A Company Project Car Built for the Long Haul
UMI Performance is a Phillipsburg, PA-based company that has established a reputation for pushing the envelope for race-proven suspension systems. “We have some serious race cars that we have developed and raced,” said UMI’s Marketing Director Tim King. “However, we took a step back and realized that although we’ve accomplished some amazing things, not everybody is looking for a race suspension set up. Most people out there are on a budget and really just want a great driving classic car.”
Enter this clean, mildly modified 1965 Cutlass F85, an intermediate-sized Oldsmobile that shares the same A-body platform as Chevy’s Chevelle. The UMI crew fondly refers to this particular Olds as their “Shop Rag,” a company project car dedicated to showcasing UMI’s latest suspension and chassis components for the street. UMI President Ryan Kirkwood said that they picked this particular Cutlass because of its original condition, low mileage, and it seemed to be the perfect candidate for what they planned to do. It was a solid car that didn’t require a full restoration and wouldn’t break the bank to turn it into a proper long-haul cruising machine.
A background check on the Cutlass revealed that it was originally sold brand-new in 1965 by a dealership in nearby Pittsburgh and has since spent its entire 74,000-mile life on the streets of Pennsylvania. The UMI crew liked the fact that this was a native Pennsylvania car in good shape, so they made the purchase.
“We had a blast driving the car around but it was definitely lacking in the performance department,” said Tim. “So we brainstormed and decided to build this car to get back to the average guy wrenching in his garage.” The plan was to upgrade the 1965 underpinnings to demonstrate the drivability of UMI’s modern suspension components. For that they would install the new UMI Power Tour Package and then take it on its maiden voyage on the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour. This is a complete kit manufactured by UMI consisting of tubular A-arms, sway bars, shocks and springs.
The engine is the original 330 CID V8 that has been completely rebuilt by Redline Performance & Machine in Brookville, PA, using a combination of parts from Edelbrock, Comp Cams, Manley, Hastings, Cloyes and Pertronix to bring the horsepower output up to 320 at 5,200 RPM. A Wizard radiator keeps the 330 cool while American Racing Headers and Flowmaster mufflers vent the exhaust gases. The stock two-speed transmission has been tossed in favor of a Bowler 4L60E overdrive, and the rear end has been fitted with an Auburn Posi unit with a 3.55:1 gearset.
The 54-year-old Cutlass body remains stock with the exception of the white-painted roof to compliment the 18-inch Detroit Steel wheels. Changes in direction are handled by a Turn One steering box, while stopping power is enhanced by a new Baer brake system.
Tim said, “Basically, the story with the car is that we wanted something where we could show people two things: One, that you don’t have to spend 100K to have a cool car and two, that you can put endless miles on your car with UMI suspension and still ride in comfort.” Based on what we see here, those two goals have been reached, but the real test comes this week as the UMI crew will be making the long haul on the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour. Check in on UMI’s social pages for Tour updates, and be sure to follow Edelbrock USA on Facebook and Instagram for our live feeds from each of the seven stops of the Tour.
Brian Hatano is a veteran automotive journalist and former editor of Car Craft, Petersen’s Drag Racing, Sport Compact Car and Motorcyclist magazines.