Oldsmobile first introduced the F-85 Cutlass as a compact model in 1961. Breaking from the tradition of a three-series offering in the Oldsmobile lineup, the F-85 compact was added as an entry-level model. Hoping to take some of the heat out of the import market with a more fuel-efficient offering and give young buyers a chance to step into a low-price Oldsmobile, the F-85 was a much-needed model in the lineup. In 1962 Oldsmobile introduced a two-door hardtop and convertible under the Cutlass banner. By 1964, the Cutlass had undergone several design changes and upgrades. Growing 11-inches in wheelbase it transformed from a compact to an intermediate.
By the mid 1960s, the Cutlass was a major player in the intermediate model sales arena, along with the Chevrolet Chevelle and Pontiac Tempest. The bold styling and powerful Rocket engine options were pure Oldsmobile and set it apart from the rest of the General Motors fray. The hardtop coupe and convertible were always strong sellers and when coupled with the optional 4-4-2 performance upgrades, it became a bona fide muscle car.
For Jack and Cindy Hare of Libau, their 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible has been with them for 31 years. "In the fall of 1989, almost daily, I would drive by a small car lot on Salter Street in Winnipeg and saw the car there," says Jack. Later that winter he stopped in and made a deal on the Cutlass. An original, well cared for car, the Cutlass was finished in Matador Red with a white convertible top and Pearl White interior upholstery. Under the hood resides the factory equipped 350 cubic inch Rocket V-8 engine backed by a three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The base powerplant for the Cutlass Supreme it breathes through a Rochester 4MC four-barrel carburetor and produces 260 net horsepower @ 4,600 r.p.m. Weighing in at just under 3,700-pounds the convertible produces a pleasant ride, with coil spring suspension at all four corners.
Inside we find the optional sport bucket seats and centre console with floor shift. Further optional equipment includes power steering, power brakes, power windows, tinted glass AM/FM cassette stereo and body coloured Rally wheels with Cooper Cobra radial GT tires.
With just 65,000 original miles on the car, Hare has performed only routine maintenance on the powertrain. "Battery, starter, alternator and tires are about it," says Hare. "Fifteen years ago, I did see the paint was starting to fade so I had it repainted and put a new convertible top on it." Since then, the Supreme convertible sees some use during the summer months and a few local car shows a year.
While sales at General Motors had been in a slight decline, the 1971 Cutlass convertible was an exception. With 10,255 produced in 1971, it represented a 111 per cent increase over 1970 sales figures. The final year for the droptop Cutlass would be 1972 and the following year would see the introduction of an all-new body style.
Founded in 1897 by Ransom E. Olds, Oldsmobile would become part of the new General Motors group of manufacturers in 1909. Oldsmobile built more than 35 million vehicles, but General Motors ended the brand as a cost cutting manoeuvre in 2004.