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1962 Olds Cutlass: Sword With Surface Rust

1962 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Thanks to Offshore64guy for this great find located in Havasu, California and offered here on craigslist for $2,500 or best offer. The Cutlass model line was only one year old in 1962 but was already the top selling Oldsmobile “compact.” With only 98k miles and featuring the aluminum block 215 V8 whose design was later sold to Rover, this could be a real sleeper of a car. This one has a bit too much patina for me, but I know there are folks out there who would spray clear coat over this body and leave it alone. The interior looks pretty good, and despite the seller stating that it needs “a master cylinder, fuel pump and some TLC,” I think this car is promising if you’re willing to put some body work labor in yourself. My grandfather had an Oldsmobile of this vintage, although I can’t remember the model, and he was very pleased with it—Grampa was hard on his cars, so this said a lot to me then. I know he loved the small V8, and I sure like it in its later form as in the TR8 I used to own. Does your scabbard have a place for this Cutlass?


  1. Charles

    From the pics it looks like this car has surface rust only. The car looks decent, and if surface rust is all that one is dealing with, a good respray in the original color and some rechromed bumpers will make a nice car out of it.

  2. Todd Zuercher

    “Havasu” is Lake Havasu City and it’s in AZ…..

    • DREW V.

      Havasu City is in Az. Havasu, Ca is indeed in California across the lake from Havasu City, Az…

  3. Vince Habel

    A Jetfire would be better but this will do.

  4. Rick Yocum

    Very rare car. Only a handful of V-9s were released to the public as I recall.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I was thinking rotary…as in Pratt & Whitney Wasp… :-)

      • Dolphin Member

        I have a P&W rotary-9 piston as a paperweight. It does the job well—it’s the largest and heaviest aluminum piston I’ve ever seen. I wish I had the other 8, too.

  5. RollerD

    Very good entry level “old car”.

  6. Alan (Michigan)

    My brother had a Starfire with the 215 auto/2 bbl. The trans was not good at the time, but still the car was decent for power. And we know these engines can be hotrodded. The trans here is not mentioned, but wouldn’t a 4-speed be cool? And the Jetfire…. Sign me up!

  7. DREW V.

    Would like this painted an Atlantis blue with a white top…

  8. JW454

    Oh! I see this one has that elusive V9 engine!! Super rare!!

    I get a kick out of that stuff. LOL This would be a great “first car” for someone thinking of getting in the old car hobby.

  9. DT

    Dont get stressed out ,but this car is 53 years old(no,wow,really)so I say its in very good shape for its age. I have a ’62 special convertible and the 215 is alot of fun.

  10. Dan C

    Oh yeah. That V9 is a very rare engine…although it is quite awkward looking. 5 cylinders on one side and 4 on the other. I’ve never actually seen one so I’m guessing that’s the configuration. But, then again, it could be 4 1/2 on each side. Probably pretty hard to find those 1/2 size spark plugs nowadays!

  11. Charles

    The only caution that I have ever heard about the 215 V8 is that one never wants to allow that engine to overheat. The aluminum parts are not as forgiving as cast iron and will warp if the engine is allowed to run too hot. If one maintains the cooling system, that should not be a problem.

  12. Tirefriar

    Yes, V9 was not a very popular option. Had to do with a cost of maintenance being higher than the V8….phased out after only one year – real pitty!

  13. Booya

    It probably became a v-9 after it overheated.

  14. Howard A Member

    My brother recently sold his wagon version of this car. If I remember, there was little interest, and a gentleman came from somewhere down south, and he wanted it just for the engine.

  15. St.Ramone de V8

    I like the look of these cars, including the interior/dash. It seems to be in solid condition, although shots of the underside would be nice. I’m not experienced with that engine, but from what I read here, it’s not a concern. I would paint it for sure.

  16. John

    Actually, these were pretty good little cars. I don’t believe the Olds came with a stick shift transmission. They were all essentially two-speed Chevy powerglides. This one is for sure, take a look at the steering column. But the transmission was pretty much bulletproof. The aluminum motors were troublesome and very expensive to repair at the time, but remember, aluminum motors were pretty exotic in 1962. Everything else is very simple. You’d have a wide range of replacement engines if one was needed, including the little 198 cu in Buick V6 that eventually morphed into the GM standard. With some care and a lot of sanding, this could be a very satisfying little car.

  17. gunningbar

    Did someone say “wagon?” I d love one of these in a wagon!

  18. Graham Lloyd

    The early 60’s GM compacts are great entry level cars. Except for the Nova, they are inexpensive to buy and are as reliable as any car out there.

    Nice ones can be had for around the 6, 7 thousand mark. That being said, if this can be made roadworthy without too much effort, the price is in the ballpark.

