Pick of the Day: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass S W31

The 4-4-2 carried the performance banner for Oldsmobile in the 1960s, but Oldsmobile was one of the few companies to produce what’s commonly known as a “Junior Supercar.” Our Pick of the Day is one of those niche performance cars, a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass S with the W31 package. It is listed on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Indiana, Pennsylvania. (Click the link to view the listing)

When Oldsmobile redesigned its A-body platform in 1968, the 4-4-2 received a new 400cid V8 that also included further development on the radical W30 Force-Air Induction System. Why radical? Standard 4.33 gears and 328/328-duration camshaft with 108 degrees of overlap. The W30 was joined by an engine generally known as the “Ram-Rod” 350, though it’s most commonly referred to as the W31. Rated at 325 horsepower, the Ram-Rod also featured a radical cam like its W30 cousin, in this case 308/308 with 82 degrees overlap. The engine was available in two-door F-85, Cutlass S, and Cutlass Supreme models. Other than small Ram-Rod 350 decals on the front fenders and the air induction scoops underneath the front bumper, it looked like any other pedestrian Olds A-body.

For 1969, Oldsmobile officially marketed the Ram-Rod 350 as its order code, as the W31 was part of Dr. Oldsmobile’s W-Machines. It was joined by a W32 4-4-2, but it seems the star in the buff books was the W31, with Car and Driver in particular saying, “The Cutlass, with the W31 package, has superb handling — the best compromise between ride and handling we’ve ever found in a sedan,” proclaiming that “W31 stands for soul, a commodity hard enough to find in people let alone cars, and makes all the different between transportation and a trip.”

With an attractive restyle for 1970, the W31 package for the F-85 and Cutlass S was the most boisterous yet. A new, striped fiberglass hood with matching longitudinal stripes made sure you knew this was a supercar (junior or otherwise). In fact, aside of the grille, rear bumper, and badging, it looked identical to a 4-4-2 W30. And considering sporty and performance car popularity was falling, 1970 was the W31’s most popular year with 1,352 built. If anything, the W31 was the right car for the moment when insurance premiums were killing big-inch performance cars, but the government’s mandate on unleaded gasoline and emissions ruined any opportunity for the W31 to make inroads in the market. As General Motors lowered compression in 1971, a year before the mandate, Oldsmobile decided to kill the W31.

This 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass S is a Holiday Coupe with the W31 package, one of 1,029 built. Though currently painted Ebony Black, this W-Machine was originally painted Burnished Gold metallic, a color that totally invokes 1970. “The special higher shift point automatic transmission shifts smoothly and handles well going down the highway,” says the seller. “Underneath, you’ll find a 12-bolt, 3.90 gear ratio Posi rear end, as well as heavy-duty front sway bars and rear sway bar.” Other features include manual front disc brakes (power not available due to the camshaft), power steering, Super Stock II wheels, and rear spoiler. “The hood does show some stress cracking,” adds the seller. And the rear bumper is the notched one from a 4-4-2, which is as fine a modification one could wish for.

Inside, you’ll find black bucket seat interior with center console, Hurst Dual-Gate shifter, Rally Pac, and AM radio. The ad on ClassicCars.com says “Contact Seller” for price, but the dealership’s website lists it for $79,900.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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