Garaged 35 Years! 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

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The fourth generation of the Olds Cutlass Supreme (1978-88) would prove its most popular, even being named the best-selling car of the 1983 model year. It was also the last time the GM intermediates would roll on a rear-wheel-drive platform, and they were noteworthy for the inclusion of the 1983-84 Hurst/Olds. This ’86 edition of the Supreme looks exceptionally nice and we’re told it’s only showing 23,000 miles on the odometer. That makes it a great find in Bellingham, Washington, where it’s available here on craigslist for $17,500. Thanks for the heads-up, barn finder Kevin!

This car brings back a lot of memories. I bought a Cutlass Supreme like it new in 1983 and had it for 106,000 miles and 13 years. It had similar upholstery (but bench seats) and the same 231 cubic-inch V6 engine borrowed from Buick. It wasn’t a gutsy powerplant but had a decent top end and didn’t have to stop at every other gas station. The pinnacle was in 1983 when more than 331,000 were sold, making it the best-selling automobile in the U.S. that year. But the end was coming soon as Olds already had a FWD mid-size car, the Calais, which was being sold alongside the Supreme. The last of these RWD machines would exit the assembly line five years later.

According to the seller, the low miles on this Cutlass are documented and it’s numbers-matching (at least the engine). The medium blue paint is original and we assume the same applies to the velour interior and the contrasting padded landau vinyl top. As the Olds people knew success when they saw it, the Supreme was minimally changed year-over-year after 1981. The most noticeable may be the addition of the extra brake light in the rear window that was mandated by the Feds in 1986 (they would look less bolted-on in later years).

The seller doesn’t go as far as to say this is a one-owner car, but it has been garaged for the past 35 years. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it was stashed away and never used. But that’s led to a rust-free life and there don’t seem to be any obvious flaws that the photos point out. Sometime in its journey, a custom kill switch was added to prevent theft (one price for being a best-selling car is that it can also be a most-stolen car which some of the 1980s Supremes were). This perhaps would be a better find (IMO) if it had a small V8, but the V6 is not enough to kick it to the curb.

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  1. Greg B Greg B

    Nice find!

    Like 8
    • Jon

      I love the look of this car ..I had, I believe an 86…just a used one I had for a daily driver…not much power V6, but very comfortable cruiser…Of course if I get my hands on a 77 with a 350…then we’re talking about something, but this is a very nice looking car…

      Like 3
    • James p Walterhoefer

      Not to be a Karen … but in 1983 there was no Calais yet as the Calais was introduced in the Fall 1984 as a 1985 model (along with the Grand Am and Somerset). In 1983 the Cutlass sales did include a 4 door car and wagon and 2 door car .. which was the most popular model.

      Like 0
      • LenB.

        Actually the Calais package began in the 78 model year as the “deluxe version” of the Supreme coupe. (The previous “Salon package” was taken by the new A body aeroback in 78, so, the deluxe bucket seat console Supreme became the Calais fro 78-84. The 1980, 83 and 84 Hurst Olds Cutlass’s were based on the Calais.

        Like 2
      • Mel S

        I had a 79 Calais.

        Like 1
  2. Maggy

    Sharp car.Buick 231 not so much. Used to install extended oil pump kits with new longer gears and the housing extension made of cast iron on the external oil pump to get a few more pounds of oil pressure. Head gasket blowers too as well as it’s 4.1 litre cousin I’d see in big caddys and b body Buicks. The Rochester dualjet carbureted 3.8 Buicks were almost as bad as caddy 4.1v8’s from experience wrenching on them for several years in the 80’s and early 90’s.Sorry if I offended anyone but these engines were junk. The th200 trans was junk too.

    Like 13
    • Stan

      Wasnt that 200 trans used in all sorts of stuff.. Grand Nationals ?🏁

      Like 5
      • Don Page Jr.

        They did use the 200 in the Grand National, but it was a 200-4R with overdrive, I have a 79 Buick Century Turbo Coupe and it has a 350 transmission. This is according to Hemmings. “The most desirable TH-200-4Rs for performance enthusiasts are the units manufactured for Buick Grand National, Olds 4-4-2 and Chevy Monte Carlo SS in 1986-’87. These units used a special valve body. They also had a larger reverse boost valve, second to third intermediate servo, and a specially designed governor assembly. Their BQ, OZ, CZF, KZF or BRF transmission codes can identify these more desirable units.”

        Like 7
      • maggy

        I’m talking about the Turbohydramatic 200 3 speed not the 200 4r. The 200 4r was a decent trans when maintained the 200 3 SPEED was junk. I saw them usually behind cutalsses and regals with Olds 260’s and Buick 231’s.GM was slapped with a large class action lawsuit over th 200 premature failures.

        Like 8
    • Tommy T-Tops

      There was a time in the mid 80s where literally every other car on the road was this car. Now, like everything else you hardly see them anymore. GLWTA

      Like 14
      • maggy

        yup. Saw a mid 80’s regal yesterday and I thought I was in the twilight zone.

        Like 1
    • Hank Carroll

      are you cautioning against purchase of this model? “sharp car” seems to indicate it’s okay with you. But the rest of the comment says the engine has lots of problems.

