Rusted Sword: 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass – Parts Car

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I’ve noticed as of late, Coparts cars and other auction vehicles getting lots of attention here on Barn Finds. Additionally, some of the barn finds we’ve posted that are in less-than-optimal condition have not received much love. This is undue, and I’ll tell you why. So from the “Success Stories” department, begins this related tale:¬†I purchased this 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass on ebay a few years back. The guy I bought it from had previously purchased it at an impound yard for sixty dollars. The property was sold, the yard was closing, and everything had to go. The previous owner’s son had saved this wreck for years to use for parts for a Monte Carlo convertible conversion project, that never materialized.

Before me, the guy I bought it from took it home and that summer, attempted to straighten the frame, installed some spare green fenders and a blue hood, but after awhile was not able to get around to doing much else with it. Family comes first. So the car languished for a few more years. Over time, as other projects came to the forefront, he finally decided to let this one go. It was listed on ebay as a parts car.

DAY1

The engine was a 350, with a four barrel carburetor, an automatic transmission, and was still in running condition. The car was a Supreme model, with lots of exterior trim and options including power steering, brakes and air, power windows, locks and more. It also had “sport” mirrors and a few of the body-colored SSII wheels still left on it. The photo above shows what it looked like on the hundred degree day I bought it, in Kansas.

roughathome

When I got it home, I assessed the damage. It wasn’t difficult to see why it had been listed as a “parts car”.

roughdoor

It was withered and shabby inside and out. It had damage on almost every panel, either bent or rusted, and many were both.

quarterextension

This rear quarter panel shows the likes of what I had to start with. It had been dented, repaired, rusted and then dented again. This car clearly has had a rough life.

rough7

The interior was not much better, but it had some great options. Power windows, locks, six-way power seat, a tilt steering column, good convertible-only glass, and more. The car was made to run again one last time before it was taken apart. It was driven to where it it was photographed, loud and rude and crude. It was a real head-turner of the negative variety.

71cutlassbefore22

It was rough and disheveled, but even a low-budget guy like me deserves a nice car, if I’m willing to work hard enough. Can there be an alternate future for this rusted sword? Who would buy such a hopeless project car? I did! It’s a long way from here to Wikipedia. Stay tuned for updates.

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Comments

  1. ydnar

    I like these cars. Good luck with the project!

    1
  2. Woodie Man

    You’re a brave man Gunga Din!

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  3. erikj

    I had a 71 supreme back in highschool(1977-79) loved it. very nice and the frist car I took over 100 miles an hour smooth. that sai I would love this one,but at the right price

  4. grant

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out Marty. I will say you are a braver soul than I.

  5. Barzini

    I wish I had the time and expertise to take on a project like this. It must provide a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you’re done. Good luck and please provide an update as progress occurs. I love these cars and am glad to see it saved.

  6. Gary Fogg

    My 71 Cutlass Supreme Convertible is a 4 speed 350 car, its rough but not as bad as this one, but that one is buildable, I have seen worse brought back, have at it !

  7. van

    You are to be commend my friend
    Pontiac and chevy didn’t sell many with all these options
    Back then we were cheep
    Now we’re old and fat and want a/c power and adjustable everything
    Makes this a great car
    I would be hard pressed not to add the cold air hood and a w30 spec engine.
    Did I say commend or confused
    Never mind

  8. JamestownMike

    Saveable car depending on purchase price. How much was it?……..that’s an important part of the story!

  9. JW454

    I bought one in similar condition a few years back. Just keep your focus on the prize and go for it.

    • JW454

      Dash

  10. Jay

    This car is awesome. I can’t wait to see it finished. Good luck and I admire you efforts to save this car.

  11. Jim Marshall

    This is my 442 I purchased on e bay after the car didn’t meet reserve. The owner took my offer and all I did was tweak it to the tune of 4 grand. Had the new paint job block sanded and buffed, W 30 stripe kit, new front bumper as it had a new 71 bumper when I got it. Sold the 71 for what I paid for the 70. New rear seat covering, interior trim pieces replaced where needed, new sport steering wheel, carpet, some grill pieces. The engine was the original 455 modified and car was very nicely optioned with factory air, dual gate Hurst shifter, air induction hood, power disc brakes and steering. To bring the baby back will require some serious devotion and money. One could be found in nice driver condition for a lot less than saving this one.

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  12. AMX Brian

    Awesome! I can’t wait to see more progress. I love projects like this!

  13. Moparmann Member

    Sometimes, it’s just for the “love” that a project is undertaken…sometimes love helps the project to completion, and other times, love withers away. But then, it is said that “love is blind!” :-).

  14. Wildfire

    I am mainly a MoPar man however I have built (rebuilt) 3 Olds. Cutlasses 1 a 72 442 4 speed vert and 2 71 CS’s great job on saving her she is well worth it IF you have the time to finish the job I would love to do another but my funds are not where I could do it right and I don’t have the physical ability to do the heavy body work ~still love the early 70’s Cutlass

  15. Chuck

    That is a great story–keep us posted & photos. This is a very worthwhile project, if you get frustrated, take a day or two off & everything will work out. Been there–Done that.

    Chuck

  16. Paul

    I looked a good rust free black 1971 Olds Cutlass convertible, complete, straight car last week here in Washington State, that has not been ran in about 25 years, he wanted $5500. If a guy wanted a good one I think this one is !!!! Paul

  17. superglider

    Great color combination as well… though I think I’d paint the exterior Sienna to match the interior. I’d probably also convert to buckets and console.

    1

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