442 Alternative: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

There was a dizzying array of Oldsmobile intermediate models offered in 1970, a multitude of body styles that no automotive producer provides today. And when you mention Cutlass, the conversation usually turns to either a 442 or a W-31 in “Sports Coupe” mode (a pillared coupe with framed doors) or a “Holiday Coupe”, which is a traditional two-door hardtop. The Cutlass Supreme, the top of the Cutlass heap, had been around for a few years by ’70 but it now earned its own formalized roofline. And what do you know, here’s just such an example, a 1970 Cutlass Supreme Hardtop Coupe, located in Memphis, Tennessee and available here on eBay for a current bid of $8,400, sixteen bids tendered as of this writing.

The performance-oriented 442 version of the Cutlass gets most of the attention but it is always nice to find the non-muscle car variant of a popular muscle car. The 1970 Cutlass Supreme was offered in three different body styles, a two-door hardtop coupe, a convertible and a four-door model known as the “Supreme Holiday Sedan”.

The listing for this example is essentially detail-less, so this will be an interpretive exercise. The mileage on this Olds is listed as 10K but not proclaimed as such so it is probably 110K but the car shows extremely well. While the Polar White finish has good depth, there are indications of a respray, not unusual for a 50-year-old car. There is no significant sign of rust or rot, though something is going on where the driver’s side quarter meets the rocker panel. Whether there ever has been corrosion and it has been corrected, it is hard to say; the body and underside would require a close inspection to determine that. The fenders, doors, quarters, and bumpers do appear well-aligned however and probably free of any major crash damage. Of note is the rear bumper, it is a 442 styled piece with cut-outs for the tailpipes. It is a common component that can be purchased today from many different suppliers but it just doesn’t look quite right without the chromed “trumpets” attached to the pipes. The Super Stock Wheels are always a nice addition to any Oldsmobile.

Under the hood is a 350 CI V8, 310 HP variety Oldsmobile engine. It appears to have had a distributor upgrade as well as an open-element air cleaner and chrome valve covers added. There is a brief statement claiming that this is a “great running car” but that’s probably a matter for further inquiry. I’m not sure what the purpose of the goofy looking heater-hose wraps is all about, a subjective styling cue, I guess. As usual, there is a three-speed, Turbo-Hydramatic, automatic transmission in place. While not muscle-bound like a 442, this Cutlass probably moves out in style.

The interior is standard Oldsmobile all the way. It’s in reasonably good condition, a testament to the quality of vinyl material that GM used in this era. Surprisingly, the rear seat appears to be more worn than the driver’s perch, that’s unusual though the driver’s seat is not without a defect or two, all pretty minor though. Somewhere in its past, this Cutlass has had auxiliary gauges added to help out-idiot the idiot lights – good move. The carpet looks sound but the lower side of the driver’s door card appears as if it has had a few too many run-ins with someone’s size 13 kicks. Note the console, missing its lock/latch perhaps? Probably not too difficult to replace.

It’s unfortunate that the seller hasn’t tried promoting this Cutlass Supreme with a few encouraging words. That said, the included pictorial is pretty complete, though an image of the underside would be welcomed. This car looks great on the surface, inside and out, but I’d recommend a pretty thorough inspection for any prospective buyer. While not the value and power of a 442, this Cutlass Supreme does offer some of the feel and sharp appearance for a small part of the going 442 tariff; a nice substitute, don’t you think?

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  1. Jeff

    Notice the dual feed Holley Carb. I wonder if someone swapped in a 455, cannot tell without measuring the intake manifold width.
    Downside, It appears as if the lower quarters have severe rust through.

    Like 1
    • Joe Padavano

      It’s a 350, which was the base engine in the Supreme for 1970. The intake is an Edelbrock Performer 350 (not even an RPM), thus the Holley. In addition to the usual Cutlass rust behind the wheels and in the pinchweld areas, this body style is very prone to rust in the panel between the back window and the trunklid.

      Like 1
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Looks stunning in white.

    Like 1
  3. Todd

    Missing the trim down the passenger side door. Looks like she has been sitting for a while too with the dirt that is showing on the drivers side trim. Be afraid to see whats under it. Lots of little detail stuff and not a bad looking from the pics.

    • Daleone3

      Agree with Todd. You would think a dealer would go to the trouble of washing it with soap and water. Missing trim, various indications of backyard body work and prior corrosion, drivers side body trim not flush with panel, is it bent or is the panel that far off?. Decent driver if it goes for the right money but would need alot more pics before I jumped in…..actually I don’t think any amount of pics would let me jump in.

      Like 2
  4. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I saw one like this in red the other day, parked in a driveway. It looked like the owner was cleaning out his garage.

    They are sharp looking when you see them today, but they were quite common back in the day.

    • Joe Padavano

      Considering that there were over 68,000 Supreme Holiday Coupes built in the 1970 model year alone…

      Like 2
  5. John Oliveri

    My buddy had a 72 back in 78, we got it from one of those Pennsylvania used car lots, in Langhorne, much to my disproval, cause it was blue, enamel, with black wall bias ply retreads, it had so much bondo I called it the blue wave, it Had a perfect interior and a smooth running 350, Really ice running car, threw some appliance spokes and whitewalls on it, wet sanded the dust out of the paint, looked ok, threw a set of Mindblower speakers and a in dash am/fm 8 track, with a lot of filing and a face plate, and he was thrilled, till someone actually stole it

  6. JB1971SX Member

    Actually, in 1970 and ’71 the “442 alternative” was the Cutlass SX. Many of the same features as the 442–including the torque-monster 455 cu in V8–but the VIN would come up as a more tame Cutlass Supreme. This helped buyers avoid the insurance premiums being levied on muscle cars. The actuaries caught up with the math and realized that midsize coupes with a huge-displacement engines tended to wind up in ditches (and similar fates) at a higher rate than their sales numbers would suggest!

  7. Jcs

    Careful on this one. Obvious poor quality repaint. Debadged for some reason. Rust through and surface rust abounds. I would imagine that the undercarriage has a few surprises lying in wait. Personally, I wouldn’t touch this Cutlass without an in person inspection, and I love them. Its at $9k now, likely more than all the money on this Olds without being seriously upside down.

  8. Steve Bush Member

    A little ironic-the seller is a used car dealer and he’s worried about the integrity of the bidders. Wait! Maybe he knows all too well.

  9. Jcs

    Sold, at $9K

    Like 1

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