OLDSMOBILE 442 ORIGINS
Like everyone, Oldsmobile was unprepared for the sheer magnitude of the ‘youth market’ and its accompanying muscle car boom. But, the followed the formula laid down by its sister GM division, Chevy and Pontiac, and stuffed a big engine it its midsized car, dressed it up, gave it a fancy name, and they were in the muscle car business.
OLDSMOBILE 442 IN THE BEGINNING
The 442 began as an option package on the 1964 Olds Cutlass, and became a stand-alone model in its own right from 1968 through 1971. The name 442 supposedly stood for “4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, and dual exhaust”, which was the original intended configuration of the package. However, it quickly became obvious that there were a great many sales to be made to automatic buyers, so this connection was downplayed after that. Then, in ’65 the dropped in a 400 V8, and gave the name a new meaning. Now 442 stood for “400 cubic inches, 4-speeds, and dual exhaust”.
OLDSMOBILE 442 EVOLUTION
Starting out with a 330ci Police Pursuit engine in 1964, by ’65 it got a 400 with 345hp. In ’66, the ultra-rare W30 option took it up to 350hp. By ’68, the base motor was making 350hp and the W30, now a more common option package, raised it to 360hp. In 1970, at the peak of the Muscle Car Era, the 442 came with a 455 standard. The 1970 Olds 442 was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car that year, and Olds produced a special gold and white Pace Car Replica for sale to the public. As horsepower wained, government regulation increased, and insurance prices skyrocketed, the demand for muscle cars subsided. The last classic Olds 442 muscle car was in 1972. The name 442 soldiered on for many years after that, but not on anything that we would consider a muscle car.