With the release of the iconic Pontiac Tempest Lemans GTO in 1964 it was unofficially labeled as the very first American muscle car. The unimaginable idea of putting a large-displacement engine into a midsize two-door coupe became a major hit. Pontiac’s move eventually turned into a trend as Buick unveiled their own muscle car called Skylark in 1965 while Chevrolet and Oldsmobile released Chevelle SS and Cutlass 442. Those four divisions of GM pushed cubic-inch to its limit and considered that there was no replacement for displacement.
Unfortunately, the era of big-block muscle cars falls short and saw its early sunset in 1970. The demand for the swelling emission standards stabbed high-compression engines while fuel’s elevating price and increased charging of insurance companies set the final nails in the coffin. Oldsmobile’s the only company that took heed of the move that’s happening in the marketplace. Though the cubic inches are dead and gone, many customers are still craving for the good old muscle car look. As a result, the “junior” muscle cars roamed the streets powered with small-block V-8 engines.
In my opinion, out of all “junior” muscle cars, the 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350 shines the brightest. Though this car is only available in Sebring Yellow it still has an outstanding appearance. Thanks to the color-matched bumpers and wheels that gave it’s one of a kind look.
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Oldsmobile’s monochromatic color scheme inspired the future styling of performance cars. Oldsmobile was known for giving their cars a sophisticated luxury designs and it’s really surprising because rather than giving Rallye 350 a traditional look they designed it with more muscularity, perhaps more like a street racer.
This car has a unique deck lid spoiler and a fiber glass W-25 cowl induction hood. You probably thinking that there’s no way Oldsmobile would design a car like that but this is not your ordinary Olds. Rallye 350 is more than an appearance package. This car is packed with 350 cubic-inch V-8 engine with a staggering 310 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. This junior can possibly run 60 in seven seconds flat and complete the quarter mile in just 15.27 seconds at 94 miles per hour.
Maybe, Oldsmobile is trying to prove that there’s no need for the big-block. Customers had an option to upgrade the Rallye 350’s standard 3:23:1 open differential. A 3:42:1 and 3:91 ratios are available with Anti-Spin. Also, a lot of available options for transmission choices are offered, including the floor-mounted three-speed manual, Muncie M-21 close ratio four-speed and Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 automatic.
Rallye 350 definitely wasn’t about to win any road course races but with Oldsmobile’s FE2 “Rallye Sport Suspension” that includes stiffer springs along with bigger front and rear sway bars this car is still somewhat responsive and amusing to toss around corners.
This model has only a single year production; a little more than 3,500 Rallye 350s are manufactured in 1970.
It was reported that Oldsmobile are having a hard time selling them, maybe the market isn’t ready for its monochromatic design but this car proved that the muscle car era could survive without the big-block engines. Just like many other amazing cars that didn’t had a good run at the market, I believe that this car only needs the right timing.