Curbside Musings: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Town Sedan – Platform Shoes

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Town Sedan. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

My recent repurchase of the 1979 compilation “A Night At Studio 54” has reminded me of how I had also been into all things ’70s as a young twenty-something in the mid-’90s.  This extended into the clothes I wore every day, even to the college classroom.  During that time of my life spent in Tampa, Florida, I was a regular at Sunshine Thrift Store on South Dale Mabry Highway, as well as at Squaresville Vintage in the then-eclectic, now-trendy Hyde Park neighborhood.  Once on a stop into the former, I had found a pair of black, wingtip platform shoes for relatively cheap and couldn’t believe my good fortune.  This was at a point when the twenty-year cycle of popular culture had lent itself to a rediscovery of the music, trends, and styles from the decade in which I was born.  (This would be like members of Generation Z listening to Aughts-era hip-hop and Britney.)  Those shoes were at least one size too small for my feet, but I bought them anyway.

LP cover of "A Night At Studio 54" compilation was sourced from

A nightclub called Platforms Discotheque had opened at 1625 East Seventh Street in the historic Ybor City entertainment district, which specialized in playing all the danceable hits from the ’70s.  The dance floor was elevated and roped off like a boxing ring, and the ambient lighting was too bright, but the vibes, drinks, and clientele were all fun and festive.  I was determined to go there with or without any friends in tow, and my new-to-me platform shoes were going to the pièce de résistance of my entire ensemble, which would sometimes include an actual leisure suit, a few of which I had collected.  Those shoes, which were probably two sizes too small, hurt to walk in and even more to dance in, but they looked groovy, and I had a high tolerance for pain and foolishness at that age.

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Town Sedan. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

I was already around six feet tall, and putting on those shoes with two-inch-thick heels made me stand even taller the other clubgoers.  I didn’t need that extra height (or the resultant blisters), but those shoes and my sartorial commitment to the ’70s almost never failed to be conversation starters.  After finally having learned how to walk in those shoes correctly, I had to stop wearing them when one of the heels started to become detached and they became a trip-and-fall hazard.  College graduation and and less freedom to wear what I wanted every day (i.e. after getting an office job) meant that mall-bought clothes would again be my norm.  And thus, my personal pendulum had begun its slow swing back toward the mainstream as I entered the adult workforce.  Today, I’m comfortably somewhere in between, mixing in some vintage items with more mainstream men’s apparel.  And yes, I still express myself.

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass brochure pages were as sourced from

When I saw this ’70 Cutlass in traffic just over a month ago, it struck me that with its custom rims, it appeared to stand about as tall as the 2017 Chevy Sonic next to it in traffic.  I was mad at the driver of that Sonic for what seemed a deliberate attempt to keep me from getting my shots of the Cutlass, but I did manage a few captures.  (That’s just how it goes sometimes.)  This 1970 Cutlass “Town Sedan” (basically the four-door equivalent of the bargain-basement F-85 coupe) was 54.1 inches tall from the factory, and the 2017 Sonic is almost half a foot taller, at 59.7″.  Those are some big wheels on that Cutlass.

There’s also contrast between the two cars in length, with the Cutlass measuring 207.2″ long versus 173.9″ for the Sonic.  I was surprised to find out, however, that the Cutlass is only 1.2″ wider than the Sonic (69.5″ vs. 68.3″).  Looking at these pictures again, I’m still struggling to see it, as the Cutlass appears significantly bigger in that dimension.

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Town Sedan. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

A friend posted on social media the day of this writing about how getting up from the couch wreaks havoc on the old knees and joints, which is sometimes also my experience.  This would be practical Exhibit A as to why one should drive a donk.  You want the style of a ’70s car, but lower-longer-wider (especially lower) isn’t working so well for you anymore due to life’s little aches and pains?  Elevate your view over the dashboard, and your life, by installing some of these dubs.  Seriously, though, wearing those platform shoes for a year didn’t mess up my “suspension”… that I can tell at this point, anyway.  My knees just ache sometimes because it’s a family trait and I ain’t no spring chicken.  I’m sure this Cutlass would be just fine once the original, unimaginative Olds rocket dog-dish hubcaps on steel wheels were reinstalled.

1970 Oldsmobile brochure cover was as sourced from

I’d wager that this car’s baked-in basicness is part of what kept it alive into 2023 in such fine condition.  Some thrifty person who was too good for a Pontiac plunked down at least $2,837 (base price, six cylinder; $2,948 with a 350 cubic-inch V8) for the most basic Cutlass four-door sold for 1970.  This one very likely has the V8; According to my Encyclopedia of American Cars from the editors of Consumer Guide, only just over 2,700 Cutlasses of all stripes for 1970 were powered by the 250 cubic inch six.  (F-85 coupes powered by the six-cylinder numbered in excess of 2,800, with an additional 8,300 powered by the V8.)  The pillared, V8-powered Town Sedan was actually the third most popular individual Cutlass that year, with 35,200 sold.  Only the fastback S Holiday hardtop coupe (88,600) and formal Supreme Holiday hardtop (68,300) were more numerous at the time.

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Town Sedan. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

As far as fuel economy, the Sonic, rated by the EPA at a combined 30 miles per gallon (27 city / 36 highway), goes probably three times as far as the Cutlass on a gallon of gas.  While searching online, I’ve seen numbers from owners of V8-powered 1970 Cutlasses ranging from 10 – 14 mpg around town, depending on rear axle ratio.  I mention this only because the Sonic appeared to have a ride share sticker on its back window.  Would I rather arrive somewhere in the Cutlass?  Perhaps and depending on where I was going, but not if I also had to chip in for gas.  New 1970 Oldsmobiles were touted in the factory brochure as being “escape machines”.  This blue Cutlass has escaped the junkyard fate of many of its half-century old brethren, riding high and proud wearing those tall shoes.

Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Other materials were sourced from and