CRIDERSVILLE – Sometimes luck has a way of shining on you.
That was the case for Mike Mitchell, of Cridersville. He was working at a person’s house when he noticed a car cover over a vehicle. Being a car enthusiast, curiosity got the best of him. He had to learn what was under the cover.
What he found was like winning the lottery.
It was a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass – but not just any Cutlass.
“It was my first car when I was 16,” said Mitchell, who right away knew he had to work out a deal with the owner to purchase what once was his sable-brown car.
“I sold it and bought it back. It was gone from 1989 to 2015,” Mitchell said.
The Cutlass line was produced by Oldsmobile between 1961 and 1988, and again briefly in 1997-1999. It owns a spot as one of the auto industry’s longest-running names, many of which were manufactured at the Lansing Assembly plant in Michigan. At its peak in 1977, it was the most popular car in America. In 1978, it was the car driven by NASCAR Winston Cup champion Cale Yarborough.
The Cutlass line included the Cutlass Calais, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Salon, and Cutlass Supreme. From 1964 to 1967, the 442 was an option package on the Cutlass or Cutlass Supreme before becoming its own separate model.
The 1969 Cutlass owned by Mitchell features a 350 rocket engine.
The popularity of the Cutlass came as a surprise to General Motors. When the automaker began developing the Cutlass in 1954, it was called an “experimental sports coupe.” Two years later, the development of the Cutlass would take a back seat to what the automaker believed would be a more successful project, its first compact car – the Chevrolet Corvair.
The Corvair was later doomed when consumer advocate Ralph Nader called it a “one-car accident” and labeled it as “unsafe at any speed.” As for the Cutlass, at its peak in 1977, it was the most popular car in America.
Mitchell and his wife, Amy, now enjoy taking their piece of history to area car shows, such as last summer when they made a sentimental journey to the Downtown Lima Car Cruise-In and Barbecue.
He sold his car once. It’s a safe bet he won’t sell it again.