Rare 4-Speed! 1963 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass

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Along with Pontiac and Buick, Oldsmobile joined the compact car competition in 1961, sharing a new platform with the Tempest and Special. Taking advantage of the “jet age” rage of the 1950s and 1960s, the car was similarly named after a Sabre fighter, the F-86. This 1963 edition in Cutlass trim is a one-owner survivor that runs, but after 25 years of storage has a few issues to be sorted out (engine leaks). The seller claims it’s one of only 100 made with a 4-speed manual transmission. This Oldsmobile rarity is in Vails Gate, New York, and is available here on craigslist for $14,500. Thanks for the cool tip, FordGuy1972!

The F-85 was a compact car for only three years before being upgraded to mid-size proportions in 1964 (as was the Pontiac and Buick). The Cutlass was the upgraded version of the car for years before becoming the series nameplate. Oldsmobile first used the Cutlass name on an experimental sports coupe designed in 1954. Development work on the F-85 and its GM siblings began in the mid-1950s and followed the somewhat unorthodox Chevy Corvair to market. Unlike its brethren, the F-85 as a compact had a V8 engine from the start, a 215 cubic inch all-aluminum “Rockette” engine that was rated at 155 hp.

Styling on the F-85/Cutlass was refreshed in 1963, making it perhaps the most attractive of its first three years. The Cutlass 2-door coupe, like the seller’s auto, saw a production of more than 41,000 units, so it was a quite popular component of the Oldsmobile line-up. According to the seller, this was a rare Cutlass when new, with fewer than 20 surviving today (how does he/she know this?). The car has a 4-barrel carburetor though we thought only a 2-barrel was available without a turbocharger. Since this is a one-owner car, we surmise the original buyer has passed on and his/her family is offering it for sale.

We’re told this vehicle has been in storage in a garage for at least 25 years, but it seems to have cleaned up nicely. The two-tone paint looks to be tired (original?) and the interior is fine except for some cracks in one of the bucket seats. The rear bumper is dented in a couple of spots. An odometer reading of 74,000 is quite plausible for a car in the condition presented here, which seems unrestored. The next owner will receive a ton of paperwork, which includes the Protect-O-Plate and original window sticker. Under-dash air conditioning was added later.

The seller says the car runs, drives, and stops, but does these things in a less-than-perfect manner. There are oil leaks to be dealt with which will be cured with what the seller believes is a much-needed rebuild of the engine. On the other hand, the 4-speed seems to work as it should, but the brakes are ready for a makeover. An assortment of parts comes with the car to help with fixing these mechanical issues. You don’t see these cars often anymore and finding one with a 4-speed would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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  1. Scotty GilbertsonStaff

    Nice one, Russ and FordGuy 1972! It’s a shame that out of 23 photos, they couldn’t pop the hood for one lone engine photo, I’ll never understand that. That $199.50 Borg Warner four-speed makes this a pretty rare car, nice work, sir.

    Like 19
    • HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

      I’ll say, that’s over $2grand today ( so convenient just add couple zeros), even the radio wasn’t cheap. In ’63, a 4 speed just wasn’t what people wanted, especially in a F85. Then, in ’64, a certain Pontiac changed everything.

      Like 12
    • Jonny

      M20 Muncie 4 speed not a borgwarner

      Like 0
      • David Wight

        Nope. It’s a Borg Warner T10… I have one.

        Like 0
    • Rick Galliher

      I won a Fiat from Pohanka Olds in Washington, and parlayed it into an F85 coupe (base, not Cutlass) that had the 2BBL with the B/W T-10 and a limited slip diff, Mine was black, with a “deluxe” (meaning carpeted floors) and red vinyl bench seats. Ordered it on 2/14/63 and it was delivered on 3/21/63. Got rid of it in 1972 when the 2nd clutch went – with 110K miles. Got 25 mpg road mileage. Loved that car – first new car – and I was only 20 when I got it… Rick.

      Like 0
  2. angliagt angliagtMember

    I always thought this was the most bland looking year
    for these,but having a 4 speed makes this one interesting.

    Like 9
    • G L. George

      My parents bought one of these new in ‘63. Medium or navy blue on the bottom with a painted white top (black interior I think). I was awed. It was my mothers daily driver. I thought it was a handsome car, not too big, just a perfect size. One trip on the interstate, while 16, I almost put it into the back of stopped traffic ahead when I noticed my mother pressing both feet through the passenger side of the firewall which was my signal to press the brake pedal harder! (kids need plenty of supervised driving time). I have seen very, very few since those days but always are
      drawn to them; as I am to this car with manual shift. In 1963 I was 13 at the time so that makes me 72 now and I am still impressed with the styling. However, the last time I sat in one, I was shocked at how low the seat-back and dashboard was. Also, being a “hot rodder” I was surprised to see a rather unorthodox front suspension/frame rail arrangement. Still, I would love to have one; GM LS engine, five speed TKX, Ford 9” with four wheel discs. Probably dreaming of course! Thanks for the memories!
      My parents were terrific!

