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The cars we loved.

1976-77 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme: Top of the Charts


When thinking about recent automotive brands that have passed away, you can’t help but to think about what they were doing wrong. When they were doing it right, they were they workin’ it. Oldsmobile is one of those brands that comes to mind, workin’ hard for the recession era dollar with the intermediate Cutlas line. In the 1970’s the Cutlass line from Oldsmobile was immensely popular. On the sporting end there was the legendary 442, a car that made a name for its self as the muscle car era was just beginning to die down. On the other end, was the luxurious Cutlass Supreme. It had been a few years after the introduction of the new ‘A’ Bodied cars before Oldsmobile hit the jackpot with a coupe that perfectly blended Oldsmobile’s core principles with a modern coupe that was just right for the time, or at least it made the most of an otherwise ugly era in American automotive history. In 1976 the big three were Chevrolet, Ford and Oldsmobile saleswise. It was the first time Oldsmobile had risen to the million plus mark in sales, with the Cutlass line providing most of the boost. The years after 1976 would see a Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme very high on the top 10 sales lists well into the 1980’s.
Like the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Gran Prix and Buick Regal, the Cutlass Supreme shared the rear drive ‘A’ body platform with the rest of GM’s divisions. One important styling attribute of the ‘A’ bodies was the Colonnade roof. Essentially a hard top with frameless doors and a prominent b pillar where the previous cars had none. The design change had come as a result of safety concerns thanks to unfavoriable rollover data from earlier cars. In looking back now at all the General’s variations, its difficult to say which was the more attractive. During the mid 70’s the public voted with its money and the winner more often than not was the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

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.

Cutlass Supreme Interior

Cutlass Supreme Interior with 4 sp manual

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.

 

 

1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme rear

1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme rear

1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

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3 comments on “1976-77 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme: Top of the Charts

  1. Pingback: Scrapping Cars & Recycling Blog » Blog Archive » Cars We Loved Way Black When - Everything and anything to do with recycling old vehicles in the 21st century.

  2. Scott
    February 18, 2011

    I think what you were refering to was that the 455 motor was avaiable in the Cutlass series cars in 1976 and only with the TH 400 automatic trans.(350 engine equipped cars either had the TH 350 or TH375). In 1977 the largest motor option available was no longer the 455(discontinued throughout the Olds. line), it was the Olds. 403, also with an automatic trans. Cutlass model cars with manual transmissions had smaller displacement engines. The 4 spd. manual trans. used behind 350/455 Olds. engines ended in model year 1973, with very few Cutlass’s produced with either engine.

  3. Don Fronterhouse
    August 22, 2017

    I owned several 70’s era autos. A 70 Duster, the fastest,a74 T-Bird, the most opulent. But my favorite was 77 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brouham.

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This entry was posted on January 16, 2011 by in 70's Cars, Oldsmobile and tagged .
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