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Compact Classic: 1961 Oldsmobile F85

As small foreign cars started flooding the market in the late ’50s, domestic manufactures scrambled to build smaller cars that could compete. Ford built the Falcon, Plymouth had the Valiant, and Oldsmobile had its F-85. This 1961 Oldsmobile F85 is in Gloversville, New York and can be found here on Craigslist for $7,000.

Unlike most of the compact cars that the F-85 was competing against, it came with a V8. The high compression 215 cui aluminum V8 helped keep weight down and while it’s a relatively small V8, it put out 155 hp and 210 lbs of torque in base configuration. We aren’t sure if this car has the base V8 or the upgraded 185 hp version, but either way it’s still a V8.

The seller didn’t include much information about the car, but it looks to be clean and solid. They claim the car only has 36,000 original miles and is a barn find. If you’ve been looking for a smaller classic, but want something different then the Falcon or Valiant, this Olds could be a great choice.


  1. Avatar photo Kman4

    This car was a favourite of mine but this one is a plain jain in a beige wrapper. It seems to me there was a deluxe version which was the first to carry the ‘Cutlass’ name. The convertible was a winner in deluxe trim but there were some warping issues with that aluminum block.

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  2. Avatar photo J. Pickett

    This is a plain jane, and it is a little pricey if the description is not right. But the Cutlass was better equipped and therefore more expensive. Very desirable little cars. As for the engine, GM only used it for 3 model years, 61,62,63, After that the cars got much bigger and they went to small iron blocks. The entire engine line and design was sold to Rover of England where it was used in Rover and Land Rover vehicles until BMW bought them out. Many years, and displacements up to 4.9 litres. They also used them in Morgans and other low production British sportscars. The Brits loved them as they were light, economical and much advanced for their time. Oldsmobile also built a turbocharged version in 62 and 63 with water/alcohol injection rated at 215 hp. This and the Chevrolet Corvair were the first turbocharged production engines for cars ever. And with due care I never heard of any major issues. I’d love to have a Cutlass Jetfire Turbo with a 4 speed.

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  3. Avatar photo J. Pickett
  4. Avatar photo Faygo

    Nice little car, and I remember that first wave of small cars (Falcon, etc.). This one is a little more obscure, but would be fun to own. What’s with the picture being 4 1/2 years old, though? Don’t like that.

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    • Avatar photo Barn Finds

      We were concerned about that too. Perhaps the seller did not set the camera’s date correctly? We hope that is the case because a lot can happen in four years.

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  5. Avatar photo scot c

    ~ @ J. Pickett, great link. what were the differences between Olds and Buick 215 ci motors? is the rumor that General Motors attempted to buy back their aluminum V8 true or false?

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  6. Avatar photo Tim Waters

    I absolutely love this little car. The fact is is a plain jane is a big part of the appeal for me. Gotta love those poverty hubcaps!

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  7. Avatar photo Frank DeFilippi

    Years ago I had a 62 Jetfire the 215 with the turbocharger it had horrible Turbo lag and used “Rocketfuel” as an anti dentonation additive it was a great car red with silver interior wish I had it back

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  8. Avatar photo Bill Paulson

    Had a ’61 Pontiac Tempest Custom 2-door coupe (no hardtops made that year) with the Buick-built 215CI, 155HP aluminum V-8 and a 2-speed Powerglide rear transaxle. I really liked that car, metallic red with a white top and maroon/red vinyl interior. The only thing I didn’t like was the flexible rope-type driveshaft which caused the car to buck on quick starts (no burnouts with this one), and the weird camber the rear half-shafts caused.

    Yes, GM tried to buy back this engine from Rover, but I have no idea what application they planned for it.

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