Midlife crisis car


Hubby & I have been looking at this sweet 1994 Olds Cutlass Supreme.

71k miles…4 bucket seats…


Here’s the question: how high maintenance

is a convertible top? We don’t have a garage. We live in upstate NY.


That’s pretty darn sensible as far as a midlife crisis car goes. The convertable top doesn’t really require any maintinence per se other than perhaps occasional lubrication, but depending on the climate its kept in, it will evenually wear out and need to be replaced. Also the mechanism is just one more thing to go wrong, but I don’t know any particular reliability figures as to that particular model.


KBB & Edmunds rate it very highly. The carfax only listed routine maintanence.
The car will be outside year 'round, in upstate NY.
So it will be exposed to some nasty weather.
Our 22 year old son is having a FIT!!! I just got an email from our 24 year old daughter: “What are you guys thinking? A convertible with bucket seats AT YOUR AGE?”
Makes me want the car more, just to prove that their parent’s aren’t geezers yet.
Yes, it will be checked out by our local mechanic before we buy it.


The life of a cloth convertible top is about 5-10 years in that area. In between replacements there are few maintenance issues other than cleaning and if the rear window is plastic, some special cleaning for it about once or twice a year.


[b]I have a friend who’s been replacing convertible tops for thirty years. And this is what he suggests doing to get the most life from the top material.

When lowering the top, stop when the top is about 3/4’s of the way down. Get out and make sure the top fabric is folding correctly. Then lower the top the rest of the way.

Dirt on the top fabric abrades the top fabric each time the top is lowered. So keeping the top clean is important. He uses Lemon Pledge to clean tops. He says this not only removes the dirt, but the lemon oil in the Pledge prevents the top fabric from drying out. Which is why tops begin to tear over time.

He owns four classic convertible cars. And each one’s tops are in excellent condition because this is how he cares for them.


  1. Pay a trusted mechanic to check the car out before you purchase
  2. The other major issue is to check condition of top. Your outdoor storage will lessen the life but if you love it enough you’ll replace. You may just want to get an idea of replacement costs for top before purchase.


If the Cutlass has the 3.4 DOHC engine, you need to check if/when the belt was changed. The change interval is 60k miles. This is an interference engine and if the belt breaks, engine damage is likely. The 3.1 uses a timing chain. If you decide to change the timing belt, you should replace the water pump at the same time.

Good luck,

Ed B.


I used to have a 93 Olds Cutlass Supreme. It was a complete and unmitigated POS. If I were you, I’d got for a convertible Camaro or Firebird… or any other ‘real’ mid-life crisis car.


Your kids are eighty-what year old? If it’s a solid car at a fair price, get it and enjoy it.


Yep! 3.4 DOHC. We took it to our mechanic & he & his son were almost drooling! Sweet car.
NO RUST! (rare for a NY car)
We didn’t have time to have the timing belt checked (no pun intended), but that’s first on the list of things to do & there doesn’t seem to be many things it needs.
the oil was fresh, the brakes were new…
$4000 for an almost mint darn near ‘classic’ car. :slight_smile:
Did I tell you about the leather seats &the awesum (after market) stereo?
Oh…kids…this is such a darn fine car…
We pick it up in the morning!


“Trusted mechanic” is a co-worker. who runs a repair shop on the side. He gets lots of baked goodies, so I didn’t have to pay him for checking out the car. He fell in love with the car.
We ran it through carfax, KBB & Edmunds.
Everything came up great! We bought it today.


Drove it, mechanic checked it, bought it.
we’re going to be having some FUN!


We’re looking at buying one of those car cover things. Like a grill cover? would that help?
It’s funny that we now own an almost ‘classic’ car. the last one we owned was an '87 Park Ave. we didn’t know it was a ‘classic’ until we went to a car show & they were directing us to the registration area. Heck! all we wanted to do was park & look at the old cars! That was 2 years ago…


My first car was a '67 Olds Delta Supreme…maybe a bit of memories…


Hey, they bought it! Great. Put that top down and drive! Some decisions aren’t really rational.


Yep! Sometimes the decisions are “I WANT’s” instead of “I NEED’s”…
After 31 years of driving “sensible” or “affordable”
(read-we drove a bunch of beaters…).
OUR TURN! Time for some fun!
Husband did notice today that he really needs to wear a hat when the top is down…:slight_smile: Since he’s blond & well…let’s just say…there ain’t much hair on the noggin these days…
Road trip is scheduled for later this month. I’ll keep you posted…


Enjoy! I still miss my 71 Buick Skylark convertible at times, a sunroof just doesn’t cut it.

Ed B.