63,000 Mile 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

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To Southerners, our everyday car is just that regardless of season.  The lack of frequent salt exposures in the winter tends to make the lower regions of our vehicles last a bit longer, giving us precious time to jump them over police cars while yelling yeehaw.  For those brave souls north of the snow belt, the practice of having a winter beater to pay the salt sacrifice makes a lot of sense.  So, with every yin, there is a yang.  They have summer cars as well.  This 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme for sale on Craigslist in Exeter, New Hampshire is advertised as a car only used in summer months and garaged in the winter.  Evidently, the relatively short New Hampshire summers have kept this car to just 63,000 miles and all that time in the garage has resulted in an Oldsmobile that looks showroom new.  Is this well-kept, snow-adverse Cutlass worth the $12,250 asking price?  Thanks to Rocco B. for the tip!

During college, I had a couple of brothers as roommates who were from Michigan.  This was my first real interaction with northerners, or, as my grandmother would call such folks, Yankees.  She kind of held on tight to her Southern roots.  Anyway, the brothers called soda “pop,” told stories about trying to find things to do around the farm during the winter when it snowed like eleven hundred feet, and they said that everyone in their age group liked hair metal bands and dressed as you would expect.  It was interesting to a guy like me who had only seen snow a handful of times and never in any serious amount.  They were nice guys, but their environment greatly influenced how they lived their lives, and I guess I could claim the same.

One fascinating part of their existence was that everyone had a beater car for the winter months.  While most towns in the South shut down for a week or so when it snows more than a few inches, life goes on for northerners unabated.  Car culture is also alive and well up there.  Everyone tries to have a nice car during the dry parts of the year and my roommates were no exception.  Camaro Z28s and Mustang GTs were the order of the day.  However, they would make sure that they had some sort of beater before the first snow fell.  This was in the early 1990s, so finding a $1,000 seventies land barge was not a problem.  In fact, this is the first time in my life that finding a good used car at a decent price has been utterly impossible.  Progress, I guess.

They would regale me with stories of floating across ice and snow in gigantic Chryslers, Chevrolet wagons, and various other seventies vehicles.  Sometimes they would drift into snowbanks in corners driving like teenagers do.  Or they would skid on the ice and hit some other land barge in a slow-motion version of demolition derby, and everyone would get out and laugh about it.  Once one of them blew through a stop sign and ended up about 100 yards into a former cornfield.    That time the mayhem was compounded by libations of some sort.  I was assured that their father didn’t find the situation very funny.  The beater party stopped with the last snowfall or when you could see the lines on the road through the floorboards.  It sure sounded like fun to a Southern boy like me.  Now that I am an adult and have played in the snow a bit, I have a bit more reserved approach to cold weather.  I also don’t have a beater to sacrifice to the salt gods.  Maybe I missed out on yet another fun part of life that has now slipped into legend.  Growing old has a habit of making you see things in the rearview mirror with a mixture of longing and sadness.

Once the cold left, it was time to bring out your nice car.  We are informed in the ad that this car was precisely that.  The seller of this 1977 Oldsmobile has left us precious few words to describe this summer stunner.  We know that it has just 63,000 miles on the odometer.  Rolling odometers back was a common occurrence back in the day.  However, looking carefully at the condition of the car reveals nothing that would lead you to believe that the number is false.  Reading between the very few lines might lead you to believe that the car sat dormant for a long time.  We are told that the transmission was rebuilt in 2023.  Anyone who has let a car sit too long will tell you that it is detrimental to the car’s automatic transmission.  We are also told that the water pump was replaced.  Whoever purchases this car might be wise to carefully go through the fuel and cooling systems before setting off on a big trip unless the seller reveals that this maintenance has been performed.

Sadly, there is no picture of the engine nor is there a description of exactly what engine is under the hood.  The lack of power accessories inside leads you to believe that this was a car with few options installed.  We can see evidence of power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, and likely an AM-FM radio.  Unfortunately, cruise control, tilt steering, a center console with a floor shifter, bucket seats, power windows, and power locks are all absent.  To the horror of anyone who has ever owned a car with a vinyl top, this Olds is so equipped.  A close examination looking for rust is where I would spend my first minutes looking at the car in person.  These tops were magnets for moisture and the metal underneath would soon turn to dust.

In all, this is a very nice Olds that still has a lot of life left in it.  Few are left.  Even fewer still with vinyl tops.  It would be hard to find a better example, and the price is not out of line.  Hopefully, this one ends up as a regular at shows in the buyer’s area.  Perhaps it will stir up stories about summer cars and winter beaters.  Those tales are always good for a few laughs and warm thoughts.

Did you have a summer car and a winter beater?  What were they?  Do you have any good stories about them?  If so, please share them in the comments.

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  1. Matt

    My big brother had a 1977 he bought new. Black on black interior. 350. Salon. Some of my 1st memories in a t top car. I believe there were Hurst hatches. What i remember most, besides how hot the seats got, was that i never left the car without having grease on me from all the places the dealer tried to seal leaks and stop the squeaking. Love that this is a solid roof car. Gorgeous

    Like 4
    • Jon Rukavina

      Being from and still in Mn., I bought a ’70 Olds 98 4-door ( yeah, I know, too many doors 😁) for $300 for my beater. I used it a lot in the summer, too. A/ c read 32 degrees coming out of the dash after I had it serviced.

