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Friday, October 29, 2010

Oldsmobile 442

The olds 442.  Marked on the very front of every grille were those three distinctive numbers; 442. 1964  invoked a new era for Oldsmobile, competing strongly with other GM counterparts such as Pontiac (the first GTO launched in ’63) and its main competitors at Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth and Ford.  A common mistake by many non-enthusiasts is that the engine displacement would logically be 442 cubic inches.  This is not the case however, as GM limited intermediate sized vehicles to produce engines to a maximum displacement of 330 cubic inches, equating to 5.4L of glory.  The 4-4-2 actually came from the mechanicals/options instead.  All Oldsmobile 442’s had a four speed manual transmission, a four barrel carb and 2 exhausts.  The cars 330cid motor produced 310hp that vaulted this near 3500 pound cannon to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds according to a 1964 article in Motor Trend.  The rarest of the 442 breed was the 4 foor sedan of which, according to GM, only 10 were sold.  Recently I watched as one of those ten models crossed Barett Jackson’s auction block and fetched $205,000!  The more common coupes and convertibles of later years can be seen grabbing anywhere from $60k to $120k for clean, refinished models.  A girlfriend of mines father had a beautiful 1971 Cutlass 442.  He had refinished the entire interior, exterior and motor.  Finished in a beautiful Orange with White racing stripes over a spotless white leather interior made this car absolutely picture perfect, and perhaps was partly to do with why I was with her….  The rumble from the engine was unmistakable, as his was fitted with the larger 455cid motor.  Driving this beast was no small feat.  The power steering felt like anything but power, and it took some good arm strength to navigate the powerful, albeit boat like car around.  But nothing felt quite as at home, as did launching this machine off the line on lazy Sunday evenings.  Truly the 442 has earned a place in my books as one of the more underestimated muscle cars of that era.

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