The 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham is one classy Colonnade Coupe
Back in 2013, I saw perhaps the finest Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham in the wild (excluding car shows, of course): a silver-blue ’77 coupe with white landau top. It was, quite simply, gorgeous. And I have a history with the Colonnade Cutlasses. That’s right folks, it’s another ’70s Brougham post. But if you’ve been reading my stuff for even a couple of months, you will know that’s par for the course. So onward!
As the 1970s tagline said, “There is a special feel in an Oldsmobile.” And it was actually true, not just hype. There is little doubt that the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupes-whether the top of the line Brougham or a standard coupe-was the most popular of the 1973–77 GM Colonnade mid-size roster.
How popular? The standard Supreme two-door coupe sold 242,874 units, with a base price of $4670. The flossier Brougham coupe had 124,712 takers, despite its higher price of $4969. Coupes were king in Olds showrooms that year. The Supreme Brougham sedan had a production run of 16,738 by comparison. No, that is not a typo: 16,738 sedans versus 124,712 coupes. And that’s just the top-of-the-line Broughams, folks! The non-Brougham Supreme sedan sold better, but it had nothing on coupe sales.
Some folks who love Colonnades (yes, they do exist in this day and age) prefer the purer 1973–75 models—especially the ’73s—with their scalloped rocker panels, relatively less obtrusive federally-mandated bumpers and, in 1975 models with swivel-bucket seats, reversible upholstery cushions with cloth on one side and vinyl on the other. As for me, I prefer the smooth, clean lines and rectangular headlights of the 1976–77 Cutlasses. They were elegant and especially swank with the Brougham trim!
The biggest selling point of the Cutlass Supreme Brougham were the seats. Mark, the owner of the shop, invited me to sit behind the wheel, and damn, were those seats comfortable.
Even back-seat passengers did not miss out on the luxury, with floating-pillow crushed velour trim. So decadent! It was indeed the age of Brougham.
Today, when even premium makes look rather “meh” with silver, black, white, or beige mist paint, a Supreme Brougham looks like the height of luxury by comparison in silver-blue metallic with blue velour and white Landau top. Yes, actual colors. Metallic green, blue, bronze. Tobacco brown, yellow, aqua, red.
And they came with matching interiors, something I’ve always enjoyed: red with dark red velour, triple forest green (triple meaning green paint, vinyl roof, and interiors, for you Brougham rookies). In their day, these were classy conveyances. They said you were doing well. And getting better by the day. Owning a new Cutlass Supreme Brougham in the late ’70s meant you were On Your Way Up.
Yes, Cutlass Supreme Broughams are clearly a favorite of mine. I’m biased. I admit it. But what really drew me to this example was that it was almost identical to the first car one of my cousins had. Circa 1987, my Uncle Don found her a nice, solid ’77 Cutlass Supreme very similar to this one, with color-keyed Super Stock wheels, whitewalls, the same metallic silver-blue paint, and a white Landau top.
The primary difference between today’s featured car and her Cutlass was that it was a standard Supreme coupe, lacking the poofy Brougham seats, Brougham nomenclature, and added trim. It made do with a light-blue pleated vinyl interior. Nice, but not, you know, BOSS. I was seven years old at the time, and my mom and us kids just happened to be at Candy and Don’s house the day he brought it home. I remember being in my cousin Suzy’s room upstairs when Aunt Candy called up to us that the car was here, and come on down and check it out! Even then I was a Mini-Me car nut. I looked out the second-story window and was immediately smitten with the silver-blue Cutlass, and I rapidly descended the stairs and burst through the screen door to check it out.
