Monday, March 5, 2018

Crazy for the Cutlass

Here’s an ad for the Oldsmobile Cutlass that may very well have had a big impact on my parents. It ran in the Lorain Journal on March 5, 1968 – 50 years ago today.

I’ve mentioned before how my parents were loyal Oldsmobile customers. But the Cutlass would eventually be their favorite car of all time.

They started their long-running Olds connection with a new 1963 F-85 as the family car. But when we began to take cross-country family camping trips – towing a fold-up trailer – a bigger car was needed.

Thus the F-85 became Dad’s work car, and my parents purchased an Olds Delmont 88. They didn’t keep it for very long, since it didn’t have air conditioning and we were planning a major trip Out West. So they got rid of the Delmont and bought a Delta 88. That car was still one of the smoothest-riding cars I’ve ever been in. It felt like you were floating while riding in it.

Meanwhile, a variety of cars had served as transportation for us kids. We had inherited Grandma’s 1963 Buick LeSabre, which my older brother drove to Admiral King High School. We also had a used early 70s Chevy Impala which my sister drove to LCCC.

So eventually we needed another used car, and the choice was a 1971 Cutlass with bucket seats. It was the first of many used green Cutlasses, many of them purchased from Milad’s in Amherst.

Over the next six or seven years, a variety of used, green Cutlasses graced the Brady driveway. Looking back, I think we had almost every model year from 1968 to 1973 represented. (I think we were missing a 1970 in there.)

The Cutlass with a built-in maraca that I drove
during my senior year at Admiral King 
When my Dad got rid of his F-85, he replaced it with a used 1968 Cutlass. My parents also bought a used 1969 Cutlass (with cool mag wheels) from some teenage shyster. It turned out that the driver’s side window had been broken at some point, and the door sounded like a cheap maraca when you opened or closed it. It also leaked broken glass out of a small hole in the door. But I happily drove it during my senior year.

We also had a 1972 Cutlass (green – what else?), purchased from one of my mother’s co-workers at U. S. Steel. That was the last of the green ones; my parents had moved on to a 1973 burgundy Cutlass Supreme. (They later had a Cutlass Ciera.)

The 1972 Cutlass lasted the longest. It went down to Ohio State with us, and when my younger brother finished college in the early 1980s, the Cutlass came back to Lorain. I bought it from my parents and held on to it for a few years out of pure nostalgia, but it was too difficult trying to keep two used cars going. The Cutlass also had a nasty habit of conking out unexpectedly when I least expected it.

One story I like to tell is how I was living at the Overlook in the mid-1980s with two cars – the 1972 Cutlass and a 1976 Buick Skylark. It was winter, and I was heading out to a big band gig. (I think it was New Year’s Eve 1984.) I wanted to take the Skylark, which had good tires, but the battery was dead. But when I went to take the 1972 Cutlass instead, one of its tires was flat! So I ended up changing the flat, and then driving the Cutlass over to the Skylark and jumping it.

I can’t remember if I was late for the gig.

The nicest and best car I ever owned was an Olds Achieva back in the mid-1990s. I sure loved that car. But did I ever buy a new Cutlass myself?

I did indeed in the late 1990s. It was a white Cutlass Supreme, and very cool-looking. I ended up driving it into the ground until finally the engine block cracked. I hated to see it go as I knew it was probably the last Cutlass I’d ever own.

It wasn’t long after that that General Motors got rid of the Oldsmobile brand entirely. It was the end of an era. I’ve never been emotionally attached to any car brand since.

And I still get a lump in my throat when I see a refurbished 1960s Cutlass on the road.

Another ad from the same campaign. This ran in the Journal on April 9, 1968.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

There were two LPD narcotics officers back in the 70's who drove a maroon Cutlass 442; you couldn't exactly call them "undercover" because everyone knew what they were.

Drew Penfield said...

My family had a long relationship with Oldsmobiles too. I'm told my grandfather bought his first in 1955 and always owned an Olds for the rest of his life. I clearly remember the 98 Regency they had when I was a little kid. That was one massive back seat. I inherited my grandmother's Cutlass Ciera when I was 17, and later had a 73 Cutlass Supreme. If I were in the market for a classic/muscle car today it would most certainly be an Oldsmobile. One of my current co-workers has a nice 70 Cutlass Supreme.

Dan Brady said...

Glad to hear you have such a solid Olds heritage, Drew! And your grandmother had good taste too (although learning how to parallel park my grandmother's 1963 Buick LeSabre for the driver's test was probably a good thing, I've been good at parallel parking ever since).