(first posted 9/24/2013) OK, right off the bat: I love Broughams. Cadillac, Mercury Marquis, Gran Torino–I can find something positive to say about all of them, never mind the strangled engines, chintzy material quality and indifferent assembly. But just last week I saw perhaps the finest Brougham I’ve found all year, a 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. And there’s a family memory related to this one, folks!
What is a Brougham? A Brougham should be classy and comfortable, with a quiet ride, smooth V8 power and all sorts of power assists and gadgets to keep up the interest level as the vehicle ages. The Colonnade Cutlass Supreme Brougham hit all of those targets with a solid “10.”
There is little doubt that the Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe was the finest, most luxurious, most attractive and– quite indisputably–the most popular of the 1973-77 GM Colonnade mid-sizers. Yes, the same Colonnades that 1968-72 A-body snobs deride, are hated by performance enthusiasts and panned by collectors even today. But I don’t give a flying flip what others think: I love ’em!
A lot of folks who enjoy Colonnades (Zackman, look away!) prefer the purer 1973-75 models with their scalloped rocker panels, relatively less obtrusive Federally-mandated bumpers and, at least in 1975 models with swivel-bucket seats, reversible upholstery cushions with cloth on one side and vinyl on the other . But despite its similarity to the ’76-’77 Buick Regal coupe, my favorite is the ’76-’77 Cutlass Supreme coupe–and being a Brougham only adds to its appeal!
Why a Brougham? Oh, that’s easy, With the Brough-ham you got the nice, cushy velour upholstery and ultra-comfy floating-pillow seating. Not to mention flossier trim, both inside and out.
Even back-seat passengers did not miss out on the luxury, with poofy, oh-so-comfortable pseudo-buckets in the rear compartment. And the middle passenger? Fuggedabout’em! This car was meant to ferry two upwardly mobile young couples out on the town to have a fine time. A fifth passenger was just a third wheel, man!
Today, when even luxury makes are looking like boring, silver Blandmobiles, these Cutlasses may look tacky, with their ample chrome, stand-up hood ornament and floating-pillow interior trim; but in their day, they were classy. Owning a Cutlass Supreme Brougham in the mid-Seventies meant you were On Your Way Up. Some might call them cheesy anachronisms, but I love their lines. They are truly a classic design–and don’t let the anti-Colonnade brigade tell you otherwise!
I love all CSBs, but what really drew me to this example was that it is absolutely identical to my cousin Dawn’s first car. About 1987, my Uncle Don found her a nice, solid ’77 Cutlass Supreme identical to this one, with Super Stock wheels, whitewalls, silver-blue metallic paint and white vinyl roof.
Well, almost. Dawn’s car was NOT a Brougham, and it made do with a light-blue pleated vinyl interior. I was about seven at the time, and we happened to be at my aunt and uncle’s house the day Don brought it home. I remember being in my cousin Suzy’s room upstairs when Aunt Candy called up to us that the car was here; I looked out the second-story window and was immediately smitten with the silver-blue Cutlass.
That car was sharp. Many Cutlass Supremes were running around the Quad Cities in the late ’80s, but most of them were rusted-out refugees; Dawn’s looked nearly new. I remember going for a ride in it through Credit Island Park, sitting in the back seat and looking out that narrow opera window at the Mississip’. A cherished memory, to this day.
I remember Dawn’s CS was not as well equipped as Aunt Candy’s ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham. Despite having its paint and glass ruined by the nearby Blackhawk Foundry, that car was much more luxurious, with its maroon crushed velour and digital clock. Dawn’s car had only an “Oldsmobile” logo where Aunt Candy’s car had a state-of-the-art digital quartz timepiece!
And the ’77s had an odd extrusion on the center of the steering wheel; Candy’s ’76 had a smooth steering wheel hub. Also, the cool “eye-socket” A/C vents in the ’76s were replaced with boring rectangular vents on the ’77s. Little did I know that the final-year ’77s received new vents because the molds for the ’73-’76 dash had plumb worn out, something I found out much later. And yes, folks, this CC has a genuine 19K-odd original miles! I had the good fortune to sit in the drivers’ seat of this car, and I have to tell you I loved it! The comfort, the nostalgia…shoot, should I buy it?
And while today’s car is missing that oh-so-impressive digital clock, it is otherwise loaded with optional Oldsmobile goodies, including AM/FM stereo, A/C, cruise control and rear-window defogger. Love those wood-grain radio knobs, too!
Today’s car is a beauty. Not only is it in fine original condition, you CCers could make it your own if you so desire (Richard Bennett, where are you?). Want the finest Colonnade in the Middle West? All it takes is money…
This car has been pampered, babied, and garaged since new, as you can clearly see from the pristine factory-applied paint, pinstripes and landau vinyl roof.
It is also an original Quad Cities car, sold new at Hacker Oldsmobile, in Moline, which today is home to Green Chrysler-Chevrolet (home of the Town & Country). Look at that paint, that chrome! You cannot duplicate originality like this!
As is oft said, they are only original once. I spotted this car on the way out to my folks on September 19, and upon spotting that silver-blue paint and white landau top, I had to turn around and check it out. Love! Want! Must…take…photos for CC!
Fortunately, the proprietor of South Hampton Service knows my dad, and when I expressed my interest in documenting this fine survivor, Mark not only agreed, but asked, “Would you like me to move it so you can get better pictures?” Oh, yes, thanks!
Not only did that give me a better set of pictures, but I got to hear that fabulous Oldsmobile 350 fire up and run! Yes, Olds got a lot of flak about putting 350 Chevys into their Cutlasses and 88s, but this ’77 has a genuine Olds V8 in it. I have probably heard Olds V8s run before, but I never paid attention. After hearing Mark fire this one up, I must agree with many of you in CC: The Olds V8 has a great sound all its own, and…it sounds fine! Blub-blub-blub-blub-blub…heaven!
And if that isn’t enough, this Brougham is among the last of the Colonnades, with a build date of June 1977–just before the Aeroback Salons and notchback CS A-bodies came on line. The last of the most popular Olds in history…
Mark is putting a new water pump in this lovely car, but the current owner wants to sell and I am intrigued. I love it…but do I need it? No–but I love it! Should I buy? What’s the price? Can the V50 sit outside? Arrgh…I am so dazed and confused by this lovely car! Should I buy it? Should you? What do you think?