Desert Find: 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass

It looks like a first-gen 442 but it’s not, it’s a Cutlass and probably more like a 341, depending on the engine configuration employed. Nevertheless, the lines of this second-year A-Body intermediate, shared with Chevrolet’s Chevelle, Pontiac’s LeMans/Tempest, and Buick’s special are among my favorites. Located now in El Paso, Texas, this 1965 Oldsmobile F85 Cutlass Holiday Coupe (that’s a mouthful!) has spent years in the New Mexico desert and it’s now in search of more suitable digs. Interested? It’s available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $6,500. There is a make an offer option too.

It’s interesting to see how the paint has disappeared from the horizontal and flat surfaces but the lower portions of the verticle sides still have vestiges of its Provincial White finish. True to form, there is no sign of rust-through, topside or bottom. The seller adds, “The car appears to be pretty complete, unmolested and original with not much rust“. The rust reference might be addressing the surface rust menagerie. The stainless steel trim and chrome-plated bits even show well. Note the base of the C-pillar, the trim piece in place is indicative of a one-time installed vinyl roof covering, an item probably reduced to cinders years ago. Heck, this Cutlass is so original, it still has three of its four-wheel covers.

Being an F85 Cutlass Holiday Coupe, I’m going with the assumption that the engine is a 315 gross HP, 330 CI V8, inhaling through a four-barrel carburetor and exhaling through a single exhaust system (at least that’s what the sales brochure claims and thus my “341” designation). The seller adds that he has not tried to start the engine – and there is no word regarding the engine’s rotational capability. The transmission employed is a Jetaway, a name that Olds used on several different automatic transmissions but in this case, it’s a two-speed automatic – like a Buick Super Turbine 300. The underhood appearance is complete and original looking.

The interior looks like it has been flash-banged, the upholstery is just disintegrated, ostensibly, from the desert sun blast. The damage extends to the front and back seats, the door panels, the headliner, and of course, the dash pad. The floors are a little harder to read but the underside image shows them to be sound. It may not be mounted in the most convenient place but the console positioned tachometer is a nice inclusion.

Even though the body and undersides are showing structural integrity, this Cutlass is going to need some help unless a full-on Roadkill vibe is what the next owner is seeking. Really, it could be driven as is but the interior (and probably wiring) is going to need some minimal improvement. And, I think that Jetaway slushbox needs to go, but there’s a lot here, as is, with which to work, wouldn’t you agree?


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  1. Cadmanls Member

    That was lacquer paint back then and wasn’t that durable over time. Lots of work to put paint back on that, but looks like a solid car. Really don’t know if Olds used the switch pitch like the Buick. But make it yours with a modern drivetrain. Sheet metal is one year and Olds as Buick sheet metal, bumpers etc..are a little tougher to find.

    Like 1
  2. CCFisher

    If 4-4-2 was derived from 4-barrel carb, 4-speed, and dual exhaust, wouldn’t that make this a 4-2-1?

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Correct! But there are those that insist by ’65 it meant 400 CI, 4-Speed, (2) dual exhaust. It could have gone either way.


      • AZVanman

        Once it got an automatic, it was 400,4 bbl, dual exhaust.

      • 19sixty5

        But… the first 442 was a 1964 equipped with a 330 cubic inch, making the 4 barrel, 4 speed dual exhaust. Over the years things blurred!

        Like 1
  3. CCFisher

    It may not be a 4-4-2, but the base 1965 F-85 Cutlass engine seems to be the same engine used in the 1964 4-4-2.

    Like 3
  4. Ron Ron

    I had the same year 442 as a convertible. It was in almost perfect shape, except it needed a paint job and a new ragtop. I got it for $800.! A vocational high school near me painted it for free in their paint class. After I installed a new top and enjoyed it for a while, I sold it for $38,000. It was a fun and fast car!

  5. Ron Ron

    I had the same year 442 that was a convertible in much better shape than this and got it for $800.!! After having it repainted and a new ragtop installed, I eventually sold it for $36000. It was 100% original, including the engine. Not sure if this engine presented is an original.

  6. Dudley Price

    I had a 1964 2 door hardtop which I received from my dad – he ordered it and picked it up in Detroit – factory 330 c.i, 4 barrel, 4speed, dual exhaust and early production – no 4-4-2 badging. Palomar red with black vinyl interior and same console and tach. That year it meant 4 barrel, 4 speed and dual exhaust however just looked it up on Wikipedia and found out how many other changes from a stock F-85 that car actually had! Another one that I should have kept.

    Like 1
  7. F. Paul Russell III

    More than likely, that 330 cu. in. V8 probably sports 290hp.

  8. stumpwi

    Is the first picture before or after they got the underside photo using a forklift?

    Like 1
  9. Ron Ron

    Me too Dudley. It was a fast car!

    Like 1
    • Dudley Price

      Yes she was pretty fast – I soon learned that a clutch for the 330 Olds was the same as a 327 heavy duty clutch setup only about twice as expensive. Went with the Chevy parts and no problems. Traded the Olds for a 1966 Charger 383 auto. which was no slouch either.Fun times

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