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455 V8: 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass S

The Cutlass was one of Oldsmobile’s most successful models. Originally based on the F-85, the Cutlass quickly became a series of its own. The Supreme was the top-line Cutlass, while those with smaller budgets opted for the Cutlass S. I believe this 1972 Cutlass is mistakenly referred to as a Supreme, but it should be a Cutlass S because it looks to have fastback styling and the Supreme was a notchback. In any event, this car has been locked away in a barn for the past 10 years and will need some help getting going again. Duvall, Washington is where the barn and car are located and it’s available here on craigslist for $7,500.

Most collectors migrate to the 1968-72 generation of the Olds Cutlass because of their styling and emphasis on performance. The car was offered in a full range of body styles and engine choices that ran all the way up to the storied 455. Since our premise is that the seller’s car is a Cutlass S, they would have been available in two flavors in 1972: the pillared sports coupe that saw 4,141 copies made and the more popular hardtop coupe that Olds built 78,461 units. It’s too bad that this car isn’t one of the former as it would be more scare today. Thanks, Classic Oldsmobile, for the data.

After a rebuild of the motor in 2007, we’re told this 1972 Cutlass S was driven for three years and then squirreled away for another decade, which would bring us up to 2020. Under the accumulation of dirt and grime, there appears a body that has a minimum of rust. Since the photos of the exterior are few, we can’t attest to where except in a couple of places, so we’ll have to take the seller’s word for it. The car is finished in dark green and we wonder how good it might look with a simple wash and wax.

The interior is largely a mystery, but the seats will surely have to be recovered and the carpeting replaced, but we don’t know about the door panels and headliner. The dash doesn’t look bad and has an aftermarket stereo in it that may or may not work. That aftermarket racing-style steering wheel just doesn’t look right in this car and that would have to go if I bought the car.

We’re told that the 455 V-8 was rebuilt and saw about three years of use. We’re not told why the car was parked and could that motor or the automatic transmission be why it’s been dormant? Or if the motor and transmission are numbers-matching, for that matter. The engine has a new manifold under the carburetor, so there’s a fair chance this 455 isn’t stock. We don’t know how many 455’s went into the Cutlass S that year, but it was a popular choice with the Supreme. The buyer is going to have to go through the fuel delivery system to get this thing running right, including the lines, tank, carb, and fuel pump. Also, 10 years of fluids are still in the Cutlass so they all need replacing.

Pricing guides favor the Supreme, 4-4-2, and W31 models when it comes to the resale value of this gen of the Cutlass. The Cutlass S is not as sought after, although the 455 could change all that. This could be a very nice and desirable car when restored, but it’s going to take a decent investment once you just get past the cost of acquisition. This Oldsmobile could command more if the seller had cleaned it up and got it running before listing it — and took some decent photos.


  1. Todd Fitch Staff

    That’s an impressive brake master cylinder; it’s the size of a six-pack cooler. I don’t know much about the Olds 455 but I love these 455-powered mid-sized GMs that are *not* the sport models. Great sleeper potential. That must have been a hard three years on the rebuild, unless it was done without any cosmetic touch-ups. Nothing says “Make an Offer” more than not wanting to spend an hour with a bucket of soapy water and $3 worth of Armor-All. Nice find and write-up Russ!

    Like 13
    • Poppy

      Yeah, it has front disc brakes, which I believe were still optional in ’72.

      Like 4
  2. Poppy

    I wouldn’t say the 455 was a popular choice for the Supreme or the Cutlass S that year (or any year, really). Even the base 442 engine was a 350 in ’72. If that’s the original engine (big if) then it’s fairly rare. The 350 was such a good all around engine choice for most non-442 buyers.

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      The ad reads like the 455 was transplanted in when it was rebuilt in 2007. The VIN will tell you what engine was installed at the factory.

      Steve R

      Like 2
      • Joe Padavano

        The original 455 would have been metallic blue, not red. A real “VIN U” car is relatively rare. Most are swaps. As Steve R notes, the fifth character of the VIN will tell you what motor the car was born with.

        Like 3
  3. Miguel

    If anybody wants to see a revival of this exact car, but with a 350 and gold, Junkyard Digs just finished one.

    Here is the first episode.

    Like 3
  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Ya gotta like Mook.

    Like 4
    • Miguel

      Yes. She is … special.

      Like 3
  5. Harry

    J casting head. That should tell you all you need to know about the motor.

  6. JCA Member

    If this is numbers matching it seems like a great deal on a rare car

  7. William Shields

    It looks like part of a trailer hitch in the trunk. It wasn’t uncommon in those days if you knew you were going to be towing a lot to order your basic car with the most powerful engine you could get. It could be the factory motor.

    Like 1
    • Raymond Smith

      That’s not part of a trailer hitch. That is a box for a Crower performance camshaft.

      Like 10
  8. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Could be a good buy even if the motor is a transplant. Again, a lazy seller who couldn’t be bothered to take the car out in the open for a good wash and clean, inside and out, and then take some decent pictures showing any problem areas. Having the VIN and other numbers would answer the important questions of whether the motor/trans are original to the car along with options. If it is a matching number car, the seller might be leaving money on the table; his loss.

    Like 3
  9. Stangalang

    Yep kinda obvious that that big baby got a crower bumpstick..I would love to hear her running

    Like 2
  10. JCA Member

    What’s up with the dryer vent hooked into the parcel shelf? Is it some kind of JC Whitney window defroster?

    Like 2
    • Poppy

      The dash heater controls do show a rear window defogger/defrost switch, a fairly rare option. Not sure how the original set up was but it may be replacing the original hose or maybe it’s a modification to pull air from the heated passenger compartment instead of cold air from the trunk? Joe P. probably knows.

      Like 1
  11. Troy s

    Claims it was parked undercover, must of been some strongs winds there.
    The ad had me chuckling just a little at first, but I’ll leave it at that.
    Just a hot rod Old’s, that engine doesn’t look stock to me in any way, which is fine, could use a good clean though. Is that the tach up by the drivers door? Cleanest part of the whole car is that dash, leave the steering wheel it’s not that bad.

    Like 4
    • Camaro guy

      Either a tach or an air fuel ratio meter looks like it’s attached to the A piller I’ve done both don’t have to take your eyes off the road to read the gauges

      Like 1
  12. WillD

    IF the engine was rebuilt, who goes to all that trouble and doesn’t paint it? 3 years of use and 10 years of sitting couldn’t make even a rattle can job look that bad.

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