1968 Oldsmobile 442

Many believe that Oldsmobile launched the American 'muscle car' in 1949 with the Rocket V-8 engine powering the lightweight 88. In 1964, the muscle-car theme returned with the F-85 Cutlass-based 442 performance package. By this point in history, the automotive landscape had changed considerably especially with Pontiac's GTO.

For the 1968 model year, the Oldsmobile 442 (400 CI, 4 barrel carburetion, 2 exhaust pipes) was upgraded from a simple options package to its own separate model. The model is denoted by VINs that start with the digits '344'.

Standard equipment included dual master cylinder, four-way flashers, energy-absorbing steering column, padded dash, back-up lights, full fiberglass hood insulation, and
Deluxe steering wheel. Other standard equipment included heavy-duty springs, stabilizer bar, special shock absorbers, and wheels, special emblems, hood louvers, paint stripe, special tires, and a high output engine. The interior was either vinyl or cloth.

For 1968, Oldsmobile introduced the Hurst/Olds option which added special Black and Silver paint, special handling package, various luxury options, and a special 455 cubic-inch V8. In total, 515 examples of the Hurst/Olds were sold. Jack 'Don' Watson was asked to design and build a special 'executive hot rod' by George Hurst, president of Hurst-Campbell Inc. Watson's credentials included the 'Hemi Under Glass' wheelstander and twin-engine 'Hurst Hairy Oldsmobile' exhibition car. Beginning with a 442, Watson installed Oldsmobile's new 455 cubic-inch, overhead-valve V-8 engine into the engine bay, sidestepping GM's ban on engines over 400 cubic-inches powering its intermediate models. With high-performance cylinder heads, a hot camshaft, Force-Air induction, specially-machined crankshaft, and ignition and carburetor tuning, the engine delivered 390 horsepower and 5,000 RPM and 500 foot-pounds of peak torque.

Along with the dramatic modifications to the engine, Watson added heavy-duty underpinnings, a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter allowing full manual control of the modified Turbo 400 automatic transmission, wide Goodyear Polyglas tires, and comprehensive upgrades to the brakes, cooling, and drivetrain. The exterior was finished in Peruvian Silver paint, black side and hood stripes, and a black rear deck-lid, plus Hurst/Olds scripts and a hand-rubbed walnut instrument panel insert.

Hurst agreed impressed with Waton's creation, and when it was shown to Oldsmobile dealers, the requests soon followed.

Body styles included a Sports Coupe, Holiday Hardtop, and a convertible. Pricing began at $3,080 for the sports coupe and rose to $3,340 for the convertible.

The base engine was a 400 cubic-inch unit which offered 350 horsepower. Production was initially handled by Watson's friend John Demmer, at his Demmer Engineering's facilities in Lansing, Michigan, near the Oldsmobile plant. Distribution was later brought through Oldsmobile dealers with the cars retaining their factory warranty coverage. 515 examples were built for 1968, with 459 being Holiday Coupes and 56 pillared Sport Coupes. The total production run was completed in just 40 days. All began life as original 442 models and arrived at Demmer Engineering with their special 455 engines already installed.

by Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2013

Related Reading : Oldsmobile 4-4-2 History

The name 442 first appeared in 1964 as an option on the F-85 and Cutlass. The 442 was technically the B09 Police Apprehender option which included the four-barrel carbureted 330 cubic-inch V8 with dual exhaust and 310 horsepower. The suspension, shocks, clutch, transmission, driveshaft, brakes, and wheels were also greatly improved. The name 4-4-2 evolved from the combination of options four-barrel....
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Related Reading : Oldsmobile 4-4-2 History

Following Pontiacs 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 engines 4 barrel carb, 4 speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts. The Oldsmobile 442....
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1968 Vehicle Profiles

1968 Oldsmobile 442 vehicle information


Chassis Num: 344678Z123194

This 4-4-2 convertible was built at the Freemont, California plant and sold new in California. It has been recently been given a bare-metal restoration with fewer than 200 miles since completion. It is finished in Scarlet Red with black stripes, blac....[continue reading]

1968 Oldsmobile 442 vehicle information


Chassis Num: 344878M393892

In 1968, General Motors had a corporate edict that disallowed engines displacing over 400 cubic-inches in their intermediate body cars. With Chevrolet having a distinct advantage with their 396 cubic-inch V8, Oldsmobile found a way around it.....[continue reading]

Chassis #: 344678Z123194 
Chassis #: 344878M393892 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1968 442
1968 Oldsmobile 442 Price Range: $3,087 - $3,341

Model Year Production

1973Chevrolet (2,579,509)Ford (2,349,815)Fiat (1,390,251)922,771
1972Chevrolet (2,420,564)Ford (2,246,563)Fiat (1,368,216)762,199
1971Ford (2,054,351)Chevrolet (1,830,319)Volkswagen (1,128,784)558,889
1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)633,981
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)655,241
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)562,459
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)548,390
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)586,381
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Ford (2,170,795)Volkswagen (1,174,687)592,804
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)546,112
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)476,753

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