Following Pontiac's lead, Oldsmobile became the first company in the GM division to begin offering full-size muscle cars in its midsize Cutlass model. Designated the 4-4-2 package, it included the top engine available from Oldsmobile, along with a 330 cid V8 with the police package. The name represented the engine's 4 barrel carb, 4 speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. The Oldsmobile 442 has been best known for its balanced performance, exquisite handling, and the 'W' and Hurst editions that would come out in later years.
First introduced as an option package for F-85 and Cutlass models sold in the U.S. beginning in the 1964 model year, the Oldsmobile 442 became a model in its own right from 1968 through 1971, before reverting to an option through the mid 1970s. The name was revived again in the 1980s as Oldsmobile used it on its rear-wheel drive Cutlass Supreme and early 1990s as an option package for the new front-wheel drive Cutlass.
Created out of the competition between Pontiac Division and Oldsmobile, the 442 began as a quick response to the Pontiac Tempest GTO. Due to its late introduction (3/4's of the way through the model year), the Oldsmobile offering was a conservative package. Technically the 'B09 Police Apprehender' option, the 442 used the four-barrel carbureted 330 in³ (5.4 L) V8 with heavy-duty valve gear, a hotter camshaft and dual exhaust that raised the rated output to 310 hp at 5200 rpm.
Though its torque peak rose from 2800 rpm to 3600 rpm, the torque remained 355 ft•lbf. This package also included a four-speed manual transmission and the heavy-duty police-package suspension with higher-rate coil springs front and rear, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a bigger front anti-roll bar and an additional rear anti-roll bar. With its combination of four-barrel carb, four-speed transmission, and dual exhausts, the package was dubbed 4-4-2. Sold at $285,14, the package was available on any F-85 or Cutlass model, except for the station wagon.
The Oldsmobile 442 was tested by Motor Trend and determined that the 3,440 lb vehicle could achieve 0-60mph in only 7.5 seconds. The 442 achieved the standing quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 90 mph and reached a maximum speed of 116 mph. A total of 2,999 units were sold.
Having received GM corporate sanction for the GTO, Oldsmobile followed suite with a big-engine 442. Renamed the 442, the B09 option was lowered in price to $190.45 for F85s and $156.02 for Cutlasses. Now standard was the new 400 in³ (6.5 L) engine, and the definition of '442' was restated as 400 cubic inches, 4-barrel cab, and 2 exhausts. The engine received a jump in output, rising to 345 hp and 440 ft•lbf. A three-speed manual transmission became standard transmission while the four-speed became optional, and Oldsmobile's two-speed Jetaway automatic transmission was added as an alternative.
The 1965 Oldsmobile 442 was tested by Car and Driver with the four-speed manual and achieved a quarter mile acceleration of 15.0 seconds at 98.5 while 0-60 mph was reached at 5.5 seconds. With a 0-60mph of 7.8 seconds, Car Life's automatic 1965 model ran the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 89 mph. A total of 25,003 models were sold in 1965.
Featuring a miner facelift along with other Cutlasses, the 1966 442 received an additional two new optional engines, the L69, with three two-barrel Carter carburetors on a progressive linkage, rated at 360 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, and the rare W30. Now dubbed the L78, the standard engine was rated 350 hp/440 ft-lbf with a single four-barrel carburetor.
To admit cool air to the carburetors via tubing from the front butter, the W3- engine added an outside-air induction system and a hotter cam, that was rated as the same as the L69. To make room for the air hoses, the battery was relocated to the trunk, which prevented the package from being ordered on convertible models. Only a total of 54 W30s were ever built by the factory, though an additional 97 were produced for dealer installation.
An L69 442 was tested by Car Life with four-speed transmission and obtained a 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, and a quarter mile of 14.8 seconds at 97 mph. Motor Trend tested 0-60 in 7.2 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.2 seconds at 96.9 mph. Unfortunately though production slumped to 21,997. While Pontiac's GTO represented nearly a third of all Tempests sold, the 442 still only constituted around 10% of Cutlass sales.
Cutlass models were becoming more popular during 1967, as buyers were more interested in luxury in regards to their vehicle preference. The F-85 continued to be the base series for the F-85 range, and three basic models were available in 67 with the power option of either the L-head six-cylinder, or a Rocket V-8. The F-85 series carried standard equipment that included seat belts, electric windshield wipers, heater/defroster, backup lights, and vinyl floor coverings. The interior was available in either cloth or vinyl, and the standard tire size was 7.75 x 14 inches.
The 442's styling and base engine remained the same for 1967, but the optional automatic became the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic, replacing the two-speed Jetaway. Newly optional for the front wheels were disc brakes.
