HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX

Pick of the Day: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX

An enigmatic Cutlass Supreme plays 4-4-2 poseur


It’s never a bad idea to highlight a car that has been surrounded by an enigma. Even today, enthusiasts mistake the Cutlass SX as an insurance-busting performance car but, if you look into its origins, you may emerge with a different point of view. For that reason, our Pick of the Day is a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX listed for sale on by a dealership in Solon, Ohio. (Click the link to view the listing)

It is difficult to understand Oldsmobile product planners when there are few documents that are available to the public, but they seemed to be on a kick for highway cruisers. Starting in 1967, Oldsmobile offered the Turnpike Cruiser, an engine package only available for the upscale Cutlass Supreme series. Standard power was quite impressive already — a high-compression 320-horsepower Jetfire Rocket V8 measuring 330cid — but Olds offered the L66 Turnpike Cruising package that included a premium-fuel Rocket 400 V8, two-barrel carburetor, K50 Climatic Combustion Control induction system, 7.75 x 14-inch tires, “heavy-duty chassis items,” and 2.56 gears (with options up to 3.08). M40 Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission was mandatory. For 1968, the package now featured the L65 code and was transferred to the 4-4-2 series. This time, the package included a regular-fuel, 290-horsepower Rocket 400 with two-barrel carburetor, M40 transmission, and equally lazy gearing. (It’s also worth noting that the 400 in 1968 was a new design not related to the previous 400.)

For 1969, Oldsmobile ditched the Turnpike Cruiser idea, but let’s look at another engine for the 4-4-2. Called the W-32, the engine in this package was rated at 350 horsepower and was similar to the standard engine for the 4-4-2 but featured mandatory M40 transmission, Oldsmobile Air Induction system with scoops placed under the bumper, heavy-duty radiator, and G80 Anti-Spin rear with 3.42 gears. “A honker with culture,” claimed a period Oldsmobile ad. Internal marketing suggested the W32 was created for nice, easy performance on the highway and street.

Now, combine these recent past marketing ideas and you’ll have the SX package, which was introduced for the 1970 Cutlass Supreme two-door hardtop and convertible. Since 1966, the Cutlass Supreme had been at the top of the Oldsmobile A-body totem pole but, for 1970 it had been given its own body style, a formal-roofed hardtop that echoed the personal-luxury aspirations of the all-new Chevrolet Monte Carlo even though Oldsmobile had not been granted such a unique model — it was all very clever, actually. Standard was a 310-horsepower Rocket 350, but optional was the new Y79 SX package, which included a high-compression L33 455cid V8, dual exhausts with a notched rear bumper (taken from the 4-4-2’s parts bin), M40 transmission, and distinctive ornamentation. The standard engine echoed the old Turnpike Cruiser: two-barrel carburetor and 2.56 gears, with options up to 3.23. Horsepower was 320 with 500 lb-ft of torque.

However, there was a W32 engine that became an option in September 1969. This engine was the same engine that was standard for the 4-4-2: 365 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. As equipped, a Cutlass SX was a fine competitor to the Monte Carlos SS 454. However, Oldsmobile shuffled the engine options in February 1970, killing the L33 and introducing the L31 in its place. The L33 was a high-compression 455 with a four-barrel carburetor with 365 horsepower, but it was not a high-performance engine like the W32. Rather, the L33 was the V8 used in full-size Oldsmobiles and available in the Vista Cruiser, so horsepower and torque arrived at a lower part of the range; additionally, torque was up to 510. The L33 and W32 continued to be the only two engines available with the SX package through the end of the model year. For 1971, the SX package only included a low-compression L32 455 four-barrel with 320 horsepower, and then the package was discontinued.

Oldsmobile records are sketchy, but it is known that at least 7,197 cars were built with the Y79 package. Why sketchy? Because production records go to June 1970, with the final July tally missing from the GM Heritage Center. It’s also known that at least 852 W32s were built though, again, that does not describe total production. Nonetheless, this 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX is an interesting machine that will always get folks scratching their heads and you smiling when you press the gas pedal. Equipped with 3.23 gears and the G80 axle package, console with W26 Hurst Dual-Gate shifter, P05 Super Stock I wheels, N34 Custom Sport steering wheel with N33 tilt column, D35 racing mirrors, and air conditioning, per the window sticker, this Cutlass Supreme was ordered “right,” plus you’ll find the usual suspects like power steering and front disc brakes.

With 98,276 on the clock, this Aspen Green metallic 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX has the documentation to show its pedigree but, at $79,990, would you prefer this or a 4-4-2? This Cutlass Supreme is just as fast as its more performance-oriented brethren, but some enthusiasts may enjoy having an enigmatic conversation piece.

To view this listing on, see Pick of the Day.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.


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