Supreme Cutlass: A Homebuilt Father / Son Oldsmobile For The Ages

A son falls in his father’s footsteps, building an Olds Cutlass for the ages.

Some kids want to grow up and be just like their dad. Pat Gorman was one of those youngsters who looked up to his good ol’ pop for inspiration. Makes sense, as young Pat had a prodigious childhood, weaned on a steady diet of car shows, hot wheels, and muscle rides…courtesy of his father Thomas. Dad’s an Oldsmobile guy through and through, and Pat became addicted to the same GM brand that arrested his pop’s attention during his own primal years of high school hot rod training.

It was around eleven years old that Pat remembers taking a big interest in his dad’s favorite brand. “My father has had a ’67 442 since before I was born, and although it’s basically been in parts and pieces most of that time, I always thought it was one of the coolest cars I’ve ever seen,” says Pat. Even though there have been some good times and bad times with the Oldsmobiles in their lives, the marque still reigns supreme as the family’s cherished GM brand.

One of the low points of their time practicing brand loyalty was the sad ending to Thomas’s first Olds. “When my father was in his early teens he saved up his money working odd jobs to purchase his first car—a ’70 Cutlass Supreme convertible. The day he got his driver’s license the car unexpectedly burnt to the ground,” states Pat. It was a total loss, but that didn’t deter Thomas from sticking with the Olds marque.

In high school, Pat started doing odd jobs and hording his birthday money, just to save up enough cash for his own project car. He searched high and low for his first ride but always found that the price was out of reach, so he buttoned down and worked even harder, researching the local want ads, internet sites, and swap-n-shops to find a deal. Still, his holy grail was still nowhere to be found.

Then Pat had some luck. While carousing on eBay one night a certain car caught his eye. “It was a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass S, bathed in Astro Blue, and built with a blue interior. The car was rough, but it was everything that I was looking for,” says Pat. And as luck would have it, it was just 45 minutes from his house, however, there was still that friggin’ asking price. “It was listed at $1,400; I only had a grand in my pocket,” remembers Pat.

So then and there Pat started bargaining with the parents, hopefully to raise the extra $400 bucks he was short. Unfortunately, Pat’s parents were unresponsive, and decided not to loan him the money. “They said with Christmas and my birthday being so close that I would have to wait ’til then to get gift money,” says Pat. He knew that would be a problem, as the car was advertised and could sell any day.

Pat checked back on the car daily to make sure its “for sale” status was still intact. Nevertheless, one day the car was listed as sold. “After that I decided to take a break from looking at cars, and figured I’d wait ’til Christmas before resuming the hunt.” It made sense as a possible infusion of needed cash might be wrapped under the tree.

Christmas morning found Pat opening up his gifts, receiving the typical socks and underwear, and needed disposables. There was one small box left, hopefully holding a stash of cash for his future ride, but when he opened it up he found a set of keys. “We decided to give you the family ’77 GMC truck to restore, “claimed his dad. Excitedly Pat ran out to the truck, and tried the keys in the locked driver’s door. Neither fit. Confused, Pat turned around, to find his family standing next to that same Astro Blue Cutlass he lusted after, now parked in the family’s driveway. It was a Christmas Pat would never forget.

Pat couldn’t wait to dive into his new Olds. He immediately immersed himself into the project, stripping the car down to the shell for a quick rebuild. The goal: get it on the road before the end of his junior year of high school. They ripped out the old drivetrain and replaced the tired 350/Turbo 350 combo with a better built 330/200R4 set-up.

This “quickie” resto soon became more involved. The body came off the frame, and Pat spent his afternoons wire wheeling the chassis for a complete makeover. While that was going on, Thomas welded in a new floor pan and finished up needed metal work. Once that was done, the car was back on the frame and things shifted in high gear.

A disc brake conversion was added up front, along with MI Performance control arms in the front and rear, and a rear sway bar. Under the hood, the car received an Edelbrock carb, electric fan set-up, and an aluminum radiator. The finishing touch: a rattle-can flat black paint job for that perfect “murdered-out” fashion statement.

Well, Pat made his deadline, driving the Olds to school on the final day of his junior year. The car remained in this state until the end of his senior year. It was then that Pat decided there wasn’t enough power flowing through the driveshaft of this Cutlass; it needed more power and more cubic inches. So the plan was set, and the guys soon were on the look-out for a 455 to motivate this ride.

Pat found the mill he craved and went to work on it. They bored out the block to 463ci and added SRP flat-top pistons and Eagle rods to the rotating assembly, making a healthy 11.3:1 compression. Edelbrock supplied the Performer RPM heads and Air Gap intake to help this mill breath. A Crane 800661 gets the valves jumping in sync while a Holley Sniper EFI feeds this beast the go-juice.

