A family coupe: 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass

In 1977, Gary Sutherlin and his wife, Janet, decided to replace their 1971 Chevy Nova with a more substantial family car so that she could drive their children to their activities.

The young couple went to Gardner Motors, an Oldsmobile dealership in Binghamton, N.Y. near their home and ordered a new 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Colonnade coupe. They knew what they wanted and what they didn’t want as well as what they could afford.

The Olds salesman accommodated them and ordered a Cutlass with about two dozen options including: air conditioning, turbo-hydramatic transmission, 350 CID V-8 & 4 barrel carburetor, GR78 white stripe tires, Super Stock wheels, rear window defogger, cruise control, front bucket seats, push-button AM/FM radio, center console, Sof-T-Ray tinted windows, protective side molding, 2 sport style mirrors, Rallye sway bar, vanity package, accent lights, Quartz electric clock, rear speaker, front/rear seat belts, front floor mats, rear floor mats and door edge guard.

“I wanted a few other things like positraction,” Sutherlin says, “but I went as far as I could go.”

Once the Oldsmobile arrived a couple of months later the salesman, as all good salesmen do, talked the Sutherlins into two more extras, undercoating for $119 and $25 mud guards.

The price of the Oldsmobile with all of the optional extras was a little over $7,330 and the trade-in Chevrolet was valued at a little over $1,500. The final score, Sutherlin says was $5,816.89.

The Sutherlins took delivery of their 1977 Oldsmobile in May and for 13 years, he says, it served well as the family car. He reports that the original vinyl covered seats held up to the abuse his two daughters dished out.

In 1998, the 3,608-pound car was showing signs of aging. The fading Metallic Green was resprayed with a fresh coast of the same color. In 2005 the seats were reupholstered with a tweed fabric.

The original 350-cubic-inch V-8, capped with a four-barrel carburetor continues to crank out 170 horsepower, even after the odometer shows the car has covered 224,000 miles.

The Oldsmobile still rides smoothly on a 112-inch wheelbase and all 16 red lines in the rear window still combat the occasional fog.

All three pieces of the rear bumper, Sutherlin reports, have been replated with chrome, as has the front bumper. A pair of backup lights bracket the rear license plate.

Back in 1990 Sutherlin’s wife relinquished her Cutlass to her husband, never thinking that he would still be driving it in 2013.

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