Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cars in Yards: 1970 Olds F-85 Sport Coupe

So you think you have seen it all before? You think that Cutlass in that backyard out in the country is just another standard issue, run-of-the-mill Oldsmobile? Think again, newbie. I must say, I myself am somewhat guilty. When I saw this '70 Cutlass in a backyard, I may have actually thought something along those lines. Especially, after Jody, Anthony and I met a guy in the Deep South who had about thirty 1968-1972 Cutlass parts cars. We thought we had seen every variety of Cutlass S, W-30, W-31, and 442 that there could be. Then I found this.

This cheapo F-85 boasts a three-speed manual, 8-track and AM-radio.

1970 Olds F-85 Post Sedan surprise
What? I wasn’t aware that Olds even made an F-85 that year. But they did. See? A post. It’s right there. I would venture to say that most Cutlass S or 442s that I have seen were two-door hard tops. I seem to be having trouble coming up with a production numbers. I did learn a great deal about the F-85 option. It was the bottom of the line base model. This was the entry level Cutlass, although the car doesn’t proclaim to be a Cutlass anywhere on it. Also noteworthy is the contradiction of the economically-friendly idea of an affordable base model and this actual car. I’m sure most of these were super cheap as far as new cars in 1970. After all, 1970 was the peak of Detroit’s on-going horsepower war. So, with that in mind, look what I found among the secret stash of 30 Cutlass parts/project cars.

This cheapo F-85 boasts a three-speed manual, 8-track and AM-radio.
Thrift Shift
Dig, if you will, the picture above… a manual transmission! I just about fell over myself with excitement, then I realized it was a manual 3-speed and not my fantasy 4-gear. I also learned that the W-31, 4-speed F-85 is the Holy Grail of base-model following. That’s not what this car is, but keep looking. There is the sporty two spoke steering wheel. Not what I would expect in an F-85 (but what do I know? I thought they stopped making the F-85 in 1967). Notice the “F-85” emblem on the dash? Way cool! Let’s look closer.

I wanna rock without a clock
So, the original buyer of this F-85 wouldn’t spring for an automatic transmission (the 3-speed was standard). Or did he???? Look closely at the steering column which appears to be original judging by its color. Is that the remains of an automatic stalk? Did someone add a straight shift transmission at some point in the car’s life? If so, why a 3-speed and not one of the much cooler 4-speeds out at the time? The pedals appear to be factory issue. As long as we are thinking along those lines of reasoning, did you notice this “base model” F-85 has factory air conditioning? I bet that wasn’t free. I also notice an O.E.M. factory 8-track tape player, but just an AM radio. Actually, that musical combo wasn’t so unusual for the time, but let’s keep in mind that this is, or supposed to be a price friendly car. No clock, just a block off plate in its spot, but factory air and tape player? This guy did have his priorities straight.

The 442/Cutlass S hood appears to be from a donor car.

F-85 hood delete?
This '70 Sport Coupe's hood is not original to the car. That’s the kind of thing you pay extra for on your Cutlass S, SX or your 442 Holiday Coupe. Not base model Jane here. But it’s a valuable piece of Oldsmobile history that looks great on the car. I am really digging the post on this baby! Who has that?

Cheap but classy
Leave it to the Olds Division to produce such a classy looking emblem for their base model car. That looks expensive. This picture detects a lighter green over what appears to be a darker original green. Perhaps code 48? Another visit is in order to learn more about this odd car. Less is more sometimes.

Dream build ideas
We are Oldsmobile addicts over here at Junkyard Life. So what would we do if we got our hands on this? How about the factory dark green with mostly dark green interior? Add in a rich coffee color carpet to spice the recipe a bit. Retain the factory bench seat and curved shifter, only it would be connected to a 6-speed 455 combo. Rolling on a set of dark green 15-inch SS3 Rally wheels and red line tires. I would also lose the block off plate on the dash in favor of a reproduction Tic-Toc Tach.

So don’t be guilty of the crime of "Early Cutlass Dismissal" without all the facts. You might be passing up something interesting, and dare I say elusive, with low production figures or unlikely remaining example odds? Yes. You may. So don’t take that chance, check them all out. Acquire them when possible, restore and preserve. And most important… send us pictures!

— Ron Kidd,

Know of a junkyard we need to visit or want to send us photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to Ron at or Jody at


Gary said...

I don't know if you noticed, but that car has a column-shift steering column with the shifter removed. I wonder if it is an original 3-speed manual or if it was converted at some point from automatic.

Gary said...

LOL... note to self, read the article FIRST, then look at the pictures as I see you did notice that and mentioned it in the write-up. Neat find!

Anonymous said...

LoL Thanks, Gary. That car was a treat to see, and I must say, sharp eye on you! Hey, don't hesitate to comment or mention something, because Jody and I could very well have missed it ourselves. Thanks for tuning in, we really do enjoy the feedback and the unraveling of a mystery. Thanks! Ron

Gary said...

It could very well have been a "3 on the tree" manual which was converted to a floor shift, and they left the column.

Charles Parker said...

In 1979 I ordered a Firebird because the Pontiac dealer had either Esprit's or Trans Am's. I couldn't afford the loaded $8000 Esprit's, much less the $11,000 Trans Am's. Base price for a 1979 Firebird was $4995 in early 1979 and I kept the base V6 and 3 sp manual. I ordered a Nocturne Blue color with body colored Rallye II wheels, spoiler and white letter tires. It looked fast! I also ordered A/C because my girlfriend at the time said if I wanted to continue to date her, it was required. As of 2023, we are still together. (married in 1981) I also ordered mine with the AM/FM 8-track. But somehow, it was built with the AM/8track like this F85. The dealer removed the AM/8-track and installed the correct radio I ordered. My price after all options I chose was $6200.