1970 OLDSMOBILE 442 BACKGROUND
Some credit Oldsmobile with building the world’s first muscle car when it stuffed it’s largest engine, the Rocket V8 into a midsize car to create the Super 88. But it took until 1964 to revisit the concept again, spurred on by Pontiac‘s success with its GTO, with their own 4-4-2. But, GM had hamstrung all its divisions by forbidding the use of any engine larger than 400 cubic inches in any midsized car (except the Corvette, of course). So, Olds had to make do with 350s and 400s. But that all changed with the 1970 Oldsmobile 442, when GM lifted its ban. For the first time Olds could offer the 442 with a 455 V8, just in time for the muscle car era to peak, and then begin its speedy decline from 1971 on. But the 1970 model year was indeed a very good year for the Olds 442 and especially the W-30 high-performance version, which got a 5-horsepower bump over the standard 455 via a better breathing twin-snorkel air cleaner hooked up to those functional hood scoops.
ABOVE: You can just make out the red fender wells on this car. That’s not a custom touch. All W-30s got a set of red plastic inner fender liners to reduce weight. They showed on the outside like this, and really stood out in the engine compartment, flanking the engine on both sides with huge swaths of red ABS plastic. They actually look kind of cheap, and they probably were at the time. Of course, now they’re gold.
BELOW: While taking these photos, a guy walked up to me and explained that all W-30s have quick-change rear ends, prompting me to get on all fours and take the photo below. Then he was gone. Before long, the owner showed up and explained that while all W-30s have this unique aluminum rear differential cover, that’s all they are, a cover. It not a quick-change diff under there, just a normal 12-bolt rear end. The cast aluminum coverikely added for by the factory enhanced cooling, maybe lightweight, and of course cool looks. Along with a large dose of urban legend.
1970 Oldsmobile 442 PRODUCTION NUMBERS
Total 1970 Oldsmobile 442 production:
442 Sports Coupe
442 Hardtop Coupe
442 Rally 350
Price when new: