Over 400,000 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass were built (all with V8 5.7 or 7.4 engines), some 30% over the previous 1970 reshape.  However, production of the appealing Supremes Coupes with formal roof more than doubled from 105,000 to nearly 220,000.  This meant that the time of the real hardtops with open space between the front and rear pillar was over. 

An important addition was the Salon package on the Supreme sedan, by 1974 also on the coupe, becoming a series on its own by 1975 and finally limited to a coupe in 1977.  This model was inspired by the European competition with larger 15” radial tires, upgraded suspension and color-keyed wheel covers.  Under the emblem at the front fender were flags from USA, Canada, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Great Britain, Luxembourg (probably the Dutch flag was meant here, using a darker shade of blue), Switzerland, France, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and (then Western) Germany.  Some 10~15% of the sedans/coupes were Salons each year. 

The Cutlass Supreme and Salon received a hood ornament by 1975.  When the 1976 2-door models received new sheet metal without the door sculpture, production soared after the oil crisis dip from below 250,000 in the preceding years to close to a half million by 1977, a number which would not be repeated.  Rectangular headlights had come in for 1976, together with a waterfall grille.  In 1974 already, the senior Oldsmobile line had been outsold by the intermediates.

Under the skin:

The manual transmission was deleted for 1974.  Chevrolet in-line 4.1 sixes which had a share of only 1% since 1969, had been deleted by 1972.  They were brought in again for the 1975 model year, and two years later replaced by the less thirsty Buick V6.  For 1977 also, the 455 engine gave way to the 403, a bored-out version of the 350 Rocket V8 and standard engine for the Salon by 1975, to which a ‘European’ 5-speed manual transmission was offered the next year.

Front disc brakes were obligatory for 1973, but only by 1977 standard assisted for the base models.  Power steering became standard for 1974 (until 1978 when the models were downsized), 15-inch wheels with radial tires by 1975.  The downsized 1978 models would be built in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, Canada.





American Cars 1962-1977