Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera is a mid-size car that was sold from 1982 through 1996 by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors.

It shared the front-wheel drive A platform with the very similar Buick Century, Pontiac 6000 and Chevrolet Celebrity; both Olds and Chevy considered using the Celebrity name, which had originally used by Oldsmobile in the 1960s) Available body styles included a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and the Cutlass Ciera Cruiser station wagon. The Cutlass Ciera shared the Cutlass nameplate with the smaller Cutlass Calais and the larger Cutlass Supreme. It shared the same engines and certain interior features with one of its twins: the Buick Century.

During its run, the Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile's best-selling model. The car enjoyed many factory specialty models including Holiday coupe, GT, pace car, and International models, the latter of which had a stock body kit.

It consistently ranked among the highest rated vehicles by J.D. Power and Associates; it was ranked the "Best in Price Class" on July 30, 1992 and the "Top-Ranked American-Made Car" on May 28, 1992. It was also named "Safe Car of the Year" by Prevention Magazine on March 6, 1992. This generation was exported to certain countries in Asia.


Production began September 28, 1981 at Doraville Assembly in Georgia for the 1982 model year. In 1984, the Cutlass Cruiser station wagon model moved to the Cutlass Ciera's platform; previously, the nameplate used the rear wheel drive G-body. The Cutlass Ciera came in two trim levels: the base and Brougham . The base models came with a 2.5 L 4-cylinder Tech IV (Pontiac Iron Duke) engine, bench seats, and cloth interior. The Brougham came with a 2.8 L V6 engine, a 3.8 L Buick V6 engine, and/or a 4.3 L Oldsmobile Diesel V6 engine; plush interior with vinyl accents, leather handlebars on the interior door panels, and power windows. The diesel engine was unpopular, due to serious mechanical failures, and it did not provide as many horsepower as the other engines despite having the largest displacement, and it was dropped for 1986. For 1985, the Cutlass Ciera received its first facelift with a new grille, sleeker headlamps, and new taillights. For 1986, the Cutlass Ciera's grille had expanded ventilation sections than the similar 1985 model. For 1987, the Cutlass Ciera was facelifted again with a new grille, and the steering wheel had the Oldsmobile logo moved from the right to the very center, and the 2.8 L LE2 V6 engine was dropped. For 1988, the Cutlass Ciera received composite headlamps (Some late 1987 models had composite headlamps as well) and introduced the new International Series models, and was also the final year for the Brougham. The International Series included the emblem with the flags of various countries below the nameplate and was available in all three bodystyles, and came equipped with a standard Buick V6 engine, a 4-speed automatic transmission, a dual exhaust system, front captain's chairs, and standard power windows.

Between 1983 and 1986, 814 Cutlass Ciera convertibles were made by Hess & Eisenhardt/Car Craft. During the 1986 model year, the coupe received a new, more rounded roofline that was not shared with the other A-body models.


The Cutlass Ciera was updated for 1989, with the sedan receiving a modern roofline (similar to the coupe), and revised bodyside moldings. Hood ornaments were gone, as the new model featured less chrome trim than before in an effort to appear more in-line as a competitor to Ford's successful Taurus. Rear seat shoulder belts were added. Both coupe and sedan models wore updated rear-end treatments (the 1989/1990 taillights were Oldsmobile-themed — squared with a center emblem, and 1991 to 1996 models held a three horizontal-sectioned taillight lens). For 1990, the front seat belts were moved from the B-pillars to the doors. This would also be the last year for the 'International Series'. The changes for 1991 included a new instrument cluster with a trip odometer and an engine temperature gauge. For 1992, the coupe was dropped, and the line-up included only sedans and wagons in 'S' or 'SL' designations. Despite the all-new Olds Achieva and Delta 88 models for 1992, Cutlass Ciera (now 10 years old) was still Oldsmobile's best-selling model line, with over 132,000 sedans and an additional 7,793 wagons produced this year. For 1993, the 2.5 L Tech IV engine was replaced by the 2.2 L OHV engine with a 3-speed automatic transmission. In 1994, the 'SL' designation was dropped. The 'Cutlass Ciera S', available in sedan or wagon form, featured a driver airbag as standard equipment, along with anti-lock brakes, adjustable steering column, electric rear-window defogger, automatic door locks, and delay wipers. The 3.1 litre engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission came standard on the wagon, optional on the sedan. For 1995, the 'SL' designation returned in place of the 'S'. The 1995 Cutlass Ciera SL featured a new shift interlock system that required stepping on the brake pedal before moving the gear shift out of park. 1996, the final model year, the 'Cutlass' nomenclature was dropped and was now known simply as 'Ciera SL', which continued to be available in 'Series I' or 'Series II' equipment levels. The chrome "Oldsmobile" badge above the driver's headlight was deleted. The Ciera continued to be popular with rental fleets, and was by far the most best-selling model in the Oldsmobile line-up, with 124,750 models produced for 1996 - more than double that of the Delta 88. Production of the Ciera ended on August 30, 1996. It was replaced in the U.S. by the N-body 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass, also built at the Oklahoma plant. Sales of Ciera's 1997 replacement proved dismal, as only 18,040 Cutlass models were manufactured in its first year, a fraction of Ciera's 1996 volume.