Funky Fastback: 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon

This isn’t deja vu all over again, even though our own Jeff Lavery recently showed us a very similar 1979 Buick Century Aeroback. This 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon is more than somewhat similar in appearance to that Century Aeroback. This funky sloped-back Cutlass can be found listed here on Craigslist in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The seller is asking $3,500 for this eye-of-the-beholder beauty. They say that “This is not a rust bucket barn find!” Thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

I uhh.. er.. well, ummm.. So, about this design.. Yeah, uhh.. hhmm..  Well, moving along.. Other than my own profile, I can’t think of a more ungainly profile, can you? On the other hand, being a lover of awkward, oddball vehicles, that profile makes me like this car even more. The aeroback/fastback Salon was made for 1978 and 1979 in both two-door and four-door configuration. I love the unusual factor, life is too short to drive a cookie-cutter vehicle, at least in the old-car-section of your garage. Your commuter car? Yes, who cares, but your collector cars? No. That’s just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.

From the back and from the front it looks like a regular fifth-generation Olds Cutlass, nice and crisp. I love the red stripe on the hood, too bad it doesn’t continue over the hood and the sloping back. And, it’s too bad that there isn’t anything on the body sides other than stark white paint and some sort of what look like aftermarket wheel covers? Are those spinner caps? I can’t quite tell but I think they’re white painted steel rims and some sort of.. something else. Interesting. The seller says that it has “staggered 15 inch smoothie wheels and new cooper cobra tires”. There ya go.

I was hoping for some sort of red plaid interior, but red does it for me every time. It looks fantastic inside both front and rear. This interior looks much more plush than the one that Jeff showed us in Buick form a few days ago. That was blue vinyl and it’s hard to beat red/burgundy cloth when it’s compared to blue vinyl. There are only six photos in the listing and in keeping with the laws of the United States of America, there are no engine photos. The seller says, “260-V-8, auto, ps, pdb, ac”. The 260 cubic-inch V8 would have had 110 hp so it’s not a neck-snapper. Are any of you into these unusual and slightly-ungainly aeroback/aerodeck/fastback GM models of this era, or am I the only one?


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  1. Howard A Member

    This was the car that I had, only brown. Like I said in the Buick post, I wasn’t really looking for a Cutlass, it was just a couple hundred dollar winter beater, and it was a great car. Funny story with it, when I got it, it seemed to run a bit rough, so I decided to throw a set of plugs in. All 7 came out fine, but #8, back by the firewall under the a/c/ heater was unreachable. I think I came up from the bottom, with every extension I had, finally got it out, there was no electrode and was different than the other 7, like it may have been the original plug nobody bothered to replace. How it ran at all is still a mystery. Again, great, reliable cars.

    Like 8
    • Tom

      Prefer the 1976-77 cutlass gas guzzlers.

      Like 5
  2. canadainmarkseh Member

    Look mom there goes a big white shoe box. All kidding aside dispite there outward down right ugly appearance these were solid reliable cars. This particular car appears to be no exception. My mom had a blue four door Malibu same engine and yes it was no tire burner but it was a good people hauler. She drove that car for fifteen years without a bit of trouble. One thing I can say for this car in its defence is when your sitting in it rolling down the highway you really can’t tell how ugly it is. I don’t know about collector car but daily driver most definitely.

    Like 7
  3. Dirk

    I don’t really mind it. It takes the road less travelled (visually speaking). It represents a bold departure from the aesthetic norm and I respect that. The more you look at it, the more pleasing it becomes in a practical, pragmatic, but endearing sort of way.

    Like 4


    GM downsizing in the 1970’s. How to compete with the Japanese.


    Take a Cutlass chop off the trunk and add the rear clip from a Pinto. Add a snazzy name! Advertise how all new it is and why you need it.


    GM 1980’s American’s still buying Japanese……only more.

