Golden Loophole: 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350

Insurance companies are a necessary evil. Being born and reared in Houston, I know all too well that insurance is essential, even if it costs a small fortune monthly. There is a feeling of security but it means less money for fun. You’ll hate paying it every month, but when the big one hits, it is better to have it than not. In 1970, muscle cars were feeling the hurt of slowing sales due to higher insurance premiums. Young buyers were finding out that they could afford to buy a factory hot rod, but insuring it wouldn’t be feasible. Too many wrecks and races from big horsepower in light bodies caused the insurance companies to put a halt on the fun. To get back those lost sales, loopholes would have to be exploited, hence this 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350. Find it in Franklin, IL for $8500 here on Craiglist or here.

Based on GM’s midsize A-body chassis, 3,547 Rallye 350s were built, with production split amongst Cutlass Holiday Coupes and F-85 Club and sport coupe body styles. All were painted Sebring Yellow with matching Super Stock II wheels and urethane coated bumpers. The grill was blacked out and chrome was stripped from nearly every surface to toughen up the image and lower the manufacturing cost. The rear spoiler and fiberglass hood were standard and are present on this Northern car. Also present is rust, creeping out from nearly every corner. The chrome bill will be cheap but fixing the cancer won’t be as easy. Oldsmobile wanted everyone but the insurance companies to think this was a junior 442, but without the costs. It seems all buyers saw was a really yellow Cutlass.

Rallye 350’s received their name and lower insurance costs from the Oldsmobile 350 with single Rochester 4 barrel carb under the hood. Featuring 310 horsepower, they could be optioned with a Muncie M21 4-speed, but this one received a Turbo-Hydramatic 350. If you wanted more power, your Oldsmobile dealer would be happy to sell you go fast parts or a 442. This rocket is said to be locked up, but is original to the car, numbers matching, and is still painted gold. The only thing said to be missing is the original air induction air cleaner to work with the hood scoops.

The interior looks better kept than the exterior. Being an Oldsmobile, you’ll find a much nicer environment than in other mild muscle cars. An optional floor shifter with console and buckets is present, as is the correct Custom Sport steering wheel and black vinyl everywhere. The dashboard looks smooth and unmarred, the seats look like they are only split at the seams, and the carpet isn’t showing any holes coming up from below. Looks like less time will need to spent here in getting this Rallye 350 back on the road than on the outside. Is this yellow Olds worth saving or is it too far gone? Also, do you think that trying to squash the fun worked in favor for the necessary insurance companies or just meant fewer cars to insure? Did Oldsmobile and the rest of do a good job of hiding the fun in these secret muscle cars? Either way, living in Houston I’m thankful to have insurance even though I was one of the lucky ones, but no way am I going to stop having automotive fun! Bring on the loopholes!

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Comments

  1. Craig

    beautiful cars!

  2. gbvette62

    I believe avoiding insurance surcharges was just part of the story behind the Rallye 350. I’m pretty sure it was also released as an answer to Plymouth’s economy musclecar, the Road Runner.

    When Plymouth introduced the Road Runner, it caught the other automakers off guard. Not to be left behind, all of the other automakers scrambled to come up with their own lower priced versions of their musclecars. Chevrolet offered a lower priced version of the SS396, based on the Chevelle 300 Deluxe, and later added the Heavy Chevy. Pontiac created “The Judge”, and later the GT-37. Buick added the GS350 and GSX to their GS line, and Olds brought out the Rallye 350, as a lower cost alternative to the 442. Dodge had their Supper Bee, and Ford’s answer was the Torino Cobra.

    I still remember the magazine ads for the Rallye 350 and other 1970 Olds “W Machines”, featuring Dr Oldsmobile.

    • Oingo

      I concur.

    • Dan Bruckbauer

      Actually, it was released for the reasons stated in the article. The W31 was marketed towards the Road Runner.

  3. jw454

    I like these but, this one is a bit too crispy for me. I do recall a few of these on the streets when I was a lad.

  4. Randy Davis

    I already have one.

  5. Taco Juan

    Poor car, someone save her.

  6. Superdessucke

    Look at the stars
    Look how they shine for you
    And everything you do
    Yeah they were all yellow

    I came along
    I wrote a song for you
    And all the things you do
    And it was called yellow

  7. Troy s

    Not for the shy or bashful, that’s for sure, a true junior supercar, but not up to W-31 capabilities either. Too much yellow for my tastes.

  8. KEN TILLY

    Hault?

  9. Nova Scotian

    It’s not that powerful guys…and because of insurance greed, and dolts flying around smashing into things and making claims is why the industry is where it is. I just wish the industry was more transparent. But hey, I digress….bet this yellow thing was an “in your face” shocker sitting on the showroom floor! Very tempting!

  10. dave

    Hault – it’s probably French. You know, like Rallye…

  11. Graham

    There is NEVER too much yellow. Check this out. About a month after I bought it in th spring of 1971. Lemon Twist forever.
    On the Olds, when done they look great, but not in-expensive to do.

    • Troy s

      Wow, look at them yellow wheels! Nice friggin’ car, man, so how did that 340 Duster do at the strip? Always liked these goat killers.

      • Graham

        With some serious tuning it did ok. I never got it to be a race car only, as it was the go to work, go on holidays and go to the grocery store ride. I had a Stage 2 shift kit put in the transmission, had an open (no headers) exhaust system and with a lot of tinkering with the distributor on a distributor machine, carb jetting and metering rod experiments I got it to run in the low 14’s and the high 90’s at the local drag strip. It was a pretty stripped down car, no power steering, no power brakes, am only radio and of course the painted wheels and the poverty caps. But, when I saw it on the lot, the Lemon Twist Yellow with the hockey stick and the black vinyl interior just screamed “BUY ME” A fun, fast car that as I recall set me back somewhere between $3200 and $3500. Best race I had was beating a big block ‘vette at the strip, not by much, but I turned the win light on first. Oh to have it in the garage now.

  12. Chris

    I happen to own an original 24k survivor 70 Olds Rallye 350. Turns heads no matter where I take it heres a pic.

    • Graham

      Nice car and like I said never too much yellow!! Keep it as a survivor.

    • carsofchaos

      That’s bad ass Chris! Hope it makes it to many a car show!

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