Saturday, March 26, 2022

1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme: A One Hit Wonder

“One Supreme, Please!” That sounds like something one might say at a food truck or certain restaurants. However, that appears to be what a frugal buyer said in late 1973 or into 1974 upon walking into Royal Oldsmobile in Birmingham, Alabama. Let's take a closer look at this smashed Supreme still tucked away in a back lot in Birmingham.

“Supreme” may a bit of a stretch on this 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. They really didn’t spring for much. Outside of the slightly extra cost Supreme package, this Zodiac Blue example didn’t partake in any tempting luxuries other than air conditioning and top of the line Super Stock wheels. 

Cooler vinyl seat interior color? Nope. Not possible.

I Must Have Music
I grant thee a stereo. Really, that is a stretch. Radio is a better description of the music choice made here. This “FM” thing will never catch on, so a good old fashioned AM radio is what you get. You’re welcome. You should be able to hear it rather well on the bench seat if you are sitting in the middle. Don’t scoff at a bench seat. Drivers of the era made good use of them on date night. If the evening plans were going well, the date would sit right beside the driver in the middle. Not only could the center dash speaker be heard a little better, but the seating location also made a statement about the status of the relationship. Bucket seats were cool looking and cost more, but lost all romance.*

1974 Olds Cutlass Supreme view from driver's seat at gauges and dash.

Power steering is about the only time the Olds assisted the operator. Manual windows, locks, and seats are found here. Junkyard Life thinks that the Landau top was part of the Supreme package. Although we all seem to want cars sans the vinyl top** because they survived at a better rate. So…conundrum? 

V-top roof from wreck or forklift? Share your thoughts in comments.

Running Red Light Guy – 1, Forklift – 1, Cutlass – 0
Our feature car seems to have lost a battle with a forklift. Also at some point there was a dispute over who had the right of way. Neither helped the Cutlass to a better place than it is in now. So now lets’ look at the real salmon and potatoes. That somehow means “let us look at the bright side” — all the engine hardware and linkage you could ever need is present! Except for cruise control. That is for rich folks.

15-inch Super Stock wheels

It does have a complete set of 15-inch Super Stock wheels! If you only knew the perils and pit falls of the journey Junkyard Life endured to get those same-sized wheels that are on our Olds wagon. That would be a much bigger deal to you. Most wheels of Super Stock design are 14-inch. Plus, there will always be a following of these round eyed Colonnades. So is there more? Could have been.

I Could Have Had a V8!
Actually you did have a V-8. The famous Oldsmobile Rocket. In this example, it was a 350 c.i.d. Now for the fun stuff…what you could have had! In 1974 a 455 cubic inch power plant was available. Here are some more optional packages:

  • In the “Salon” model, Mr. Cool gets bucket seats and a floor-shifted console. 
  • In the “S” model, you could get bucket seats that swivel! How cool is that? 
  • In the Hurst Edition, you could get all those goodies as well as swivel seats that had reversible cushions. If you didn’t like the color today….well, you had two choices.  
  • For some reason unknown to us, they didn’t promote the sporty 442 as much as you would have thought they would. However, it was there. 

The End?
Usually, we wrap up a story with hope for the future. In this case, the Automotive Grim Reaper seems to be driving. Outside of the parts we mentioned (mainly on the front of the Cutlass) this one is done. We do hope something good comes from the parts. We can hope.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Instead of Cutlass Fun Facts…
wait for it…

1974 Car Buying Fun!

Let's buy a new 1974 model! We here at Junkyard Life come from the era of “hand me down” vehicles. Cars of this vintage were a realistic option for us driving to high school in the 1980s. We also love, nay, adore the Colonnade body style introduced in 1973. Back then, our parents and grandparents drove these cars by force because they were new and not that treasured by “us” car nerds. However, we all have family that swears there was not a “real” car made after 1972. That school of thinking is rooted in post-1972 government standards were more stringent and other factors such as safety and fuel economy were trying to all but kill anything fun from Detroit. So they got slower and heavier. We see it a different way. What would you do if it was 1974 and you were going to buy a mid-sized vehicle? It would be hard to go wrong. Several beautiful choices were available…Notice how we put our choices first. 

1. 1974 Pontiac Grand Am (Jody’s choice-he'd probable hold onto his 1973 GA)
        2. 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ (Ron's choice)
        3. 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a big block and swivel seats (Keith’s choice)

        4. 1974 Pontiac Le Mans
        5. 1974 Chevrolet Malibu or Laguna (a popular race fan favorite)

   6. 1974 Hurst Olds Cutlass

7. 1974 Olds Cutlass 442

8. 1974 Buick Regal in it’s second year of production

9. 1974 Mercury Montego

10. 1974 Dodge Charger is heavenly in red with a black top

11. 1974 Plymouth Cuda

12. 1974 Dodge Challenger 

13. 1974 Ford Torino-always a beauty

See? The choices would be hard for many enthusiast. We know what we would pick, other than all of them, if money and storage were no object. Though seen as dark years for the American automobile, maybe it wasn’t as bad as we thought?

Editor’s Notes:

*Ron is not allowed to give relationship advice after that whole lawsuit thing.

** This may be historically the first time Ron has ever spoken against vinyl. 

A huge impact to the side of the Cutlass was enough to take it off the road, but I'm betting it was still drivable (a short distance), despite the damage.

Do you have a car story? Send us details!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

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