“America’s favorite Cutlass for flair, value and price”
For 1981, the exterior of Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme was substantially revised, with a lowered front, a slightly higher decklid, and quad headlamps. With the new styling, aerodynamic drag dropped by about 15%.
The standard engine remained the 110 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor. The optional engines, a 4.3 liter/261 ci gasoline V8 with a Rochester two-barrel carburetor ($50) and a 5.7 liter/350 ci diesel V8 ($695!), both had (this makes no sense) five less horsepower than the V6. A three-speed automatic transmission was the only transmission available. The Cutlass Supreme was stylish, but slow—0-60 came in a little under 15 seconds. Mileage with the V6 was 21 city/30 highway by the standards of the day; with an 18-gallon fuel tank, a Cutlass Supreme owner could expect a range of about 415 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard equipment on the $7,484 Cutlass Supreme (about $21,500 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power front disc brakes, bench seats with a choice of vinyl or cloth, and P195/75R14 radial tires (a size last seen on nineties Volkswagen vans).
Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included cast aluminum wheels, tungsten halogen high-beam headlamps, engine block heater, limited slip differential, power antenna, dual sport mirrors, electric rear window defogger, and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add either Four-Season ($565-$625) or Tempmatic ($635-$675) air conditioning, Tilt-Away steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, bucket seats, digital or regular electric clock, and a series of radios.
The Cutlass Supreme sure was popular—Oldsmobile sold almost 189,000 of them in the 1981 model year along with another 94,000 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupes for a total of over a quarter of a million.
A few folks are collecting these cars, but they aren’t common at shows. You do see Cutlass Supremes for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors: as I write this in June 2015, there’s a brown/beige two-tone Cutlass Supreme with a beige interior and 28,000 miles listed on Hemming’s for $13,000.
Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.