      Like 0
  3. timothy r herrod

    oil filter for 3.97? Can someone help me understand that one. Maybe it was for a spin on filter instead of a cannister type?

    Like 5
    • Howard Willey

      My Mom’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air with a 265 had no oil filter at all, it was an option. GM also had standard steering wheels and optional nice ones. I guess it was a way to keep the base price low.

      Like 0
    • Tom

      Can filters
      ( filter inside container)
      were popular with automakers back then.
      Maybe it was a upgrade to spin-on filters

      Like 0
  4. NHDave

    A sincere question for the more learned out there…. As the transition to spin-on oil filters from the earlier cartridge type was taking place during this period, is the “K10 Oil Filter” option listed on the window sticker an upgrade to a spin-on filter? Or, a higher capacity filter? Other? Not sure what that is, but I figure the brain trust here would know. Thanks….

    Like 3
    • Art Engel

      Any oil filter on some cars was an option. I had a inline six 61 Chevy Biscayne with no oil filter, change the oil and go. Nice car back in the day, had about 70k and used and burned some oil.

      Like 4
      • Stephen Payne

        70K and burned and used oil? Maybe because no filter?

        Like 0
    • jetfire88

      The oil pump is external to the engine on the 215, and the filter canister spins directly on to it.

      The factory parts book shows the spin-on canister, and also shows an alternative spin-on cap to replace the canister.

      The options list wording in the parts catalog does not list ‘oil filter’, it only appears in the pix in the illustration section. I’ve owned many variants of the ’61-’63 F85’s but I have never seen one with the cap.

      Like 2
  5. BA

    Regardless of gripes i see value in this rare gem but of course its 1,300 miles away but without getting underneath it or viewing that sweet little V-8 its just amother one that could have been but got away . Hopefully someone close by can verify whats here.

    Like 4
    • Justin Handforth

      Car was undercoating when new, there is no rust under car, very clean, no rust in trunk either, only rust is on exterior of car, mostly bottoms of fenders. Has stock 215 aluminum V8 with rare 4bbl and 4spd also has A/C and seat belts installed. Original rug is still in Excellent condition.

      Like 0
  6. Bill

    A friend of my dad has one of these. As a 14 year old he hired me and a buddy to help at his daughters wedding reception. He took us home in this car and explained it was so powerful the he didn’t need to use second gear. Just shift from first to third. I was impressed and had no idea at the time he was BSing us.

    Like 0
  7. Shon Nelson

    The Oldsmobiles from 61-63 were All available with 4V carburetors !!!! We had 3 when I was young !!!

    Like 0
  8. Deacon

    Back in the 70’s I had a 63 Buick Special with the same package. 215 ci, 4 bbl, 4 spd and bucket seats. Fun little car. Sure wished I’d hung on to that one.

    Like 0
  9. Joe Haska

    I like this car, however to make it a very nice car would not be difficult, it also wouldn’t be cheap. It is like many cars ,it would be an exceptional car ,but the cost of doing it may make it a pass, depending on how bad you want it.

    Like 1
    • Stephen Payne

      Absolutely. If I had the money, it would be mine, maybe. Lot of money for a potential rust bucket. Ran across one about 6-7 years ago. Red, convertible, and lots of rust. Was first car in mid 70’s, dark blue, auto, V-8. love to have it back.

      Like 0
  10. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    I hope a professional gets a hold of this and brings it back to 1963.

    Like 3
  11. Dave

    The 4 bbl was 185 hp, the turbo version, Olds only) was 215. Interesting enough the engine complete with carb and exhaust manifolds weighed 215 #.

    Like 0
  12. Bob

    My parents owned a 63 F85 4dr. The only issue I remember was the 215HP aluminum V-8 frequently ran hot. One neat thing it had was a remote trunk opener located in the glovebox

    Like 0
  13. James Martin

    I think asking price a little high. 4 speed cool but that doesn’t make it rare or valuable. Not everyone wants a car like this. And with 68-72 cutlass going for these kind of money I just don’t see alot of people looking at this, but who knows the freaking market has gone crazy! Just saw a baby bird go at BJ for almost a half a million dollars. FOR A BABY BIRD! DAMN I AM GETTING TO OLD FOR THIS CHIT.

    Like 8
    • 19sixty5Member

      The 4 speed certainly cool, and most certainly rare. Valuable is another story, limited market for these.

      Like 2
  14. KurtMember

    I can visualize this car completely restored with a beautiful paint job turning heads at Cars and Coffee.

