The 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Sedan, FE-3ling Zesty


Last week we featured the very uninspiring Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which was a basic three-box A-body that never excited anyone, ever. Today we look at another Cutlass from the Oldsmobile Cutlass Everything Incorporated timeline.

This one’s a bit more exciting, as it says FE-3 on the back.

The Cutlass Supreme name was a historical one at Oldsmobile, in continuous production since 1965. Initially a rear-drive personal luxury car, it transitioned for 1988 in two ways: It became front-drive, and also a midsize family car. Upon its fifth-generation conversion and drivetrain swap, the Cutlass Supreme got a lot more modern and with the times. The rear-drive G-body (previously called A) was in production from 1977 to 1988 and was still being made when the new Cutlass Supreme entered production.

1988 was the first year for a new midsize W-body platform that became a long-term mood at GM. The Cutlass Supreme debuted in coupe form initially and was Oldsmobile’s version of the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Lumina, and Pontiac Grand Prix. Also available as a fun convertible and sleek sedan, the W-body was entirely more in line with what consumers of the Eighties and Nineties wanted than its predecessor.

Available under the hood were a single 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder and V6 engines of three different displacements: 2.8, 3.1, and 3.4 liters. Transmissions were either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, though the vast majority sold were automatic. The 2.3 was a Quad 4, closely related to the high-output W41 version found in the previously featured Calais. That engine was available from 1990 in the International Series trims, the sportiest offering. The 3.4 was offered from 1991 onward. 1980s Cutlass Supreme customers chose from 2.8- or 3.1-liter engines only.

Much like the Ciera from last week, Supreme’s trim options were slimmed down over time. Oldsmobile (unsuccessfully) tried to transition itself from Regency Elite Broughamification to the International Series European Businessman customer and pleased neither of those groups in the process. What they did sell were a lot of mid-trim SL models.

Oldsmobile fiddled with the Supreme’s styling over the years, and made it very slightly longer in 1990 and 1992, before shaving off a tenth of an inch for 1996. Overall length varied between 192.1 inches and 193.7 inches for the four-door. The two-door versions were always just a bit longer than the sedan.

The 1997 Cutlass Supreme would end up the last Cutlass Supreme ever, as well as the shortest-lived W-body name in the group. Regal, Lumina, and Grand Prix lived much longer, happier lives. Supreme was replaced in 1998 by the (gen-two) W-body-based Intrigue, as Oldsmobile went its new – and final – styling direction.

Today’s Rare Ride is a Cutlass Supreme SL with just 19,000 miles. It has a 3.1 V6, automatic transmission, and FE-3 suspension package. In other words, nearly as sporty as you could go without springing on the International Series. Huge smoked heckblende action combines with an out-of-place luggage rack/spoiler mess, but the rest looks good: lace alloys, sporty red trim stripes, tweedy buckets. With three days left it’s been bid to $4,000 and has met the reserve. Interested?

[Images: GM]

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