Home » New Owner Of The Legendary ‘Chicago Cutlass’ Rustbucket Describes What’s Broken, And It’s A Lot

New Owner Of The Legendary ‘Chicago Cutlass’ Rustbucket Describes What’s Broken, And It’s A Lot

Chicagocutlass Ts2
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It’s wild how some ultra-rare cars garner a deep enthusiast following. Usually, it’s off-the-wall design or a bizarre powerplant that puts them on our radar. Several Italian sports car creations from the ’70s come to mind, as well as thoroughly neat concept cars from General Motors in the ’90s. But today we discuss a vehicle beloved for different reasons: The “Chicago Cutlass” is a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that has earned over 400,000 miles on its odometer, and has won over car enthusiasts’ hearts because it’s nearly rusted completely through and yet is miraculously still alive. 

Despite its condition, new owner John Kreuz intends on making it a reasonably safe member of our nation’s roadways once again.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This ol’ whip got its name for residing around the greater Chicagoland area. It wears a metallic Monet-like livery of rust, worn Brougham top, missing trim, different paint colors, and more rust. Midwest over green, discerning collectors would call it. It’s frankly amazing that this thing hasn’t split in half by now and returned to Illinois’ hearty soil. Here’s what makes this Olds so special, and why Kreuz plans to return it to its former glory.

Windy City Lore

1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

The Stallion of Summit, Brookfield Brooklands, Niles Crane, Palos Parisienne—these are nicknames I’d like to attribute to such a piece of Chicagoland history. Can you tell I’m originally from this part of the country? The reason for this Malaise Era Olds’ acclaim is, well, car spotters seeing it schlepping around and sharing its existence along with some form of “holy shit check this thing out!” which eventually turned into “holy shit I saw the Chicago Cutlass in (insert random Chicago neighborhood or suburb)!”

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Tara Hurlin at Hemings wrote about it last year, and it sounds like it’s been on peoples’ radar for a while. From her reporting, it apparently was owned by a boat mechanic who drove it to the nearly half-million-mile mark, though some say it possesses double that. Which only adds to the lore, which I think we all thoroughly dig. People are not only in awe over the fact that it’s still together, but also its weirdly beautiful deep patina—if people in the Midwest are in awe over this amount of rust, that really says something.

There was fear that the Chicago Cutlass finally met its maker late last year, but apparently it was sold to an Olds enthusiast who then recently sold it on to Kreuz.

1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
John Kreuz

The Current State

Kreuz posted a video walk around of this beast on his YouTube channel, and man, it’s definitely rough.

What’s very apparent is that it was a nicely spec’d model back in the day. Power seats, a cassette player, rich velour interior — the works. These features, plus some other period-correct touches like the Brougham top, long hood, interesting grille appointments, and badging encapsulate the Malaise era so well. Plus, we can’t forget about its 260 cubic inch V8 that put out 90 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque when it was new.

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When it comes to remedying a few things to make it roadworthy … well, it actually needs more than just a few things. For one, the front driver seat isn’t attached to the floor pan, because apparently there is no floor pan left in this region of its construction. So, to prevent tilting back in a comical fashion at every fresh green light, the previous owner threw a spare tire behind the front seat. That’s one way to do it. Then, the rear bumper bars are gone, so rope was utilized to maintain its slender hind quarters.

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John Kreuz

Kreuz didn’t mince words about the car’s mechnical mechanical condition when he recently posted about being its new owner on Facebook, saying:

Currently, its battery is dead. Hood wont open.

The drivers door opens when it wants to. The passenger door is DOA.

When it DOES run, it smokes real bad. The boat mechanic botched the intake manifold gaskets when he did the valve jobh and THATS probably why he sold it originally.

The drivers floor is gone so the drivers seat is unanchored in the front, so the tire is there to keep it from flopping back.

I dont have keys for the trunk, yet. If they are permanently lost, ill just drill the trunk lock.

Supposedly, the trunk floor is solid.