    Wish it wasn’t so far away. Other side of the country for me. It would look good sitting with my 62 Tempest and 61 Buick Special wagons

  19. mike linbeck

    These cars did not use the Chevy powerglide, they used a unique auto transmission called a dual path. Buick, Olds and Pontiac all used them if you wanted an auto. 4 speed was available along with 3 on the tree. The Dual Path transmission is the weak link but overhaul kits are available for about $400 if you are so inclined. Mating another transmission can be done but requires an adaptor plate, some floor sectioning and moving the rear cross member and shortening the drive shaft. I installed a GM 200R4 w/overdrive and converted it to floor shift, The 215 motor was still in production by Rover into 2004 so parts are available, It is also the engine of choice of Baja racers due to the light weight. Mine is one of those Baja engines now in my 62 Buick Skylark, bored and stroked to 266 cubic inch and dyno at 301 HP.

  20. z1rider

    I have for long thought the Y-body cars represent a very under-appreciated period of GM’s engineering heritage. They spawned of course, an all aluminum v-8, v-6, slant 4 (1/2 of a Pontiac v-8), rear transaxle (manual and automatic), flexible driveshaft (AKA rope drive), turbocharging, and of course if you want to include the loosely connected Corvair, then include rear engine, air cooled opposed 6 cylinder. I’m sure I have forgotten something so feel free to add what I left out. By 1965 that list of innovations meant GM need take a back seat to no other car company in the world, at least from a technical standpoint. Were the Y-bodies GM’s first unibodies? I’m not sure.

    And yet, also by 1965 the business case for them apparently proved to have run it’s course and all of those innovations would over time be phased out. The american motoring public didn’t care that much, and sadly today they are still not particularly appreciated by the collector world. I am for the most part a Ford guy, but I do want a Y-body someday. The hard part will be deciding which one. I think the ultimate would be a Tempest with the 215 and manual trans. Was that combination ever offered?

    • john

      The tempest, to the best of my recollection was never available with the V8. Perhaps it was a drive train issue. The Tempest was very exotic. It had its transmission in the rear of the car and had swing axle rear suspension much like the Corvair (would not have been surprised if the Tempest and the Corvair shared some parts).

  21. krash

    ….so the v-9 engine design is similar to a H&R 9 shot revolver….

    • John

      Its exactly the same, except different. The most difficult part of the V9 is using the disconnect system to shut down one bank of cylinders to save fuel. You can choose to shut down the four cylinder bank, or the five. Your choice makes no difference given that the same results will be achieved. Hang on to the 9-shot revolver, you’ll need it if you keep looking at old cars.

  22. Mark in Medford

    I had a JetFire turbo car, blue with with top. Pretty quick little car, it gave Mustangs a surprise. The bucket seat interior was very sporty and high quality. The 63s werent was sporty looking.

  23. Charles

    This would be cool with an LS engine/six speed transmission conversion. Than it will give everyone a surprise.

  24. Charles

    A reply to John related to the Tempest. The 62-63 Tempest used a four cylinder block that essentially used one cylinder head from a Pontiac V8, the 326 if my memory has not failed again. The engine was connected to the transaxle via a drive shaft of sorts, and the transmission was a transaxle variation of the Powerglide two speed. The car had no transmission tunnel, but did have a driveshaft tunnel. The early Tempest probably did share some parts with the Corvair. By the time the 64 Tempest debut and of course the GTO option, the car had evolved from a compact to an intermediate with a standard V8 rear wheel drive system. The 215 V8, or V9, depending on who is telling the story made for a decent power to weight ratio in the 62 Cutlass, making it a peppy little car compared to other compacts of the time. The Powerglide two speed transmission is very durable, being a favorite of drag racers for many years. There were quite a few Powerglides bolted to big block Chevy V-8’s making some major HP running quarter mile times. They were fast because they allowed the engine to wind up to a high RPM before shifting into drive, eliminating the time it took for a three speed to shift through second onto third gear. My uncle worked as a design engineer for GM back in the day. He ordered my Grandma a new 65 Caprice sedan with a 396 and a Powerglide. That tank of a car would bark the tires going from first gear into drive at full throttle. .

  25. Mark-A

    Just a little suggestion, if I had the opportunity I’d go chasing a TVR development of the Rover V8, up to 340hp & 5ltr displacement, what’s not to love? Probably asking why I’d go with TVR engine? I’m UK based so it’s a lot easier than a Crate Engine after importing & all those Taxes to pay!

  26. OttoNobedder

    If I’m not mistaken, this is an F-85..The Cutlass didnt appear until 64 and the “big” body change.

  27. Vince Habel

    The Cutlass was the top of the line trim on the F 85. This car is not a Cutlass.

  28. Tom

    This car would be an ideal candidate for a resto-mod. So many would go for an LS engine swap, but I’d have to say to go with a Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0L swap to keep it in the Olds family.

  29. Tom

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