1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme - $44,900
     
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Built to take advantage of E85's unique properties and higher octane, it cackles and snarls almost like a full-race piece.

Technology is a wonderful thing, although we, as car guys, are often hardest to convince that change can be for the better. The Stanley brothers held on to steam power longer than they should have and were out of business by 1927. Ford stayed with mechanical brakes long after the rest of the industry adopted hydraulics. And I bet there were more than a few of you who figured that fuel injection was the end of horsepower and do-it-yourself performance. It's hard to make technology appealing to guys who know what they're doing.

So what if I told you that this 1971 Oldsmobile was built to run on a fuel with 110 octane, but which costs about a dollar LESS than regular unleaded? What if you could have nearly 500 horsepower that will pass modern emissions tests with flying colors? What if you could go fast without wrecking the environment or your budget? And what if you didn't have to do change your life in any way except to fill it up at a different pump?

That's the deal here.

This professionally-built 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe was envisioned from the start to take advantage of E85's built-in 110 octane rating. E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and while it's perhaps not familiar, it's easy to find and inexpensive. So much so that GM builds about 1/3 of their cars each year specifically for use with E85. In this Oldsmobile's case, a 373 cubic inch stroker motor with 13:1 compression was built to take advantage of E85's unique properties, and the rest of the car was finished to show standards to make the point loud and clear. But before we get to that wicked small block Rocket under that hood scoop, take a look at just how beautifully finished this car really is. Nobody—and I mean NOBODY—finishes a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe to this level. There's easily $25,000 wrapped up in the laser-straight bodywork, which showcases some very impressive workmanship. It reflects clearly from any angle, the gaps are very good, and aside from the fiberglass hood with the Trans Am hood scoop cut into the center, it remains 100% stock. This is an A-body like the GTO and the Chevelle, but the Oldsmobile's attractive quarter panels and kick-up behind the doors gives it a very sporting look, as if its haunches were coiled and ready to spring. Check out how the front fender line sweeps into the doors and the handsome semi-formal roofline. There's just not a bad line anywhere on this car.

The car's "green" attitude is reflected in the paint, which is called Bright Cactus Green, and it's probably a distant relative of the car's original code 53 Saturn Gold. It's beautifully finished, with a brilliant shine and excellent attention to detail, and I commend the guy who built it for his restraint—this is an Oldsmobile, after all. That means no stripes, no graphics, just a 442-style rear wing on the deck lid that actually works rather well on the coupe. It isn't exactly subtle, but it doesn't hit you over the head, either. And the hardware underneath more than backs up the performance-oriented look.

The interior is still fairly stock, including factory bucket seats and a console. Even the 4-spoke wheel is factory-issue! Of course, it's all new and in excellent condition, with new carpets, reproduction door panels, and custom kick panels with built-in speakers. The original instrument panel was subtly massaged to include the original speedometer, but it's now surrounded by a full array of gauges to monitor the wild small block V8 up front. In addition to the usual tachometer, oil pressure, and temperature gauges, it includes an air/fuel indicator, fuel pressure gauge, and a boost gauge, which is functional and might portend things to come (twin turbos, anyone?). You'll also note that the trick shifter with the green anodized knob has the markings for five forward gears instead of four, complements of a Tremec 5-speed manual transmission. A Pioneer AM/FM/CD stereo head unit powers speakers throughout the interior, and thanks to extensive sound deadening materials used in the build, it's appropriately quiet inside for an Oldsmobile. The back seat looks almost untouched since it was restored and there's a correctly-finished trunk with a reproduction mat set to make it look right.

But the reason this car is truly special is the 373 cubic inch Oldsmobile V8 living under the fiberglass hood. Built to take advantage of E85's unique properties and higher octane, it cackles and snarls almost like a full-race piece. The hardware is race-grade, starting with a steel crank, forged rods, and forged aluminum pistons, all balanced and stuffed into a seasoned Olds 350 block. The heads were ported and decked to bring the compression up a bit, and there's an Olds aluminum intake with a custom-built Holley 4-barrel carburetor on top, specifically designed to feed it ethanol. In fact, the entire fuel system was designed around the E85, so no worries about compatibility problems or other issues related to the alcohol fuel, just gas and go like any other car. The functional hood scoop comes from a '70s Trans Am and the sand cast Oldsmobile valve covers look great. There's a giant radiator up front with a pair of massive electric fans, which keep the E85-burner nice and cool. All the fuel hoses are braided stainless so they're impervious to the stuff, and a MSD ignition system lights it up and is tunable to take advantage of the added octane. Oh, and it's still got power steering and power brakes to make it easy to handle.

Underneath, you can see that this was a frame-off build because the frame was painted to match the bodywork while the floors are satin black to make it stand out. The Tremec 5-speed manual transmission feeds a custom driveshaft (with safety loop) and a built 12-bolt rear end with snappy 4.56 gears inside. Don't worry about the steep gears, though, because the tall overdrive 5th gear in the transmission still makes this a relaxed cruiser that runs at 70 MPH under 3000 RPM. It still works as a car, no worries there. The suspension is augmented with upgraded sway bars and a set of adjustable control arms in back and the brakes are 4-wheel discs with vented and cross-drilled rotors at all four corners. Ceramic-coated long-tube headers feed a custom 3-inch stainless exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers and 442-style trumpets that exit through proper cut-outs in the rear bumper. Giant Foose wheels make a statement and are wrapped in 225/45/18 front and 275/40/20 rear Hankook performance radials.

This is a lot of car, but for the guy who can see the future, it's a killer piece. It's important not to be afraid of change—just ask the Stanley brothers. And we certainly wouldn't have 700 horsepower Dodges in dealer showrooms without fuel injection, so embracing evolving technology can be a good thing, not something to be feared. I know car guys think ethanol is some kind of conspiracy, but once you drive this incredibly potent Olds and see just how docile, user-friendly, and streetable it can be, you'll never go back. Besides, who knew saving the Earth could be this much fun? Call today!

Vehicle: 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Price: $44,900
Stock Number: 114128
Mileage: 51,399
VIN: 342571M159206
Engine: 373 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.5599999999999996
Wheelbase: 112 inches
Wheels: Front: 18x8, Rear: 20x10 Foose
Tires: Front: 225/45/18, Rear: 275/40/20 radial
Exterior Color: Bright Cactus Green
Interior Color: Black vinyl
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