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84 Olds Cutlass Supreme restoration estimate

Considering restoring my 84 Cutlass (v6 w/ carb). I know that the engine will need to be rebuilt, possibly some transmission work, paint and a little interior work, and 4 tires. Does anyone have an estimate of what I should budget?

Can it feasibly be done for under $4,000?

I think you need to triple the estimate. An engine rebuild, if done properly, will run $3000. Transmission work will take another $3000, Paintwork and interior work will take another $4000 and put aside $2000 for shocks, brakes and other miscellaneous expenses.

I have a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon 4-4-2. The engine and transmission are fine. However, it does need body work and the floor boards are rusted through. The car is rather rare, but the engine is the 260 V-8 and the transmission is the automatic. It’s not a common car, but that doesn’t make it valuable. There is no way I would spend $4000 restoring the car. Your 1984 Cutlass is not a car collectors would go for. I would advise not spending the money.

Thanks for the input. I’m not thinking for collector, I’m thinking for driving around, making day trips.

How much should I expect to get it in proper running order first? Paint and interior later? The body is in excellent condition by the way, no rust at all.

Engine and transmission work will be expensive, regardless. Please list the problems you’re having with each, along with the miles on the car. Maybe there are less-expensive things you can do to fix up the car.

Unless the car has some amazing sentimental value, you’d be far better off getting another used car for $4000, or putting it towards a more expensive car. Once a car starts to rust (especially an older one), the cancer never stops. The only way to truly arrest it is a full frame-off restoration, and speaking of frames, I think your car is a unibody, and the subframe members may be rusted too. And that’s not even counting the engine, transmission, and all the little niggling other repairs it’s likely to need.

I think it may be time to let the old friend go.

1981-1887 are the Dark Years of automotive production. This is when Detroit had to take their 1950’s and 1960’s engine designs and make them meet SERIOUS emissions standards. The result was a lot of cobbled together junk… The ECM controlled feedback carburetors were a nightmare in their own right… Replacement parts are non-existent. The only real option today is to “de-smog” these cars and put them back into 1979 configuration if local emissions laws will let you get away with it…Or move up and start enjoying the benefits of a modern fuel-injected car…

About 15 years ago we rebuilt a 6.6L Firebird to like new from the ground up. It was stripped down to the last nut and bolt in the drive train, suspension and engine and reassembled with whatever was needed to restore it to ‘as new’ condition. The transmission was sent to the best shop and we did the rest. The bill was just over $3000. The car was a gift my customer was building for his son coming home from the service. A few years later the young son called from Atlanta to make an appointment for a complete tune up. It wasn’t running as well as he remembered from the day he got it. When it arrived we saw it in its “overhauled” condition. After leaving us the father had gotten the body and interior made like new and even had the big bird on the hood. I tuned it up the old school way and took it on a long test drive. It would break those big tires loose when it shifted to second. The owner was happy. The father did not ask for an estimate when he brought the car in for rebuilding. The total job could have been double the $3,000 back then. You don’t know what it will cost until you put it all together and add up all the bills. I doubt that your 84 Cutlas would cost $8,000 but that figure isn’t outrageous and if $8,000 is prohibitive you might want to reconsider getting started.

I see you mentioned paint and interior later. When that time comes, expect a decent paint job, with the proper preparation, to cost a MINIMUM of $6,000. It’ll be more if there’s any hidden rust or damage under the current paint. And there ALWAYS is. If you want a really nice job, including the door jams, under the hood, trunk, etc., expect to pay well north of $10,000.

If you are not subject to emissions testing, you could deviate from original as far as the drivetrain goes. A Chevy 350 engine and TH350 transmission from the Summit catalog, engine swap motor mounts, new carb and exhaust, and other miscellaneous goodies, if you do much of the work yourself, can be done for around $4000, as long as you don’t get too radical.

I don’t know where you guys all live, but $3000 for a RWD teransmission is highway robbery. Even scAAMCO doesn’t charge that much in my area. About $1500 to $1700 tops. Indy shops, which I’d recommend, will be less. Engine overhauls can be expensive. Does it really NEED a complete overhaul. Paint? How long is a piece of string? You can get a decent, not show quality, paint job including some minor dent removal for around a grand. How much prep work are you willing to do yourself? That’s the major expense of ANY paint job. If you do the sanding and filling, you can probably get someone to shoot it for $200 to $300 if you buy the paint and materials. Figure $300 for those. Check out Keystone and even O’Reillys. Ask around at some used car dealers who they use in your area. Those guys know who does a good job for low dollars.

I’ve had three complete repaints done in the last three years. The top price was $1100, and that one had a badly bent door that we could not find a reasonable replace ment for.

$4,000 could be reasonable, but it depends on what your goals are for the finished car? If you just want a decent daily driver it is possible. Since the car has no collector value you will only recoup your invested $$$ by driving the car for 5 to 10 years after it is “restored”.

My guess is the engine is shot but otherwise the car looks decent. Check with salvage yards and see if you can find one with the correct used motor to swap into your car. That can run from $1000 to 1500. Then see if the trans is OK or not, a trans rebuild if needed is another $1000 to 1500.

Then take the car to a good detail shop and spend a couple of hundred and see what the can do to bring back a decent shine on the paint. If they succeed you might not have to repaint the car.

If you are lucky you won’t find many other needed repairs, like a leaky steering rack, but expect another $1000 for other repairs you will discover need attention. If you have some luck the $4000 might cover it all.

$1,100 to paint a car, including some minor bodywork? I can’t imagine the quality of the job being any better than the local Maaco hacks. I know it can be done, but “You get what you pay for” definitely applies to autobody work. It all depends on what level of quality the OP wants, or is willing to accept.

Actually that $1100 one was an F250 Superduty with an extended cab. I’m sure it took a little extra paint. So far his work is holding up well. He’ll be doing another one for me in a month or so. I’ll prep it as the body work is already OK.

You can get a decent job from Maaco too IF you prep it yourself. BTDT too.