      I used to laugh at the early 80s front drives getting stuck when I’d drive past them in a snowstorm.

      Sold it for $225 after I put almost 100k miles on it. By this time the trunk had big holes at both sides but the ol’ 455 still purred.

      A friend of mine had a ’67 Biscayne. One night driving home from work he felt the body shift off the frame a little bit on a corner due to rust on the frame! Lol!

      To Jeff’s comments about southern drivers, I always thought it was funny when the Gulf states would shut down for a 1/2″ of snow while we roll through a storm like our 30″ ’91 Halloween blizzard when even the airport never shut down except for runway plowing while keeping others open.
      To be fair, it once did take me 8 hours to drive 65 miles home in freezing drizzle in ’83 in that same 98.

      Like 4
      • Jon Rukavina

        Suppose I should say something about the Cutlass.
        I noticed that the plastic chrome is deteriorated around the a/c vents which makes me wonder, with no underside or engine pics, ( maybe there are, but I couldn’t bring up the craigslist posting) the type of environment this car sat in. Moisture and mildew can be almost as bad for a car as salt.

        Like 0
      • Greenhorn

        Jon, fun to see you mention the ’91 blizzard. I was driving from St Paul to Plymouth, and it took me 3 hours to go 21 miles. Highway 12 was shut down. I had to shovel a path for both front tires the last three blocks. A neighbor helped me. Good memories!!

        Like 0
  2. Rick Thomas

    Had a 77. Same color except inside was white. Was the car I drove on my honeymoon. Was super comfortable. Not a world beater but it was effortless cruising down the highway.

    Like 0
  3. Spearfish SpearfishMember

    This is a good example of what were “bread-and-butter” cars of that era, particularly in the mid-West and out here in the “dusty Old West” where domestic brand loyalty was still fierce and a local servicing dealer was considered essential. Not a lot a lot of options (or “loaded” using that still tiresome dealer cliche), but comfortable and competent enough and possessing a perceived decent value by most cost-concious folks. They were everywhere, very often purchased new by couples, young (no kids…yet) and older (kids gone), or young single college grads. But not generally ‘real’ car nuts. Sure, as they hit the used car market, you saw them grabbed up by Joe Dirt & Co. who would jack-’em-up, add series 60’s, glass-pac dual exhaust, eight track with six-by-nines, and go drag town. But more serious motor heads were only amused by that scenario.
    This example obviously escaped the fate of so many, it is clean and ready to drive. It would also enjoy a little bit of street celebrity that would not have existed back a few decades, when it would have been nearly invisible.

    Like 9
  4. Marky Mark

    Not sure I’d agree with the description of “showroom new” especially looking at the paint. Still, a nice car although we can’t see the engine compartment.
    Growing up in the Chicago suburbs I can relate to the winter beater. I bought a new ‘75 Camaro LT after high school graduation. Didn’t want to drive it in the winter so I found a used, black ‘66 VW as a winter beater for $500. With a weak heater and defroster it was a poor choice for a cold Chicago winter. There was an old couple two doors down that had no car so I paid them a bit to park the Camaro for the winter.

    Like 2
  5. David Cook

    I worked at a Buick/Oldsmobile dealership in 1976. The Cutlass Supreme was the hottest selling car at the time. We couldn’t keep them on the lot. I prefer a ‘76 over a ‘77, but that is a matter of personal preference. I can’t exactly go back to Cunningham Buick/Olds in Burlington, Wisconsin and order my dream car, so this one would be just fine.

    Like 6
  6. Nelson C

    These were everywhere back in the day. Being just 30 miles from the plant it was a car people around me really identified with. This is a modestly equipped unit with the focus on appearance. Quarter roof, super stock wheels and color keyed belts. The center cap appears to be missing from the RF and from a Delta 88 on the RR.

    Like 0
  7. JustPassinThru

    Ah, the Summer Car gets old.

    Speaking as a creature of the Rust Belt (Great Lakes region, now living elsewhere)…the Winter Car is often the aging former Summer Car.

    I’d disposed of several once-pampered steeds that way. Cars wear. Not all are memorable, or so we thought (my two Geos both became Winter Cars in their time…I had no idea they’d be valuable, decades later). You buy a new one, or make a trip down South to find the latest heart’s desire (trendy or useful or both; I bought two custom vans that way) and then, your former love gets sentenced to the salt mine. Almost literally.

    Now, with preserved-used-car prices absolutely insane…this is the thing to do. Get a new Mirage for winter duty – nobody will miss them when they’re gone.

    Like 1
  8. TinIndy

    The ad says it’s a 350, If it’s original, it’s probably the Oldsmobile version. That is good news because these were also offered with the 260. I once had in 1977 Grand Prix with the 301, and it was an absolute slug. Too much car for the motor. A 350 is the minimum you need here. 400, 403 or 455 best yet

    Like 1
  9. bone

    judging by the cars posted on this site , there seems to be many more 77 Cutlasses than the smaller 78 Cutlasses that replaced them

    Like 0
  10. Stevo

    That’s a lot of words to say nothing about the car

    Like 1

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