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1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass Is Pure LeMons Gold

Tim Odell August 21, 2012 For Sale, Too Cheap to Pass Up 17 Comments

1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass for sale

To understand this car, you must understand bolt patterns. Specifically, GM engine-to-transmission bolt patterns. Long ago when they had 60% market share, GM could afford to develop separate powertrains for each division’s take on a given platform. Hence, the Chevy 350, Buick 350, Olds 350 and Pontiac 350 are all completely different engines. With just the slightest nod towards pragmatism and efficiency, they forced everyone but Chevy to use the same bolt pattern, resulting in the “BOP” or “BOPC” pattern. Basically, any Buick, Olds, Pontiac or Cadillac motor can bolt in place of any other.

It’s the “C” in BOPC that gets us worked up today, as someone’s used GM’s modularity to drop 500ci of Cadillac mill into a 4th generation A-body 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass: Listing Here

Oh, and it’s only $400.

Obviously, there’s a reason (actually several) it’s $400. Overall the condition is total crap. Crap paint, crapped out interior, crappy custom bodywork, all around craptastic.

1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass Interior

That said, it’s got a lot going for it once you look at it as a LeMons contender. The body doesn’t matter, the interior will be gutted and while the Colonade A-bodies aren’t the most popular, there’s still no shortage of cheap replacement or cheat-y upgrade parts available. Best yet (?) it’s smog exempt with a clear non-op title. DMV back-fees that rival the value of a car are a common way for vehicles to end up in LeMons, where teams are going to trailer them anyway. Getting shakedown driving time is always tricky with a LeMons car, so the ability to drive it on the street is a huge benefit. Also, showing up for work in a gutted, caged, themed example of Pre-malaise GM fulsomeness can only be good for your career.

One minor detail: according to the seller the 500 was rebuilt and “was too tight to crank over enough to start…. Been sitting ever since- about three years.” Not exactly sure what “too tight” means, but my best guess is it’d need a different set of rings and a re-hone of the cylinder walls. Just imagine the gas you’ll burn the sound of that monster motor running through a set of glass packs as you overheat your brakes and shred your tires on every turn blast past all those 90hp econoboxes down the straightaways!

Cadillac 500 motor swapped into Oldsmobile Cutlass

As always, the question then turns to theme. Cutlass gives you an obvious pirate starting point, but to be honest there have been a lot of pirate themes. You’d need a fresh take on pirates or something else. I’m thinking something along a Dead Brands theme. Dead Kennedys spoof? “Sponsored by Bill Johnson’s Olds Pontiac Saab Hummer of Peoria”?

Anyway, check out the listing soon. $400 is roughly scrap price for this much metal: 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass - eBay Motors

  • Olds Clap Trap. I love it.

  • The Crossdressing Caddy. You know, because it's a Cadillac trapped in an Olds body.

    …Of course, even if that's not technically correct, dressing the team in drag always seems to be a hit with the judges.

  • Plus, thanks to (some say) John Delorean, the Colonnade cars have the best suspension geometry of any RWD GM car up until nearly the modern era. The later, boxy, A and G bodies have the front camber curve backwards again. While the basic parts from these 70s cars became the bones the downsized full sized cars were based on up until the 1996 Impala/Roadmaster/Fleetwood.

    • Craig Fitzgerald

      Exactly. And simultaneously, they were the best riding mid-size cars ever produced here.

      Not to mention the fact that they were damned near indestructible. I had a buddy with a '74 Malibu coupe that was beaten unmercifully for two and a half years, and it continued running after he got rid of it. Amazing.

  • Go with the Dead Kennedys theme and slap some Delmont 88 badges on it. Close enough.

    (Or did you have something else involving Kennedys and death in mind.)

  • Craig Fitzgerald

    It's a shame that nobody's really caught on to the potential of the Colonnade cars, and the '73s in particular.

    They were awesome. You could still buy a Cutlass Supreme with a 455 and a four-speed, and no matter what some schmuck in a forum thinks, they were fast.

    The '73 Cutlass we had was sweet, with 73,000 original Southern miles. In 1998, we paid $3500 for it, which was about half what you'd spend on a comparable '72. The 350 was great in that car, and would roast those 14" radials at any time. Loved everything about it.

    The only bad part was that there was very little aftermarket for it.

  • Under further consideration, that grille really looks like baleen. Maybe a Humphrey the Whale theme?

    Grey paint + barnacles, a huge functional whale tail spoiler, and maybe dress the drivers up like krill or plankton.

    Also, I looked up last night when writing this post: you can get drilled or slotted serious business front rotors and Hawk makes pads that'll work. The rearend's a standard 10 bolt, meaning you could get a disc swap no problem.

    The big issue is weight. Stock, they're 4,000 +/- 150. Under 3500, you'd really notice the difference. Approaching 3k, it'd be terrifying.

    BTW, the Caddy V8 is only a little heavier than a small block Chevy. With an aluminum intake (the 368ci version had one from the factory), they weight basically the same.

  • I'd call my team The Malaisians (Yes, I know you identified this as pre-malaise. In my world, 1973 was year 1), gluing on cheesy Sonny Bono style 'staches and dressing in the height of 70's fashion. Install an 8-track and some kickass Sparkomatic speakers to crank up the Tony Orlando & Dawn, Mac Davis, Paul Anka and Barbara Streisand. Oh, and puka shells. Lots of puka shells.

  • <img src="http://www.fiddlersgreen.net/aircraft/Vought-Cutlass/IMAGES/Vought-F7U-Cutlass-three-flying-in-form.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    I vote take the Cutlass theme a slightly different way. Twin tails! Over to you whether you want your team to go 'Top Gun' style Navy, or more 'McHale's Navy'. Or some sort of Tailhook scandal theme (sure, way wrong era, but really, who's counting?).

  • For even more over the top fun, swap some heads from a '69 472 onto the 500 for more compression. I think that's what Hot Rod Magazine did when they dropped a 500 into a Chevette, took it to the drag strip and kicked ass. 11 seconds using junkyard parts. http://hooptyrides.blogspot.com/2004/09/greatest-
    <img src="http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRFGSLZMWkl8Nrmxe1djICzyrx55cPF8LHlD5rtla_k6XGStALXLw"&gt;

    • OA5599

      The head swap might be fun for a drag car, but in an endurance race for $500 crapheaps, I don't think 12.5:1 compression and 101-Octane racing gas is a wise move.

      BTW, I recall from the Bad Seed article that the swapped heads came off an early 500, instead of a 472. Same head that just happened to have taken up original residence in an Eldorado instead of something RWD.

      • Oh, hell, it's not like the two of us are doing it ourselves, I'd like to be up in the stands eating popcorn and drinking beer while somebody else explodes this hypothetical Cadillac grenade in spectacular fashion. It would be tragic, but it would also be something to see.

  • McQueen

    To tight to turn over sounds to me like " I slammed the wrong crank bearings in because I had no idea what I was doing, and what the hell was this purple dental floss called squish gauge for ?"

  • Stumack

    It's a '74.

    • Good catch.

      Listing title says '73, text says '74.

      Having a hard time determining why it matters.

  • Maymar

    Malaise Olds with a Boomstick of an engine? Hail to the IOE King, baby
    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X3ezkbdVV3k/T3px_AhKyRI/AAAAAAAAAJo/15jLKVxo7Y0/s1600/boomstick.jpg&quot; width=350 /img>

  • Rick

    I had a similar beast, a same year Delta 88 coupe with a 455, I used it to tow my 74 LeMans to the circle track to race the bomber stocker class. A vinyl half roof, and burgundy velour , gotta love it.