1965 OLDSMOBILE Cutlass- Grants Pass, OR Print
Written by Double Dragon
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:07

1965 OLDSMOBILE Cutlass- Grants Pass, OR


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

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The Cutlass model debuted as an option on the Oldsmobile F-85 which began life as a compact car. The 'B-O-P' (Buick-Olds- Pontiac) divisions of GM plunged into the compact marketplace in 1961 with their own versions of the "A body' Chevrolet Corvair. Like the Corvair, the B-O-P divisions of GM offered experimental cutting edge engineering advances in their new A body compacts.

Chrysler was also pouring radical ideas into their new compacts. Chrysler's compact was badged as an entirely new car division, the Valiant. That plan fizzled out after one year. Valiant became a Plymouth the next year, but the engineering advances were retained. The Valiant 'slant six' angled the bank of inline 6 cylinders to allow very long straight runners between the carburetor and combustion chamber valves. The result was more power and efficiency squeezed out of the relatively small engine.

Pontiac went absolutely full out with a rope drive and rear transaxle on their compact Tempest. They cut a 389 V8 in half to come up with the inline 4 that powered this car. Oldsmobile offered aluminum engines and turbocharging in their Jetfire 215 engine. Buick created a V6 at a time when the inline 6 was a domestic standby.

In 1964 innovation was dropped at General Motors because Ford won the sales race using conventional technology in the Falcon compact. The compact GM A body cars became 'intermediates' via expansion of the wheelbase from 112 inches to 115 combined with the addition of longer trunks. Chevrolet retained the Corvair and created the new Chevelle to match the other GM division A body intermediates. Look at the side view of the 1965 Cutlass with the 115 inch wheelbase. The car is clearly full size by today's standards.

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Because the 1965 Cutlass was only the second year of the new 1964 style intermediate body it was essentially carried over with minimal changes. In 1966 'coke bottle styling' was added to the car. The rear fenders kicked up in concert with C pillars that gained 'sail panels'. A move to 'ponycar proportions' was instigated when the ratio of the front hood length increased in relation to the shortened rear trunk.

Although GM jettisoned experimental technology from the intermediates, the newly designed Olds 330 V8 engine for 1964 was thoroughly modern. Thinwall casting produced a lightweight compact powerplant that packed a good punch. Oldsmobile promoted the 330 via installation in a small plane which proved itself in flight. Aside from durability, the 330 was noticeably smoother than the Chevy 283 and 327 available in Chevelles or the Pontiac '326' which had been downsized from 336 actual c.i. for the A body installation. The 330 block height was low, leaving a lot of space between the top of the air cleaner and the bottom of the hood. The 330 also provided wide gaps between the exhaust manifolds and inner fenders. All that space let the car run cool on the highway.

There are F85s floating around with inline six cylinder engines and manual 3 speeds but the upscale Cutlass was usually ordered with a 330 backed by an automatic. 'B-O-P' A bodies used a Super Turbine 300. Olds named it the Jetaway. The 2 speed automatic was eons behind 1960s Fords and Chryslers equipped with 3 speed automatics, but if you aren't a drag racer the 2 speed is fine in most driving situations. Jetaway lacked 3 forward gears but could compensate pretty well with its flexibility. The Jetaway relied on a 'variable vane' stator which changed angle in accordance with throttle opening thus increasing torque multiplication as required.

The top option on the F-85 platform was the Cutlass which eventually outsold the base model. Cutlass offered more trim and comfort features. But even a stripped down F-85 is a nice riding car.

The OOCC 1965 Cutlass shown here has original Oregon 'blue plates' with yellow letters. This style of licence plate (yellow letters on blue background using 3 letters followed by 3 numbers) made its debut in 1965 and was discontinued in 1974. The plate has NOV stamped into the left bottom corner which suggests that this 1965 Cutlass was first registered back in November, 1965.

The current owners have modified the Cutlass using hot rod styling cues. Custom center caps set off the factory wheels which have been painted red. The rest of the car is painted a matte black deliberately intended to resemble 'primer paint' which is very popular with 'rat rods'. Removal of the chrome trim gives it a stripped look. The stylized Iron Cross logo on the door is echoed by installation of spikes adorning the hood in place of the central chrome strip.

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Inside the mandatory fuzzy dice hang from the rear view mirror. A white cloth is draped over what is clearly some kind of aftermarket sound system mounted in the factory radio location. Aftermarket speakers are mounted in the front of the door panels in concert with two speakers installed in the rear window package shelf. The interior seems to be an original black and white combination hidden under red seat covers.

The Cutlass has factory tinted front windshield, automatic transmission, outside chrome driver's rear view mirror and that seems to be it for options. It may have been a factory radio delete car. There is no sign of the fender mounting hole for an antenna on this car unless it was filed down and filled during the repaint.

The interior reflects fairly high mileage. The windshield wiper knob is missing, the top of the steering wheel has tape wrapped around what is likely a missing piece of the outer plastic and the horn button is missing. Two aftermarket gauges are mounted under the dash to monitor fuel level and water temperature.

The body is straight and free of rust holes despite Oregon's damp chilly weather. Grant's Pass has average low temperatures around 35-37 degrees F from December to March. Peak rainfall is in December when more than 6 inches of rain falls on average. This type of weather brutalizes metal car bodies. Oldsmobiles were generally very well constructed and held together pretty well even in adverse conditions such as these.

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Note that the single exhaust exits out of the driver's side of the rear which is typically the routing used on six cylinder cars. The V8 Cutlass usually had the single exhaust exit from the passenger rear side.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 May 2021 20:44 )