra cost (on coupes and convertibles only), Strato bucket seats in Moroccen vinyl. Available at extra cost with the bucket seats was a center console with floor-mounted shifter for which the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission could also be had with the Hurst Dual-Gate shifter commonly found in the division's musclecar, the Oldsmobile 442.

For 1970 and 1971, both the Cutlass Supreme coupe and convertible were available with the Code Y-79 high performance SX option package. The "SX" option included several versions of the larger 455 cubic-inch Rocket V8 borrowed from the Olds 442 along with the cutout rear bumper and exhaust trumpets, 442's rallye suspension (optional), distinctive SX badges and other features.

A W31 option added body color bumpers and a rear spoiler, distinctive stripes and badging, and a hotter camshaft with increased lift and duration for the 350 engine. The W31 option was offered on Supreme coupes only in 1968, but continued on lower-line F-85 and Cutlass S coupes through 1970.

1972 was the only year in which the Cutlass Supreme notchback hardtop could be equipped with the L75 455 and M20 four speed transmission, and only 77 of these cars were produced. All 1972 L75 455/M20 cars used the larger 2.07 valves and the W30 automatic camshaft. This gave the L75 455/M20 cars 270 net horsepower, as opposed to the TH400 automatic-equipped L75 cars, which produced 250 net horsepower.

Third generation: 1973-77

In 1973, the Cutlass Supreme, like other GM mid-size cars, was redesigned. Hardtop models were replaced by new "Colonnade" styling with fixed center pillars. Concerns over proposed rollover standards caused many automakers to phase out their pillarless hardtops and convertibles throughout the 1970s, and the Cutlass was no exception. Cutlass Supreme coupes had a unique roofline not shared with other Cutlass coupes, as well as unique front end styling. For 1976, a new front fascia design with quad rectangular headlamps debuted. This new Cutlass design was highly successful, becoming one of the best-sellers of the time. The Cutlass line as a whole was America's best-selling car in 1976, helping Oldsmobile to become the only marque outside of Ford and Chevrolet to break one-million units sold. By 1977, however, GM had downsized its full-size models, and the Cutlass Supreme was now nearly identical in size to the redesigned Delta 88. That situation would last only that one year, as GM planned to downsize the Olds Cutlass and other intermediates for 1978.

In addition to the Colonnade hardtop coupe, the Cutlass Supreme was also offered in a four-door Colonnade sedan (with six-window styling and frameless door windows) as well as six-and-nine passenger station wagons - the wagons with the woodgrain exterior trim were marketed under the Vista Cruiser nameplate previously used on Oldsmobile's stretched-wheebase station wagons with raised roof and skylights from 1964 to 1972.

The Supreme Colonnade sedan was available in 1973 as the Cutlass Salon, which was an option package that included radial tires, upgraded suspension and reclining bucket seats upholstered in cordoroy trim along with color-keyed wheelcovers - designed as sort of a European-style luxury/touring sedan similar to the Pontiac Grand Am of the same period. For 1974, the Salon package was also made available on the Supreme Colonnade coupe and in 1975, the Salon was upgraded to a separate series available in both sedan and coupe.

For 1976, the Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe was added to the line, featuring a more luxurious interior trim than the regular Supreme model with pillowed crushed velour upholstery and 60/40 bench seats similar to the larger Ninety-Eight Regency. For 1977, the Brougham was also available as a four-door Colonnade sedan.

Fourth generation

The Cutlass Supreme was downsized for 1978, along with the rest of the Cutlass line. An upscale Cutlass Calais model was added, differing from the Cutlass Supreme only in minor trim details. The new notchback Cutlass Supreme proved to be far more popular than the controversial fastback Cutlass Salon coupe and sedan introduced at the same time.

Both the Cutlass Supreme and Calais were optioned with T-tops and/or a factory sunroof, even on the base Cutlass Supreme coupe with the factory radio delete option.

From 1978 through 1980, a high-performance 442 model was available, and for 1979, a special-edition performance model, the Hurst/Olds was offered. These used the Supreme's notchback body, rather than the standard fastback coupe's. Around 2,499 Hurst/Olds were produced - all were powered with an Oldsmobile 5.7L gasoline engine sourced from the full-size Delta 88 and Ninety Eight Regency.

In 1978, the Cutlass line featured taillights which had a lighted Oldsmobile rocket logo in the center.

In 1979, the taillights on the Cutlass line dropped the rocket logo.

In 1980 the two-door models went back to four headlights. A 4-door notchback sedan (known as Cutlass, Cutlass LS, and Cutlass Brougham) replaced the 4-door Salon. The Supreme Brougham package was available on and off throughout 1978-1988 production. This was also the first year GM introduced the OBD-1 computer controlled engine management and emission control system.

