APRIL 2023: 1988 OLDS CUTLASS—THE 1980S MEETS EARLY 70S MUSCLE VIA 21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY

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There was a dramatic drop-off in power after 1971 in the muscle car world because government regulations choked the life out of the engines.

The 1980s continued the anemic V-8 trend, but this 1988 Olds Cutlass reached back to 1970 for some  old-school big block performance.

Jerry Sutherland

Patrick Derkach is the proud owner of this 1988 Olds Cutlass 80s refugee and he’s also a student of Oldsmobile muscle car history, so he had a “Why not?” moment. He wanted to recreate the Hurst Olds hi-po 455 tradition and he wanted the sheer presence of the granddaddy of Olds big blocks—the 455 cubic inch monster.

This Cutlass was a Calgary Winter Olympics car, plus Patrick is the second owner so that alone gave it an interesting history.  Interesting note–this was his high school graduation car because his parents were the first owners.    

Patrick’s car came with a 307 (he still has it), but a 1970 Olds Toronado 455 was available and that sealed the deal on the future of his ’88 Cutlass. Patrick is a detail guy so his car is a reflection of what was—and what could have been–in the Oldsmobile world.

The car’s hood is a great example. It was the last project from a guy who specialized in custom fiberglass hoods so that too makes it a piece of history. It’s a close approximation of the 442 hood–but it’s modified to fit the ’88 Cutlass. The hood latches and twist-on hood pins are exact recreations of the classic Olds versions, and they are truly functional.

The 455 is not exactly the same as it was under the hood of the Toronado. It’s been built into a 500+ horsepower monster and it’s under the hood of a light car. He has a built suspension with plenty of add-ons like tubular arms (front and rear) and an aftermarket rear end to handle the demands of the big, bad 455. The exhaust dumps are also a recreation of the earlier 442 Olds versions.

There’s a full array of computer tech sitting on the dash to tell Patrick what’s happening under the hood. He can dial in the big block to suit whatever driving conditions it will face, plus the state-of-the-art radiator tells him what’s going on in the temperature arena.

The result of these upgrades is a very sophisticated car with monster power and civilized manners. Patrick said the 200-4R makes it run 2400 rpm at highway speeds, so the 455 is loafing. He can take turns faster too because he installed a new-tech gas tank that handles curves without gas sloshing over to one side. Patrick said the car never loses a beat when he pushes it.

The exterior is an interesting blend of history and re-defined history. The 442 badge is correct and so are some of the decals, while others are specific to this car. Patrick also focused on the bumpers, so now they are brushed and color-coded to the overall paint scheme. The car was painted in 1995 and the new hood was painted and added in 2016.

This Olds 442 tribute may be the most unique ’88 Olds Cutlass in the world, because it reflects the vision of guy who wanted to blend the 80s with the 70s via the 21st Century.                           

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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