California Cutlass: 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass

I’m going to try my hardest to not overdo the “patina” thing with this 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass, but this car looks like it invented that term. Can a car be solid and yet covered with patches of missing paint: i.e., patina? Apparently, it can be. This Olds is listed here on eBay in impossibly beautiful Falmouth, Maine, just north of Portland. The bids are just over $2,500 but the reserve isn’t met yet.

The first-generation Oldsmobile F-85 was made for the 1961 model year through the 1963 model year and they were almost a foot shorter than the next generation F-85, which isn’t surprising seeing how almost all vehicles get bigger with each redesign. You can see what may be the only two dings in this entire car in the photo above of the left front fender and left quarter panel.

The F-85 is such a crisp little car compared to the land barges from this era. Of course, there were small cars from other makers such as Ford’s Falcon, Rambler’s Classic, and Chevrolet’s Corvair. Oldsmobile’s F-85 never reached the sales numbers of the other three that I mentioned but F-85s all came with a V8 which wasn’t available with some other cars that it competed against. This was originally a California car so that may explain the minimal body rust, other than the sunburned paint and surface rust, or “flash-rust”, as they say when they aren’t trying to use the word patina.

The top-trim F-85 for 1962 was the Cutlass which included bucket seats and an optional console. The back seat looks great, but the front seats, door panels, and carpet all need help here. I might just strip out the interior, clean everything, try to repair the seats as much as possible, and keep it original. I wouldn’t do a thing to the exterior but that’s just me.

This engine should be Oldsmobile’s 215 cubic-inch V8, which was an aluminum Buick block, Oldsmobile heads, and an incredible 10.75:1 compression ratio and around 185 to 190 horsepower. There are issues with this car, however. The seller mentions that the windshield is cracked, there’s a small rust hole in the passenger side floor, and there are no brakes! Ok, that’s a critical one, but anything can be fixed, and overall this looks like a great project car. What are your thoughts on this one? Restore or maintain and drive as it looks now?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Member

    OK I’ll dive in. A cute Olds, a seldom-now-seen representation of the early days of American-made compacts. Always good to see economy cars which have survived. The bucket seat/console interior with that long shifter is cool. However….

    I know there are strong opinions about patina, but for me it just makes this car look tired and worn out. To me, if it had a fresh coat of paint, it would be so much more attractive. Patina on an old truck, maybe; on this Olds, no thanks. Just my preference.

    Like 41
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You guys have convinced me! I like the idea of an old truck looking like this but a once-elegant Oldsmobile? I have seen the light!

      Like 11
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      A nice little car that with some work would make for a cool daily driver. The overall worn paint with surface rust looks like hell. Calling it “patina” and slathering it with linseed oil is just an excuse for not painting it. As I’ve said before, patina belongs on furniture, not on cars so a paint job is in order here. This would be a really sharp car with fresh paint and a restored interior. I like the bucket seat and console and the little V8 should give adequate performance. If the price stays low enough, this could be a very rewarding project.

      Like 16
      • Dave

        I would rather buy the car as it is, and do the prep and paint myself. If you buy it with fresh paint on it, you’ll be paying for the paint job in the purchase price, AND you have no idea how well it was prepped. It may look great, at 10 feet, for a year, then bubble and rust thru, and you get to paint it again after stripping off the garbage. I see no harm in linseed oil at all. At least it’s honest and you can easily evaluate the condition.

        Like 7
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Intend to agree with @Bob_In_TN..
    It’s perfect patina, but this car would be sharp with a nice paint job with matching painted rims. I see light blue or green for this, maybe white if that’s the original color.

    Like 8
  3. MitchRoss Member

    Pass me my sand paper

    Like 10
  4. alphasud Member

    I missed one last year in my neck of the woods. Cool little car with the aluminum V8. The Oldsmobile version of the 215 did see a little race track duty. You could order a special cylinder head from the parts counter and Oldsmobile added additional head bolts probably to cope with increased cylinder pressures for the turbocharged ones.

    Like 6
  5. Mark

    In 1970 my dad unsuccessfully attempted to teach my mom how to drive. He bought a 61 4 door F-85 for $350. Red and white. We never got mom a drivers license but we kept the car 3 years. Dad sold it to a friends mom for $200 in 1973.

    On the trunk lid was the outline of Texas. Paint faded around it. A David McDavid car from Texas originally was my guess.

    Like 2
    • z1rider

      You got the McDavid part right, but there were two brothers, Bill and David, each with their own Pontiac dealership, Not sure which one, or possibly both used the outline of Texas for their dealership nameplate. This being and Olds, it must have been sold by the used car dept.

      Like 1
  6. AndyinMA

    Solid? Maybe, but, that type of rust, which many consider “only surface rust” can require more than sanding and painting to correct.

    Like 4
  7. Grease

    GM tried some different drivelines in these compacts around this period. Rear transaxle was one and some kind of flexible driveshaft was another.

  8. ADM

    Looks like a regular Buick 215, without the Olds heads.

    Like 3
  9. Arby

    Who was the previous owner – Death Valley Scotty?

    Like 2
  10. Steve Clinton

    Excuse me, that’s not ‘patina’, that’s rust. Look it up.

    Like 5
  11. Tom Wills

    I love it. Get it mechanically fit and use it as an everyday fair-weather driver. Guaranteed to turn heads.

