1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham: Intermediate Luxury

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Once upon a time, there was a car called the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was popular for years—nay, decades—and found happy homes in suburbs and cities and country towns everywhere. You’d never know it today, with largely uninteresting and largely anonymous-looking crossovers making up the vast majority of new cars.

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But back in 1986 you could get your luxury at your friendly local Oldsmobile dealer, in large (98 Regency Brougham), medium (Cutlass Supreme Brougham), or small (Calais Supreme). For that “just right” size, look no further than the Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan and Coupe.

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The 1978–88 Cutlass coupes are much more commonly seen, as coupes were the gotta-have-it model through most of the ’80s. The Cutlass Supreme sedan, by comparison, was kind of the wallflower. But I still really like them, perhaps a bit more than a loaded-up Brougham coupe, simply due to their scarcity.

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By 1986 the success of these cars was starting to wane, but there were still plenty of people who took home a new Olds that year. The Brougham Sedan had a base price of $11,551 (about $30,850 today). They rode a 108.1-inch wheelbase, were 200.4 inches overall, had a curb weight of 3253 pounds, and 27,967 were built.

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These had been largely unchanged since the 1980 model year, other than some revised taillights, grilles, colors, and fabrics. But the coupe still handily outsold the sedan. Stats on the Brougham Coupe: $11,408, 59,726 built, 108.1-inch wheelbase  and 200.0 inches long. At 3211 pounds, they were slightly lighter than their four-door sibling.

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But the four doors looked a lot different from their original ’78 forebears. The ’78 A-body “Aeroback” two- and four-door models were fastbacks, not a three-box sedan. But while they looked like hatchbacks, they actually had a tiny conventional trunk lid instead. Compared to the earlier “Colonnade” 1973–77 Cutlasses, they looked a little, well … anemic? And sales were too, though the also-downsized 1978–80 Cutlass coupes sold like dollar beer at a baseball game.

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As a result, the four-door became a conventionally styled sedan, with the Aeroback consigned to history. The look was very much like the original 1976–79 Cadillac Seville, which I’m sure didn’t hurt Cutlass sedan sales—or those of its Bonneville, Century, and Malibu sisters.

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One thing that remained, and to this day is a bone of contention amongst folks of a certain age, was the rear door’s fixed window glass. Instead of a roll-down window, only the quarter window vent opened, consigning many kids with cheap, non-A/C-running parents to perpetual discomfort. On this Brougham, they are power operated.

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This was the optional “gage package,” as GM termed it at the time. I love this cluster; it has everything. Years ago, on a car website, there was discussion on these mid- to late-1980s Cutlass Supremes and I mentioned, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to order a Brougham sedan, the least sporty version, and get the gauges with the tachometer? It would be so at odds with the luxury theme, velour, and button-tufted seats!” Well, at least one new Olds buyer decided that was the way to go. Excellent!

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And those seats! They’re just so fantastic. I miss those GM pillow-top seats. They were so lush, so comfortable. You just sank into them. And didn’t want to leave.

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They contrast perfectly with this car’s original Medium Gray Metallic paint with matching burgundy pinstriping. It is, after all, a Brougham.

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This is a pretty loaded-up example, even for a Brougham, so I was a little surprised it had the standard 3.8-liter V-6 instead of the optional 307-cubic-inch V-8. Granted, that wasn’t a major powerhouse compared to, say, the way a ’76 Toronado with the 455 would have been.

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But my friend Matt Smith said, “I feel like by then the 3.8 would’ve moved the car OK compared to the 307. I drove a two-door with that engine at my summer job a couple times in high school, and it seemed alright considering how small and light these things were.” Still, it would have been a little bit cooler with the V-8.

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I spotted this one in early August, thanks once again to the Facebook group Finding Future Classic Cars, run by my friends Chuck Houston and Joe Tralongo. It was listed on Sacramento Craigslist at the time. I was instantly smitten by this example, that it was the loaded-up Brougham with slick top, opera lamps, and … holy cow, BURGUNDY LEATHER?!

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“Only 59K original miles, 1 owner, clean title, V-6 engine, still like new. New Battery, tire water pump, power windows/locks. Everything is working, perfect original paint, cold A/C, well taken care of.” Definitely well taken care of! I haven’t seen one this nice since probably the mid- to late-’90s.

Thomas Klockau

I did see a pretty presentable one locally about 10 years ago. Except it wasn’t showroom condition. And didn’t have leather. Still, I was really excited to see one!

Thomas Klockau

And the navy blue velour interior was pretty excellent too. A lot of people today don’t realize it, but up until maybe the late ’80s/early ’90s, many people preferred velour or a high-quality cloth to leather seats. At least, folks who appreciated domestic Broughamage.

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So I instantly posted it to my own page, then saved the pictures and the link. The next day I decided to write it up. And here we are. I hope she found a good home!

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Comments

    Tom, I believe the rear door glass did not go down due to the angle of the rear doors around the rear wheels, there was not enough width in the inter door for the glass to recede into. If it had been operational it would have only gone down inches. Remember beginning in the mid seventies a lot of rear quarter windows on coupes became fixed even on you beloved Lincoln’s and my Eldorados. It was a cost cutting measure. Then likewise on the midsize sedans. However you did find a real keeper, most of these cars long ago were turned into white goods and metal siding…..

    How many of those Aerobacks were build with the apparently-available 5-speed + V8 combo? 12? 21? I think the 260 V8 diesel was also an option with the manual as was the short-lived V6 diesel.

    I’ve never seen one.

    Gorgeous car. If I could find something like this for sale I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Had an ’86 Century limited with the velour seats; cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Who decided that the so-called leather in just about every new car today is “luxury”?

    Very nice example. Joe Tralongo, a friend of mine as well, and I both know someone who has a stunning 1966 Cutlass Supreme 4dr hardtop in charcoal gray with black vinyl top, which in my personal opinion is a stunning example and perhaps one of the original sedans of the American midsize premium luxury catagory- complete with concave sculptured backlight!

    I have a 1986 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme sedan base model and it’s very nice burgundy interior all trim there I have it in my garage right now v8 200r4 transmission runs nice it’s my weekend car I get lots of thumbs up and offers on the car now it’s 2023 now and you hardly see these sedan classics now

    I had the exact car pictured in the article in High School. It was also the #1 stolen car in America for 4 years straight in the mid to late 90’s.

    Had the gray with red velour Bonneville Brougham in 86′. Plush and nice. Best feature? It was a company car that a 28 year old didn’t have to pay for! The company (aluminum die castings) is long gone thanks to our CCP friends…

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