      Like 0
  3. BA

    I remember going to New Smyrna beach back in the day on the back road in a friend’s car several of of us on a Saturday he drove a car just like this V6 & him trying to pass with on coming traffic! We barely made it & I never road with him driving again! Yeah that V6 was a dog!

    Like 3
  4. george mattar

    Agree with Maggy. Junk. And the 307 Olds not much better. Burned more oil than a waste oil heater we have at work. I had a 307 Olds in our 1987 Caprice wagon. Gutless pile of crap.

    Like 1
    • Keith D.

      My first car was a 68 Cutlass I bought for $50 back in 1981 4-door version with power windows and of course the 350 Rocket engine that started up every morning during those cold winter mornings in New York City when I was still in high school. The car had no heat and I had to wait for the engine to warn up for a little warmth through the vents underneath the dash.I was 16 I didn’t know anything and didn’t care as long as she started up I kept oil and antifreeze in her and kept rolling until I hit a Huge pothole and the rear right wheel popped off and rolled down the street Ha! I got it fixed sold it for $100 and bought a 70 Delta 88 coupe which is another story for another day. This Cutlass looks great well preserved and worthy of a sale.I wasn’t surprised that it once was the best selling car of 1983. The Cutlass brand was the very best and extremely popular in my neighborhood as well as in New York period. I’ve owned several Oldsmobiles in my day and it truly saddened me with the demise of Oldsmobile in 2004 It was a sad pathetic day for GM in my opinion. I hope this Cutlass sells in the right hands and continues to be taken care of. I’ll always miss the Oldsmobile brand, It was a part of my youth.

      Like 0
  5. Chris R.Member

    I owned one of these back in the mid 80’s and I must agree, that 231 V6 was a dog. Some years later, bought a used, low mileage ’88 Cutlass Supreme Classic with the 307 V8. They were both great cars but at least the V8 could get out of it’s own way!!

    Like 4
    • Phil D

      The lousy performance of the Buick V6 could be eliminated — and for free, to boot — by simply specifying the optional 3.08 rear axle ratio, but very few dealers did so. The Buick 3.8 was a decent performer when it wasn’t struggling against the tall standard axle ratio.

      Like 3
  6. CCFisher

    No A/C. That’s very unusual for a mid-80s Cutlass.

    Like 6
    • Vin_in_NJ

      No A/C, base radio, crank windows and rubber floor mats. Very unusual for a Cutlass Supreme model.

      Like 6
      • Chuck Dickinson

        The rubber floor mats are just mats over the carpeting. They’re much easier to clean, and they don’t wear out as fast as the carpeted mats do. If you don’t like them, it’s easy enough to take ’em out and throw them away. If the car is original from the area around Bellingham (just South of Vanc., BC), AC would not be a paramount concern for many buyers.

        Like 1
  7. S

    The front wheel drive car that ran alongside this was the Cutlass Ciera, not the Calais. The Cutlass Ciera was supposed to replace the Cutlass Supreme much sooner originally (I believe after 1983 or 1984), but these cars proved to be so popular that they were kept on longer. Gas prices also eased up a bit which slowed down how quickly the “great downsizing” happened. We had a 3.8 V6 in the Buick version of this car. It was fine off the line and at a moderate speed, but if you really gunned it, it didn’t have great pickup. However, this was the reality of those times. The focus was fuel economy and emissions, not power. Until fuel injection became a common thing on cars, this is just how it was.

    Like 1
  8. JB@1025

    The 260 Olds V-8 is just as doggy as the 231 V-6 biggest problem most of these had 2.23 rearend gears for MPG.

    Like 2
  9. Brad460Member

    I’m not going to argue that many of the engine and transmission combos of this vintage left a lot to be desired, but I really, really enjoy seeing bone stock survivors of this vintage of vehicles.

    This one, despite it’s obvious poor performance, deserves to be maintained and preserved. I think the seller is a bit ambitious on the price. I’d be interested if he were closer to reality on the price.

    Like 2
  10. Big C

    How much for a memory? I guess $17,500. Round about 2006, I found a 1984 Mercury Cougar for $800. Had a nice body and a mint interior, with the 3.8 V-6. I thought it would be nice to relive my 20’s and reminisce. I forgot how crappy the cars back then were. Sold it to another guy who’s family once owned one “just like this,” for double my money.

    Like 2
  11. Mike C.

    Back In the day I had a 83 Olds Cutlass Calais with T-tops, bucket seats floor shift auto and dash tach . The 231 v6:threw a rod at 62000 miles while on cruise control on way home from work , built a early 70s rocket 350 with manual valve body 350 turbo and 3500 stall converter B&M ratchet shifter, would race at Central Michigan speedway street tire shootouts . What a wicked fast sleeper , had to sell to buy my first house sure miss that car

    Like 1
  12. John W Kriegshauser

    Nice looking car, odd that is has no A/C, roll up windows but the optional bucket seats and console. Good candidate for an LS swap.

    Like 6
  13. Don Richards

    I have my grandma 86 cutlass salon if anyone wants to make me offer.

    Like 0
    • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

      Hi Don, send it in and we will auction it for you!

      Like 0

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