The roof is rusted through. The passengers frame rail by the rear wheel is starting to go.

The rear bumper shocks are blown out, rusted away.

Drivers door opens when it wants to. The striker has been driven down to that point so it actually latches.

The inside drivers door handle is missing.

I dont know what works and what doesnt.

The visors are missing. Some of the interior trim.

I reached out to Kreuz on Facebook to learn a little bit more. “I was second in line to buy it from the ‘original owner.’ He was [technically] the second owner but the guy who drove it into the ground like it is,” Kreuz said. “So, I missed my chance at plucking it out of the wild. Luckily, a good friend of mine was first in line. He made a promise that if he was going to sell it, he’d let me know first.”

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John Kreuz

The Plan

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“I wanted the car because I love rusty old junk, and this is the king of rusty old junk,” Kreuz said about why the Chicago Cutlass piqued his interest. He digs the history, the survivor aspect, and the challenge. Not only that, but as hinted above, he also wants to do more videos about it on his YouTube channel.

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Again, this ol’ steed needs a lot of work, but as mentioned in Kreuz’s Facebook post, he wants to bring it to shows, rallies, and maybe even do a Cannonball drive. He’s determined, too: “It’s not for sale. I promised I wouldn’t try to flip it. I’m going to drive it until the frame snaps and either try and do a frame swap or donate it to a museum, if I can find one that’ll take it.”

We fully support his efforts, and hope he can restore this beaten down survivor to drivable shape and enjoy many miles behind the wheel. It’s just so cool that it’s still rolling around, and what a throwback to a somewhat overlooked/forgotten era. It’s made it to just over 400,000—or possibly 800,000—what’s a little welding, rust inhibitor, box of tools, and a couple two-tree visits to the junkyard?

All Images: John Kreuz

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Chris Campbell
Chris Campbell
14 days ago

This will be a Ship of Theseus rebuild… maybe the hood ornament and gas cap will remain.

Last edited 14 days ago by Chris Campbell
Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
15 days ago

This thing is awesome for the lore and story and everything…it’s neat that he is keeping it going and would be cool to see in a museum eventually- if only for the story factor. I still can’t help but feel just a little bit, that it’s so far gone with the rust that it’s not worth it- but most all the time I want to save as many cars as possible like Stephen Walter Gossin. One possibility to keep the story going is like he said get a new frame for it, keep as much as possible, get rid of parts that are complete rust and replace those w/ sheet metal. It’s not like it’s one of those where it’s so rare/#’s matching/etc to where it just has to be as original as possible

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
15 days ago

Peter! Yay, Peter. More Peter over here, please.

Also, hell yeah, I came home from the hospital in a G-Body Cutlass Supreme. This is probably what’s wrong with me.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
15 days ago

I think the new owner could pull some views to his channel by doing a Victory Auto Wreckers recreation with this car.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
15 days ago

This is the kind of dedication that only a true Midwesterner could muster.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
15 days ago

Anyone here ever watch Regular Show? I do, because kids.

This is Muscle Man’s car.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
15 days ago

“You know who else drove a Cutlass Supreme? My mom!”

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
15 days ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Awesome. I LOL’d.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
15 days ago

Even better, my mom actually had a ’76 Cutlass Supreme! ^_^

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
15 days ago

This isn’t a survivor, it is a moribund heap that is begging us to let it die. It would be the height of automotive cruelty to keep it running.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
15 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I’ll counter that it’s Eric Idle in the plague corpse wagon – “I’m not dead yet!”

Jj
Jj
15 days ago

I just watched the video, and I have to think this guy is an insane person if he believes the things he is saying even a little bit.

Frame swap? How would you plan to remove this body from this frame and then secure it to a new one? This body will fold and crumble during removal. Even if you wanted to be smart about it and install braces inside the body to keep it straight, there is not going to be enough metal in critical places to weld braces. I would be surprised if anything more than gravity is holding this body onto the frame right now.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
15 days ago

Is there some sort of Oldsmobile Safari on the other side of the country that he can drive this too after a few days of patching it together in his landlord’s yard?

