Bowtie V8? 1962 Oldsmobile F-85/Cutlass

We cover Oldsmobile F-85/Cutlass models with regularity – providing that they are a ’64 model or newer. As for the original ’61 to ’63 model, not so much so. Well, today, we’re going to change things up and present a sharp looking 1962 F-85 Cutlass convertible. It has been repowered – more on that item to follow. This drop-top Olds is located in Rapid City, South Dakota and is available, here on craigslist or here on where it’s available for auction through October 6th.

The F-85, Oldsmobile’s compact entry, was introduced in 1961 and featured, initially, a four-door sedan and station wagon. Two-door sedans, convertibles, and hardtops made the scene later.  Upscale F-85s, such as our convertible, as well as two-door hardtops, were labeled as a “Cutlass”. And for a model that is seldom seen, the Cutlass convertible still managed to rack up a production total of 9,800 copies in ’62.

The first things that I noticed about this car are its black paint job’s satin finish and the old-school louvers that have been rolled into the hood. The body appears to be sound – there’s no sign of crash damage or rust. Additionally, this Cutlass is worthy of high marks for its strong chrome (replated bumpers) and slotted aluminum wheels. Oh, and the convertible top is looking pretty fair too.

As with the exterior, the black bucket seat interior environment is also looking pretty sharp. There are no noted upholstery wear or rips, anywhere, and my guess is that the carpet is a recent replacement. The seller has added some non-stock features such as auxiliary gauges, a column-mounted tachometer, and an aftermarket, undersized steering wheel. There was a center console optionally available, actually more like a consolette, but this example is without that feature. Of note, and perhaps not surprising, this convertible is without seatbelts. And yes, I know ’62 is before they were required by law but I’ve been to countless car shows where owners have outfitted their mid-sixties and earlier entries with that most basic of safety devices.

The seller tells us, “Here is where the real bad attitude is hiding: the factory 155 hp “Rocketeer” 215 cu in. V8 was replaced in 2021 with a pretty mean Chevy 350 cu in. 4 bbl V8“.  Research indicates that the 155HP “Rockette” engine (not Rocketeer) was standard in the F-85 but the Cutlass got a bump up to a 185 HP 215 CI, all-aluminum, V8 motor. A 4-S Hydramatic automatic transmission would have originally been responsible for putting the go to the rear wheels. A Turbo-Hydramatic 350 three-speed is now handling the gear-changing chores. The seller also mentions that a rack &  pinion steering system along with a racing-style trunk-mounted fuel cell has taken up residence.  One noted thing, however, is this small-block motor’s single exhaust system – it just happens to have dual tailpipes, how odd! A single exhaust system or not, and there’s no word on how this mash-up motivates but one can imagine that it is likely forceful.

My thought? Way cool! This is hardly the car that I would have considered for hot-rodding but it’s great to see that there are still those out there who are determined to make interesting automotive things happen, right?


  1. alphasud Member

    Not too many of these still around especially the convertible. Too bad he couldn’t have kept the original 215 and given it a modern turbo treatment with boost control. And while you are at it methanol injection that you could call rockette juice.

    Like 6
  2. Civileyes Civileyes Member

    This car is a stunner. How much hp would you expect out of the new 350?

    Like 3
    • Dave

      You can make 300 HP from a 350 by accident. Put some thought into parts selection and you can easily get 400. I agree Civileyes, it’s a great looking little car.

      Like 6
      • Civileyes Civileyes Member

        👍 thanks

        Like 2
    • Robert Lopez

      With the four barrel carb, you could expect at least 300 HP, if it’s tuned right.

      Like 1
  3. Dave

    You can make 300 HP from a 350 by accident. Put some thought into parts selection and you can easily get 400. I agree Civileyes, it’s a great looking little car.

    Like 4
  4. rshodag

    Has this ever been run? No paint burned off the intake where the exhaust crossover is,or on the heads near the manifolds. Distributor at least 1 tooth off and no vacuum advance hooked up. No breather in the valve cover either… or is it just an older picture?

    Like 8
    • Dr Ron

      I thought the same as soon as I thought “That’d be a shame to get all that pretty orange paint greasy and nasty because someone that’s possibly not too mechanically inclined skipped on installing a PCV valve and hose in the valve cover.’
      I’d definitely want to hear it run in person.
      With my shop stethoscope.

      Like 3
  5. Red

    Flat black vinyl wrap? Wonder what is under that?

    Like 5
  6. Joe Padavano

    Wow, that’s unfortunate. With the original 215, the car only weighs 2700 lbs. You don’t need to do much to the 215 to bump power, and if you use a Rover 4.6 block, 275-300 HP is easy. 10 lbs per HP is what classic musclecars were at. Throw in an iron V8, upgraded trans, upgraded brakes, etc, and now you’ve basically turned this lightweight car into a 3400 1964 A-body, but with the advantage that you spent more money to do it. Power to weigh is what matters.

    Like 8
  7. Poppy

    These cars weighed only about 2750# with the original aluminum V-8. New engine probably puts it over 3000#, but still should have a great power-to-weight ratio. Hope the original rear end holds up!

    Like 4
  8. Duaney Member

    I’m familiar with installing the small block in one of these. I can see why he went to rack and pinion, no room for the original steering. This is a difficult swap. Wonder if there’s a heater? Needs stronger front suspension springs for the much heavier engine. I’m assuming he eliminated the original two piece driveshaft with constant velocity joint. Does it have a new narrowed rear axle?

    Like 5
  9. Claudio

    I believe the trunk has been butchered from what i can see with the pictures

    Like 1
  10. mike

    Something looks weird with those louvers.Are they functional or just sitting on top if hood??Under hood pict would help answer question.

  11. pwtiger

    The louvers look upside down, should allow lots of water in.

    Like 2
  12. Michael Garner

    After taking the time to look at the auction website, this little car has lots of body imperfections. The bid right now is at 5K, so if someone is interested, you might be able to get it for a reasonable price. The body, the areas that look like they have a bunch of bondo on them, and the seals all kind of make me say buyer be wary…

  13. Chris In Australia

    I’m also skeptical about the painted and presumably cast iron intake. On the weight front, an alloy intake & heads would help.

  14. James Martin

    did anybody notice it has 4 lug? Original rearend? I had a 63 buick somebody before me upgraded drums to 5 lug. I was told the fronts came off a corvair, not sure what they did to swap out rear

    Like 1
  15. DonC

    Current bid is $5500 but reserve is still on (obviously). I’m not a Cutlass expert by any means, but it looks to me like the PVC valve is on the drivers side of the engine as the hose goes to the carb. But there’s still the opening on the other side valve cover that needs something! So I agree with others, has this engine been run? And weird trunk setup too.

    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      The valve covers are reversed. The one with the oil fill should be on the driver’s side with the grommet ahead of it (or behind depending on your perspective) used for the PCV valve. The other valve cover, which should be on the passenger side, has a grommet for the air breather which is supposed to connect to the air cleaner assembly.


      Like 2
  16. Tyler

    After going over to the auction site & looking at the 50 plus pictures, I wouldn’t drive it in the rain, or through the car wash. The wrap is a cheap way to hide the need for body work, but you can see the rust bubbling up under it. The exhaust system sits so low, you would have to dodge a snake in the road or drag it off. And all the work, but didn’t upgrade the brake system, or rear end, so what else did they take short cuts on?

    I liked the car & was interested, but at $6000 & reserve not met, it’s almost at my max for what I’m interested in investing when it needs so much more to make right.

    Like 1

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