The Oldsmobile 442 (pronounced four-four-two) was a muscle car produced by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. It was introduced as an option package for F-85 and Cutlass models sold in the United States beginning with the 1964 model year. It became a model in its own right from 1968 to 1971, then reverted to an option through the mid-1970s. Oldsmobile revived the name in the 1980s on the rear-wheel drive Cutlass Supreme and early 1990s as an option package for the new front-wheel drive Cutlass.
Because of its late introduction (some three-fourths of the way through the model year) and the ambiguous nature of the GTO — which was technically a violation of GM policy limiting intermediate models to 330 in³ (5.4 L) — the Olds offering was a conservative package. Technically the "B09 Police Apprehender" option, it used the four-barrel carbureted 330 in³ (5.4 L) V8 with heavy-duty valve gear, posi trac, and a hotter camshaft, raising rated (SAE gross) output to 310 hp (231.3 kW) at 5200 rpm. Torque remained , although the torque peak rose from 2800 rpm to 3600 rpm. The package also included a stiffened frame, boxed rear suspension control arms, a heavy duty clutch and four-speed manual transmission, a heavy duty driveshaft, oversized brakes and the heavy-duty police-package suspension, with heavy duty wheels, higher-rate coil springs front and rear, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a larger front anti-roll bar, and an additional rear anti-roll bar. The package was dubbed 4-4-2 based on its combination of four-barrel carburetor, four-speed transmission, and dual exhaust. Priced at $285.14, it was available on any F-85 or Cutlass model except the station wagon, although most were Cutlass hardtop coupés (Oldsmobile archives indicate that approximately 10 four-door sedans were built with the B09 option).
Motor Trend tested an early 4-4-2 and found that the 3,440-lb (1,560 kg) car would run 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 7.5 seconds, the standing quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at , and reached a top speed of 116 mph (185.6 km/h). A total of 2,999 were sold.
Car and Driver tested a 1966 442 with the four-speed manual and obtained a quarter mile acceleration of 15.0 seconds at ; 0 to 60 was listed as 5.5 seconds. Car Life's automatic '65 ran the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at , with a 0 to 60 time of 7.8 seconds. Sales rose to 25,003.
The W30 engine added an outside-air induction system (admitting cool air to the carburetors via tubing from the front bumper) and a hotter cam, rated -- or, more likely, underrated -- the same as the L69. The battery was relocated to the trunk to make room for the air hoses, which prevented the package from being ordered on convertible models. Only 54 W30s were built by the factory, although an additional 97 were produced for dealer installation.
Car Life tested an L69 442 with four-speed transmission and obtained a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter mile of 14.8 seconds at . Motor Trend's similar test car ran 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, with a quarter mile time of 15.2 seconds at 96.6 mph.
Production slumped to 21,997. The 442 still constituted only about 10 percent of Cutlass sales, whereas Pontiac's GTO represented nearly a third of all Tempests sold.
A GM policy decision banning multiple carburetors for all vehicles except the Corvette saw the demise of the L69 with its triple carburetors. The W30 remained available, although a new four-barrel Quadrijet carburetor replaced the triple two-barrels. New red plastic inner fender liners became part of the W30 package. 502 factory W30 engines were built to meet NHRA homologation rules, along with an unknown number of dealer-installed packages.
Cars tested a W30 442 with close-ratio four-speed and 4.33 rear axle, obtaining a quarter mile reading of 14.1 seconds at in completely stock form. 0-60 times were between 6.5 and 6.7 seconds.
Production rallied somewhat from the previous year, rising to 24,833.
