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Little Sleeper: 1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass F85

1961 was the first year for the Cutlass, aka F-85. This was the second compact car for GM after the Covair introduced the previous year. It’s a unibody chassis that was shared with the Pontiac Tempest and the Buick Special, 2 feet shorter than the next smallest Olds. It featured an aluminum 215 CID V8 with or without a turbo. This little Cutlass can be found here on eBay with bidding at $915 or here on craigslist for $1,600 right here in Sacramento. It doesn’t run but it is said to be rust free except for the surface rust. It has a title and current registration.

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass Interior

It looks complete and original. The interior looks great for a car this old, just needing attention to the driver’s side armrest and front seat. Bucket seats and console from the Jetfire version would be cool, but the bench would be fine for a driver.

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass Hood

The body looks pretty straight with mostly surface rust showing. The hood is perhaps beyond repair after it was closed on rusty hinges. That surface rust is certainly beyond patina.

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass

This a pretty small car to have a V8 in. It’s a little 155 horsepower V8, but there are certainly possibilities. It might be possible to get this roadworthy with minimal mechanical work. The suspension (double wishbone under the front with a four link rear and coils all around), was way ahead of most American cars of its day. These are lightweight cars and can be built into mean little machines. With a little encouragement that little V8 could be made peppy and even with the stock suspension, they drive like a more modern car. This could be a cheap start to an inexpensive project, a fun driving little sleeper. What would you do with this little F-85?


  1. Dan h

    Another zero effort listing. How much can someone tell you about a car they have only owned for the last 17 minutes?

    Like 1
  2. Derik Lattig

    A car you don’t see too often. Winder if parts are readily available.

    Like 0
  3. Rick

    Unusual car that you just don’t see anymore.In fact most were off the road by the early 70s. Could be a relatively easy project depending on how ambitious a guy was about things like the interior. Like how it’s so solid and rust free. Be nice if for the interior you could get away with just front seat reupholstering. Looks like bumpers and some of the chrome need attention too, if you want perfect. Would have to overhaul the motor and transmission. On that note,thank goodness it has a normal transmission and not one of those nutty rope drive bizarro Tempest-style transaxles. Still, would take fairly significant $$$ to get it presentable even if you didn’t get carried away.

    Like 1
  4. Paul

    Now you are just making me think of dropping a V8 in my MG.

    Like 0
  5. ChodeBoy

    Put a temporary cover over the fron seat, freshen the fluids, add battery, check brakes and DRIVE. I peronally LOVE the patina on this one. If it were here in Indiana, I would have already bought it. Shipping adds a HUGE expense on low budget cars like this.

    Like 0
    • Scotty G

      Very true, sir, double the price with shipping on this one. It sure would be a fun car to tinker with and get running, though. Almost any 2-door car is worth $1,000, or it will be in a handful of years once everything else is gone (in someone’s collection).

      Like 0
  6. Dan the Man

    Poor baby, looks like it has been abused!!

    Like 0
  7. cliffyc

    Great engine Rover picked up that 215ci Buick V8 and used it in the 3500 Rover saloon,after that it was in many other British vehicles including the original Range Rover in 1970. So yes,Paul it will go in an MG!. Probably the most popular ever V8 used in the UK…?

    Like 1
  8. van

    The engine is the question
    Back in 1963 the 215 began regularly returning to the dealer for warranty coolant leaks.
    The aluminum began to corrode at the water passages at the rear of the intake manifold
    Leaking coolant.

    Like 0
    • Blyndgesser

      How hard would it be to swap in a later Rover V8?

      Like 0
      • van

        I think the rover up to 4.2 will interchange?
        The 215 with a 300 crank from buick.

        Like 0
      • Ol Shel

        There are tons of Rover options and hop-ups available. Should be quite cheap, given the reliability of late-’90s/early 2000s Rovers. You could build a cool-looking screamer on a budget.

        Like 0
  9. Bobsmyuncle

    These have some great character lines and can definitely look great.

    There is a black on black one with steelies, dog dish hubcaps and a Chevy 350 locally that really catches my eye.

    Like 0
  10. Marc Lawrence

    The beauty of this car is – it doesn’t have to run or have keys or anything to pay a license fee in California. + Insurance – lol.

    Like 0
    • David Frank David Member

      in California you can pay a very modest non-op fee,( like $8 to $12 a year for a car like this) if you aren’t driving it and there’s no insurance required. I don’t see a problem. What’s funny?

      Like 0
      • Gary K

        You are correct David, Marc obviously does not reside in California. I have a ’59 Chevy I non-op in 2001, for a mere (one time fee) not annually $10.. and is on my private property so it is legal, and when it does go back on the CA roadways I just have to pay the current reg. fees and add appropriate Ins. to do so. No back fees or Insurance issues while on the non op.

        Like 0
  11. Alan (Michigan)

    My brother had the Starfire version. Ran OK until the trans acted up and would hop directly from first to third, skipping second.
    A neighbor backed into the car on the street. Bro took the cash, left the ding for the next owner.
    That car was a lesson on what to look for when buying a used car…

    Like 0
  12. DENIS

    Looks solid…I would tub it, put a 455 Olds in it and go drag racing(after we get real on price)….very lightweight

    Like 0
  13. Poppy

    This appears to be a 1962 model. I don’t believe they introduced the Cutlass trim level until then, plus the 1961 f-85 models had a concave grille like their full-sized Olds cousins. Parts are out there but you may have to look.

    Like 0
  14. Joe Backer

    I know it four years ago. I’d like to see it as a Ken Block hoonigan. You know full cage. super high e-brake for them drift, tail spins.

    Like 1
  15. Joe Backer

    I’m a Ford guy, Yet I come back to this every couple of years or so. I love the styling inside and out on this baby.

    Like 1

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