    This is how it was done

    Like 12
  5. local_sheriff

    This is so downright UGLY it’s cool! Looks OK from the rear doors forward, and the steering wheel looks great! Appearantly these cars were for those who… simply couldn’t care less about a car.
    This half saloon/estate body style made great success in Europe from the late 60s (Renault 16 ,VW Passat etc) ,but was never welcomed on the US market. Looking at this it’s highly understandable…
    It’s ‘shocking’ this hasn’t made it to the crusher through its 40 years. It looks amazingly well kept ( are there any better out there…?).Slam it and it would make a KOOL odd cruiser for someone with enough self-irony to dare taking it to the next cars-n-coffee

    Like 2
  6. Bongo

    This was some of the dark days for GM. Especially Oldsmobile for this to have a Cutlass name tag on something this ugly. I said it ugly. No wonder GM needed bailed out. I dont know why any one would give over a 1000 for this…

    Like 6
  7. CanuckCarGuy

    One of the benefits of reading Barn Finds, is the reminder of vehicles I’ve long forgotten about… and that’s not a slight against this car. There’s been so many variations and rebadging exercises from the Big Three over the years, I need a reminder now and then.

    Like 3
  8. notinuse

    Well, I like the steering wheel.

    Like 7
  9. Michael A Groves

    I seen one of these one time as a 442. It was still ugly.

    Like 3
    • Longshot

      Yeah I’ve seen one of these badged as a 442 as well. Can you imagine? Surreal…

      Like 1
  10. STM

    Funky? you mean the smell? It might be worth 3500 shekels.

    Like 1
  11. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

    I like oddball cars but not oddball when you apply huge doses of ugly. This thing might be a dependable daily driver for someone but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it. A man has got to have standards.

    Like 3
  12. mallthus

    My parents had one of these, albeit in a higher trim level with all power options (windows, locks, etc). They also had the Buick V6 in theirs, which I recall being “adequate”, especially given that I never heard my father complain about it, even coming from their previous car, a Delta 88 with a large V8.

    Like 2
  13. Superdessucke

    These were much maligned even when they were new. I think some of that had to do with the fact that Olds put the 442 package on this body style, to pretty ill effect. I actually think this looks pretty nice in plain form. That nose stripe needs to go though.

    Like 3
  14. Jasper

    “Hey kid…you wanna make twenty bucks?” One of the first scenes in “Repoman”, Harry Dean Stanton cons Emilio Estevez to get his “pregnant wife’s” very similar car out of “this bad neighborhood”.

    It could make a fantastic sleeper/cruiser with an Olds 455/700r4 and proper rear end. Would benefit with a set of “15 Super Stock wheels with thin whitewalls.

    I remember Road &Track featuring Bill Mitchell’s silk purse, sleepers based on the likes of these.

  15. Del

    800 bucks for this is to high

    Like 3
  16. KawiVulc

    Looks like they sent two different design teams into two different rooms, slapped the results together & called it a Cutlass.

    Like 3
  17. cyclemikey

    I see it has the much sought-after “Droopy-Ass” option.

    Like 7
  18. Jay S.

    I bought a ’79 4dr off a dealer’s lot at the end of the model year. The dealer was so happy to see some one interested in it that he gave me a really good deal. It had the 231 V6 that never gave me any problems over the 10 years I drove it. Only drawback was the sloping trunk that limited storage space (I installed a roof rack to compensate). I wrote to GM suggesting they make it a hatch back. They didn’t, but if they had, they would have been 40 years ahead of what we have now.

    Like 2
  19. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Agree with the Canuck….these were at the time – some solid far eastern beaters from what we had been offering before. We were still behind but catching up….

  20. T C

    The early eighties Cadillac Sevillle had an ugly profile as well with its “French back”

    Like 1
  21. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I would take the 180,000 mile ’77 4 door for $2500 over this one.

    Like 2
  22. Todd Fitch Staff

    Hey Scotty – nice one! Plain vanilla sedan. I mentioned this on Jeff’s post, but I looked at an aeroback Cutlass (used) back in the day. It was a maroon 442 with maroon cloth interior and the dealer said it had the 403, an option that sources today say ended in ’77. I ended up with a ’78 Pontiac Phoenix two-door instead. Anyone heard of a ’78 Olds with a factory 403?

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