Eliminating the L69 with its triple carburetors, a new GM policy decision banned multiple carbs for all vehicles except the Corvette. A new four-barrel Quadrijet carburetor replaced the triple two-barrels while the W30 remained available. Now part of the W30 package was new red plastic inner fender liners. To meet NHRA homologation rules, 502 factory W30 engines were built, along with an unknown number of dealer-installed packages.
A total of 24,833 units were produced in 1967. Car Life tested a W30 442 with close-ratio four-speed and 4.33 rear axle, obtaining a quarter mile reading of 14.1 seconds at 103 mph in completely stock form. 0-60 mph was reached between .5 and 6.7 seconds.
The Cutlass, a more luxurious version of the F-85, was gaining in status as it began its climb to becoming the most popular nameplate for a U.S. –built vehicle. The 5 Cutlass models in the range were available with either 6-cylinder or V-8 engines, and with an option of cloth or vinyl upholstery. The Cutlass came standard with carpeting, chrome molding package, foam seat cushions, DeLuxe steering wheel, and courtesy lamps. The tire size was now upped to 7.75 x 15 inches.
From 1968 through 1971, the 442 nameplate became a separate model. More than 33,000 models were sold for the 1968 year. The wheelbase was 112 inches, and despite the engine displacement staying at 400 in³, the stroke was increased and the bore decreased to increase torque and improve emissions. The long stroke affected performance though, and they were deemed to not be as fast the 1967 model. Automatics were rated at 325 hp, while the base motor was still rated at 350 hp, but only with the standard 3-speed and optional 4-speed. Once again the W-30's were rated at 360 hp.
All standard '68 engines were painted a bronze/copper color, as with the 1967's, topped with a fire red air cleaner. Ram Air intake hoses leading from a chrome topped dual snorkel black air cleaner to special under bumper air scoops and set off by bright red plastic fender wells were equipped into W-30 option cars. A turnpike Cruiser option was also made available with a 2bbl carburetor that had been previously available on the Cutlass Supreme for 1967.
In 1968 Oldsmobile partnered with Hurst Performance Research Corporation to create the Hurst-Olds instead of just adding Hurst shifters as with earlier models. Starting out as regular 442, the limited regular production run of 515Hurst/Olds were treated to numerous distinct enhancements both cosmetic and mechanical. All models were painted Peruvian Silver with liberal black striping and white pinstripes, exterior and interior H/O badging and a real walnut wood dash insert. The vehicles left the factory with 2 drivetrain combinations. Red 455 in³ engines were backed by modified W-30 Turbo 400 automatic transmission, while A/C cars received a W-46 engine with a 3.08:1 rear while non-A/C vehicles got a W-45 engine with a 3.91:1 rear. Both engines were rated at 390 hp, while the W-45 engine received the cylinder heads from W-30 and the camshafts from the W-31 made it more suitable for higher rpms.
All models came with buckets seats and a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter in a mini-console. Standard now were various 442 options like disc brakes, FE2 suspension and heavy duty cooling. These cars shared the red fender wells and ram air setup with the W-30. Additional optional features included the tic-toc-tach and wood-grained steering wheel.
Powertrain upgrades in the 1967 model featured powertrain upgrades that allowed the awesome engine to operate at much greater efficiency. Making the 1967 442 a street performer of the first order, a special Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, a stronger twelve-bolt rear end and F70x14 wide ovals. For the first time the automatic outsold the four-speed for the first time by 13,528 to 11,381. Setting a B/Pure Stock national record, the 4422 was beginning to turn heads on the national drag strips in 1967.
In 1967 an interesting economy option was offered, the Turnpike Cruiser option (L-65), using a two-barrel carburetor, a conservative transmission, and an altered rear-end gear ratio. This popular option provided much better economy with just a slight decrease in power. Though horsepower was down 60 ponies, only a 15ft-lb or torque was dropped. The Oldsmobile 442 was a nice combination of performance and economy. The 442 name stayed the same even though it should have changed to 242 to be totally correct.
Motor Trend rated the economy version above the standard four-barrel model in its February 1967 issue. In 1967 a total of 1,807 convertibles with automatics were produced.
Very similar to the 1968 Olds 442, the 1969 model only featured minimal changes to both the engine and drive-train. The turnpike Cruiser option was deleted though. A new hi-po engine was offered in its place, the W-32. It came with the Forced Air Induction plumbing that was found on the W-30s, but it had a milder cam like the base engine. A total of 297 units were built, including 25 sport coupes and convertibles each, and the W-32 was only available with an automatic.
The Olds 455 V8 was introduced as the standard 442 engine for the 1970 Oldsmobile 442. With a 370 hp W30 option available, output was 365 hp and 500 ft-lbf. the 365 and 370 hp power ratings were conservatively underrated at a lower rpm. Both engines were believed to produce 410 to 420 hp. The 1970 Oldsmobile 442 was the pace car at the Indy 500 race in 1970, along with the Cutlass Supreme.
