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10-Year Barn Find: 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais

The big news for the fourth generation of the Olds Cutlass was that all the GM intermediates were being downsized for 1978 (and through 1988). That would result in lighter, more nimble cars that should have been easier on gas. The Cutlass Calais was now the most upscale of the Cutlasses, replacing the Salon. But it was hard to tell the Calais apart from the Supreme, the best-selling name in the Cutlass line-up. This 1979 Calais is a one-owner car with just 36,000 miles on it and has been pulled out of a barn after a 10-year slumber. It’s available here on craigslist and in Amarillo, Texas for $11,000. Thanks to Ikey Heyman for uncovering another one for us!

When you ordered a new Cutlass Calais in 1979, you got reclining Strato-bucket seats, center console, sport steering wheel, full instrumentation, tuned suspension with front and rear sway bars and color-keyed wheel covers. A variety of V-8 powerplants were available in the Cutlass, which included three from Oldsmobile (260, 307 and 350 cubic inch) and two more from Chevrolet (267 and 305 cubic inch). The engine in the seller’s car is pretty dirty from sitting, so I can’t pick out which motor it might be, but I’ll go out on a limb and pick the 307. The Calais sold pretty well in 1979, accounting for 43,780 units.

Until recently, this 1979 Calais spent all its time staring at dust and dirt in a barn. It was owned from new by a lady who died in 2010 and the car was relegated to the darkness at that time. We’re not told if it was running then and – more importantly – whether it does now. The seller makes no reference to doing any work on the car, emphasizing that it hasn’t been washed in 10 years. At the asking price, this should be a running car. $11,000 would be too much to pay for a project.

The lady owner used the Olds sparingly, putting just 36,000 miles on it in 31 years. We’re told the car is “like new” but that’s a bold statement to make for an auto in storage for 10 years and not attended to. Online price guides suggest a sweet and similar ’79 Cutlass Supreme would sell for $10-12,000, so this one is priced correctly if it’s a runner.


  1. Avatar photo Big_Fun Member

    That is a Chevrolet 305 4bbl under the hood…or should I say “corporate” 305? “Some engines available in the Oldsmobile Cutlass are produced by other GM divisions”, was in the fine print.
    231 2bbl V6 (Buick)
    260 2bbl V8 (Olds)
    305 4bbl V8 (Chevrolet)
    350 4bbl V8 (Oldsmobile).
    …the gasoline engines, least for the ’79 Cutlass.
    I have had Regals with: 305 2bbl Chevrolet (’78), 301 2bbl Pontiac (’79) 305 4bbl Chevrolet (’79), Pontiac 301 4bbl (’80), and Oldsmbile 307 4bbl (’86)
    I love these A body-G body coupes. This example is nice. Love to see some “after” pictures.
    I’m thinking about buying a California Duster just for under the hood after I see this…

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo Mike

    The Calais was to give the Cutlass an European flavor, hence the bucket seats, sport mirrors, a dash full of gauges with a tachometer, and suspension tweaks. It’s the least broughamy of all the Cutlass’s.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Cutlas Supreme Baby

    I had a V6 maroon vinyl top 78 Cutlas and put over 140 thousand on the car. The oil pressure kept dropping as more mile placed on the car. I had put a higher pressure oil pump and was running 20W50 prior to selling dirt cheap to a friend who swapped the engine.

    It was my college car all the way to first kid.

    I liked them and still have a soft spot for them…

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Doug

    I bought a new 79 Calais way back when. Black with red interior. 305 chevy. Great car but kids put us in a Custom Cruiser.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo William Robinson

    i have driven alot of oldsmobile cutlasses in my life every cutlass was an excellent car.. i dont understand why oldsmobile went out of business.
    i guess it’s the american way now..

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Bart

    In the late 80’s early 90’s all my friends & I went from T/A’s to Cutlas’. I had a 77 Calais that was absolutely beautiful. Black on black leather, factory sunroof, 400 & sport wheels. Woke up one morning to go to work & it was gone. Never to be heard from again. I was heartbroken. Even my friends were broke up about it because it was such a nice car.

    Like 0

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