Oldsmobile 442 Convertible

Pontiac’s ad man Jim Wangers and Division Manager John DeLorean are credited with creating the muscle car, subverting General Motors’ dictum against big engines in small cars by creating a large-engine option for the intermediate Tempest. 

GM policy forbade the use of engines larger than 330 cubic inches in intermediate-size bodies. Thus, the largest Tempest engine had been a 326 V-8, the Olds F85 a 330, and Buick’s Special just 300. Chevrolet‘s largest Chevelle engine was a 327. The immediate success of Pontiac’s 1964 GTO option laid waste to the policy, and the sister divisions rushed to ready their own muscle cars.

Olds was first to respond, making their F-85 police package available to the public. It had a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts, so the marketing mavens christened it “4-4-2.” The engine was the same 330, but the modifications raised brake horsepower from 230 to 310. For 1965, Olds, too, was ready to break the rules, with a 400 CID engine. An automatic transmission was now available, so “4-4-2” was redefined as “400 cubic inches, four-barrel carb, and dual exhausts.” Horsepower was now 345, and three-speed manual transmissions were also offered, the standard unit having a column shift and the heavy-duty three-speed a Hurst floor shifter.

For 1966, power was raised to 350 brake horsepower, and there were two optional engines, the L69 with three Rochester two-barrel carburetors and the W30 Force-Air induction, which ducted outside air from behind the headlights direct to the air cleaner. In 1967, the W30 went mainstream, but, again, in limited quantities. The triple-carb engine had been discontinued, so the four-barrel W30, at 350 brake horsepower, was the top performer. An automatic transmission, the sturdy Turbo 400 Hydramatic, was available with the W30 package. The 4-4-2 option, which had been available on all F-85s, was restricted to the Cutlass Supreme series. 

For 1968, 4-4-2 became a model in its own right, and a Hurst Performance edition was added. Even the basic version made 350 brake horsepower with the four-speed transmission. Changes for 1969 included the deletion of the front vent windows on hardtops and convertibles. The latter body style continued to be rare, with just 4,295 built.

350 bhp, 400.0 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and power front-disc, rear-drum hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 112 in.

Part of the RM Auctions event for John Staluppi in December, 2012.

Source: RM Auctions
Phot Credit: Teddy Pieper

Gallery: Oldsmobile 442 Convertible