The W-30's received a W-25 fiberglass OAI hood to replace the bumper scoops that were on the 1968 and 1968 W-30's, in addition to the standard 442 offerings. The W-30 also received an aluminum intake manifold, cylinder heads, special camshaft, distributor and carburetor.
For 1971 the engine output was down due to a lower compression ratio which affected all of GM's engines. The base engine 455 was rated at 340 hp while the W-30 achieved a rating of 350 hp. For the first time since 1964 the sport coupe disappeared, only to return the following year.
In the 1972 Cutlass Holiday coupe, Cutlass S sport coupe, Holiday coupe, and Cutlass Supreme convertible, the 442 name reverted to an appearance and handling option package. This package consisted of suspension upgrades, side striping, faux hood louvers, a unique grille and fender and decklid badging. When ordering the optional 455 engine, a rear bumper with cutouts for exhaust tips could be had. To keep the high performance arena strong, an L75 455 in³ V8 was available, but the smaller Oldsmobile 350 V8 came standard. In 1972 a special edition Hurst/Olds paced the Indy.
The famous W30 option was still available in 1972 and included the still-potent L77 455 engine that produced 300 hp and 410 ft-lbfs of torque. The W25 featured a fiberglass ram-air hood, a lightweight aluminum intake manifold, anti-spin differential with 3.42:1 gears, and heavy duty cooling. A/C was not available due to the low-vacuum at idle, and power brakes were only available with an automatic transmission. In 1972 only 113 W30 convertibles and 659 W30 coupes were sold.
The Cutlass Supreme was yet another new series introduced by Oldsmobile for 1976, and was the only series in which both the popular 442 option and high-mileage Turnpike Cruiser option could be ordered. This top-of-the-line F85 based range featured 5 models that shared standard equipment that included carpeting, DeLuxe arm rests and steering wheel, special molding group, foam seats and courtesy lamp package. The upholstery was done either in vinyl or cloth while the standard tire size was 7.75 x 14 inches. The 1967 version looked very similar to the 1996 model, though the bumpers, grille, and headlight-taillight arrangement was changed, and the 442 emblems were moved from the rear quarter panels to the front fenders.
From 1978 through 1980 a limited-edition 4-4-2 model was offered. Engine choices in 1978 varied from a base 3.8L V6 to a 305 4bbl. In 1978 and 1979 no 350 was available to any 4-4-2. For 1979 a special-edition Hurst/Olds was offered.
An option package on the 'Aeroback' Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon, the 1978-79 version of the 442, it was the lower-trim version of the best-selling Cutlass model range. The 'Aeroback' was offered with all powertrains available, including the 231 cid 2V V6, the 260 cid 2V V8, and 305 cid 2V or 4V V8s. Available transmission were 3-speed automatic with all engines, 5-speed manual with the 260 V8 and a 4-speed Saginaw manual with all engines.
Trim elements were distinctive and included contrasting striping along the rocker panels and lower doors, over both wheel wells, interior emblems, and badging on the rear trunk. All of the other options available on the Cutlass Salon were offered with the 442 package.
Oldsmobile featured a limited edition 'Hurst/Olds' model that was based on the notchback Supreme/Calais body style, which featured the 350 cid 4V V8 that was found in the larger Delta 99 and 98 models, joined with a 3 speed automatic transmission. This limited edition model was available in gold over white or gold over black paint with gold cloth or vinyl upholstery. Only 2,000 units were ever produced.
The 442 model was moved back to the notchback body for 1980 and included W-30 badging on the front fenders above the side marker lights, with much less dramatic graphics. Besides this the vehicles had identical powertrain and other options with their more boring siblings. In 1981 there were no more 442s.
In 1985 the 442 name was once again revived on the rear-wheel drive Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The name was now defined as referring to the vehicle's 4-speed 200r4 automatic transmission, 4-barrel carb and 2 exhausts. Not a true dual exhaust, but this W42 model replaced the '83 and '84 Hurst/Olds model and utilized the same 5.0 L LG8 V8. The upgraded F41 suspension package was included, and the shifter was mounted on the floor in a console between the front seats. In the first year 3,000 units were produced, and all were sold very quickly. For 1986 a total of 4,273 units were produced, and in 1987 4,208 units were sold.
In 1987 the Oldsmobile 442 was retired with the RWD Supreme.
In 1990 the final use of the 442 name was on the Quad 442 front-wheel drive 1990 Cutlass Calais. This model utilized a 2.3 L LG0 Quad-4 4-cylinder engine with 4 valves per cylinder and 2 camshafts. This engine was tuned with higher output camshafts which produced more top end power at the expense of idle quality. The Cutlass Calais used a single exhaust with duel tailpipes that produced 180 hp with a 5-speed manual transmission.
This 442 model lasted merely two years.By Jessica Donaldson