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Pick of the Day: From the time when Olds Cutlass was the best-selling car in the US

This 1979 Cutlass Supreme reportedly appeared in a movie with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci


In a world in which import brands have become the most popular with Americans who buy passenger cars instead of various forms of trucks, it may be hard to believe that in the late 1970s and into the early ‘80s, the best-selling car in the US not was produced by a domestic brand, but was, indeed, the Oldsmobile Cutlass.

For the 1975 model year, Oldsmobile offered the Cutlass with a couple of more fuel-efficient engines, bringing back a 250icd inline-6 and also offering a new 260 V8 based on the larger 350 Rocket V8. Not only did the Cutlass outsell Olds’ popular Delta 88, but overtook the Chevrolet Chevelle and Ford Torino to rank second in car sales behind only the Chevrolet Impala/Caprice.

For 1976, a design update for the Cutlass included a waterfall-style split grille and a more-sleek coupe contour — driven by Richard Petty to victory in the 1979 Daytona 500 — and the Cutlass, with cars ranging from 4 cylinders to the muscle-car 442, surged to No. 1 in the overall car sales race.

GM switched mid-size vehicles such as the Cutlass to a front-drive platform for 1982, when the best-selling car in the US was the Ford Escort. The Cutlass reclaimed the crown for 1983. 

The Cutlass was cut from the Oldsmobile lineup after 1997 and despite the best across-the-board array of vehicles, led by the Aurora, Oldsmobile itself was shed by a cost-slashing GM in 2004.

Which brings us, at long last, to the Pick of the Day, a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme being advertised on by a dealership in O’Fallon, Illinois.

But as it turns out, this isn’t just any 1979 Olds Cutlass Supreme but, the dealer notes, the very one that appeared in the 2010 movie Love Ranch featuring Joe Pesci and Helen Mirren.

Sounding like a line from the film about brothel owners and struggle with the IRS and “church ladies” and their bid to become boxing promoters, the dealer notes the car’s “deep brown paint brings your eye in and matches well with the tan top, and tan cloth interior.”

The dealer also notes that this is fifth-generation Cutlass coupe with a vinyl roof is a one-owner vehicle with numbers-matching 305cid V8 engine topped by a 4-barrel carburetor and linked to an automatic transmission. The odometer shows more than 95,000 miles.

The car has power steering and brakes, rally wheels with new radial tires, and Tri Amp AM/FM/CD stereo with Bluetooth capabilities and  “theatre quality sound.” The car also appears to have a boomerang-style antenna mounted on its trunk and wears “Hearst Equipped” badging, neither of which are explained in the advertisement.

“This generation is often customized and is very versatile,” the dealer adds. “These classics can be lifted or lowered on a budget and aftermarket bolt-on performance upgrades are common and affordable. 

“This classic is great for weekend cruising with plenty of room for the whole family.”

The car is offered for $30,000. To view this listing on, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Every day and every car >>> I have a comment.
    Today however- when I saw the $30k price my mind just –melted. There are no 5 or 6 words to describe my awe at how ludicous that $$$ amount is.

    Only someone making a low rider would be extremely excited about this. And they would be waay to savvy to pay over $10k . And at 95,000 miles this is at the end of it’s life. If it was 15,000 maybe 30,000 miles.some concept could be grasped. This will be at my corner car show- some old geezer in Orlando has one- less miles and will want $12k

  2. i had an 1980 cutlas clais with the bucket seats t tips and floor shifter i had many iterations of the gutlass 68,73,74 and a 74 cutlass salon 76, 80 84, and 1988 classic last rear drive cutlass but 30k for bench seat no t tops and no floor shifter i could maybe justifiy it with the H/O or W30 package and considering i can get a 80s monte carlo SS for half that in mint condition the most i would pay for this car is 8500 and im being generous saying that

  3. i had several iterations of the cutlass growing up first car 68 cutlass 73, 74 cutlass salon, 76 brougham 80 calais ,84 brougham and an 1988 classic last rear drive cutlass i could see asking 30k if it was a W30 or a W30 with the HO package with the gold and white with floor shifter t tops and buckets but for half that i can get a mid 80s monte carlo ss with the aformentioned appointments and or another 15k and you can buy my 2016 chevy SS with 20k on it which is one of the best cars for the money GM ever made. in my view.

  4. This car probably has a Kelly Blue Book value of $60. Adding to the volume produced, the #1 selling car in America, after all, it has even LESS value. Add to the fact that it was butt ugly even when new in 1979, it has a value of $0 in my eyes. Good luck getting 30K for this piece of shit. Glenn on Brooklyn, NY.

  5. Thanks, Larry! Always a pleasure to read about these great old survivors. Please pay no attention to the “experts” from the digital peanut gallery. They likely couldn’t afford them when they were new – and still can’t. Pricing is whatever the market will bear and is subjective. Too expensive for ya’? OK, then move on. These cars were best sellers for many reasons and are still a nice package. As the lucky owner of a few classics thru the years, all I can say is: money talks – we ALL know what walks. Best.


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