In the 1980s, Oldsmobile used a handful of production-based prototypes as test beds for future performance and engineering features. These cars were designated FE3-X, a nod to the FE3 option code for the beefier suspension available on certain Olds models. And looking back on these experimental models today is a fantastic dose of nostalgia.
Both the Cutlass Supreme and the Cutlass Calais seen in this Motorweek video were tagged as “FE-3X”, utilizing the code for the front-driver’s handling package. The Ciera was an exercise in aerodynamic tweaks for the most part, but the 3.0L V6 was treated to a header, some EFI tuning, four-wheel disc brakes, and 225-series rubber on 16×7 wheels brought the whole package together.
It looked like a cross between a PPG Pace Car and a street-going test of Oldsmobile’s upcoming Aerotech program, and would have pre-dated the FWD performance craze by a good margin.
The Cutlass Supreme, originally a Hurst/Olds, was even better: a 307 Olds mill underhood that had been bumped up to 200 horsepower and had been fitted with an aero package that featured, among other points, air evacuation ducts for the wheel wells and an adjustable spoiler. And someone within Olds made the right move and had the car fitted with a five-speed manual transmission, too.
So what happened to the FE3-X Program? The Cutlass Supreme still exists and is brought out and shown every now and then. The Cutlass Calais didn’t fare so well…it was repainted to match the Aerotech program’s color pattern, and eventually was scrapped. There was also an FE3-X Firenza that had been fitted with a 2.8L V6 and a similar aerodynamic package, and it too was eventually scrapped by GM.