1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme: Pillarless in Pinehurst
When it comes to the midsize 1968–72 A-body Oldsmobiles, you pretty much see coupes—either 4-4-2s or “tribute” 4-4-2s—and the occasional convertible. Lately, the Vista Cruiser seems to be getting more love. I’ve been seeing them more often at car shows. One Olds A-body you almost never see, though, is the Cutlass four-door hardtop.
I’ve always liked four-door hardtops, maybe because their design combines practicality—rear passengers have their own dedicated entrance—with the sporty appeal of a unique roofline. In their final year, before they were replaced by the all new “Colonnade” intermediates, four-door hardtops were offered by all GM divisions except Cadillac.
And you almost never see them. They just weren’t very popular. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the coupe was still king. It seems that those who wanted a sporty Chevelle, LeMans, Cutlass, or Skylark went for the coupes, and people who wanted an extra pair of doors simply bought the pillared sedan, dubbed “Town Sedan” on Oldsmobile versions.
Still, I still love these pillarless four-doors. I have only seen a few over the years. Perhaps the nicest one I ever saw in person is today’s featured car, a ’72 Cutlass Supreme Holiday hardtop sedan, one of 14,955 built and resplendent in Pinehurst Green Metallic. Until I recently revisited this car, I had forgotten there was a Cutlass Supreme sedan before the Colonnade era. In fact, the Cutlass Supreme came in a sedan version upon its first appearance in 1966 as the top-of-the-line midsized Olds.
By 1970 the Cutlass Supreme came in three versions: Holiday hardtop coupe, Holiday hardtop sedan, and convertible. The trio remained available through 1972. In that year, the $3258 Cutlass Supreme coupe (wearing its own unique formal roof, a new feature in 1970) handily outsold both the hardtop sedan and the convertible, to the tune of 105,087 units. In comparison, the $3329 sedan sold 14,955 examples, and 11,571 of the $3433 convertible were built.
Which explains why I have seen a few 1970–72 Cutlass Supreme coupes but only one sedan: this one. It was at the 2015 Oldsmobile Club of America annual meet at the Sheraton in Brookfield, Wisconsin. I had been at the show at least a couple of hours by the time I saw it, but I did a major double-take when I saw its uncommon body style and that amazing green paint.
Oldsmobile had a great reputation and healthy sales in 1972, helped by both the rock-solid Cutlass line and the big, plush Delta 88 and Ninety Eight full-size cars. There was much eye candy in Olds showrooms back in ’72—candy-colored Toronados, 4-4-2s, Vista Cruisers, and luxe Ninety Eight Regencys.
Cutlass Supremes came standard with the Oldsmobile 350-cu-in V-8 and a three-speed manual transmission. As it was the range-topping midsize model, the Supreme got all standard Cutlass features plus a die-cast eggcrate-style grille (shared with the Vista Cruiser wagon), a radio antenna embedded in the windshield, a deluxe steering wheel, plusher upholstery, “CS” emblems on the sail panel, and “Cutlass Supreme” logo on the glovebox door. Its 350 developed 180 hp at 4000 rpm.
For more oomph, the L75 270-hp 455 V-8 was optional. Other options included power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, cruise control, the attractive Super Stock styled steel wheels, AM radio, AM/FM radio, wire wheel covers, electric clock, and an 8-track stereo tape player.
1972 was the last year for the four-door Cutlass hardtop, two-door Cutlass hardtop, the Cutlass convertible, and the venerable Vista Cruiser. Starting in 1973, all Cutlasses grew a B-pillar. While the Vista Cruiser technically returned, it no longer had those most excellent Vista windows above the back seat and along the sides; designers substituted a pop-open sunroof instead. Still a nice-looking station wagon, but not really a proper Vista Cruiser, in your author’s opinion.
Out of all the car marques that have disappeared in my lifetime, Oldsmobile is still the one I miss most. So I’m always happy to see it at car shows. On July 25, 2015, at an all-Oldsmobile show, I was in my element!