Rolling Project: 1962 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible

A year after the debut of the Chevy Corvair, other GM divisions joined the compact car fray with their “senior compacts” (slightly larger automobiles). Sharing the same new platform, Oldsmobile launched the F-85 and it would only be offered with a small-block V8 engine. The Cutlass was the upscale edition and gained a convertible body style in 1962. This one is a roller, with the engine missing and the transmission in the trunk. The car has likely been sitting outside for years and both time and Mother Nature have taken their toll. Located in Boise, Idaho, this drop-top is available from a dealer here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $1,600.

First generation F-85’s would run between 1961-63. After that, they would grow to become intermediates and enjoy that size for many years to come. The car was built using unibody construction, still fairly new to the industry at the time. The F-85 name was a throwback to 1928-38 when Olds sold cars under the F-Series banner. The new compact was Oldsmobile’s smallest, lowest-priced model, using a double wishbone front suspension and a four-link live axle in the rear, with coil springs all around. The standard engine was a new “Rockette” 215 cubic inch all-aluminum V8, their version of the Buick engine.

Changes for the car’s second year were minimal. F-85’s sold in 1962 with an automatic transmission had a new and unique 4-speed Roto 5 Hydro-Matic transmission. That’s likely the transmission that was in the seller’s car but was relocated to the luggage compartment when the engine was removed. The seller of this convertible doesn’t offer much information other than confirming that it’s a project and it comes with a clean title. It was probably sitting out in a field and the seller agreed to tow it away.

The dealer refers to it as a Starfire, but that’s incorrect as the Starfire was the performance version of the full-size Oldsmobile. It may have been confused with the Jetfire, which this car is also not, but at least the platform is correct. The Jetfire was a hard-top only version of the Cutlass with a turbocharger, the first production car so equipped.

The body on this ’62 Cutlass looks to be good overall, with a limited amount of rust present. The front grille and headlight assembly was removed but it included with a bunch of parts, and the convertible top is limited to just hardware at this point. The rear bumper is dinged and bent, so it will have to be replaced. There is an abundance of surface rust on the trunk floor, but none seem to have turned into holes. The same can be said of the passenger floorboards, where the seats have been removed (they come along but are very, very rough).

Restoring this car will be a challenge, but perhaps prepping the body will be the least of it. 60 years later, these cars aren’t as plentiful as others of the same era, so I don’t how difficult it will be to source new parts and components. Especially the aluminum block V8 engine, if the buyer’s interest is to return the car to original-like condition. Hagerty doesn’t post a resale value for the ’62 Cutlass convertible but pegs an F-85 Club Coupe at $12-15,000 in gorgeous condition. Perhaps the lesser seen ragtop will be worth more.


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  1. Will Fox

    Not enough of this one left for my interest. Goooooood luck to whoever buys it!

    Like 2
  2. Brian K Mcgahey

    Good luck indeed. That aluminum block unique drivertrain were the whole point of teh car.

    Like 4
  3. Frank B.

    Would make a great restomod.
    If you wanted to restore to original, it would be expensive. the 215 aluminum engine lived on in the land rover and some trumph tr8’s.

    Like 3
  4. Joe

    It might be interesting to investigate the possibility of the descendent Rover motor and 5 speed to turn it into a unique restomod

    Like 4
  5. Terrry

    It’s not a Starfire, not a Jetfire, but a Rustfire. “Minimal rust”? Someone’s definition of minimal is different than mine apparently. Still, I’ve seen cars in much worse shape for for more.

    Like 2
  6. Steve Brown

    I don’t normally say this, but good candidate for an LS (or a mild 350) and a modern OD Trans. The interior parts availability will be very tricky I imagine.

    Like 1
  7. steve

    It should be no problem to source a 3.5L Rover engine (or one all the way up to 4.6L) and have a manual or an od automatic bolted to it. The problem is that there really isnt enough car to bolt it to.

    Like 3
  8. Enfield 750

    I happen to have a motor for this car, its a 1963 215ci 4bbl. unfortunately its apart but all the parts are there . Who ever buys the car can have the motor for free, but its located in NY

    Like 3
  9. Brian

    My parents bought one new in 62. it was white with a white top and red interior. All the other kids in the neighborhood envied the fact that we owned a convertible. We had a 17 foot fiberglass boat that we towed long distance with that car and it did well.

  10. Phil

    Excellent parts car.

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