Our featured automobile is the 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31.

1970 olds cutlass specs
1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31

The Oldsmobile Cutlass first came on the scene as a 1961 1/2 model. It was designed as a sportier high end F-85. The Cutlass would turn out to be one of the industry’s longest-running and most successful names. During the second decade of the model’s run, the Olds Cutlass would take the position as the best selling American car for much of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Oldsmobile had beat out both Pontiac and Plymouth to be the  number 3 best selling brand in the U.S. behind Chevrolet and Ford. In the early 1980s, model-year production totaled more than one million vehicles several times, something only Chevrolet and Ford had achieved.

Oldsmobile Performance Car Offerings

Oldsmobile was a late developer into the muscle car scene and then moved swiftly to create an affordable mid-price intermediate muscle car. Oldsmobile created interest in Cutlass performance with offerings such as the 1970-71 SX, powered by a 455 V-8, and the 1970 Rallye, with a 350 V8 and it’s 325 HP under the hood. During the period from 1968-1972 most Olds Cutlass buyers went with the V-8 series’ standard 350 cubic inch engine. The inline six alternative had a very limited following. The engine was not offered after 1971.

olds cutlass w-31

The muscle car movement was quite strong during the latter 1960’s but automakers did see a need to offer lower cost performance cars. Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick had been doing this and Olds joined the movement. Oldsmobile would offer actually, two choices.. the Rallye 350 and the W-31.

The 1970 Oldsmobile W-Machines (W-30, W-31), all manufactured in Lansing, Michigan are considered to be the ultimate Oldsmobile Super Cars. These are some of the most sought after muscle cars, by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The 1970 W-30 featured a 455 cubic inch 370 HP engine. The W-31 for 1970 had very similar styling to the W-30 trim but the engine was a more economical 350 cubic inch with 325 HP. The W-30 was an option of the Olds 442, while the W-31 was an option on the Cutlass.

1970 Olds Cutlass W-31 Specifications

AS mentioned above, the Cutlass W-31 came with a 350 cubic inch V-8 engine with 325 HP.

The base gear box for the Olds W-Machines is a fully synchronized, floor-shifted, heavy-duty three-speed manual. Available was a four speed automatic.

Brakes are four wheel hydraulic drum.

Suspension with the W-31 package upgraded the front and rear coil-spring suspension to the FE2 heavy duty components This included special springs and tubular hydraulic shocks.

Dimensions included a 112.0 inch wheelbase, 203.2 inch overall length, 69.5 inch width and a 54.1 inch height. Curb weight is 3,342 lbs.

Total 1970 Oldsmobile production was 633,980 vehicles. The Olds Cutlass accounted for 154,300 of them. Average new car price was $3,000.

Oldsmobile’s Sales Decline

The 1990’s were not good times for Oldsmobile. Sales began to drop and it’s a bit of a debate as to what the cause was. Many would say that the brand picked up an image of being old and stuffy. The automaker itself might have actually contributed to this with their late 1980’s promotion of “not your father’s Oldsmobile“. Many Oldsmobile enthusiasts say that the declining sales were in fact caused by the “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign”. It was pointed out that the largest market for Oldsmobiles was the population whose parents had in fact owned Oldsmobiles. In effect, an argument could be made that they were not targeting, and possibly turning away, their best potential buyers. Perhaps another slogan would have been more effective. Something we’ll never know.

Additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below..

1970 Chevy Camaro RS/SS

1969 Chevy Camaro Z28

oldsmobile cutlass photos

Reference material for this article included..Oldsmobile Muscle Portfolio 1964-1971 by R.M. Clarke...Cutlass and 4-4-2: Muscle Portfolio 1964-1974 by R.M. Clarke..American Muscle Cars: A Full-Throttle History by Darwin Holmstrom and Tom Glatch.

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31 Collector Values

Put a powerful V-8 engine in a two door sport coupe and you have the makings of a classic American muscle car. In general, all high performance cars from the late 1960’s through 1971 are popular collector cars. This was the era prior to the Federal environmental and safety regulations taking effect. The Antique Automobile Club of America defines the Muscle Car Era as between 1961 and 1974, a wider range than many muscle car enthusiasts recognize.

Many of the 1970 Olds Cutlass models have been restored and modified. Larger engines, high end wheels are a few of the modifications. Also hood air induction and disc brakes are added.

olds cutlass w-31

A 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31 recently sold at auction for $90,000. This particular vehicle was a professional build automatic T-400 with 12-bolt rear, factory cold air induction, factory Ram Air hood, 4-core radiator and disc brakes.

We have seen other 1970 Cutlass W-31’s advertised in the $80,000 to $115,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)