Monday, November 14, 2011

The Cutlass Supreme

By Elliott Joseph
Copyright Elliott Joseph
December 2011

"Sell it? Great Car! Cutlass! What year? '69? '72?"

I hear the cry every day. It's actually a '71 and I am the original owner. I'll never sell it. "I'm saving it for my grandson," I say. I do not have a grandson, but it's a comfortable way to avoid a confrontation, and then I drive off on my errands.

I bought the Cutlass, a convertible, on July 17, 1971 at was then Van Ness Olds in San Francisco. It cost $4,500. I had looked at a very nice brown Mercedes, but it was $12,000 and did not have an automatic top. Since I now have over 300,000 miles with the original engine I think I made the right decision.

Yes, there have been repairs, and sometimes it is difficult to find parts, but I have a wonderful repair service, Union Garage, and they understand old cars.

The Cutlass is filled with stories. One day I was parked in the Marina. A man, accompanied by a man and a woman, approached me. Here we go again, I thought, but he surprised me by taking out a three-ring binder with pictures of his '71 Cutlass that he had at home in Switzerland. It is identical to mine in excellent condition. He showed a picture of his engine under the hood, immaculate and I think it was chromed. He asked to see under my hood, and I was embarrassed because it didn't look like anything like his.

I use my Cutlass every day. It's just my regular car and I don't exhibit it or take it to a classic car event. Yes I keep it in good shape and still have the original interior with the old but working AM radio. I'm on my third top, three paint jobs and three transmissions along with several renewed starters and brakes.

The thing about the color of the paint job is the quality of the blue. The original color is matched by computer and is simply gorgeous. It reminds me of the French expression, l'heure bleu, that time of day after the sun sets and before night falls. People respond to the blue almost more than to the car itself. Cars today are so much alike the Cutlass really stands out.

One day the Russian fleet was in, and they started taking pictures of the Cutlass. They wanted to have their picture taken sitting in the car with the top down. I think the Cutlass must be all over Russia by now.

The car drives beautifully and with its eight cylinders has a lot of power. It has no electrical systems except of course for the lights, and you have to roll up the windows by hand, which I like.

For about 38 years my wife and I were never in an accident. Then for the past two years we have been in two, one when a car went through a red light, taking out the front end, and another time when a man backed out of his garage and hit the passenger side. Both times my wife was driving and fortunately was not injured. Hayes Auto Repair did a magnificent job both times and the car looks like new, getting a lot of thumbs up. I am so cautious now when I drive, not wanting another accident. I'm very careful coming out of my garage. It's tight and the Cutlass when I bough it was called mid-size, but today, compared to most cars, it is big.

I know many people fall in love with their car, and with the Cutlass Supreme I am one of them.

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