Finding a survivor ‘70s GM product, and then discovering it has one of the company's diesel engines under hood is sort of like starting a semester abroad and then finding out your roommate is Amanda Knox. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Pipe Olds Cutlass is just such a discovery, and like Amanda, its price might just keep you up at night.
Yesterday's vote was closer than Siamese twins, and in the end our compatriot's girlfriend-repelling 1989 Toyota MR2 in turn repulsed a win with its narrow 51% Crack Pipe loss. Hopefully, despite that, its replacement will meet with his lady fair's safety requirements.
You know, one way to be safe is to be slow - after all how many snails do you see wrapped around trees? You can't get much slower, and hence safer, than in an old diesel, and the converted from gas 350 oil-burners GM foisted on an unsuspecting public in the ‘70s were the safest of them all as they hardly ever ran.
Today's 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass didn't originally come with the head bolt-deficient 350 V8, but instead the smaller and more rare 4.3-litre V8 diesel. Those engines were sooooo bad that should one fail - as apparently did this car's - GM would replace it with an updated Goodwrench 5.7.
It's not surprising that the 4.3 is no longer under the hood of this 32-year old, 50,000-mile Cutlass. What is surprising is the discovery of a five-speed stick amidst all the vintage ‘70s blue mouse fur and vinyl of its interior. A five-speed. In a Cutlass. That's not a 442. Freaky.
Obviously, Olds didn't do a lot of stick cars. That's evident by the incongruous, institutional nature of the shifter's presentation, in contrast to the‘70s baroque-ness of the rest of the interior. Rubber booted and standing so straight and tall that you might expect to find strippers wrapped around it, that shifter is attached to a Borg-Warner T50 gearbox.
The rest of the mechanicals, front disc/rear drum brakes, and A-arm/live axle suspension are typical ‘70s American car pastiche, and underpin the A-body's sturdy body on frame structure. The pics indicate that this one suffers not the ravages of the tin worm, and is clean both above the equator and below. In fact, the trunk is so tidy you'd think Winston Wolf had Jules and Vincent doing brain detail back there. The interior is equally brain-splatter free, but is burdened with a creepy religious tract stuck to the dash and getting Jesus all up in your grille.
Despite its claim of single ownership and mileage so low you have to stoop down to read it (hey Redditor, you could be the one to snap a pic of the odo rolling over to 80085!), this Olds has had a respray, albeit in the factory blue. That looks nice, but there's nothing about the exterior of the car that speaks of the middle class luxury aspirations expected of the Cutlass. In fact, the painted wheels with their dog dish hubs, and lack of any extraneous trim paint the car as an entry-level edition. The factory delete A/C is another, sweaty, piece of evidence. The whole thing smacks of Scrooge McDuck, and you've got to figure it was a customer order as no dealer in their right mind would have optioned the car that way.
But that all just adds to this car's weirdness factor. And truth be told, it's unlikely that you will find another Cutlass outfitted like this in any condition. If you're turned off by the fact that it's a ‘70s GM diesel, take heart in the knowledge that the replacement engines GM fitted under warranty were somewhat improved over their under-engineered originals. But they still only made 125-hp. That's right, haters, 125. Rock on.
Okay, so the only way you'd ever light up the tires on this Olds is with a gallon of gas and a road flare, but then it was never intended to be able to get out of its own way in the first place. It was meant to get decent mileage and sound like a lawn mower in a zen garden, and at that it should excel. Where it may not be seen as excelling is in the area of its price, that being a not insubstantial $10,890.
The dealership offering the car attempts to justify its price by estimating that this is conceivably one of only 20 cars ever built with these option boxes checked - a strategy that seems to work in pumping up values at places like Russo and Steele. Of course the rarity promoted at auctions is typically that which is tickling the balls of high-end exclusivity, not scratching behind the ears of a bottom feeder like this.
So what's your take on that price for what actually could be your Father's Oldsmobile - if your dad were a cheap-ass bastard? Is $10,890 a fair price for so unique an example of GM's whackadoodle engineering endeavors of years past? Or, is this one Cutlass that doesn't make the cut?
H/T to P161911 for the hookup!
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