4 Best Oldsmobile Classics To Buy Used (5 To Avoid)

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Real gearboxes are familiar with Oldsmobile. The brand produced many great vehicles throughout the 20th century, and although Henry Ford perfected the automotive assembly line, the founder of Oldsmobile (Ransom Eli Olds) was the first to put the process in place. Ten years before the official launch of the Ford ranges, the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile had already been produced.

It’s a rare day that an Oldsmobile is spotted on the roads. Sadly, Oldsmobile ceased to exist in 2004 due to corporate executives at General Motors deciding the brand was not profitable enough. Essentially, the end result destroyed one of the most famous vehicles of times gone by.

As with all other car brands, Oldsmobile had good models and finishes, but also bad ones. Let’s take a look at 5 classics to snatch and 5 to avoid.

9 Buy: 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2


1964 Oldsmobile Cutless 442 - Dianes Auctions
via: Dianes auctions

In mid-1964, the 4-4-2 package was made available as an add-on combination to all Oldsmobile models except all available station wagons. The numbers mean the car had a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, and dual exhaust (4-4-2).


1964 Oldsmobile Cutless 442 - Pinterest
via: Pinterest

This package was added to the larger engine available at the time, which was the 330cid V8. Further improvements were made to create an engine capable of developing 310 hp. It was discontinued in the 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass and the designation 4-4-2 was added to the name. This car is a blast from the past and a muscle car that must be grabbed by anyone lucky enough to find it.

Related: Here’s What The 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 Costs Today

8 Buy: 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Hurst


oldsmobile cutlass hurst edition 1983
Via Pinterest

The ’83 Cutlass was part of the fourth generation. It was smaller than in previous years and was marketed as a luxury car. The Supreme was a G-body style that maintained rear-wheel drive instead of moving towards front-wheel drive like the rest of the line-up did in 1982. The Hurst version of 83 was the 15th anniversary edition, giving the car a color of black on silver.


The 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Hurst came with a 307 cid engine which was connected to the transmission with a three-stick Hurst Lightning Rod Shifter. The limited-slip rear provides traction on the ground, allowing it to sprint forward in any type of weather condition. The combination of motor, transexual and gears made this car a reliable alternative to muscle cars of previous decades.

seven Buy: 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350


Via Mecum

By 1970, consumers wanted muscle cars, but emissions regulations pushed for smaller cars that burned less gasoline. Oldsmobile knew that such a change in production line would crush sales. So, looking to the future, they offered the Rally to the public in a way that made the switch smooth, instead of just pulling the plug on the muscle car buyers.


via shear comfort

The 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350 looked like a muscle car from the past, but it offered a small 350 block instead of a massive big block. In the eyes of the designers, it was a way to adjust the way buyers thought, naturally shifting them to more fuel-efficient cars. The Rallye is a hard car to find, and when it is, it will cost a pretty penny. However, the cost is well worth the investment, so don’t let it slip away if you get the chance.

6 Buy: 1969 Oldsmobile Hurst


Via Mecum Auctions

Finding a way around the stipulations GM had implemented Oldsmobile placed a 455 in the car with some modifications made to increase horsepower and performance. They took that massive engine and combined it with an outside company that specializes in shifting components. A Hurst shifter and gears were placed to deliver a car that has power for days and unmatched ease of shifting.


Oldsmobile Cutlass
Via Mecum Auctions

The 1969 Oldsmobile Hurst became one of the best cars Oldsmobile ever made. It was a combination of an upgraded Tornado engine, Cutlass body, and Hurst Dual-Gate shifter. The car was the best of many worlds and is a coveted car for collectors across the country. If you find it in any form, grab it and restore it to its original power and glory.

5 Avoid: 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel


Via YouTube

Diesel engine applications in the United States began to be at the forefront of production horizons. Oldsmobile decided to follow Mercedes’ lead and ditched a diesel in the 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In theory, that was a great idea because it could bypass increasingly stringent emissions laws.


Via Pinterest

GM rushed the project ahead of the time it should have been released, so the engine went untested. Their tactics bit them in the butt. The 4.3-liter diesel engine ended up leaving the big car underpowered and riddled with problems. Some to the point of causing the head bolts to shear. The Oldsmobile diesel car has been called the worst car ever produced by Odlsmobile (or any other automaker).