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
15 days ago

Smokes real bad? As a former owner of a 260 Olds, I might know why. The valley pan is probably completely locked down with sludge and the oil return holes in the heads are probably blocked up at this point. These engines were notorious for this, and I saw them with my own eyes during a top end rebuild. How does the oil get back down from the heads? Worn valves/guides, any other void (of which there are likely many).

Did the engine run better after my “rebuild” – sure. But it sure wasn’t any faster.

Jj
Jj
15 days ago

Is this really a survivor? The trunk doesn’t open, the driver’s seat is not mounted because the body has no floor. The driver’s door will not reliably latch closed There is no rear bumper. It isn’t driveable.

I wouldn’t let the ‘mechanic’ who owned this anywhere near my boat.

I understand it’s a part of local car culture, but this thing should be a static display. Who plans to drive a rotted car like this ‘until the frame snaps?’ That sounds like a terrible and dangerous plan.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
15 days ago
Reply to  Jj

The trunk doesn’t open, the driver’s seat is not mounted because the body has no floor. The driver’s door will not reliably latch closed There is no rear bumper. It isn’t driveable.

To be fair, this describes most 200k mile malaise-era cars, along with half of the 100k mile examples. I agree with you that continuing to drive this car is a dangerous plan and a bad idea, but I would call this car a survivor.

Jj
Jj
14 days ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

No kidding. I just realized that when I think back to the domestic crap cans I owned, I don’t think any had more than 100k on the clock. They were on an advanced schedule, and reached ‘teenager can buy it with two paychecks’ levels of depreciation well before rolling the odometer over.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
15 days ago
Reply to  Jj

Hello, and welcome to the Midwest, where anything that moves under its own power is “driveable” and can get plates.

Jj
Jj
15 days ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

I have spent a lot of time in the Midwest – especially Michigan. The things I saw being used as actual vehicles horrified me, and I live in new england where we have snow and road salt. (But we also have annual safety inspections)

Black Peter
Black Peter
15 days ago
Reply to  Jj

I wouldn’t let the ‘mechanic’ who owned this anywhere near my boat.
There’s a saying about cobblers and his kids..
Plus, to be fair, this isn’t a boat..

However on the “survivor” status and the plan to restore it are ridiculous, on this we agree, sure it’s amazing to see something like this on the road, but not in a good way

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
15 days ago

He’s doing it for the clicks. I get the impression that this guy is only trying to use the infamy of the Chicago Cutlass in an attempt to gain YouTube fame.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
15 days ago
Reply to  Rusty S Trusty

Oh yeah there was never any doubt that this is a marketing tool not a true passion. I suspect he overestimated genuine interest in the car when really it is just a novelty and not something people are invested in. Maybe just in that particular area but I know personally if it got scrapped today I would just be like “well, yeah”.

Col Hathi
Col Hathi
15 days ago

I think I need an anti-tetanus shot after seeing Ol’ Rusty

Goffo Sprezzatura
Goffo Sprezzatura
15 days ago

What are the odds the new owner become a contributor to the Autopian sometime in the future?

R Rr
R Rr
15 days ago

All I want to know is what would someone ask (or pay) for this kind of “car”.
Also people were lining up to buy it??

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
15 days ago
Reply to  R Rr

I’m from the area and in a Chicago-area spotters’ group, and while it might not be so easy to understand, this thing has legendary status around here. I assure you there was tons of interest in what happened to it. Sounds like it went to the right kind of guy.

R Rr
R Rr
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

I live in Chi-town as well, and I don’t get it.

To be fair I also don’t understand the concept of a “winter beater” when you already have a nice car you paid good money for, only to then spend your winter months in a miserable shitbox ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Last edited 15 days ago by R Rr
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
15 days ago

When he kicked the door, it reminded me of my first Subaru. Bought from a drunken car painter, both doors & rockers were riveted aluminum sheet due to rust. It still gave me almost 30k miles until a brake pad fell out one day

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