Back in 2013, I saw perhaps the finest Brougham in the wild as I have ever seen (excluding car shows): A 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. It was, quite simply, gorgeous. And I have a history with the Colonnade Cutlasses! That’s right folks, it’s another ’70s Brougham post. Buckle up!
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 Brougham coupe was the finest, most luxurious, most attractive and–quite indisputably–the most popular of the 1973-77 GM Colonnade mid-sizers.
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 $4,969. 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!
Some folks who love Colonnades (yes, they exist!) prefer the purer 1973-75 models with their scalloped rocker panels, relatively less obtrusive Federally-mandated bumpers and, at least in 1975 models with swivel-bucket seats, reversible upholstery cushions with cloth on one side and vinyl on the other. As for myself, 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! Oh, damn were they 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 beigemist paint, a Supreme Brougham looks like the height of luxury. In actual colors! Metallic green, blue, bronze. Tobacco brown, yellow, aqua, red!
With matching interiors! These Cutlasses may look dated and somewhat extravagant to modern Millenial eyes, with their ample chrome, stand-up hood ornament and floating-pillow interior trim. But in their day, they were classy. They said you were doing well. And getting better by the day! Owning a Cutlass Supreme Brougham in the late ’70s meant you were On Your Way Up.
Yes, Cutlass Supreme Broughams are clearly a favorite of mine. But what really drew me to this example, spotted at a service station in Hampton back in the late summer of 2013, was that it was almost identical to my cousin’s first car. 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, 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 and added trim. It made do with a light-blue pleated vinyl interior. I was seven years old at the time, and we happened to be at Candy and Don’s house the day he brought it home for her. 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! I looked out the second-story window and was immediately smitten with the silver-blue Cutlass. Whoa. Nice car!
That car was sharp. Damn sharp. Even by 1987 standards, with front wheel drive Ninety-Eights and Sedan de Villes, that ten-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! Still do for the most part, angry hippies in the moist Pacific Northwest notwithstanding. But most of them were rusted-out refugees; Dawn’s looked nearly new. But my 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; my memory is somewhat hazy but 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 pretty damn fine. A cherished memory, to this day.
My cousin’s Cutlass, despite being one year newer, was not as well equipped as my Aunt Candy’s triple burgundy ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham. 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 digital clock. Dawn’s car had only an “Oldsmobile” logo where Aunt Candy’s car had a state-of-the-art digital quartz timepiece!
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.
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 ’73-’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? Well, for starters, it had approximately 19,000 original miles the day I spotted it, almost ran off the road in shock, and launched myself out of the Volvo 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 behold! 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 loaded. 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 General Motors coupe, there was plenty of woodgrained 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 pictues the whole time. It was in very above-average 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 of this Brougham coupe. A true time capsule.
It had also been a local car since day one, sold new at Hacker Oldsmobile in Moline. 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. As has been said many times, for many cars, they are only original once.
I spotted this car on the way out to my folks 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.
As luck would have it, the owner of South Hampton Service is a buddy of my dad. 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?” Heck yes I would!
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 fire up and run! Oldsmobile got a lot of flak about putting 350 Chevys into their Cutlasses and 88s back when these cars were new, but this ’77 has a genuine Olds V8 in it. I’ve probably heard Olds V8s run before, but I never paid attention back then. After hearing Mark fire this one up, I have to tell you, the Olds V8 sounds simply heavenly! Like a Harley or vintage Chris-Craft speedboat: blubblubblubblubblub! An aural V8 symphony!
And if that isn’t enough, this Brougham is among the last of the Colonnades ever built, with a build date of June 1977–just before the Aeroback Salons and notchback CS A-bodies came on line for model year 1978. A pristine example of the most popular Oldsmobile coupe in history! And I was there!