Spray an Olds Cutlass in Barrio Gold, and the thing could damn well start hopping up and down spontaneously right there in the paint booth. And that's before the obligatory-shapely Latina is airbrushed onto the hood. To the go-fast crowd, the concept of livin' the low life-where gazillion-spoke wheels and Ron Jeremy-spec velvet upholstery reigns supreme-can seem downright bizarre. Ironically, combining an oddball gold '71 Cutlass and an oddball car builder in Jeff Schwartz has yielded a creation that's pretty darn normal. Like you learned way back in high school algebra class, a negative times a negative really does equal a positive. This Cutlass packs a 600hp LS7, rides on a cutting-edge Pro Touring chassis, knocks down 20 mpg, and changes direction like a raggedy House Speaker. On second thought, this thing's way better than a merely "normal" g-Machine.
If the notion of applying the Pro Touring motif to a gold Cutlass-a Supreme roofline no less-seems a bit out of the ordinary, then allow us to take you on a tour of Jeff Schwartz's past creations. The car that first earned him some recognition in the national print media was an '82 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham that ran 11.80s in the quarter-mile, and pulled 1.02g around the skidpad. Powered by a nitrous'd 500ci Cadillac producing 710 hp, the 4,200-pound tank chronically embarrassed sports cars and Teutonic sedans alike around Road America and countless autocross circuits. "I've always been into oddball stuff. My goal was to build a Cadillac like an AMG Mercedes that could beat up an AMG Mercedes on a road course," Jeff quips. Intrigued by the prospect of what could be accomplished in a car half the weight, Jeff's next project was an Ultima GTR kit car, a machine still capable of annihilating the greatest supercars today. [One like it holds the production car world record for 0-to-100-to-0.] Essentially a mid-engine GTP car for the street, Jeff's Ultima boasts a 1,000hp twin-turbo LS2 bolted in its tube chassis. The result is 211 mph in the standing mile, 10.90s at 131 mph in the quarter with the boost turned way down, and 1.1g in lateral acceleration on plain-Jane street tires. "I used to race IMSA, so I've always been a fan of GTP cars. The Ultima is the closest thing I could get to a street-legal GTP car. I've driven it 50,000 miles, and it gets 23 mpg on the freeway."
Please pardon the long-winded background info, but it's essential to understanding how Jeff's past projects have ultimately culminated in this '71 Cutlass. As with the Cadillac, Jeff wanted to infuse the qualities of a high-end German sports sedan into a more traditional muscle car this go-around, but of course, it couldn't be too traditional. That meant a ubiquitous Chevelle wouldn't do, so he opted for a Cutlass instead. "The goal with this car was building something that drives more like a German luxury sedan than an old muscle car. In addition to improved driving dynamics, I put a lot of effort into bringing the overall build quality up to modern standards. For instance, the doors close with a solid thunk, there's Dynamat everywhere, there are HID headlights for better visibility, and the leather Recaro seats are heated and have adjustable air bladders," he explains. "Whenever I build a car, my primary objective is to keep it purposeful and functional. I'm all for trick body mods, but retaining the classic styling of a car while enhancing durability is always a priority."