Related: 5 Oldsmobile Cars Nobody Bought (& 5 That Sold Like Hot Cakes)

4 Avoid: 1980 Oldsmobile Omega


The Bad Olds: 1980-1985 Oldsmobile Omega, infamous X-Body
via Pinterest

1980 marked the birth of the third generation of the Omega. It was made with an X-frame and inserted front-wheel drive styling. The engines they contained were either the four-cylinder in-line or the six-cylinder LE2. Both offered decent fuel economy but offered extraordinarily low horsepower.


1980 Oldsmobile Omega - Barn Finds
via: Barn Finds

One of the worst cars GM ever made was the X body. They were assembled so poorly that the engine vibrated, the transmission failed, and the structure collapsed. The brakes were a big problem. So big, in fact, that GM was sued for it. The 1980 Oldsmobile Omega is a junk car that should be avoided at all costs.

3 Avoid: 1978 Oldsmobile 4-4-2


1978 Oldsmobile 442 - Pinterest
via: Pinterest

The meaning of 4-4-2 has already been discussed earlier, so it will not be detailed again. 1978 was the start of the recent version of 4-4-2. The fourth generation 4-4-2 was built on an A-frame body and offered a variety of engines, ranging from the 3.8-liter six-cylinder to the 5.0-liter, which was the largest engine option available. Even though it was shorter than in previous years, it still had plenty of room in the front and rear of the interior.


1978 Oldsmobile 442 - course of action
via: Guideline

This is where the good stopped. The 1978 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 lost a substantial amount of power compared to previous years. The interior was no longer filled with comfortable seats, and the available engines were so small that the car couldn’t outperform even the slower cars, like the Maverick. 4-4-2 cars are highly sought after muscle cars, but when it comes to this year, and this generation, it should be avoided.

2 Avoid: 1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88


1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88 - Concept Carz
via: Concept Carz

The change was happening in the auto industry, so big cars got smaller engines. The 1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88 could be purchased with engines ranging from large V8s to 6 cylinders. 1979 was the last year large block engines were used due to increasingly stringent emissions regulations. The interior has been improved by adding plush seats, making it a luxury sedan.


1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88 - Supermotors
via: SuperMoteurs

The engines themselves weren’t much of a problem if basic maintenance was done. The issues were security. The seat belt bolts broke, even without an accident, and the brakes had many problems that caused them to fail. Unless brakes aren’t needed, avoid the Delta 88 this year.

1 Avoid: 1982 Oldsmobile Firenza


1982 Oldsmobile Firenza - Classic Oldsmobile
via: Oldsmobile Classic

The 1982 Oldsmobile Firenza was made as an entry-level car for consumers. It replaced the larger rear-wheel drive Starfire. The Firenza was a front-wheel drive car that was built using the basic J-body frame. It was offered with an inline-four, which gave it good mileage and decent performance.


1982 Oldsmobile Firenza - Paper Smog
via: Paper Smog

Unfortunately, the Firenza has been the subject of a few recalls that could affect the safety of the car, and it was under investigation for the same reasons. The first was that the fuel lines had a good chance of leaking, causing a fire. The second, and perhaps the most devastating, was a sudden acceleration down the road. An increase in speed over which the driver had no control. It’s definitely a car to avoid, even if it’s bought for an adrenaline junkie.

Final thoughts


The Good Olds: 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2, La Muscle Car
via Pinterest

The Oldsmobiles have been around for more years than most people can even understand. In the early years, muscle car enthusiasts looked for them to stay competitive on the streets. As the automaker grew older, they became the cars of choice for luxury and comfort. Over the decades they have had good innovations, reliable cars and a loyal following.


Oldsmobile Rallye 350 Classic from 1970: approx. $ 20,000
Via: Mecum

The customer base was not large enough to create enough profit for GM to keep the line operational once the bad apples were added to the mix, and in this case the bad outweighed the good by far. Oldsmobile is just a memory for most of us, but they still made some great cars that are a worthwhile investment today.


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