Oldsmobile Cutlass

The very first Oldsmobile Cutlass was a test or concept sports coupe designed in 1954. It rode on a 110 in wheelbase with a dramatic roofline, and a stock Oldsmobile V8 engine. The platform was in fact quite similar to the later compact Olds F-85, which was not released until seven years down the road. The Oldsmobile Cutlass production model was made by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors and was formally introduced in 1961. By this point it was a unibody compact car that competed with the Dodge Lancer and the Mercury Comet. But, back to the historical part, General Motors began engineering its first compact cars in 1956, which began with the Chevrolet Corvair. By the following year, a second series of moderately larger cars was in the works for Buick, for Oldsmobile and for Pontiac. These later became known as senior compacts, senior in size, not in age. They shared the same body shell and lightweight engine making them a pretty neat combination. The Oldsmobile designer, Irving Rybicki, began working on the Olds model in 1957 and they finally went on sale in 1960 as a 1961 model. Over the years though, the Cutlass name has been used by Oldsmobile as something like a sub-marquee. As a result, a number of different vehicles bore the same name simultaneously. This was obviously chaotic for consumer and dealers alike. However, the Cutlass name had great equity and became one of the most popular nameplates in the industry. Nevertheless, in the end, the saturation of Oldsmobile Cutlass models caused confusion in the market place in the 1980s. This just might have been the beginning of the end for the Oldsmobile marquee. Not to mention, times were changing and people were looking for minivans, and shortly thereafter, for the extremely popular SUVs.