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1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31 Project!

If you’re looking for an Oldsmobile “W” car project, this may be a decent candidate to consider. What we have here is presented a 1970 Olds Cutlass W-31. The best part about the car is that it’s supposed to be numbers matching, documented with two broadcast cards and all the born with, hard to find parts seem to be there! This W machine is listed here on eBay out of Tacoma, Washington. The bid is a little over $15k, but the reserve has not yet been met.

The big-block W-30 cars seem to be the most popular and best known, but these W-31 “Ram Rod” 350s were very special machines in their own right, and they’re still somewhat affordable. Separating the W-31 350 from the lesser standard Olds 350 engine was its peak performance. These motors were essentially factory blueprinted performance engines with 10.5:1 compression, a very aggressive lift and duration cam, a specially calibrated Quadrajet 4-barrel carb on a factory aluminum intake and a special beefed up harmonic balancer. So here you go, this is said to be the numbers matching motor with all the original components – An issue, however, is going to be that the car has not run since the early 1980s.

This W-31 is supposed to be in original, as found, 82k mile condition. Matador red, white stripes, white vinyl top, black bench seat interior with column shift automatic – your basic low option, no-frills go-fast machine. The biggest issue seems to be that the car spent its early years on the east coast and it has its fair share of that nasty old rust. It will need rear quarter panels, outer wheel wells, trunk drops and likely repairs to the front fenders and floors. Production for the 1970 Olds W-31 was just 1352 cars, so saving this one makes a lot of sense and makes for a noble and worthy cause.

However you slice it, this car is a project that seems worthy of a total restoration. It’ll greatly help if you’re skilled with metal and body work to deal with the rust, but it does seem to be a manageable proposition. The seller states that he has many NOS parts for the car that are not included in the auction but are available to the buyer at an additional cost. So what’s the price for this project car that makes any sense for a restoration? I sure hope someone out there does this car a solid and puts her back on the road in all of her glory! Let us know what you think of this project.


  1. Boss351

    Thanks for the lesson on the W-31. I am fully aware of the W-30 bb, but I didn’t know what made the W-31 special. What would the restored value of this one be in #2 condition? I couldn’t find anything recent on values for this model other than maybe a 40% premium over a regular Cutlass.

    Like 3
    • Chris

      These are pretty rare. I looked at a silver ’70 W-31 a few years ago. Matching numbers and a just a little cleaner than this one and it was listed at $22,500. Id be willing to bet a good #2 car with all the correct parts would be in the $35-45 grand range. The 68-69 Olds Ram Rods are the ones that bring bigger money.

      Like 2
  2. local_sheriff

    It’s a good thing this Olds was parked in the 80s – with such rust it wouldn’t last many more winters…
    Great colors and the best Cutlass year, but with reserve not met at 15k means seller may be abit optimistic considering this needs a full resto?

    Like 9
  3. Will Fox

    The buyer will be a little lucky, in that this Cutlass, like its Skylark, Chevelle, & LeMans siblings have reproduction parts available these days. Perhaps not quarter panels, but I bet patch panels are. Weatherstrips, interior trim, door panels, etc. are made also. This W-31 is VERY saveable!!

    Like 8
  4. poseur Member

    badass hipo small block, way under-rated & overlooked.
    underestimated on the street & at the strip as they broke into the 13’s.
    guy i bought a load of firewood from this Fall has one restored he wants to sell….maybe i should pay a visit.

    Like 9
    • Chris

      No doubt! I had 2 of the garden variety 69-70 350 Rockets and they were strong runners. These W-31s received the special Dr. Olds blueprinting treatment with improved engineering. Very stout!

      Like 3
  5. Capriest

    These seem like they were purpose built for something, what was it? Was it for a particular drag racing class that was C.I limited or something? It seems a lot of focus was put on getting max power out of the 350 rocket. Most of them I’ve seen are auto, column auto at that so it can’t be for road racing. Isn’t the Olds 350 the same dimension/weight wise as the 455?

    Like 2
    • lc

      Yes they are, No big or small blocks, just big and bigger displacement :))) Love the W31 – a real country club sleeper

      Like 4
      • Tim

        Not sure where you get your facts but you are incorrect. There are both big blocks and small block olds engines. They are close in dimensional size, about an inch wider and taller for the big block.

        Like 0
      • Marty Parker

        Olds never designated any engine as small or big block. However, there was two sizes of the 2nd gen Olds V8. The 267, 307, 330, 350 and 403 was the same physical size. The 400, 425 and 455 were wider blocks to accommodate the longer stroke.

        Like 1
      • Marty Parker

        Of course I can’t prove a negative but have you ever seen any reference to “small” or “big” block in any Olds literature? If so, I would like to see it.

        Like 0
  6. Troy s

    I new they were rare, just not that rare. Wow.
    That lumpy cam prevented the use of power brakes, so that may have limited sales a bit, very high winding mill too.
    These were aimed squarely at the cheap Road Runner, the new budget class so to speak, less cubes lower horsepower ratings and less frills but still plenty quick. Most of the low frills jr. supercars were lousy sellers outside of Plymouth.
    Beautiful car here.

    Like 5
  7. ACZ

    This one deserves a good resto. But, upon completion, needs to be driven and enjoyed. It was never meant to be a trailer queen. They were just way too much fun to be behind the wheel of.

    Like 4
  8. Andy

    This one is a must save. These cars are wicked fast, total sleepers, and good lookers too. If it truly has all the unique W31 original parts in place then this is quite the find. Wish it were in Canada because I’d be very interested. Great car.

    Like 3
  9. cmarv Member

    I bought a 69 W31 in 89 . It was advertised in the local “free shopper paper” as a 69 Cutlass , 4 speed , runs good , $800 obo . I went to look . I saw the holes in the black front fenderwells for the under bumper ram air and the factory tach didn’t full out red line till 6500 rpm and it had manual disc brakes . He started it and it idled with a big lope . I was getting real excited . It had an open element rusty chrome air cleaner on it and a bright orange custom rolled and pleated naughahyde interior and was painted in red primer . It had the original 3.91 posi , per the ID tag on the rear . I inquired about the original air cleaner and the seller said it might be in the pile of scrap on the side of the garage , it was there , chrome top and all . I paid him $650 for it and trailered it home . I had a 69 442 , automatic for my first car , several more 442’s after that , and had a 70 442 4 speed convertible at that time . That ugly little Cutlass was quicker than any of the 442’s I had owned to that point . I sold it like so many others to make a buck and move on . That car was a keeper .

    Like 8
  10. Woody

    Just my opinion I think the Oldsmobile was such a nicer,better looking muscle car than the Chevelle or Skylark,this would be a great car to freshen-up and always drive it!

    Like 4
  11. stillrunners


    Like 0
  12. PDXBryan

    I was a little kid during the muscle car era so only got to admire them from afar. The Shelby, SS, GTO, Hemi, and 442 big blocks were the kings of the hill. I didn’t even know about W-31s until I found an old ’68 copy of Car & Driver where they tested one. As I recall, the sporty car guys at C&D loved it! Good handling and high winding 350 made it sound like an American GT car. It’s been an all time favorite ever since. I’d love to see a comparison test between W-31 and, say, Lamborghini 400GT, Aston Martin DBS, and Porsche 911S. I think the W-31 might have shown really well!

    Like 3

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