The 442 became a separate model from 1968 through 1971. The wheelbase was 112 in, and over 33,000 were sold for 1968. Despite the engine displacement staying at 400 in³, the stroke was increased and the bore decreased to increase torque and improve emissions. However, its long stroke affected performance and they were deemed not as fast as the '67s. Car Life tested a 1968 442 with a 3.42:1 rear axle ratio and attained 0-60 times of 7.0 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 15.13 seconds at . Top speed was reported as . The base motor was still rated at , but only with the standard 3-speed and optional 4-speed; automatics were rated at . W-30s were rated again at . All standard 1968 442 engines are painted a bronze/copper color, as with the 1967s, topped with a fire red air cleaner. W-30 option cars were equipped with Ram Air intake hoses leading from a chrome topped dual snorkle black air cleaner to special under bumper air scoops and set off by bright red plastic fender wells. In addition, a Turnpike Cruiser option was made available with a 2bbl. carb; this was previously available on the Cutlass Supreme for 1967.
It was in 1968 that Oldsmobile first partnered with Hurst Performance Research Corporation to create the Hurst/Olds rather than just adding Hurst shifters as with earlier models. The limited regular production run of 515 Hurst/Olds (459 Holiday Coupes/56 Sport Coupes) started out as regular 442s, but were treated to numerous distinct enhancements, both cosmetic and mechanical. All cars were painted Peruvian Silver (a Toronado color) with liberal black striping and white pinstripes, exterior and interior H/O badging (unique to '68), and a real walnut wood dash insert. Mechanically, the cars left the factory with two drivetrain combinations. Red 455 in³ engines were backed by modified W-30 Turbo 400 automatic transmissions. A/C cars got a W-46 engine with a 3.08:1 rear while non-A/C cars got a W-45 engine with a 3.91:1 rear. While both engines were rated at , the W-45 engine received the cylinder heads from the W-30 and the camshaft from the W-31 making it more suitable for higher rpms. All cars came with bucket seats and a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter in a mini-console. Also standard were numerous regular 442 options such as disc brakes, heavy duty cooling, and FE2 suspension. They shared the red fender wells and ram air setup with the W-30. Popular, but not standard, additional options included the tic-toc-tach and wood-grained steering wheel.
1970 saw the introduction of the Olds 455 V8 as the standard 442 engine. Magazine ads using an offbeat mad scientist trumpeted "Dr. Olds introduces as large a V-8 as ever bolted into a special-performance production automobile!" Output was and , with a W30 option available. The 365 and 370 hp (272 and 276 kW) power ratings were conservatively underrated at a lower rpm. Both engines are believed by some to produce 410 to 420 hp (306-313 kW). It was the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970, along with the Cutlass Supreme. Motor Trend praised the 442, stating that "it's probably the most identifiable super car in the GM house".
In addition to the standard 442 offerings, W-30s received a W-25 fiberglass OAI (Outside Air Induction) hood to replace the bumper scoops that were on the 68 and 69 W-30s, an aluminum intake manifold, special camshaft, cylinder heads, distributor, and carburetor.
Motor Trend tested a 442 W-30 with a 4-speed manual transmission and 3.91:1 rear gears, clocking a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds @ . However, Motor Trend noted that Oldsmobile engineers had earlier posted a best of 13.7 seconds on the same test car with a fresh tune.
Quarter mile performance as reported by Road Test magazine was 15.2 seconds @ , and 0-60 in 8.9 seconds, using the TH400 automatic transmission.
442's could be ordered with the additional W30 option, which included the still-potent L77 455 engine, which produced and s of torque and incorporated low-restriction dual exhausts. Other notable components included a lightweight aluminum intake manifold, the W25 fiberglass ram-air hood, anti-spin differential with 3.42:1 gears (3.73:1 available), and heavy duty cooling. Due to the low-vacuum at idle, air conditioning was not available, and power brakes were only available with an automatic transmission. Only 113 W30 convertibles and 659 W30 coupes were made in 1972, making this a very rare option.
Consistent with 1972, the 4-4-2 option remained a handling and appearance package, code W-29, and was available on the Cutlass and Cutlass "S". It consisted of a faux louvered hood, FE2 suspension, specific grilles, emblems and stripes. Items such as dual exhaust and super stock wheels had to be ordered a la-carte. This was all part of the industry-wide weaning of U.S. consumers from large, powerful cars.