In 1981, the Cutlass Supreme coupe received an aerodynamic restyle (with a "shovel-nose" front header panel), and would continue with this basic design until the final rear-drive Cutlass was produced in 1988. The 4-door sedan remained unchanged with a slight taillight lens restyle (resembling a touch-tone dial or Rubik's Cube - this lens style was used until 1984). It was this restyled body that (along with the Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, and Pontiac Gran Prix) ushered in the down-sized cars into NASCAR cup competition. While the Cutlass looked almost identical to the Buick Regal (which scored 35+ victories in the 1981 thru 1985 seasons), the Cutlass didn't take one checkered flag, and many teams moved away from it in 1983 to the Regal, Grand Prix, and restyled Monte Carlo SS.

The Cutlass Supreme parted mechanical company with the rest of the Cutlass line in 1982, when continuing high sales convinced GM to continue production of its rear wheel drive mid-size cars alongside the new V6-powered, front-wheel drive A-body, known as the Cutlass Ciera. The rear-wheel drive sedan and Cutlass Cruiser wagon became part of the Cutlass Supreme line in 1982. The wagon was dropped for 1984 as a new Cutlass Ciera-based model was introduced.

When the Cutlass Calais became a separate model on the GM N platform in 1985 (as the Calais until 1988), the rear-wheel drive Cutlass Calais was renamed Cutlass Salon (taking its name from the upscale Supreme coupe and sedan that preceded the Calais).

1987 was the final year for the rear-wheel drive sedan, and both coupe models received a restyled header panel with composite headlights. A Buick 231 was the base motor alongside the Oldsmobile 307. For its final year, the 442 package was moved to the Supreme model.

1988 was the final year for the rear wheel drive Cutlass Supreme. It was badged Cutlass Supreme Classic, and 27,678 were built. The 2-door coupe (produced alongside the Chevrolet Monte Carlo at GM's Pontiac, Michigan plant) continued, until the new front-wheel drive version was released in December 1987. The Olds 307 was the only available engine.

High-performance engines

Two high-performance variants were created, both using a high-output version of Oldsmobile's 5.0 L (307 in³) V8 engine:

Fifth generation

A front-wheel-drive Cutlass Supreme based on the GM10 platform (W-body) was introduced as a coupe mid-year during the 1988 production run, while the final year of Cutlass Supreme RWD coupes were still being produced. This new FWD model shared its wheelbase on the new W-body with the Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Regal, and Chevrolet Lumina. As part of introducing the all-new FWD Cutlass Supreme, Oldsmobile secured their place to be the 1988 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, the car that introduced the Head-Up Display to the world. 250 pace car replicas were produced, including 50 custom-made convertibles; some or most were used as festival or parade cars before and during the race. These 50 were turned into convertibles by Cars and Concepts of Brighton, Michigan. These custom convertibles were the first 50 cars released to the public with a Heads Up Display, and then subsequently recalled for reasons unclear. The 1988 and 1989 models were 2-door coupes. This Cutlass body style proved to be a winner for NASCAR competition and it visited the victory circle 13 times (Olds had only three wins with the Delta 88 body style in 86-87) between 1989 and 1992, when Olds ended its racing program. A sedan and a production convertible were added in 1990. Models included base (later called S), SL, and the sporty International Series. Throughout its run, the convertible was considered its own separate trim level.

International Series models could be equipped with unique features such as quad leather bucket seats and a heads-up display. A rare Getrag 5-speed manual transmission option was paired first with the 2.8 L V6 in 1988 and 1989, the high-output Quad-4 in 1990, and the DOHC 3.4 L V6 in 1991 and 1992. The entire line was restyled for 1992, with coupes and convertibles gaining distinctive "mini-quad" headlamps shared with the Pontiac Grand Prix. A driver's side airbag became standard in 1994, and a new ergonomically curved dashboard with dual airbags debuted in 1995.

The lineup was gradually pared down over time. The Quad-4 was last produced during the 1991 model year; the manual transmission option during 1992; the International Series during 1993; the S Series during 1994; the convertible during 1995; and the 3.4 L V6 engine option during 1996. The Cutlass Supreme ceased production at the end of the 1997 model year. That same year, a (simply-named) Oldsmobile Cutlass, an N-body platform car that was a rebadged Chevrolet Malibu, was introduced to replace the Ciera, but this model lasted just three years. The Cutlass Supreme's place in the Oldsmobile line was taken by the 1998 Intrigue, built on the next version of the W platform.

The W-body Cutlass Supreme was built in Doraville, Georgia from 1988 to 1995, and at the Fairfax Plant in Kansas City, Kansas from 1996 to 1997. The first 1988 Cutlass Supreme rolled off the assembly line on January 13, 1988. The last Cutlass Supreme convertible was completed on February 15 1995. The reason for this is that the last 34,743 cars built in Doraville were sedans, the coupe production was sent to Fairfax, Kansas around March, 1 1995 and Cars and Concepts did not have a facility near Fairfax. The last Cutlass Supreme rolled off the Fairfax assembly line on February 21, 1997.

Engines

Engine Years Power Torque
LB8 V6 1988-89
LH0 V6 1989-93
Quad-4 (LD2) I4 1990-91
Quad-4 (LG0) I4 1990
L82 V6 1993-97
3.4 L (204 in3) LQ1 V6 1991-95
3.4 L (204 in3) LQ1 V6 1996

Gallery

See also

References

External links

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