The cars we loved.
The Cutlass Supreme had been around since 1966. By the time the re-styled 73′ models were introduced, the Supreme had steadily become one of Oldsmobile’s top sellers. Sales really began to take off with the update given to the Supreme for the 76′ model year. Highlighted by a new re-styled front end featuring four square headlights and a new grill that had become the trademark look for Oldsmobile well into the 80’s. There were actually two new grilles: a slanted look with upright lights on sedans and standard coupes (442 included). The Supreme’s grille had a more upright less aerodynamic treatment with a fold over on to the edge of the hood.
Despite the slight loss of aerodynamics, the look was elegant and substantial. Besides, the 442 may have gone to NASCAR, but the Supreme was all about personal luxury. The interior featured a unique dash that split HVAC and radio functions into two pods on either side of the steering wheel. There were other odd features available like the swiveling front seats, a feature common to many ‘A’ body cars. Its interesting that the swivel seat concept never went beyond the 73-77′ models. The general ideal was that it would ease ingress and egress for women wearing long dresses, making arrivals and departures more elegant. Swivel seats would be a welcome feature in modern cars where there seems to be far more overweight and elderly people as opposed to the 1970’s.
The Supreme represented the best of what GM’s intermediates had to offer: comfort, style and plenty of room. Performance might have been lacking with the 180 hp 350 Rocket V8. Between the 76 and 77 model years most cars were ordered with the more potent 250 ho 455 Rocket V8. These cars were mated to either a 3 or 4 speed manual or GM’s famous 3 speed Hydromatic transmission. Hurst shifters were even on the option list for those choosing a manual.
Part of the appeal of the Supreme line and all Cutlasses for that matter was the wide range of configurations that were available: convertible, coupe sedan and station wagon. Often Oldsmobile’s were less expensive than Buick, but offered just as much luxury, while being far more posh than any Chevy or Pontiac. To further the distinction and position the Cutlas Supreme as a luxury alternative to Ford’s Thunderbird or Chrysler’s Cordoba, Oldsmobile rolled the ultimate in Cutlass luxury; the Supreme Brougham coupe. It featured more luxury in the form of T-bar roofs revealing pillowed crushed velour upholstery where regular Supreme made due with vinyal with velour accents.
The Brougham had 60/40 bench seats with foot lights in the door like the larger Delta 88 Royale. No less than 14 colors were available with almost half as many for the interior. Other touches included an optional 260 hp V8. There was even a 5 speed manual transmission available, however it was not the most popular choice amongst the near luxury set of mid-70’s America.
A redesign came along for the 1978 model year that did not stray too far from the previous design. Still rear wheel drive and V8 powered on occasion, it had boxy styling and had loss some of its elegance in pursut of efficiency and.