    Like 3
  15. Curtis

    I had a 63 Jetfire with the turbo engine years ago. Same body style, also a 4 speed. Parts were hard to find, pre-internet days. I hope someone restores this one. They are nice looking cars. Price seems high, though.

    Like 3
  16. James Miller

    Very nice looking car. Always have had a soft spot for the BOP cars of that era, with Olds my most favored. Cute cars before they grew and grew. This one should be put back right!

    Like 1
  17. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    For me I like the body style, but it’s the tail lights that makes the difference between nice or just okay. For me the F-85 had the best looking rear end design of all the G.M. cars that year. I was 16 when these were new and I was amazed by all the American cars I checked out on the show room floors, My favorite was the Buick Riviera that I tried my best to talk my dad into purchasing. It didn’t happen, by then he only bought used pickups his latest being a 61 Chevy 1/2 ton short wide.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
    • Steven Renfro

      Yes indeed, the rear one the best features on mine.

      Like 0
  18. Dennis Tjaden

    That would be. Buick engine in this car

    Like 1
    • Howard Willey

      Same block, Buick Special had different heads than the Olds.

      Like 0
    • Sunshine

      Buick 215 V8 block, yes. But Oldsmobile had different bits to make it an Oldsmobile. I think this included manifold and 2-3 other bits. Just enough to make it painful when searching for the correct parts! Then in 1964 GM sold this compact V8 with tremendous potential to Rover in the UK, who worked out overheating and other issues to campaign it through the Millennium!

      Like 3
      • Enfield750

        The Olds also had extra head bolts to cure the head gasket leaks…

        Like 0
      • alphasudMember

        The Olds 215 has 5 head bolts surrounding the cylinders instead of 4 most likely to cope with higher cylinder pressures when fitted with the turbo. Heads have different valve angles and port design is different. These engines were modified for racing back in the day and were more sought after than the Buick/Rover design.

        Like 0
  19. jetfire88

    I have owned many ’61-’63 F85’s and when the gas door is holed from rust, there is usually nothing left of the rear wheelhouse and trunk floor because salty slush has splashed up around the rear tire and settled in the gas door gaps and through the trunk floor into the rear sections of the stamped framerail sections.

    Being a unit body, when the floors are gone you will use LOTS of Navy words and phrases trying to bring it back.
    I don’t see any tailpipes. If it’s a 4bbl, it should have a single inlet transverse muffler with two outlets that appear as dual exhaust at the back. The tail pipes are long and should have appeared in some of the pix.

    The ‘console’ is one-piece polished cast aluminum and appears to have some corrosion on the lower left front corner, just about where a salty winter boot would hit it, but it could also be a reflection on something. The tach needle looks hinky. Less pix of the brochures and more of the car would have made more sense.

    Like 4
    • Stephen Payne

      Had one. Loved it. But with what YOU know about rust issues I agree with it being overpriced.

      Like 0
    • Justin Handforth

      There is No rust in the floor boards or the trunk, super clean, only rust is on the outside, bottom edges of fenders and gas tank door and right front fender eyebrow. The original rug is in Excellent condition.that shadow on console is a reflection, No corrosion on the console.

      Like 0
  20. RexFoxMember

    I always thought these were cool; a small car with a small V8 and a 4 speed. The dad (a Dr) of friends had one of these in the same colors, but was in Washington, so it’s probably not the same car. I like it.

    Like 0
  21. Tom Black

    I really don’t know about that 1 of 100 stuff. In 1963 our local Cadillac/Oldsmobile dealer in Hammond, Indiana had an entire row of these F-85’s with 4 speed transmissions in just about every color combination that Oldsmobile offered. They sold out really quickly too.

    Like 1
  22. Pete Phillips

    $14K is much too high for a car that needs front seat upholstery, rear bumper straightening & replating, dull paint, rust-through in bottom of right front fender, and (seller says) an engine rebuild! Even $7500 is too much. Where do these people get these crazy asking prices? This is a $3500 car, maybe $4500 on a good day.

    Like 0
  23. 64 Bonneville

    I really liked the F85 and Cutlass up til about 1967. 68 and up don’t have the same allure to me. There was a 4 speed JetFire on my paper route way back then, light blue w/ white top, light blue interior. a Lady on my route bought it. She had it about 7 months, and somebody stole it from in front of her house. She replaced it with a Starfire convertible. Black w/ red interior and a white top.

    Like 1
  24. Mountainwoodie

    This would be a sweet little ride with the 4 speed. I have a soft spot for the smaller BOP’s, The 4 speed certainly makes it more interesting. And I agree with some of you that it is wildly overpriced. I love that the window sticker included a “padded rear seat” as opposed to what, a wooden bench? I’d pony up half the ask depending on the engine compression and the rust through. But then I’m cheap. But it certainly is worth considering. Not for nothing in todays highly deteriorated dollar this car would have sold for 30,000 in 2023 dollars!

    Like 0

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