With the power needs sewn up, Pat looked at his flat-black paint job. It already looked tired, and he knew if this Olds was going to be the street-killer he envisioned in his cranium, the car would have to look the part. “I decided to change the color to a darker shade of blue with black striping for a more aggressive look, and this was also the time we decided to  make it a full pro touring build,” states Pat.

So the now University of Connecticut underclassman would come home on his time off and start the process of removing the paint. After several months of this tedious labor, the process was finished, and the car was ready to be sprayed. A makeshift booth was cobbled from portable garages and a few tarps on the family property. Thomas laid out the paint on its flanks with Pat watching intently. “Seeing my dad lay out the coats of color and clear on the car was probably one of the coolest moments of the entire build.” Once finished, Pat was amazed at how well the job came out. “The whole process worked amazingly well,” says Pat.

Once the paint was hardened, the guys got to work once again, installing Wilwood Superlite Brakes on the corners, and adding a Competition Engineering half-cage in the cockpit. A UMI Performance Max Handling kit was installed for carving corners and Forgestar F14 wheels shod in Toyo Proxes R888 tires keep this beast in tune with the road. Corbeau CR1 seats give the interior a racy edge. “Fusick Automotive in East Windsor, Connecticut was a big part of sourcing parts for the Oldsmobile,” states Pat.

After finishing the Olds, the following years were spent enjoying it for what it is: a built up GM A-body with flair to spare. “The nine years I have spent working on the car have taught me as much about life as it has about cars. My father and I, while not sharing many hobbies, both have a profound love of the Oldsmobile brand and it has been a great time working on the car, getting to share those experiences with him,” states Pat.

“The car really is a culmination of everything I love about cars and automotive engineering,” says Pat. Auto-crossing the Olds is definitely in the plans, as it’s got all the needed hardware to tame the twisties. But there are already plans to revamp the drivetrain a bit. “I’m going to replace the Turbo 400 with a TCI six-speed auto in the near future,” states Pat. Sounds like a solid plan, and it will definitely help bring this wild Olds to the next level.

Tech Notes
Who: Pat Gorman
What: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass S
Where: South Windsor, Connecticut

The Cutlass is now running on the third engine since Pat got the car in 2012. The starting point for the current powerplant is a 1971 Olds 455 block, now bored out to 463 ci. Forged Eagle rods and SRP pistons were added to the rotating assembly, along with a cast Eagle crank. This combo now makes a healthy 11.3:1 compression. Up top, Edelbrock Performer RPM heads and an Air Gap intake help this motor breath. A Crane 800661 cam (.536/.560-inch lift and 238/248 degrees duration at .050-inch lift) gets the valves jumping in sync and a Holley Sniper EFI feeds this beast the fuel/air mix it needs. A Turbo 400 does the shifting while a set of vintage Hooker Comp headers (from dad Thomas’s 442) gets rid of the spent gasses.

Spark management is handled by a Holley Dual Sync distributor, along with an MSD Blaster SS coil, MSD wires, and NGK plugs.

Out back is GM 10-bolt rear, built with a fresh Yukon ring and pinion, and an Eaton carrier. The posi-traction rear is set-up with 3.73 gears and spins stock axles. The stock frame was also used in the build. Front suspension is built with a UMI Performance Corner Max set-up which uses Strano/Afco coilovers. A tubular UMI Performance kit was installed out back with UMI 2-inch lowering springs and KYB Gas-a-just shocks. Front and rear sway bars are from UMI as well (1 5/16-inch front and 1-inch rear).

Up front, the Olds rides on Wilwood Forged Narrow Superlite brakes with 13-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers. Out back, Right Stuff Detailing single-piston brakes help with the stopping.

For performance and a little bling, Pat chose Forgestar F14 rims for his Olds, 18×8.5 up front and 18×10 out back. They are shod in Toyo Proxes R888 tires; 255/35R18 and 305/35R18, respectively.

Pat and his dad, Thomas, tackled the bodywork and paint on this beastly Oldsmobile. After replacing several panels, the first paint the Olds body saw was rattle-can black. When they redid the car, they decided it needed a fresh paint job. To Pat it had to be blue, so they settled on Diamont Twilight Blue. So dad set up a makeshift paint booth and sprayed the car to perfection. The rare and expensive hood was another issue. They built this one out of several damaged pieces, melding them into one usable piece.

Nothing fancy here. First off, the guys installed a Competition Engineering half cage for safety. Corbeau CR1 seats came next along with the Racequip 5-point safety harnesses. Much of the rest of the interior is stock, minus the Holley digital gauges and Momo Mod 07 steering wheel. The radio is long gone and not needed.

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