1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass (Fourth Generation: 1973-1977)
The Cutlass line was redesigned for 1973 using GM's new "Colonnade" A-body platform. The model lineup consisted of the base Cutlass, Cutlass "S", Cutlass Supreme, Cutlass Salon, Vista Cruiser station wagon, and the 442 appearance package on the Cutlass "S" colonnade coupe. The Cutlass "S" and 442 offered, as an extra-cost option, unique Strato bucket seats with high seatbacks and built-in headrests that could be swiveled 90 degrees to permit easier entry and exit for the driver and front-seat passenger.
The new Cutlass Salon was an upscale Euro-style luxury/sports sedan similar in concept to the Pontiac Grand Am of the era. The Salon, which included items such as uprated suspension, radial tires, reclining bucket seats and dimmer switch mounted in the turn-signal lever was based on the Cutlass Supreme series, first as a 4-door Colonnade sedan, joined by a 2-door Colonnade hardtop coupe in 1974. The Cutlass Salon was the first Oldsmobile with the 'international' flags emblem, later carried on the Cutlass Ciera. Front disc brakes were standard.
All Cutlass models came standard with a 180-horsepower (130 kW) 350 Rocket V8 (k code). Optionally available was a 200-horsepower (150 kW) 350 rocket V8 with dual exhaust (m code), a 250-horsepower (190 kW) 455 Rocket V8 (U code or L75). The top engine option was a 270-horsepower (200 kW) 455-rocket V8, with a hotter cam, and W30 style heads. This engine was called the L77 (V code), and was used primarily in the 4-speed cars, and automatics without the air conditioning option. Transmissions included a standard column-shift three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual with Hurst shifter or the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic automatic. Gauges were optional.
Only minor styling changes were made on this year's Cutlass models. Most notable were new grilles up front, including a unique fascia with bumper mounted turn signals on the base model not shared with any of the other trim levels, and federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumpers (joining the 5 mph (8.0 km/h) front bumpers mandated in '73) along with flush taillight lenses. Both the 350 and 455 Rocket V8s were carried over unchanged from 1973 aside from revisions required to meet 1974 emission regulations. Turbo Hydra-matic transmission became standard equipment on all Cutlass models this year. A new hydraulic bumper system was new.
For 1975, Oldsmobile added two smaller engines to attract economy-minded buyers in the aftermath of the 1973–74 energy crisis. Those included the Chevrolet-built 250 cubic-inch inline six (previously offered on 1966–71 Olds Cutlasses) and a new 260 V8 based on the Olds 350 Rocket V8, which continued as an option. Also available was the 455 Rocket V8, rated at 190 horsepower (140 kW). All engines were mated to catalytic converters and required unleaded gasoline. The three-speed manual transmission returned as standard equipment in conjunction with the six-cylinder engine on all Cutlass models except Salons and station wagons. However, very few Cutlasses were built with those items as most customers overwhelmingly preferred the 350 V8 and Turbo Hydra-matic as in previous years.
The Cutlass line superseded the full-sized Delta 88 as the best-selling Oldsmobile line for the first time ever in 1975 with the Cutlass Supreme coupe accounting for the majority of those sales, becoming the best-selling intermediate-sized car in America by overtaking the Chevrolet Chevelle and Ford Torino for the top spot. The Cutlass was also the second-best selling car line in the U.S. in 1975, with only the full-sized Chevrolet Impala/Caprice outpacing it. A fuel economy gauge was optional.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass became America's best selling car this year and would hold this title for most years into the 1980s. A restyled front end with waterfall-like split grilles and new rectangular headlights was introduced that would become an Olds Cutlass trademark in coming years, lasting into the late 1980s. The sides were also re-shaped for a less contoured look than the 1973-75 design, the taillights were revised and the license plate/fuel filler was moved above the bumper. The base Cutlass line was dropped, with the Cutlass S nameplate now applied to the entry-level coupe and sedan this year - both of which featured an aerodynamic slanted front nose in contrast to the upright front ends of other Cutlass models including the Cutlass Supreme coupe, sedan and wagon, Vista Cruiser wagon, Cutlass Salon coupe and sedan, and the new Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. The 442 option was still offered on Cutlass S coupes as an appearance/handling package.
Engine offerings were carried over from 1975 including the Chevy-built 250 cubic-inch inline six and Olds-built Rocket V8s of 260, 350 or 455 cubic inches. A three-speed manual transmission was standard with the six-cylinder engine but Turbo Hydra-matic was optional with this engine and the 260, and required with the 350 and 455 V8s. A new option this year was a five-speed manual transmission, which was available only with the 260 V8.
New grilles highlighted all 1977 Cutlass models with Cutlass S sedans and coupes reverting back to an upright grille/front end while the more aerodynamic slanted front end was only offered with the 442 option. "Oldsmobile" nameplates in a new sans-serif typeface replaced the former script ones.
Inside was a slightly revised instrument panel with the clock relocated to the right side of the dash above the glovebox. This also marked the introduction of Oldsmobile's new mechanical digital clock. The Chevrolet inline six was replaced by Buick's 231 V6, while the 260 and 350 Rocket V8s were carried over. The big 455 Rocket V8 was discontinued and replaced by a new 403 cubic-inch Rocket V8. Transmission offerings included a three-speed manual (standard with the V6 engine on Cutlass S and Supreme coupes and sedans), five-speed manual (with 260 V8 only) or three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic optional on V6 "S" and Supreme models, and standard equipment on all Cutlass Supreme Brougham, Cutlass Salon and station wagon models, as well as all cars with 350 and 403 V8s.
A sedan was added to the Supreme Brougham line, while the Salon lost its sedan version. The base wagon dropped the Cutlass Cruiser nameplate and became part of the Vista Cruiser line.
632,742 Cutlasses were built in 1977, the highest production for the model.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012