1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Spent Decades in the Desert, Still Rocks Original V8


The second-generation Cutlass is mostly famous for having spawned the 442, a high-performance trim created in response to the midsize muscle car niche created by the Pontiac GTO. But the regular Cutlass had plenty to offer in the mid-1960s, including a long list of premium features and a V8 engine with up to 310 horsepower.

Fast forward to 2021, and the second-gen Cutlass is one of those classics that comes with a lot of bang for the buck. With prices usually ranging from $8,000 to $25,000 (Fair to Concours condition), the Cutlass is as affordable as they get. Go with a sun-baked yet unmolested barn find like this 1965 two-door coupe, and you might have a great project on your hands for the price of a used Chevrolet Spark.

The Olds you’re looking at might not seem very fetching at first glance, but that’s because it spent a few decades in the desert. Discovered somewhere in New Mexico with an almost completely baked upper body section, this Cutlass is an all-original, seemingly complete classic. And amazingly enough, it doesn’t have any significant rust holes, whether we’re talking about the body, the floor, or the frame.

The interior doesn’t look bad either after decades of exposure to hot weather, but the seats need new upholstery because the original one is about to fall apart. The dashboard took the biggest hit from the desert sun, but plastic and vinyl aren’t that hard to restore.

But the coolest thing about this Cutlass is that it looks all-original under the hood, down to a numbers-matching V8. The seller doesn’t provide any details, but the photos indicate a 330-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) V8 mill. Slotted between the entry-level V6 and the 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) V8 available with the 440, the 330 delivered up to 310 horsepower back in the day. That’s only 35 horses below the mighty Olds 442.

GM offered both a manual and an automatic with the Cutlass in 1965, but this coupe features the two-speed Jetaway auto. Not to be confused with Chevrolet’s Powerglide gearbox, this transmission was introduced in 1964 and shared by the Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac divisions.

The seller says he did not try to start the V8, so there’s no way to know if it’s still working or not. While it might not run, it should turn and eventually fire up with a bit of work. At least based on how the engine bay looks right now.

This scorched intermediate is listed by “elpasoconnection” on eBay with a “Buy It Now” price of $6,500. The seller is entertaining offers though, so you might score a bargain. Would you repaint this Cutlass, or would you keep the burnt patina? I think it looks cool as is.