Third generation Cutlass Supreme: 1973–1977

In 1973, the Cutlass Supreme, like other GM mid-size cars, was redesigned. Hardtop models were replaced by new “Colonnade” styling with fixed center pillars. Concerns over proposed rollover standards caused many automakers to phase out their pillarless hardtops and convertibles throughout the 1970s, and the Cutlass was no exception. Cutlass Supreme coupes had a unique roofline with vertical opera windows not shared with other Cutlass coupes, as well as unique front end styling. For 1976, a new front fascia design with quad rectangular headlamps debuted. This new Cutlass design was highly successful, becoming one of the best-sellers of the time. The Cutlass line as a whole was America’s best-selling car in 1976, helping Oldsmobile to become the only marque outside of Ford and Chevrolet to break one-million units sold. By 1977, however, GM had downsized its full-size models, and the Cutlass Supreme was now nearly identical in size to the redesigned Delta 88. That situation would last only that one year, as GM planned to downsize the Olds Cutlass and other intermediates for 1978.

Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe

In addition to the Colonnade hardtop coupe, the Cutlass Supreme was also offered in a four-door Colonnade sedan (with six-window styling and frameless door windows) as well as six-and-nine passenger station wagons – the wagons with the woodgrain exterior trim were marketed under the Vista Cruiser nameplate previously used on Oldsmobile’s stretched-wheelbase station wagons with raised roof and skylights from 1964 to 1972.

The Supreme Colonnade sedan was available in 1973 as the Cutlass Salon, which was an option package that included radial tires, upgraded suspension and reclining bucket seats upholstered in corduroy or vinyl trim along with color-keyed wheelcovers – designed as sort of a European-style luxury/touring sedan similar to the Pontiac Grand Am of the same period. For 1974, the Salon package was also made available on the Supreme Colonnade coupe and in 1975, the Salon was upgraded to a separate series available in both sedan and coupe.

For 1973 and 1974, the 350 Rocket V8 with four-barrel carburetor and 180 horsepower (130 kW) was the standard Cutlass Supreme engine with a 250-horsepower 455 Rocket offered as an option. Both three- and four-speed manual transmissions were offered in 1973, but the greatest majority of Cutlasses (including Supremes) were built with the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmissionwhich became standard equipment in 1974, along with variable-ratio power steering.

The 1973-74 energy crisis resulting from the Arab Oil Embargo led Oldsmobile to introduce two new smaller engines to the Cutlass line in 1975. The Chevrolet built 250 cubic-inch inline six and three-speed manual transmission were reinstated as standard equipment on the Supreme coupe and sedan with a new Olds-built 260 cubic-inch Rocket V8 (standard on Cutlass Salon and optional on all other Cutlasses except wagons) offered as an option. However, the majority of Cutlass Supremes in 1975, 1976 and 1977 were sold with the now-optional 350 Rocket V8 and Turbo Hydra-matic automatic (still standard on wagons). The 455 Rocket V8 was optional through 1976, and replaced by a smaller 403 Rocket V8 in 1977, the same year in which a Buick-built 231 cubic-inch V6 replaced the Chevy inline six as base power in most Cutlass models.


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