As I sit down to write this, it has been exactly one week since I had taken these pictures on the first full day of my annual Las Vegas trip with friends. I’m mostly caught back up with the two-hour time change between there and Chicago, and coffee helped the rest of the time. It was a more abbreviated vacation than in years past, with basically just seventy-two hours to visit with everyone and see the city, but the fact that it was a smaller, more “compact” trip somehow seemed to make it more special. It was like the “Ghia” of extended weekends – little, but luxurious.
Many of us have been given some kind of issue or “thorn in the flesh” to deal with, and I’ve made reference to some of mine in previous essays. Gambling, however, is not one of them. I can hit it, quit it, and move on. I can play for just a little while, not wager any more than I feel I could stand to lose without beating myself up, and be done. The friends with whom I go on these trips all seem to have excellent working knowledge of their favorite sports teams and the vast array of games to play. One of my assignments from last year was to study up on craps, but no one seemed to mind that I hadn’t, and that I was just enjoying standing with them and watching at their tables. “Sevens bad, except on the first roll” seems to be the one heuristic that has stuck with me.
At the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino.
My favorite is video poker. There are many things I like about it, including the fact that it requires actual thought process and also that there seem to be rules-of-thumb that have worked well enough for me, all mixed in with the luck of the electronic draw. Said thought process was once trickier for me to maintain during a given afternoon before I chose sobriety, but it is still so fun just to sit up there at the bar in a row with my friends, all of us with video poker machines in front of us and sports on TV screens above, as we all sip on our beverages of choice, game, crack each other up, commiserate with our losses, and celebrate our wins. The Sunday afternoon of these photos found us at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, where Hugo took great care of us.
I give myself a small but reasonable gambling allowance, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I had put a twenty into my machine, which lasted literally for almost an hour before I went bust. My kitty was up and down, up and down (like the hydraulics on this ’83 Cutlass) before my frustration got the better of me and I just started making stupid bets on unlikely combinations. It was only after my friend Lauren left me a five in her adjacent machine to go play craps that I eventually hit a straight flush and cashed out immediately.
Even after trying to pay Lauren her five back (which she adamantly refused), I would have netted two dollars at the DTG that day. A win is a win, even if the coin slots at the California voraciously ate up twenty dollars worth of my quarters with impunity. My net gambling losses amounted to maybe twenty dollars for the entire weekend, but I won the experience of sharing this time with friends and had an absolute blast.
I was walking with other friends from Flint who happened to be in town the same weekend when this Cutlass happened by. It’s almost like three Flint people being in the same place away from Genesee County, Michigan manifested this car into existence to pass beside of us as we walked around East Fremont Street. Oldsmobile’s Cutlass, paralleling my experiences with gambling that day, also had an up-and-down trajectory which included a meteoric ascent in popularity in the late ’70s, followed by a decline, one more rally for ’84, and then a slide on down until the overall Cutlass name eventually fizzled out following the exit of the nondescript ’99 “Cut-libu”.
Since there were so many Cutlasses and permutations available at some point due to the popularity of what had basically become an Oldsmobile sub-brand, I’ll focus on just two versions of any rear-drive Cutlass Supreme (including the Supreme Brougham). Just look at the following table, with its production figures that have almost as many peaks and valleys as the Big Apple Coaster at New York, New York Hotel & Casino at the southern end of The Strip.
What’s interesting is that the combined production total of the Supreme and Supreme Brougham peaked in ’79, even if overall Cutlass sales had crested in ’77 with just under 632,800 units. The ’88 model year was also when the front-drive GM-10 Cutlass Supreme coupe arrived, with roughly 94,700 units sold alongside what was known as the “Cutlass Supreme Classic” in its last season.
The Cutlass coupes are part of that rare group of cars of the ’80s whose model years are somewhat easier to identify than other models of that time based on annual detail changes. Judging by the combination of grille texture and taillamp lenses, this one looks to be an ’83. These came standard with a 3.8L V6 with 110 horsepower, but with a 140-horse 307 V8 available (along with a pair of diesels). I’ll guess that this one has the 307, as I’ve read in comments in previous CC posts how slow (but comfortable) these were with the six. This one was a 3,400-pound car from the factory, before any modifications. No one was going to put a V6 example on hydraulics, or leave the 3.8 in there.
Las Vegas is very much about the spectacle, and this bouncy Cutlass with California plates fit right in. Let there be fun, shows, games, and car culture for everyone. I live for diversity. I may be introverted much of the time, but strangely enough, not when I’m in Las Vegas. It seems to be a place where it’s actually the norm to express oneself more freely even if outside of what’s considered the mainstream. The Cutlass Supreme coupe, as part of the old guard of popular personal luxury coupes, may also be likened to many of the downtown casinos which have endured (unlike many historic properties south on The Strip which have been imploded and replaced), albeit with modern twists and amenities. Like a Cutlass on hydraulics.
Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sunday, October 1, 2023.
Brochure photos were sourced from www.oldcarbrochures.org.