1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass: Committed Cutty

Indiana Pacer George Hill built a tribute to his former high school with the help of his favorite custom shop.

Story: Evan “Evo” Yates

Photography: Costas Stergiou

Vehicle inspiration comes in many forms. Some tend to gravitate toward dedicating their ride to a fallen family member, others strive for hood fame in their particular area, and others simply try to be different. On rare occasions, you get someone like George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, who does something completely unique, dedicating cars to different periods in his life that made him who he is today.

George Hill grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and as a Broad Ripple High School Rocket, he proudly displayed the school’s colors, black and orange, which he envisioned as a fitting colorway for his 1971 Cutlass. “I wanted to dedicate each of my cars to a different period in my life,” explains George. “I wanted to do something unique, that displays me for who I am.” Embarking on the build while still a San Antonio Spur, George asked around for the top customization shop in the area, and the overwhelming response was USA Motorsports. George linked up with USA’s owner, Gilbert, devising a plan based on George’s desires and budget. Building a basketball-themed car, or a themed car in general, can be a slippery slope with a high probability of a fail, and with that in mind, the crew at USA Motorsports was incredibly careful to ensure the outcome was tasteful and creative.

One of George’s key requirements was having a turnkey ride; with his busy schedule, there’s little time to deal with carburetors and unreliable upgrades. USA’s Gilbert opted for a fuel-injected LS1, and after plenty of cutting and customizing, the team dropped in the new-age power plant and even fabricated a custom engine bay cover to top it off. The interior is undeniably hoops-inspired, with dimpled orange basketball material paired with smooth black leather throughout. The dash and door panels are updated as well, with virtually zero remnants of a car from the 1970s. Rounding out the interior’s motif, the trunk is the crown jewel of the theme. “Gil came up with the idea of making a stadium,” explains George. “He drew it up for me, and it looked great, so we went through with it.” The mini arena is cleverly assembled with the amplifiers serving as bleachers and a to-scale hardwood court with the Spurs’ logo at center.

The exterior is undeniably reppin’ the Rockets of Broad Ripple, with black-and-orange two-tone paint broken up by a silver-leaf pinstripe. The bumpers are also coated in black, and a 442 hood and spoiler were added, too. For the shoes, George and Gilbert decided on something a bit on the wilder side: a set of painted-to-match, staggered Forgiatos, 22-by-8.5 in front and 22-by-10 out back.

After 13 months of build time at USA Motorsports, the Cutty more than satisfies George, especially keeping the constraints in mind. “For the budget I gave them, it doesn’t look like a budget car,” explains George. “I have one of the best Cutlasses out, from the interior to the rims to the design and paint scheme. It’s definitely the top custom Cutlass around, and all props go to Gilbert and USA Motorsports for that.”

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Performance: Fuel-injected LS1 engine; four-speed automatic; custom cold-air intake; CPP Disc Brake Conversion; twin hurricane fans with custom aluminum radiator; one-chamber race Flowmaster dual exhaust; tuned by Tracy at Fuel Injection Specialities of San Antonio, TX

Exterior: Paint by Rick Godina at USA Motorsports; Hemi orange and black paint with silver leafing; smoked-out headlights and taillights

Interior: Full fiberglass custom dash, door panels and center console; basketball-print material and black leather

Ice: iPad in dash; four DB Drive amplifiers, two 10-inch subwoofers, Euphoria component speakers; JVC KD-AVX77 head unit; Vintage Air air-conditioning; Sony PS3; HID headlight conversion; Dakota Digital gauges; power window conversion; special thanks to Arsh at A1 Car Audio for the sponsorship

Wheels/Tires: 22-inch Forgiato Misto wheels; Pirelli tires, 245/30/22 front, 295/25/22 rear

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