Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cars in Yards: 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442

1977 Olds Cutlass 442 found in a yard wearing original Rally wheels, black and gold paint.

Golden era Olds. Summer camping trip yields rusty relics and backwoods Olds gold. I found this 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in north Alabama. The sporty, sloped-nosed ’77 Cutlass was wearing a dazzling, black and gold paint combo. The sweeping roof line is also one of my favorites. But a closer look at the boogered sheet metal surrounding the rear window, quarter panels and trunk dampened my enthusiasm. 
  The Oldsmobile Cutlass was everywhere in the mid-to-late 1970s. Everybody owned a Cutlass back then. Your grandma, brother, aunt, uncle, and best friends, all cruised in one of GM’s top-selling, mid-sized Olds. 1973-1977 was the golden era for Oldsmobile. In 1977, Oldsmobile built 673,397 Cutlass in various configurations of the Colonnade platform. Only 11,649 were 442 models. That's less than 2% of the total Cutlass production. In comparison, 9,576 Olds 442 were built during the similar, 1976 model year. 

Good, bad, ugly
  The tail of this 442, and thousands, if not millions, of GM's 1970s mid-sized vehicles have suffered the same fate after decades exposed to the elements. Restored or original, rust-free examples of GM's Colonnade cars should command top dollar – eventually. I hope I can find my own black and gold 4-4-2 beauty before they do.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

1975 Pontiac Firebirds not feathered right in original brochure; fight begins

Firebird dream car leads to dispute, between Ron Kidd and Jody Potter, over color combos on 1975 Pontiacs in front of a 1979 Bandit Special Edition Trans Am.

Color charts are NOT our friends. We love finding vintage automobile literature at swap meets. We especially love Pontiac’s ideas and presentations. Anthony, Jody, and I (Ron) are like 1970’s children poring over the Sears catalog, where antique automotive advertising is concerned. Even to an unhealthy degree, like when Jody and I were ‘tug-o-warring’ a 1975 Firebird brochure into two pieces. Lesson learned. Now, we just don’t show each other our latest vintage ad finds, or Anthony makes us sit in separate sides of the shop.

  The dispute, mentioned above, happened while studying our vault of all things vintage and Pontiac. This beautiful, albeit wrinkled printing (pictured above) of what Pontiac had to offer that year. I fell head-over-heels in love with two things in the 1975 Pontiac brochure. 
  I can hear the remarks, “Just two things?” 
  Well, your right. Probably, more like ten things, but for tonight, I am ready to search the world over for two Firebirds shown in the ’75 brochure (see below).

Examples of the two mystery colors that Pontiac did not offer but showed in their 1975 Pontiac lineup brochure.
Ron really wants these two Firebirds. Two problems. It’s not 1975, and Pontiac didn’t offer the paint colors shown on Firebirds or the hub cap combo.

You can’t buy me
  I know what your thinking. These are NOT Trans Ams or our beloved stealthy Formulas. These are plain Jane (sort of) Firebirds without spoilers, and (gasp!) hub caps. I have come to the conclusion that you could not buy them in 1975.
  Why not? They are right there in the brochure. True as that may be, these beautiful Birds are not feathered right. The top image features a Hardtop Coupe in Fire Coral Bronze (drool, drool), which according to the SAME book, is not offered in the Firebird or any other Pontiac that year except the Astre (picture a Vega in Pontiac styling). Also worthy of a mention, the Firebirds are wearing the highly coveted Junkyard Life favorite hub cap of all time. Pontiac called them “Finned Wheel Covers.” Possibly offered on a base Firebird, but not likely. You were more inclined to see those wheel covers on a Grand Prix or Grand Am. In the Chevrolet camp, these hub caps could be had in the late 1960’s on the Corvette and on the Camaro in the early 1970’s. A handsome wheel cover indeed. But even this brochure says it is not gonna happen on the base Firebird.
Pontiac offered buyers the chance to see all the available paint options on the entire 1975 Pontiac lineup in a multi-page brochure..
1975 Pontiac exterior finishes paint chart.

  Don’t even get us started on the teaser picture of the gorgeous Esprit on 
the bottom. That color wasn’t even in the book at all for 1975, and those beautiful 15-inch hub caps — at least they were listed as standard on several models, although we have never seen them. They look great on that car. The deluxe interior makes me wonder why anyone would order anything else. A beautiful car in a classy color. I only wish we knew what color it actually is. 

A Buccaneer Red Formula and Sterling Silver Trans Am were worthy of a full-page spread in the brochure. No doubt those colors sold well in 1975.

  I guess these things happen. Often times a brochure would go to print, only 
to show options and colors that were canceled at the last minute. Such mishaps required a lot of awkward conversations between salesmen and disappointed buyers. 
  If Pontiac only knew, that decades later, their swanky brochures would be subject to Junkyard Life scrutiny. That doesn’t help me now. I really, really want both of those cars as pictured. Imagine us in 1975 throwing a tantrum on the dealership floor. 
  “But it’s in the book!”

 Ron Kidd

– Junkyard Life

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