Officially, the W-30 was not available, but the 1972 "V" code 455 was there, but only with the 4-speed wide-ratio M-20 transmission. 1973 was also the last year of the manual transmission in the Olds "A" body. The "V" code produced 270 net HP, the "U" code 455 AT produced , while the "K" code 350 single exhaust produced and the "M" code 350 with duals produced . Positraction rear ends, axle ratios, gauges, Super Stock wheels, HD cooling and many sport type options were available, but had to be ordered. The "V" code engine was also available in the Hurst/Olds without A/C,code W-46,the W-45 "U" code was standard with A/C. Both versions used the Turbohydramatic 400 transmission.
The 1978-9 version of the 442 was an option package on the "Aeroback" Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon, which was the lower-trim version of the best-selling Cutlass model range. It was offered with all powertrains available, including the 231 c.i.d., 2V V6, the 260 c.i.d. 2V V8, and 305 c.i.d. 2V (1978) or 4V (1979) V8s. Tranmissions offered were 3-spd automatic with all engines, 5 spd manual with the 260 V8 and a 4 spd Saginaw manual with all engines.
Distinctive trim elements included contrasting striping along the rocker panels and lower doors, over both wheel wells, badging on the rear trunk, and interior emblems. All other options offered on the Cutlass Salon were available with the 442 option package.
Oldsmobile issued a limited edition "Hurst/Olds" model, based on the notchback Cutlass Calais and featuring the 350 c.i.d. 4V V8 found in the larger Delta 88 and Ninety-Eight models, coupled with a 3 spd automatic transmission. Available only in gold over white or gold over black paint, with gold cloth or vinyl upholstery, only about 2,000 units were produced.
In 1980, the 442 model moved to the notchback Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, and included W-30 badging on the front fenders above the side marker lights, with less dramatic graphics. Otherwise, the cars had identical powertrain and other options with their more mundane siblings. There were no more 442s in 1981.
The 442 name was revived in 1985 on the rear-wheel drive G-body Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The name was now defined as referring to the car's 4-speed 200r4 automatic transmission, 4-barrel carburetor, and 2 exhausts. This W42 model replaced the 1983 and 1984 Hurst/Olds model and used the same 5.0 L LG8 V8. The shifter was mounted on the floor in a console between the front seats, and the upgraded F41 suspension package was included. 3,000 were produced in the first year, and all were sold quickly. 4,273 were produced for 1986, and 4,208 were made in 1987.
The 1984 Hurst/Olds and 1985-87 442 were equipped with an 8.5" GM corporate differential usually with a 3:73 ring and pinion gear. Rather than using the weaker 7.5" rear differential found in the Monte Carlo SS, these models used the same stout unit found in the Buick Grand National.
The 1983-84 Hurst/Olds and 1985-87 442's are distinguishable by there being a "9" as the engine code found in the 8th character of their VIN's. These were the only models to get the hotter VIN 9 307 cubic inch engine, and it was the only engine available. From 1983-1985, this engine was flat-tappet valvetrain, and rated at 180 hp/240 ft·lbf torque. In 1986, the 307 engine received a roller-camshaft valvetrain and new swirl-port heads to improve economy and low-end torque. HP dropped to 170, with torque climbing to 250. The 1985 442 used an OZ code THM 200-4R transmission.
1964 (Original meaning)
4: Four Barrel Carburetion
4: Four On the Floor
2: Dual Exhausts
With the 4-4-2 moniker established, later editions did not officially follow any adherence to features stemming from the numerals "4-4-2". However, in some later model years, the features did informally match the 4-4-2 numerals, as described below.
1965 (First year of automatic transmission option on 442)
4: 400 Cubic Inch Displacement
4: Four Barrel Carburetion
2: Dual Exhausts
1985 to 1987 (Last of RWD 442s)
4: Four speed automatic
4: Four barrel carburetor
2: Dual exhaust
1990 and 1991 (FWD 442)
4: Four cylinders
4: Four valves
2: Two camshafts