1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 350 Oldsmobile (VIN R) from North America
They were last of a nice genre of car - comfort, quality, style
Replaced valve cover gaskets right after purchase. This was an ongoing occurrence every 2-3 years.
The radiator went at 58,000 miles (started leaking). Replaced with a new AC-Delco unit.
Part-throttle surging began shortly after purchase. Selling dealer rebuilt carb (by a mechanic who was considered to be knowledgeable on Quadrajets) - to no avail. Tried new EGR valve - no change. A few years down the road, asked an independent repair shop to look it - corrected bent/stuck metering rod, raised float level. Great drivability - for a while. Float started sinking periodically, flooding and stalling the car.
Replaced A/C compressor at 60,000 miles (was starting to knock).
Replaced timing cover gasket at 65,000 miles (was leaking oil on lower radiator hose). While in there, replaced chain and gears with aftermarket (steel cam gear) as the chain showed 8 degrees of slack. Replaced water pump, and fan clutch with new AC-Delco items. Replaced water pump/fan clutch again at 140,000 (started making odd moaning noise during first few minutes after cold start - water pump had noticeable play) with AC-Delco parts.
Replaced starter (no start) - at 68,000 miles.
Replaced master cylinder at 72,000, and again at 114,000 miles.
Replaced heater core (could smell coolant in car) at 77,000 miles.
Power steering pump pressure hose went at 83,000 miles.
Replaced alternator (stopped charging) at 91,000 miles.
Overhauled original transmission at 125,000 miles (started slipping). Local gas station farmed job out to unknown transmission shop - did outstanding job - shifted like new - they did not disable kickdown, or resort to premature shifts to ensure longevity.
Springs were sagging. Replaced them and the shock absorbers at 130,000 miles.
Pickup coil wires started fraying - produced hesitation upon acceleration - eventually became a no-start at 138,000 miles.
Cruise control servo broke (bellows ripped) at 144,000 miles.
Speedometer head went at 148,000 miles. Was rebuilt and calibrated at a speedometer shop.
Front end wanted periodic idler arm and center link replacement throughout the ownership period. Otherwise, the rest of the front end held up well.
Driver's seat brackets eventually rusted out - seat collapsed.
Rear bumper support and hardware rotted away - replaced (unsure of mileage).
Bought as traded to a new car dealer - 1 owner, 55,900 miles.
- Silver 2-door Cutlass Supreme, silver landau vinyl roof, black vinyl interior - bench seat with fold down armrest.
- 350 VIN R (Oldsmobile) engine, TurboHydraMatic 350, 2.41 ratio open differential.
- Power brakes/steering, A/C, AM/FM stereo, rear defogger (grid-type), cruise control, tilt steering wheel.
- Manual locks/seats/windows.
- Had a nice looking (but inoperative) clock.
The interior was vinyl, but nice - comfortable seats, padded surfaces.
Air conditioning system was excellent - produced 38-40 degree temps (at the vents).
The body was a bit flexible - you could hear the doors work in their openings over bumpy surfaces - nothing major, but noticeable. Graceful lines that spoke of quiet confidence - a nice balance of sporty-yet-dignified looks.
The paint had faded, but rust was minimal (quarters in front of wheel openings).
The engine was one of the best aspects of this car. By 1977, the Oldsmobile Rocket 350 emblems were no longer applied to the air cleaner lid, and given the acceleration, it was probably an appropriate course of action. With a 4100 lb. curb weight, and a 2.41 rear axle ratio, it had its work cut out for it. Fuel economy was decent at 15 (mostly city) MPG. Having said that, this engine was still a quality piece of equipment. Smooth, and quiet (emitted a nice muted snarl at wide-open throttle from under the hood), and very durable. Even after 175,000 miles, no smoke, oil consumption, odd knocks/rattles/taps. There was some blow-by starting to show up in the air cleaner assembly, but nothing of serious concern. No wonder people were angry when their new Oldsmobiles started sporting non-Oldsmobile engines (even though they often had their own worthy attributes). It wasn't perfect, however, as it tended to run hot (fan clutch spent a lot of time engaged in the summer with the A/C on, pinging unless running premium gas) but never overheated. Still, quite an engine compared to the 350 Diesel, and Quad 4 that followed.
It would have been nice to find someone who could fix the Quadrajet (original unit - 17057257) carburetor.
The TurboHydraMatic 350 transmission shifted smoothly. The interesting thing was that it would shift at 3600 RPM at wide-open-throttle - holding the gears manually to shift at higher RPM did nothing to improve performance.
It had the stock suspension (no F40, F41). The handling was OK - despite 225/70 tires, it had only adequate grip, and a lot of understeer. The sport suspension would have been interesting to try. Decent ride, fairly quiet interior.
The steering was a bit slow and did not provide much in the way of feel, but it was reasonably accurate.
The power disk/drum brakes were reliable - still had the original calipers/wheel cylinders, rotors/drums. They didn't have that much stopping power - they would fade fairly easily under hard use (despite having the nicely-ventilated "Rallye" wheels).
These cars were built for the long haul. They were last of a nice genre of car - comfort, quality, style.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 16th February, 2007
18th Feb 2007, 00:34
Actually the 1978-87 Cutlass continued that genre, they are very well built, solid cars as well without the unnecessary weight and size the 73-77 models have.
18th Feb 2018, 04:27
Tell that to the people who bought 1978-1980 A-Bodies who had to scrap them thanks to rusted frames ;)
18th Feb 2018, 20:53
Yup, Toyota Tacomas had that problem also a few years back.