The Oldsmobile Cutlass has a long and glorious past, and was one of the most popular cars ever built by GM. When it first went on sale, the Cutlass was an A-body" vehicle, and the smallest and cheapest Oldsmobile. The standard all-aluminum 315 CID V8 engine and 3-speed transmission was rated at 155 horsepower. This first-year model was offered as a two-door coupe, four-door sedan, or wagon, with two or four seats. A new mid-1961 sports coupe version boosted sales and gave Cutlass a higher 185 horsepower, bucket seats, a center console, and a sporty interior.
A few changes were made to the F-85 and Cutlass prior to the second generation, from 1964-1967. Compact sales were down, and the Cutlass grew in size and in curb weight up to 3,440 pounds. The all-aluminum engine was replaced with a cast-iron small-block V8. Engine options also grew, up to a 400 CID V8 with 345 horsepower. Cutlass was available as a 2- or 4-door car in sedan, hardtop, convertible, or wagon configurations. The car remained popular, with minor and major changes in size, weight, options, and standard features. It was a personal luxury and family car, in production over six generations until the end in 1999.
The first Oldsmobile Cutlass was an experimental model, developed in 1954. This new model was placed in the hands of Irving Rybicki, an Oldsmobile designer, who began work on it in 1957 under the model name of F-85. It went into production for general sales as a 1961 model. Over the years, the Cutlass was redesigned to fit the times and customer demand. New models like the 442, Cutlass Supreme, and Super Sport models were a hit, and the 400 engine was replaced with a 455 Rocket V8. It was redesigned as a fastback with a large rear end in the late 1960s, streamlined in the 1970s, and downsized in the 1980s. The name F-85 was discontinued with the 1972 models, in favor of Cutlass. By 1976, the Cutlass was America's best-selling car and held onto that honor into the 1980s.
Downsizing of the Cutlass began in 1978, and the new engine was a 305 CID Chevrolet V8. New models included the Cutlass Calais, Salon, Cruiser, 442, and the popular Supreme. In 1979, a diesel Cutlass was added to the line-up. Grille and headlight changes were frequent during Cutlass history, and this was again done in 1980. The 442 was dropped in 1981. Production from 1973 to 1977 was at plants in Lansing, MI; Arlington, TX; Doraville, GA; and Framingham, MA. From 1978 through 1988 the Cutlass was made in Sainte-Therese, Quebec, Canada. From 1997 to the end in 1999, the Cutlass was assembled in Oklahoma City, OK.
Ciera was a new front-wheel drive model in 1982, and a best-seller through 1996. Supreme and Calais also were redesigned for front-wheel drive in the fifth generation. Cutlass models were replaced during the 1990s, but there was a short revival for a new N-body Cutlass in 1997 and 1998. Cutlass interiors were always comfortable and well-designed for driver and passengers. A premium car, the Cutlass will remain the favorite of many who owned the sporty car.
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