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!
This is simply beautiful. Thank you.
Along with the Pontiac Grand Prix, this was the ride of choice for many young up-and-comers in the Seventies, and deservedly so. While Celicas and BMW 2002s were popular, the Olds Cutlass was what the college educated, late twenties/early thirties company man or entrepeneur picked. And now that I think about it, I never heard a bad word about them from anyone, and I worked in automotive service and parts from 1972-80.
Gorgeous car and condition. Despite being one of the top production cars of the seventies, there appears to be few left, especially in this condition.
Decent car, but was price the only reason why someone would get this over the Toro?
It was simpler and cheaper to run. Plus the price difference was more than a little bit.
Yeah, it would be like saying “Why did you get an E-Class when you could have gotten an S-Class?”
Doubly so because this was the era of 24 month auto loans. Every penny mattered.
I wasn’t aware the price difference between the two was so large. It’s easy to find dimensions/specs on just about anything, but getting historic MSRP & option cost information is much trickier (although if anyone has a good source let me know).
I’m not sure if it’s still in print, but Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-75 is full of information, prices, options and everything. The second volume is the same but covers 1976-1986. I highly recommend both.
Beautiful example of a car that was all over the place in the 1970s and 80s. GM/Olds couldn’t seem to make enough Cutlasses to meet demand during this era – and then all of a sudden nobody wanted one and Olds went into its terminal decline. Hilarious how size standards have changed – the ad talking about the Cutlass as some sort of smallish car, when they were longer than today’s BMW 7 series or Mercedes S-Class that come with recliner backseats and V-12s under the hood.
Right car, right price, right time. This was the “Goldilocks” of automotive choices in the mid 70s. Very attractive, infinitely optionable, a really attractive step up for many, absolutely no “mid range” stigma attached for downsizers, it had more answers than any other choice and deserved its reign.
These really had so much momentum in the 70s. Even the weird year of 1977 when the big cars in the lineup were suddenly same size. It was unfortunate that the 78 downsize was so blocky and the Rocket 260 was low on output. Back to Colonnade style in 81 and the Rocket 307 was better as well. Hard to get momentum back though.
It must have been terrifying to GM in 1979 when the Chevette passed the Cutlass as the best selling car. Showed the wisdom of not giving the subcompacts four doors.
I saw your post the other day that this was coming up, it’s even better the second time around.
I was a sophomore in high school when these were new and I desperately wanted one of these cars. For no other reason than one, there was a girl two grades ahead of me and I figured the jade green version of this car would knock her socks off. None of this ever took place as my lawn care & snow shoveling jobs barely scored me enough money to buy, insure and maintain a worn out 1969 Ford Torino GT two years later. (sad trumpet)
But, I can’t disagree with anything written here. I guess part of the attraction for me back in the day was the same attributes that folks mentioned above. This was the car for the upwardly mobile young achiever, all the others were pale imitations. Also, as others mentioned, it was the car, until it wasn’t. By 1987, if you were a young achiever with money, you were in a BMW of some sort. If you had less money, it was probably a Honda/Toyota, but the contemporary Oldsmobiles at that time had the old person stink on them. Just. Like. That.
Glad to see another one again, so lovingly preserved.
I had a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ as my second car. I loved that thing, it was so smooth. Made the mistake of trading it in on a 1979 Accord Coupe.
I have a 1977 Cutlass Supreme with ony 31000 miles on it. The original owners bought it new and drove it for two years, until the husband died. The wife did not drive so she just left it parked in the garage for 38 years, when I bought it two years ago.
I replaced all the rubber and abs/pvc(?) parts, battery, air conditioning, carburetor, radio, clock, etc. (everything that wears out due to age, rather than mileage) and it is now in, let’s say about 90-95% perfect condition. The 5-10% “less than perfect issues” consist of a few parking lot dings, a little of the black paint between the chrome “stripes” on the grille having chipped off, a tiny paint ding or two here and there, the right hand remote mirror not working properly (something wrong with the cable–perhaps it’s stretched), and the wire hubcaps having been curb-scratched a little (apparently the now-deceased husband was not a great parallel parker, LOL), and the beige-gold vinyl seats look a little aged. It’s always been garaged or covered when stored outdoors, so the paint and chrome are still bright and shiny.
It is a beautiful car in that “dark-gold” (buckskin?) color, and it draws attention whenever I drive it.
I’d like to finish restoring it to near-perfect, but I’ve kind of run out of knowledge regarding how to find the parts I need (e.g. the mirror cable and wire hubcaps). The seats don’t look bad–just show normal signs of rub-wear.