Cheap Wheels: 1975-1977 Oldsmobile Omega F-85 | The Daily Drive | Consumer Guide® The Daily Drive

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1975-77 Oldsmobile Omega F-85

1975-77 Oldsmobile Omega F-85

Note: The following story was excerpted from the April 2021 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.

Cheap Wheels

Oldsmobile’s first compact was the 1961 F-85. Midyear, the line added a deluxe coupe called Cutlass. In 1964 the F-85 grew into a true intermediate, with the Cutlass gaining fans as a sporty premium series. By 1973 it had become the car the public associated with midsized Oldsmobiles and the increasingly marginalized F-85 was gone. 

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Oldsmobile Omega F-85

That same year, Oldsmobile got back in the compact game, this time with the Chevy Nova-based Omega. It was here within a few years that Olds saw fit to resurrect the F-85 monicker. This latest F-85 was a budget model—coupe only—for the second-generation Omega. Not quite a clean-sheet redesign, the ’75 Omega was handsomely new enough. Available body styles continued as a coupe, two-door hatchback, and four-door sedan. A 250-cubic-inch inline six and a three-speed manual transmission were standard, but 260- and 350-cube V8s and Turbo Hydra-matic trans were available. Also new was GM’s catalytic converter, which required the use of unleaded gasoline.

Omega prices started at $3422 for a coupe, a substantial bump from 1974’s $3043. New from the start of the year was upscale Salon trim for all body styles, with prices starting at $4148. Then, during the model year, Oldsmobile trotted out the F-85 as Omega’s new price leader. With even less brightwork and plainer upholstery than the “base” two-door Omega, it came at a savings of $219, which made it competitive on starting price with entry-level two-door compacts from Chevrolet, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, and Mercury in a tough year for car sales. The F-85 attracted 1673 buyers in its short model run.

Omegas were near reruns for 1976, albeit with new front styling and the extra-cost 260 V8 could be mated with a five-speed manual transmission. The F-85 was back, too, but still hanging back in the shadows. Indeed, that year’s Olds brochure paid scant attention to it. A profile illustration of a penny-pinched lime-green Omega coupe tucked away on the last page of the six-page Omega section showed it sans bright side-window trim and standing on body-color steel wheels with “dog-dish” hubcaps. The view of the interior showed its plainer door panels and front bench seat clad in black vinyl bolsters and black-and-gray “Racine” cloth facings. What went unsaid (and unseen) was that the F-85 didn’t receive a new rear fascia trim that gave other ’76 Omegas a “full-width look” between the taillights.

The base price rose to $3390, which narrowed the gap between the F-85 and next-highest coupe to only $95. Somehow Olds dealers managed to move 3918 of them.

The big news for the ’77 Omega was that the Chevrolet-sourced straight six was replaced with Buick’s 231-inch V6. The optional V8 was now a Chevy 305, but California and high-altitude areas could only get a 350. Transmission choices reverted to three-speed manual or Turbo Hydra-matic. The F-85 was back with the same low-rent formula The nylon knit cloth on the foam-padded front seat was now divided by a wide vinyl band between the driver and front passenger.

The F-85 was up to $3653 without options. Olds made just 2241 more for its final season.

Photo Feature: 1962 Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire Hardtop Coupe

 

Pro: 

• Most folks looking for GM compacts of this era probably are eyeing Novas or 

   Pontiac Venturas. Still, Omega F-85s were never plentiful, and survival rates

   are surely low.

 

Con:

• Six-cylinder models, inline or V6, were rated at only 105 horsepower. The 260 V8 only 

   put out 110 ponies, and the strongest 350 was the ’77 unit good for 170.

 

Final Drive:

Cheap Wheelers who like obscure trim levels or familiar model names used in unexpected places should love the Omega F-85. That’s especially true if you fancy dog-dish hubcaps and are allergic to chrome trim. If any of these unicorns remain, the cheap champ has to be a ’76 with the 260 V-8 and five-speed stickshift.

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