History of the 1973-1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass
During the middle 1970s the intermediate grade Oldsmobile Cutlass series was one of the most popular lines of its era, mainly due to its combination of luxury features and distinctive styling. Four grades of Cutlass were available, with the base model, the sportier Cutlass S version (which included the optional 4-4-2 handling and appearance package), the Cutlass Salon, and the upscale Cutlass Supreme. Supreme models featured a vinyl-covered roof and upgraded interior.
Available engines for the Cutlass series in 1973 included the standard 350-cid “Rocket V-8” at 180 hp, and the more powerful 250-hp 455-cid big block. Buyers had a choice of three-speed or four-speed manual transmissions, but few were ever sold this way. Expect to find almost all Cutlass models of this era with a standard three-speed turbo-hydramatic automatic transmission. By 1974, the automatic was standard equipment, and while the three-speed manual reappeared in 1975, they’re hard to find.
Engine options became more complicated in later years. Beginning in 1975, a 250-cid inline six-cylinder engine sourced from Chevrolet became the base standard for Cutlass through 1976, with a 260-cid V-8 or the venerable 350 as upgrade options. The base engine was changed to the Buick 231-cid V-6 for 1977. The 455-cid big block was an option through 1976, but for 1977 the big engine was reduced to 403 cid.
Cutlass models in this era were known as “Colonnade” bodies because of their fixed rear side windows. The Cutlass came as two-door coupes and four-door sedans. The Cutlass S was available only as a two-door. Roof and greenhouse designs varied by trim level and body style, but all models featured a fixed rear side window. The 1975 model year saw the addition of the Cutlass Supreme Cruiser – a station wagon available in five- or seven-passenger variants.
For 1976, the base Cutlass was dropped, with the Cutlass S now serving as the basic intermediate Olds. The Salon model was offered again, along with the Cutlass Supreme and a new Cutlass Supreme Brougham at the top of the luxury heap. The Brougham editions featured crushed velour upholstery.
The most desirable variant of Cutlass during this period is the 1973 Hurst package. This was added to a Cutlass S with a 455-cid big block. The W46 package was another option that netted the buyer a shorter rear axle ratio, drag racing torque converter, and the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission, along with sway bars and better springs, but at the cost of deleting the air conditioning. The L77 code delivered a four-speed manual transmission and a power boost to 270 hp for the 455 big block.
In 1974 the power on the Hurst/Olds dropped to 230, and 75% of the Hurst/Olds built that year received the basic 350 at 180 hp. The 1975 model year was the last for the Hurst/Olds in this era, and those cars received 350- or 455-cid engines breathing through a catalytic converter and a single exhaust. These cars also carried the first T-top roofs for Olds.