Even by 1987 standards, with downsized FWD Ninety-Eights and Sedan de Villes, that 10-year-old Cutlass was imposing. Many Cutlass Supremes (and similar-vintage Monte Carlos, Regals, and Chevelles) were running around the Quad Cities at that time. Heck, it was the Midwest; we loved GM! We still do, for the most part. But most of those ’70s personal luxury coupes were rusted-out refugees; this ’77 looked nearly new. Uncle Don, a master mechanic, had a knack for finding excellent used cars. I remember going for a ride in it shortly after she got the car—it may have been the same day she got the car. We drove through Credit Island Park, which ran alongside the Mississippi River. I was sitting in the back seat and looking out that narrow opera window at the river and feeling very good. Cool air flowed thru the open front windows. It was very comfortable and relaxing.
My cousin’s Cutlass, despite being one year newer, was not as well-equipped as the triple burgundy ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham my aunt owned at the time. Despite having its paint and glass ruined by the nearby Blackhawk Foundry by the late ’80s, her car was much more luxurious, with its maroon crushed velour, barcolounger seating, and quartz digital clock. The ’77 had only an “Oldsmobile” logo instead of the clock. To announce to all passengers of what a cheapskate you were, ha ha.
And the ’77 Cutlass steering wheel had an odd extrusion on the center of the steering wheel; Candy’s ’76 had a smooth steering wheel hub, as seen above. Hers had that same burgundy interior too.
Also, the cool “eye-socket” A/C vents in the ’76s were replaced with boring rectangular vents on the ’77s. I have since learned that the new vents were added because the molds for the 1973–76 dash had simply worn out, requiring a hasty redesign for the final year of the Colonnade Cutlass.
But what of our gorgeous featured car? It had approximately 19,000 original miles the day I spotted it, almost ran off the road in shock, and launched myself out of my then-Volvo station wagon to check it out. I had the good fortune to sit in the drivers’ seat of this car, and I have to tell you I loved it! Those Brougham seats are something to experience I highly recommend trying one out, should you ever have the opportunity.
While today’s car is missing that oh-so-impressive electronic digital clock from my childhood memory banks, it is otherwise well-equipped. Optional Oldsmobile goodies include the AM/FM stereo radio, air conditioning, cruise control and a rear-window defogger. And, of course, being an upper-crust GM midsize coupe, there was plenty of woodgrain trim to go around. Including the radio knobs.
Quite simply, this Cutlass Brougham coupe was a beauty. I more or less walked around it in a daze, with a stupid grin on my face, randomly taking pictures the whole time. It was in very, very nice condition. This car had clearly been loved its entire life.
During my all-too-brief look at this car, I could see absolutely no evidence of wear, tear, or abuse … a true time capsule. It had also been a local car since day one, sold new at Hacker Oldsmobile in Moline, Illinois. Which later became Green Chevrolet Chrysler-Plymouth, and which is today simply Green Chevrolet. Just look at that paint, that chrome! You cannot duplicate originality like this.
I spotted this car on the way out to my folks for dinner, on September 19, 2013. It was quite a shock to see a car from my past! And in showroom condition no less. Had a time warp occurred, or was I just damn lucky? Apparently, I was damn lucky.
And as luck would have it, the owner of South Hampton Service is a buddy of my dad’s. When I waltzed into the office and expressed my interest in documenting this fine survivor, Mark not only agreed, but asked, “Would you like me to move it so you can get better pictures?” As is frequently said in the classic 1996 film, Fargo, oh ya!
Not only did that give me a better set of pictures to share with all you fine folks, but an added benefit was that I was able to hear that fabulous Oldsmobile 350-cubic-inch V-8 fire up and run. Oldsmobile got a lot of flak about putting 350 Chevys into Cutlasses and 88s back when these cars were new, but this ’77 has a genuine Oldsmobile V-8. I’ve probably heard Olds V-8s run before, but I wasn’t paying attention. After hearing Mark fire this one up, I have to tell you, the Olds V-8 sounds grand. Like a Harley or vintage Chris-Craft speedboat: blubblubblubblubblub. Nice. Very nice.
And if that isn’t enough, this Brougham is among the last of the Colonnades ever built, as it had a build date of June 1977—just before the Aeroback Salons and notchback Cutlass A-bodies came on line for the 1978 model year. A pristine example of the most popular Oldsmobile coupe in history.