    Like 3
    • Cycle Salvage Kevin

      I agree 100%.

      Like 1
  12. Mike

    My dad’s Aunt had a new one in 1963-baby blue with a white top and blue interior. As many have mentioned it was a beautiful little Oldsmobile.I go for originality on classic cars. This being said, the rims and tires look too big to be original.Standard rims were 13’s with the tire size being 6.50-13. I have the owners manual

    Like 1
  13. Dave

    Those are Buick heads, no question about it. I suspect it is a Buick 215 high compression engine (four barrel), not an Olds engine. I currently have 5 215’s, four Buick’s and one Olds.

    Like 4
    • Chuckster

      I agree, also have a 215 oldsmobile motor growing old in my garage waiting for some little car that needs motor

      Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks for the info, Dave, and all. I was going by what the “motor bible” (Hemmings) said about the engines, that they were an aluminum Buick block and Oldsmobile heads.

  14. Jetfire88

    No brakes because it has no master cylinder on the firewall!
    Looks like it may have had a engine swap over to a complete Buick engine.
    The heads shown are Buick, the valve covers are situated to mimic the full size nailhead, the head mounting rail is level to the ground, Olds are at an angle. Olds & Buick heads do not readily interchange, Olds has more bolts.
    Some parts appear to be missing, like the upper radiator holdowns
    The carb is a modern jury-rigged one, instead of the 4GC.
    Why door speakers for a AM mono radio?
    Appears to have the 15″ optional rims, pretty rare if so. 4-lug hubs, so not much else fits.

    Like 8
  15. Jcs

    Good job in fleshing this one out Barnfinders commenters!!

    Like 5
  16. CaCarDude

    Back in the early 60’s I had a neighborhood buddy I would hang around with, I remember his folks buying one of these new and it was Baby blue, I always liked the smaller cool looking cars back then. This little Olds seems to be somewhat more rare than the Buick’s and Pontiac’s of the same year. You won’t see many of these at your local Cars and Caffiene. Oh, and I also think this little survivor could use a new paint and upholstery job, not a fan of rust or what ever fancy word it is called today.

    Like 2
  17. Nigel Utting

    Hate this “patina” thing with old classics. Just an excuse to avoid the cost of a new paint job. Not being overly familiar with American cars of this era, I must say this the first time I have seen one of these and I rather like her simple clean lines. Full restoration with some modernisation in and out, ie ugrades to brakes, suspension, interior ect…and a nice paint job! Not a restoration to factory origonal but create a new car preserving as much as possible her period style.

    Like 5
  18. ccrvtt

    Dave is right, it’s a Buick motor. Olds didn’t have the vertically oriented valve covers.

    My first car was a 1962 Cutlass convertible in burgundy with a white top and red interior with the automatic console. It was a small car that rode like an Olds 98 and was solidly built. GM’s experience with aluminum engines was limited at the time and mine began to suffer from blow by.

    That little gem had about 90 coats of Classic Car Wax on it and my friends claimed that they could eat off the floors it was so clean. I would be sorely tempted to find another to replace my 2007 Corvette, but it would never compare to hitting the loud pedal in the ‘Vette.

  19. 370zpp

    That console and the buckets… never seen one of those before.

  20. Dave

    Patina haters that say ” just paint it” have no clue of the work involved in painting a car like this. You have a choice, spend an entire season prepping and painting the car while spending a few thou, or pay someone else to do it for 10k or more. It’s not a matter of an afternoon of sanding and a couple quarts of Eastwood paint.

    Like 1
  21. Boothguy

    I wonder if it still has the original trans which is completely different animal than the Buick. Not an easy platform to update or modify like a Nova, Falcon or Dart. I’ve had a couple dozen of them and really like them but I’d only get one with a standard trans

    Like 1
  22. Brian K.

    I love this car. How would this engine do on the street? Would it be ideal to swap the engine with lower compression and bigger cubes? I’m just saying for a nice cruiser with a bit more power and better road manners. Great find.

  23. gary rhodes

    My aunt bought a new burgundy convertible with a white top and a red and white interior. I was three when she bought it and she used to take me for rides when I got a little older. I remember the 57 210 that my dad raced and that he traded in for a new tri power 4 speed GTO that was burgundy with a burgundy interior. He used to sit me on his lap when we were on I77 going to my moms parents farm and let me steer. my grandpaw had me driving his tractor by then, id steer and he would brake until i was big enough to stand on the boards and work the brakes myself, very good times growing up. Pop kept the GTO until he traded for a 71 455 4 speed Grand Prix. My dad was a hell of a driver and my mom could drive and shift both of his Ponchos as well as him. I fell far from the tree and still love Mopars to this day.

    Like 1
  24. gary rhodes

    This car would be a great one to transplant a GNX drivetrain into, what a sleeper it would be !

    Like 1
  25. HC

    Nice little project car. Olds version of a Ford Sprint I guess. Love the buckets and console. From pics I didnt see the master cylinder either. I would start with a front disc conversion kit and MC with hopefully power maybe 8″ size booster. Then try and sort out mechanical. Didnt someone mention this may be a Buick engine dropped in? Be good to see that that was done right and already buttoned up to the correct transmission. Definitely, after that a fresh paint from a good body guy and a fresh interior. Be a great little car to drive and enjoy.

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