Rusted Sword Chapter Two: 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass


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Not always being one to listen and take good advice, I disregarded the seller’s opinion that this was just a parts car. This being the 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass featured here in chapter one. Fools rush in, and that’s what I did with this Cutlass. Soon after I brought it home, I got out the die-grinder and started cutting like a madman.


This is what was left of the trunk floor when I finished cutting. Or, perhaps more accurately, nothing was left of the trunk floor when I finished cutting. I also cut away the quarter panels, and the lower ends of both inner and outer wheel houses. The gallon jug served as a removable gas tank, that I could quickly re-install after I was finished working for the day. This enabled me to drive the car in and out of the garage so I could do that work in my favorite place, which is outside.


These are some of the jagged scraps of metal left over from cutting around the edges.


I cut with unbridled enthusiasm, because I had accumulated a trove of parts, waiting to be installed. The wheel houses, floors, trunk floor, and braces, are all reproduction.  I gave my credit card a real workout during this period of time. The doors and fenders were nice original used parts, although not all of it turned out to be as nice as I thought. More about that later.


One last look before pulling it back in to the garage for the evening. Lots more to do. Do you think it’s hopeless? Stay tuned.

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  1. MH

    That’s a lot more work then I would do but I’m happy I ts being saved. One of my favorite cars.

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  2. Doug

    Hey – good luck! You have your work “cut out” for you but it’s a desirable car to start with so your efforts won’t be going to waste. Your labor is free and though it looks like you know what you’re doing, no doubt you will learn many new things along the way (just as we all do when tackling a new or big project).

    Looking forward to following this with you!

    Have fun, take whatever liberties you desire in her restoration, but just please, please, please don’t clone this into another 442…

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  3. RayT

    Now THAT’s “patina!”

    Seriously, Marty, you’re more skilled/enthusiastic/dedicated than I am — not to mention having a better credit card! — and you’ll have a car that’s a pleasure to drive when you’re done. I’m a wee bit envious, and glad to see the progress you’re making!

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  4. grant

    Damn Marty. Not gonna lie, I would wright that car off. You’ve got bigger ones than me my friend! Can’t wait to see your progress.

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  5. JW

    I love to see a plan in the works and hope to see it all come together. I had to have about the same replaced on our Mustang but unfortunately had to hire it out as I don’t have the patience to do bodywork. Hope to see the finished project.

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  6. grenade

    First glance, parts car. After seeing the pics and what you’ve done & have already bought- Good job, you’ll get it done. I admire your commitment.

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  7. Don Minick

    In 1988 I restored a 1968 mustang convertible that several shops said was not repairable. That car is a daily driver , winter stored and beautiful. If you have the time ability and desire you can save a car and drive your dream car at a fraction of the cost of a high dollar original or restored example. Keep up the good work, it’s worth it!

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  8. Jason Houston

    You, sir, are one talented craftsman, and I feel your level of dedication. Hope you’ll post pictures when it’s finished. Best of luck with the project!

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  9. van

    Your awesome dude
    I wish I had the skills
    And could finish a project like this
    The D-type looks similar in scope, but I think it will be easier
    I’m not a welder
    But I am a dreamer

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  10. dj

    Thanks for turning this political.

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    • grant

      The hell are you talking about?

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  11. Dave Wright

    This is a great example of liking the sausage but not wanting to see how it is made. I commented on the 31 Rolls last week that I love basket projects because they sell so cheep and so much of the work has already been done. If you buy a rough car in one piece it has to look,like this at some point in the restoration. It takes a lot of work to get where you are. What do these guys think one of these 20,000 rust bucket Porsche’s look like when in the middle of restoration? As far as welding, I had a buddy that built a 63 foot Bruce Roberts steel motor sailer in Santa Barbera. When he started the project he had never welded……but by the end he was a pro…..he did go back and reweld some of his early work, but that is how we learn. Great project I am sure it will be magnificent.

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  12. Joe

    You can do it!!!

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  13. Mark P

    You’re doing it right, that’s what matters. Where you are now is a lot less scary than the unknown that car was before you started. You did what needed to be done, cleaned it all up, stabilized the vehicle. Now you know pretty much exactly what needs to be done. Wish I had your skills.

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  14. Gary Lindel


    I’m curious why you didn’t weld some of the good parts in before you did anymore cutting. For instance, I probably would have attacked the trunk floor first and when that was done, I would do one rear quarter then the other. And so on.


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    • Dave Wright

      This really is how the pros work, how easy is the access ability to say, the trunk floor when the fenders are all cut off? It makes the process eiser and you are not screwing up your good work by still cutting off old metal that needs replacing anyway.

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      • Gary Lindel


        That makes sense. I’ve done some metal work. No where close to a pro. I usually do one panel at a time for fear of twisting the structure it I cut everything off. Also, as a novice, doing it piecemeal makes it a lot easier to pick up where I left off if I get distracted by other things in life.

        But I do see how it would be a lot easier cutting out all the bad stuff first if your really good and have the time to complete the project in short order.


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  15. Dave Wright

    I remember loitering in Phill Hills shop (many times) they would have a pile of parts stored on shelves and leaned against the wall……it was frequently a million dollar car getting a 500,000 rebuild but was totally indistinguishable from what you were looking at. Every dis mountable part was taken apart, inspected cleaned and refinished before assembly was started.

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  16. Barzini

    Of the many skills I wish that I had, being an expert welder/body person would be in the top five so I could take on projects like this. I have so much respect for those who have the skill, time and money to preserve these cars.

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    • Dave Wright

      Nobody is born with skills…….. Maby talent……… but skills have to be learned……….so go do it.

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  17. JR

    I have done worse.

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    • van

      Wow me like

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  18. piper62j

    I’ve done all that work at one time or another,, BUT NEVER on one car, all at once.. Best of luck with the project and most of all,, Enjoy!!!

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  19. Poppy

    Keep your eyes on the prize…
    I’ve owned this one for over 25 years. Back then clean originals like this could still be found for not a lot of money. I still get a big smile on my face every time I accelerate onto a freeway or drive into the cool air beneath the canopy of trees along the river on summer evenings. Good luck with your very ambitious project – it will be worth it when it’s all finished. Looking forward to following your progress.

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  20. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Marty, you are on your way, wish you well.

    One thing, next time, you might want to either cut out as few panels as possible while replacing them as they add structure and rigidity. At the very least add some braces because those panels WILL need to be trimmed and you can’t expect them to hit the same datum points as the originals.

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  21. Slickimp

    JR that one looks better than what Marty is dealing with

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  22. Mike

    Good Luck I have raised worse from the dead.
    Best of luck, keep us updated please.
    I have always loved this style of car.

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  23. BMW/Tundra guy

    Dude, you are cracked!!!! I have some skills. But what I don’t have is the cahoona’s that it takes to go about a project of this magnitude and still be writing a column or even speaking in full sentences!!!!! I would be in the “home for the mentally challenged” drooling all over myself and probably just spitting out interminable mumbo jumbo………………
    I cannot wait to see this is it goes!!! Although “Reality TV” shows are scripted. You still get to watch some type of “build” usually ground up! I find that fascinating to watch!!
    Best of luck!!! Keep posting……………

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  24. 63CorvanF6

    Whats the progress on it so far?

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  25. Mike Zolnierek

    I am attempting to do the same on a rescue. Having the time of my life. If there is a will there is a way!!

    Like 0

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